Too dangerous to stay: Russia’s journalists are leaving the country

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A country with the largest territory in the world and a turbulent modern history, Russia is home to one of the most difficult media landscapes and censorship has been tightening its grip with new-found strength.

Free media was virtually non-existent during the decades of Soviet rule. It wasn’t until 1991 that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed a decree allowing the first independent media outlets to emerge. This was also the year the Soviet Union ceased to be, and Russia was born in its stead. The constitution of Russia, adopted in 1993, guaranteed, among other rights and freedoms, the freedom of speech.

In 2018 it is still the same country with the same constitution, but the initial euphoria for freedom ended abruptly in 2003 after the shake-up of the television channel NTV. From its foundation in 1993 through the early 2000s, NTV was the largest private broadcaster in Russia and a stronghold of free speech, which didn’t suit Vladimir Putin, who first became president in 2000. Witty, free-spoken hosts openly criticised the government, reported on its failures and produced sharp political satire. The undermining of the channel began in 1999 with governmental lawsuits, and the final blow was dealt soon after the tragic events around Nord Ost, the three-day theatre siege in 2002, also known as the Dubrovka terror attack. Putin’s displeasure with NTV’s honest coverage and investigation into the death of 129 hostages, who inhaled an unidentified state-administered gas, resulted in the firing of the network’s CEO Boris Jordan. Soon after, the channel ceased to exist only to be reborn as a state-controlled media outlet with the same name.

Today, mass media in Russia is quite a different scene. The government sets the tone for many things, including the attitude towards journalists. Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? Which news events should be covered in state media and which are too upsetting to show to the country?

State-owned and state-friendly TV channels like Channel 1 and Rossiya are known for meticulously filtering the inflow of news and dropping the themes and subjects that may throw shadow on the government. The few independent outlets left standing, like Ekho Moskvy, Novaya Gazeta and Dozhd TV, have to endure harassment from power structures and take part in legal battles against governmental institutions and businesses willing to censor them.

Recent additions to Russian legislation make it easier to prosecute media outlets for their reporting. Financial struggle is also real for many Russian media, which are being purchased and reshaped according to the tastes of the new owners, who often happen to have close ties to the Kremlin. That’s what happened to RBC newspaper and TV channel, among others.

Self-censorship is prevalent in newsrooms as well.

The number of threats and acts of violence against journalists has increased three-fold within the last two years, reported Natalia Kostenko, the head of the ONF Centre for Legal Support of Journalists, at a conference in March 2018.  Kostenko cited restriction of access, verbal threats, physical violence, damage to personal belongings and lawsuits as the most common misdemeanours against media workers.

However, media freedom is not the only concern in today’s Russia. The political climate has changed drastically over the last few years: the country has seen a surge of nationalism, xenophobia and religious fervour, and the revival of Soviet methods of dealing with “thought criminals”. Under recently passed legislation, a person can be imprisoned for a social media like or repost if anyone considers it to be hateful or extremist. The economic stagnation and financial crisis, which began in 2014 as the result of sanctions against Russia’s actions in Crimea and Donbass, has been an important factor in all of this and contributed to a new wave of emigration, or “brain drain”, that has hit the country. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”102871″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Journalists are emigrating from the country for the same reasons as other groups. Some leave to pursue better career opportunities at foreign news outlets. Some follow their families or marry abroad. Some simply want a safer, more open environment for themselves and their children.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”102872″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Veteran TV host Tatiana Lazareva found herself unable to find any work on Russian television after she and her husband Mikhail Shatz took part in covering opposition leader Alexey Navalny‘s protests in 2012. This got them blacklisted on most Russian TV channels. “I don’t have a profession anymore,” Lazareva told Dozhd TV in an interview last year. “As I see it now, they wanted to take not only television away from us, but any chance to make money, wanted us, like, to crawl on our knees and beg.”

She moved to Spain, where she and her family had been spending their holidays for 15 years, to raise her youngest daughter. Lazareva continues her charity work in Russia and heads a motivational programme for people over 50, but the door to journalism in her country remains closed.

Lazareva’s example is not unique, and many young journalists now prefer to either start their careers abroad or change professions. For some journalists, leaving Russia is the only possible choice.

