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