28 July 2021
28 July 2021
The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) is highly concerned about the raid this morning on the home of investigative journalist Roman Dobrokhotov. We call on the Russian authorities to immediately halt its intensifying crackdown on independent media in the run-up to the legislative elections in September.
Dobrokhotov is the editor-in-chief of The Insider, an online outlet registered in Latvia that has published investigations into corruption and abuses by Russian officials, alleged Russian covert actions in Ukraine and the assassination attempt on opposition leader Alexei Navalny. According to The Insider, the raid this morning may be related to a slander case launched in April, following a complaint by a Dutch journalist whom The Insider had accused of working with Russian intelligence services.
On 23 July, the Russian Ministry of Justice declared The Insider a “foreign agent media”. The government uses this label to indicate that they are allegedly engaged in political activity. With the labelling come pejorative Soviet-era connotations that serve to demonise independent media and extra government scrutiny. Targeted outlets are required to include a disclaimer that their publications are distributed by an organisation “fulfilling the function of a foreign agent”, and to start broadcasts with a similar message. Individual journalists have said they need to attach a disclaimer to social media posts and regularly file itemised reports on their finances to the justice ministry. In comments to the media, Dobrokhotov had said that The Insider would continue to operate as usual under Lavian law, and would not comply with the requirements of the Russian foreign agent law.
Russia introduced the “foreign agent” legislation in 2012. Initially, it was used mainly to suppress human rights work and those who promote civic participation, for example, by sharing information on voting rights. In 2017, the law was amended to include “foreign agent media”. Failure to comply with the obligations under the law results in fines and, potentially, closure of outlets and criminal charges against their staff. For instance, since January of this year, media regulator Rozkomnadzor has issued hundreds of notices of violations against US-funded Radio Liberty, with fines totalling almost two million euros. In April, the broadcaster appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, requesting it to indicate interim measures that would block the Russian authorities from enforcing the fines.
While the Russian authorities’ list of “foreign agent media” had originally mainly included Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and its various regional agencies, this year the crackdown was expanded to include new digital outlets founded by refugees from traditional Russian media that have increasingly been brought under the Kremlin’s control. New targets include Meduza, a leading Russian-language news website based in Latvia; PASMI, Russia’s first media outlet dedicated exclusively to fighting corruption; and, VTimes, an independent online business newspaper. In June, VTimes closed down as a consequence, citing concerns among advertisers and fears of possible legal troubles for their staff.
Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners are highly concerned about the wave of abusive legal actions against Croatian online news outlet Index.hr.READ MORE
The undersigned partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) today express serious concern over the brutal beating of two filmmakers who were shooting a documentary about illegal logging in Romania and call on the country’s prosecutor general and law enforcement authorities to ensure all those responsible are swiftly brought to justice.READ MORE
The partner organisations in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) welcome the European Commission’s Recommendation on ensuring the protection, safety and empowerment of journalists and media professionals in the European Union, presented today.READ MORE
As the European Parliament today debates the Pegasus spyware scandal, the undersigned partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) call for an immediate investigation into the alleged use of the spyware against journalists by Hungarian authorities and urge the strong implementation of new EU rules on the export of cyber-surveillance technology around the world.READ MORE
More than 250 days have now passed since the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) last received state funding for carrying out its public service mission from the government of Janez Janša, which currently presides over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.READ MORE
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.