Vocal and straightforward, Karina Orlova had been a journalist at Ekho Moskvy radio for over a year when the attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo took place. A few days after the massacre, she hosted a show with Maxim Shevchenko, a right-wing journalist and then-member of the Russian Presidential Council on Human Rights. Orlova asked Shevchenko to comment on the threatening statement made by Chechen Republic leader Ramzan Kadyrov in response to exiled businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s suggestion that every media outlet should republish Charlie Hebdo’s controversial Prophet Mohammed caricatures as an act of solidarity. Kadyrov called Khodorkovsky “the enemy of all Muslims” and his “personal enemy”, and said he hoped someone “would make the fugitive answer” for his words.  Shevchenko kept defending Kadyrov’s point of view, while Orlova attempted to get Shevchenko to acknowledge the severity of the threats and report them to the council. For this, she too became a target. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”102873″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Orlova’s mother discovered that threats were being made under the journalist’s profile on a website for local journalists. Orlova then began receiving threats through her Facebook account. She could tell there was something different about these threats – they weren’t like the usual outbursts she encountered while on air. The men, residents of Chechnya and Ingushetia, didn’t try to hide their identity. They called Orlova “the enemy of Islam” and promised to kill her in many different ways. At the same time, Kadyrov directed threats to Ekho’s staff chief editor Alexey Venediktov.

In haste, Orlova packed her things and boarded a flight to the United States, which she believed to be the safest place for her. It took her some time to feel comfortable in the new environment and polish her English skills. She still contributes to Ekho, but her main job is with an American political magazine.

“Return to Russia? I can’t, I don’t want to and I won’t. Russia is a dangerous country where the raging of the power structures got even more out of hand in the last three years,” Orlova says. “There are no independent courts, the police only chases the “enemies of the state” and robs local businesses.”

Despite being away from Russia for three years, Orlova’s name hasn’t been forgotten. “In January 2018 director Nikita Mikhalkov filmed an episode of his TV show, Besogon (“Exorcist” in Russian), about me. He called me Goebbels and a fascist for an old article in which I suggested that Russia needed a lustration, and all people who worked in the Soviet system should be excluded from the government. Last time Besogon covered an Ekho journalist, Tanya Felgengauer was brutally attacked,” Orlova said.

Echo Moskvy's Tatiana Felgengauer, a long-time host and one of the editor-in-chief’s deputies, was stabbed several times in the neck in the station's office. (Photo: Facebook)

Echo Moskvy’s Tatiana Felgengauer, a host and one of the editor-in-chief’s deputies, was stabbed several times in the neck in the station’s office. (Photo: Facebook)

Ekho host Tatiana Felgengauer was stabbed in the throat in October 2017 at the station’s headquarters. The attacker pepper-sprayed a guard and went for Felgengauer once he reached the office. He was deemed to be a paranoid schizophrenic and sentenced to compulsory medical treatment by the court.

Yulia Latynina

Yulia Latynina (Twitter)

As one of the most noticeable and outspoken radio hosts in Moscow, Felgengauer was criticised by Russian state outlets more than once. Just a week before the attack she was called a “traitor of the motherland” on state television for attending a conference sponsored by foreign human rights organisations. She survived thanks to quick medical attention and has since fully recovered and returned to work. Nevertheless, it was a very close call.

Soon after the attack Ksenia Larina, another Ekho journalist, began receiving death threats. Not taking any chances, she promptly left the country for Europe.

Yulia Latynina hosted her own show at Ekho while also contributing to the newspaper Novaya Gazeta. The sharp-tongued novelist and journalist has been an object of criticism for many years, but the final straw for her came in September 2018 when her car was burned out right outside her country house, which had previously been sprayed with a dangerous military-grade chemical. Latynina now spends her time between different countries and has no plans to return to Russia.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator color=”black”][vc_column_text]

No other Russian outlet has seen more of their journalists threatened, attacked and murdered over the years than Novaya Gazeta. One of the last bastions of Russian free press standing, the newsroom works under extreme pressure, carrying on in the same line of work as their fallen colleagues, who paid with their lives to get the truth out.

