Moscow this week continued to silence media outlets and journalists known for their critical or investigative coverage of political and social issues in the country, cracking down on anyone whose reporting does not reflect the Kremlin’s narrative.
A Moscow court on Monday revoked the license of one of Russia’s last independent media – Novaya Gazeta – virtually banning its work under the guise of mundane administrative procedures.
Roskomnadzor, the Kremlin regime’s media and telecommunications supervisor, alleged that Novaya Gazeta violated Russian mass media law by not submitting its charter to the supervisory authority within three months of its initial publication, according to independent media.
The court of the Central Administrative District of Basman (Basmanny) of Moscow issued its decision despite the fact that Roskomnadzor, as a supervisory authority, was not even incorporated at the time of the initial publication of Novaya Gazeta, or in 2006 , when the owner of the point of sale has changed.
The documents, according to Novaya Gazeta, were however submitted to the Ministry of Press and Information, as was the practice at the time.
“The newspaper was killed today. They stole 30 years of life from his employees. Deprived readers of the right to receive information,” wrote the editorial team of Novaya Gazeta, led by editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for “its efforts to safeguard freedom of expression “.
Speaking in court, Muratov described the verdict as a political stunt with no legal basis, media reported.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights immediately expressed grave concern over Moscow’s court ruling and called on the Russian authorities to “refrain from implementing measures that stifle reporting on issues of legitimate public interest and allow the debate of diverse and plural voices, in the media, in accordance with international standards.”
“The judgment against Novaya Gazeta is a further blow to the independence of Russian media whose activities have been further undermined by legal restrictions and increased state controls imposed following the attack by the Russian Federation against Ukraine,” said UN Human Rights Office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani. in a statement.
The European Union too lamented The decision of the Moscow court, stating that “the Russian authorities have taken a step closer to full state control over the media”.
In another jab at the press, a Moscow court on Monday sentenced former journalist Ivan Safronov to 22 years in prison, in the country’s first treason conviction for a journalist since 2001, Kommersant reported in a breaking news about his former reporter.
Safronov, the former special correspondent for news outlets Kommersant and Vedomosti, left the media in 2020 to join Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos, as an adviser to the space agency’s director.
The court reportedly sent him to a “strict regime” penal colony and fined him 500,000 Russian rubles ($8,132) for “treason in favor of the Czech and German intelligence services”.
The media quoted Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) investigators alleging that Safronov, as a journalist, collected information about the country’s defense capabilities and the actions of Russian troops in Syria in exchange for tens of thousands of euros with Czech and German customers. .
Safronov’s defense said they would appeal the decision.
Commenting on the decision, Russian human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov stress that the “cruel and savage” decision of the Moscow court only reflects the current state of the nation.
The independent, nonprofit organization based in New York that promotes press freedom around the world – Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) – strongly condemned the decision on the “fabricated” treason charges and called on the Russian authorities to immediately reverse the decision.
“The 22-year prison sentence for Ivan Safronov, guilty of the sole crime of doing his job as a journalist, is simply unacceptable and utterly shocking, and must be immediately quashed,” said the program director of the CPJ, Carlos Martinez de la Serna.
He also stressed that the Russian authorities must “stop targeting journalists with political trials aimed at suppressing and terrorizing independent voices”.
The EU also urged the Russian authorities to dismiss the allegations against Ivan Safronov and release him unconditionally.
“The regime’s systematic crackdown on independent journalism denies citizens their right to factual information, including about Russia’s war in Ukraine,” said EU chief external affairs spokesperson Peter Stano. tweeted.