Pressure on Russian journalists: dangerous roulette

Pressure on Russian journalists

Russian journalists are under repression and have to fear for their lives. This is confirmed by a recent study.

Two men are holding a picture of the deceased journalist

13 years ago, the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered Photo: Arne Dedert / dpa

BERLIN taz | | Almost to the day just 13 years ago, the Russian regime-critical journalist Anna Politkovskaya was killed in front of her Moscow apartment with several shots. The masterminds of the deed were never arrested. Even today, practicing the journalistic profession in Vladimir Putin's empire is more akin to Russian roulette than ever before. Because repressions against reporters have steadily increased in recent years.

This is the conclusion of the study "Attacks on Journalists and Media Makers in Russia" presented by the Justice for Journalists Foundation this week. The London-based foundation was founded in 2018 by ex-oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, detained for ten years, and his former business partner Leonid Newslin. Among other things, it awards grants for investigative research and to help solve crimes against media workers.

The study is available in Russian and English. In the period from 2017 to the end of September 2019, repressions against journalists of various categories were examined. Thus, 14 of them were killed, with six clearly being murder.

In the summer of 2018, the murder of three Russian journalists in the Central African Republic caused a great stir, including international ones. To date, the background of the crime are in the dark. Facts gathered by independent journalists ignored the investigators. State authorities use critical methods to react with the same methods: arrests, interrogations, imprisonment, civil and criminal prosecution, raids and seizures of implements.

Dark figure far higher

According to the study, the number of such incidents has doubled from 70 to 160 within the investigation period of just under three years, which has even tripled from arrests. The latter measure appears to be a particularly effective means of preventing the coverage of protests, such as this year, in the context of local elections.

Even with cyberattacks against journalists are recorded with an increase of 48 percent full growth rates. For example, journalists who reported protests against the planned construction of a church in Yekaterinburg in May 2019 reported attempts to destroy their account on the telegram messenger.

The number of unreported cases in this area should be much higher. For many sufferers, the report says, such "strangers" were part of their professional daily business and are therefore not even worth a public mention. But this circumstance should give reason to think.

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