[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”102877″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]2000, Igor Domnikov, reported on business corruption in Moscow. Beaten to death outside his apartment by multiple men wielding hammers. Some of the murderers were arrested and sentenced in 2007, while the mastermind of the crime was let go.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”102880″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]2003, Yury Schekochikhin, investigative journalist. Died of a mysterious 16-day illness, possibly poison. Real cause of death never determined, independent investigation banned, case closed.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”85407″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]2006, Anna Politkovskaya, most famous for reporting about the Second Chechen War. First poisoned in 2004, recovered; then shot dead in her apartment building right on Vladimir Putin’s birthday. Murderers found and jailed, mastermind never found, investigation closed. Politkovskaya won an Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award for her courageous journalism.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”102879″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]2009, lawyer Stanislav Markelov and freelance reporter Anastasia Baburova. Both shot in the head on a Moscow side street in broad daylight. Both the killers and the mastermind found and jailed.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”102878″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]2009, Natalia Estemirova, human rights activist and journalist in Chechnya. Abducted near her home and found dead with bullet wounds in a woodland miles away. The killer was identified by the officials and allegedly killed in ambush. The newspaper staff is skeptical of this version, as the man’s DNA samples didn’t match the ones found on the crime scene.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

It would only be fair to say that Novaya Gazeta management knows pretty well when a threat is real. So instead of waiting for governmental protection, they take their own precautions. Here are just some of the recent stories of those who left the country before it was too late, related by the paper’s former chief editor Dmitry Muratov:

[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”102890″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Sergey Zolovkin used to be a police officer who solved many crimes, co-founded Sochi newspaper and was a Novaya Gazeta author. He was threatened many times, his car sabotaged, relatives beaten up, an attempt on his life made in 2002 – the would-be killer was caught on the spot as Zolovkin was armed; he moved to Germany soon after.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”102891″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Maynat Abdulaeva (Kurbanova) was reporting from Grozny, Chechnya, for years, until she and her family started receiving death threats. She has been living in Germany under PEN program Writers in Exile since 2004.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”102889″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Evgeniy Titov left in 2016. He reported on human rights violations in Krasnodar and corruption around Sochi 2014 Olympics, was threatened by the police and private individuals, and requested asylum in Lithuania.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”102888″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Elena Milashina co-authored the 2017 world-famous investigation about hundreds of gay men kidnapped, tortured and killed in Chechnya in a covert attempt to “purge” the region. Having been previously attacked and beaten up in 2006 and 2012, she fled Russia following death threats from Chechen officials and Muslim preachers, but continued to cover the region.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”102885″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Ali Feruz (pen name) reported on hate crimes, LGBTQ and migrant worker’s rights. He was born in Uzbekistan, though his mother was Russian. He escaped from the country after being detained and tortured by the Uzbek National Security Service, who wanted his cooperation. Feruz moved to Russia and tried to obtain a Russian citizenship on jus sanguinis principle. His initial appeal was turned down, but a new case looked promising. He was suddenly arrested in August 2017 and sentenced to deportation to Uzbekistan. In the following three and a half months Feruz was abused and tortured in detention – and no one got punished for it. He was rescued and granted asylum by the German government, and will never be able to return to Russia. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”102886″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Elena Kostychenko was one of Novaya Gazeta’s most fearless and fierce reporters, having covered complex stories all over Russia. She is also a feminist and LGBTQ activist, and in 2011 was left with a concussion after being attacked at a pride parade in Moscow. In 2016 Kostychenko was brutally beaten in Beslan while covering a protest of the mothers whose children died in the 2004 school terror attack. She is still recovering from psychological aftershocks, abroad.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]

528 press freedom violations in Russia verified by Mapping Media Freedom as of 27/9/2018

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Index urges Russian government to halt deportation of Uzbek journalist

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]8 August: Index on Censorship welcomes a ruling by a Russian court temporarily halting the deportation of independent journalist Khudoberdi Nurmatov, better known by his pen name Ali Feruz. The decision follows a European Court of Human Rights order to delay the deportation until it can rule on the journalist’s appeal.

Index calls on the Russian authorities to allow accept Nurmatov’s asylum application and ensure he is treated safely.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”94957″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]Journalist Khudoberdi Nurmatov, who works for independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, is set to be deported back to Uzbekistan, where it is feared he will be tortured.

“Deportation to Uzbekistan puts his life at serious risk. If sent back Nurmatov faces a long prison sentence under cruel conditions, including torture. We call on Russia to stop the deportation and accept Nurmatov’s asylum application,” Hannah Machlin, manager for Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom project, said.  

A Moscow court ruled on 1 August 2017 that Nurmatov (also known as Ali Feruz) violated immigration laws. He is currently being held in a deportation centre in Moscow where he faces immediate expulsion from the country. In May 2016 and in February 2017, Russia refused to grant the journalist temporary asylum.

In 2008, Novaya Gazeta reported that Nurmatov was abducted by Uzbek security forces who demanded he provide information on his contacts. He was subsequently beaten and threatened. He later applied for asylum in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, but decided to flee to Russia in 2011, where he feared extradition. Because of his refusal to work for Uzbek security forces, friends and supporters are concerned that he could be abducted or tortured.

