Six reporters arrested in a span of a few hours in Russia : RSF denounces crackdown on independent journalism

Six journalists working for independent media were arrested in Russia in a span of a few hours on 27 and 28 March. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns these arbitrary arrests as a flagrant attempt to silence Russia’s last independent media outlets and calls for the release of those still held.



Five of the journalists were arrested in Moscow while the sixth was arrested in Ufa, a city 1.300 km east of Moscow. One of the journalists, Antonina Favorskaya, who works for the independent Russian media outlet SOTAvision, was re-arrested as she was being released in Moscow after ten days in detention on a charge of “disobeying the police.” She is now accused of “extremist activities” because of her coverage of opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s death, and previously his work.

Two of her colleagues who had come to greet her, Alexandra Astakhova and Anastasia Musatova, were also detained by the police and were interrogated as “witnesses” before finally being released. The police also searched their homes, seizing equipment.

SOTAvision reporter Ekaterina Anikievich was arrested together with Konstantin Zharov, who works for the independent media outlet RusNews, as they were covering a raid on Favorskaya’s home. They were also eventually released, but Zharov was beaten by police, threatened with sexual violence and taken to a hospital. Accused of “disobeying the police,” he is facing a possible fine and up to 15 days in detention.

“What with six new arrests in a span of a few hours, accompanied by violence, threats and searches, the authorities are stepping up their persecution of the last independent journalists and media in Russia. RSF condemns the arbitrary arrests and unacceptable violence against these journalists. The charges must be dropped and the two journalists still detained must be released.

Jeanne Cavelier
Head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk

The crackdown on independent journalists was not limited to Moscow. RusNews correspondent Olga Komleva was arrested in the city of Ufa, 1.300 km east of Moscow, on 27 March and was put in provisional detention on 28 March for an initial period of two months. She is also accused of “extremism” because of her contacts with Navalny.

Just days after Vladimir Putin’s bogus reelection as president on 17 March, Russia continues its transformation into a “black hole” for news and information, in which Kremlin propaganda reigns supreme. Hundreds of independent journalists have fled the country to avoid imprisonment since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Independent journalists are meanwhile hunted down and jailed in Ukraine’s occupied territories.

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