Stifling atmosphere for independent journalists
What with draconian laws, website blocking and Internet cuts, the pressure on independent media has grown steadily since the big anti-government protests in 2011 and 2012. Leading independent news outlets have either been brought under control or throttled out of existence. As TV channels continue to inundate viewers with propaganda, the climate has become very oppressive for those who question the new patriotic and neo-conservative discourse, or just try to maintain quality journalism. Journalists and bloggers have been jailed under selectively applied anti-extremism laws or on territorial sovereignty grounds. The Kremlin seems determined to control the Internet, a goal referred to as the “sovereign Internet.” Freelance journalists now risk being branded as “foreign agents,” a label already placed on some media outlets and leading human rights NGOs. Crimea, which was annexed in 2014, and Chechnya have meanwhile become “black holes” from which little news and information emerges. Two other republics in the Russian Caucasus, Dagestan and Ingushetia, are going the same way. Murders and physical attacks against journalists continue to go unpunished – even if campaigns can achieve victories in the face of absurd accusations by the authorities, as in the case of Ivan Golunov, an investigative journalist released in June 2019 after being arrested on a trumped-up drug trafficking charge.
149 in 2019
50.31 in 2019