According to his lawyer Daniil Khaimovich, on 2 August Feruz attempted to commit suicide in a hallway at the courthouse. The journalist then told his lawyer: “I would rather die than return to Uzbekistan.”

Nurmatov has covered a wide range of topics at the paper including on abuse of power, LGBT issues and conditions of central asian immigrants in Russia.

“Ali is an extremely valuable asset as he’s been covering the migrant community in Russia that media normally can’t report on easily. He is committed to his work and shows real compassion to the problems he reports on. We can’t imagine losing him,” Anna Baydakova, a politics reporter for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, told Index on Censorship.  [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”12″ style=”load-more” items_per_page=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1502188585770-4b2b310d-e3a3-9″ taxonomies=”7349, 15″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Mapping Media Freedom: Russian investigative journalist dies after two brutal assaults

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Mapping Media Freedom

Each week, Index on Censorship’s Mapping Media Freedom project verifies threats, violations and limitations faced by the media throughout the European Union and neighbouring countries. Here are recent reports that give us cause for concern.

Russia: Investigative journalist dies after two brutal assaults

Nikolay Andruschenko, an investigative correspondent for weekly newspaper Novyi Petersburg died on 19 April after being subjected to two brutal assaults in March, Open Russia reported.

Alevtina Ageyeva, the director of Novyi Peterburg, told Mapping Media Freedom that on 9 March, two unknown individuals approached him near his house and demanded that he hand over documents and materials relating to an ongoing investigation into abuse of power by police officers.

When Andruschenko refused to cooperate, they hit him several times in the head and ran away. The journalist refused to file a complaint to the police.

The second assault took place a few days later. According to Ageyeva, she was called by the Mariinskaya hospital and told that Nikolay Andruschenko was in a critical state and being treated in the intensive care unit. He was found unconscious with a brain injury near his apartment.

Despite undergoing surgery he never recovered.

Although the local police have opened an investigation, Ageyeva doubts it will be conducted properly because of Andruschenko’s history of investigating cases of police corruption.

She is convinced that both assaults are related to Andruschenkov’s work as an investigative reporter.

France: Journalists barred from filming during meeting with presidential candidate Fillon

Two reporters for Buzzfeed News, David Perrotin and Paul Aveline, were physically prevented filming a meeting with French presidential candidate Francois Fillon on 17 April.

The journalists were filming two people who had interrupted Fillon’s meeting by shouting “Give the money back!” and were detained by the police when members of the candidate’s security staff physically prevented them from filming.

Guards first grabbed David Perrotin, pulling him by the collar, physically threatened him and demanded that he delete his video. A fuard then grabbed Aveline’s phone to prevent him from filming the scene.

At this point, according to Buzzfeed, a member of Fillon team said: “Throw them out.” It was only when the two journalists said they would write an article on the incidents that the members of the security team stopped threatening them.

During the same meeting, journalist Hortense Gerard, who works for BFMTV, was spat on. She later tweeted a photo of her sleeve covered in spit.

Russia: Novaya Gazeta receives serious threats after story on anti-gay purge in Chechnya

Independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta has received “direct threats addressed to its journalists” following publications on harassment of gay people in Chechnya according to a statement they released.

It says: “On 1 April 2017, Novaya Gazeta wrote on mass detainment and torture of Chechen residents who were suspected of being homosexual. We know the names of three persons murdered and we know that the number of those who were killed is much higher.(…)”

The backlash in Chechnya has left the entire staff of the newspaper fearful, the Guardian reported.

According to official data, on 3 April around 15,000 people attended an urgent meeting of representatives from the republic’s Muslim communities in the central mosque in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya.

During the meeting, Adam Shakhidov, an adviser to the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, publicly accused the editorial staff of Novaya Gazeta of defamation and called them “enemies of our religion and our motherland”. This was broadcast live by a local TV channel and led to aggressive comments on social media.

After the meeting, a resolution was accepted. The second paragraph states the following: “The centuries-old traditions of Chechen society, the dignity of Chechen men, and our faith have all been insulted, and we promise that those behind it will face reprisals, whoever they are and wherever they are.”

Novaya Gazeta has called on the Russian authorities to prevent the hate speech directed at journalists for doing their jobs. When Novaya Gazeta’s statement was published online, its website crashed and staff are convinced this was due to a DDoS attack.

The backlash was sparked by an 1 April story from reporter Elena Milashina and her colleague Irina Gordienko. In March, Milashina had discovered evidence that gay men were being detained, tortured and even killed in an anti-homosexual purge in Chechnya.

Milashina spoke to The Washington Post on Friday 14 April from an undisclosed location and said she was thinking of leaving the country because of safety concerns.

Ukraine: Film crew shot at while investigating oligarch’s estate

Unidentified assailants shot at journalists from investigative program Slidstvo.Info on 14 April. The journalists were filming the estate of oligarch Rinat Akhmetov around Kyiv, the Institute of Mass Information reported.

“Our reporters Maxim Opanasenko and Kirill Shapar were filming a new estate near Kyiv which belongs to Rinat Akhmetov,” Slidstvo.Info reported.

Unidentified individuals shot a meter and a half above the car where Slidstvo.Info journalists were seated, Maxim Opanasenko told IMI. “I didn’t see the gunman. We suspect this was intended to scare us because they saw our drone,” the journalist said.

He added that the journalists are planning to investigate who the shooters were. No journalists were injured according to the IMI report.

Greece: Journalist arrested following libel lawsuit from central banker’s wife

Journalist and publisher Kostas Vaxevanis was arrested following a libel lawsuit against him filed by Lina Nikolopoulou, who is married to Bank of Greece Governor Yiannis Stournaras, Naftemporiki newspaper reported.

On 9 April Vaxevanis published an article in the weekly newspaper Documento about Nikolopoulou, who he claimed had received up to €400,000 of state money for medical and pharmaceutical lobbying and conference work and Stournaras presence in these conferences as a lecturer.

Vaxevanis alleges that contracts for these services were awarded to Nikolopoulou without being offered for public tender. 

“The Stournaras family is not struggling in a legal battle, as it pretends. Mr and Mrs Stournaras struggle for their survival. They are trying to cover the way they act and operate,” Vaxevanis wrote in a statement asking for support.

The party leading the Greek government, Syriza, issued a statement stressing that the lawsuit “directly challenges journalism and press freedom” and adding that “the report raises some critical questions about the public health area, which require serious and documented answers”.

Vaxevanis was released later the same day.  

Mapping Media Freedom

Click on the bubbles to view reports or double-click to zoom in on specific regions. The full site can be accessed at[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1493112590515-3ca2c0ad-ff59-8″ taxonomies=”6564″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Anastasia Vladimirova: A ruthless crackdown on independent media

This is the eighth of a series of posts written by members of Index on Censorship’s youth advisory board.

Members of the board were asked to write a blog discussing one free speech issue in their country. The resulting posts exhibit a range of challenges to freedom of expression globally, from UK crackdowns on speakers in universities, to Indian criminal defamation law, to the South African Film Board’s newly published guidelines.

Anastasia Vladimirova is a member of the Index youth advisory board. Learn more

Anastasia Vladimirova is a member of the Index youth advisory board. Learn more

On July 29, Russia’s independent media support fund, Sreda, announced it would be liquidated due to lack of funding.

Russia’s Ministry of Justice declared the fund a “foreign agent” after its mandatory check into the organisation’s finances.

Direct interference by the Russian government became possible in 2012 after President Vladimir Putin approved a law requiring all non-governmental organisations that receive foreign funding and engage in vaguely defined political activity to register as foreign agents with the Russian Ministry of Justice.

Since its inception, however, Sreda had received money from Dmitry Zimin, a Russian entrepreneur and investor in science and education, whose nonprofit foundation Dynasty closed earlier this year due to the scrutiny imposed by the Ministry of Justice under the same law. Given the absence of foreign funding, the liquidation of Sreda is an example of Russia’s ruthless crackdown on independent media masquerading as a legal fight against the alleged foreign influence on Russia’s political and civic life.

Colta, Novaya Gazeta and TV Rain Channel are just a few examples of Sreda’s now former grantees that struggle to keep up their independent voices in the media landscape dominated by state-sponsored outlets.

Anastasia Vladimirova, Russia

Simeon Gready: An over-the-top regulation policy
Ravian Ruys: Without trust, free speech suffers
Muira McCammon: GiTMO’s linguistic isolation
Jade Jackman: An act against knowledge and thought
Harsh Ghildiyal: Defamation is not a crime
Tom Carter: No-platforming Nigel
Matthew Brown: Spying on NGOs a step too far
About the Index on Censorship youth advisory board
Facebook discussion: no-platforming of speakers at universities