Putin urged to junk media blacklist
More than a dozen of independent Russian media have called on President Vladimir Putin to stop the country’s proposed crackdown on foreign journalists accused of being “foreign agents.”
A report by Reuters said Friday that several local media outlets, such as Novaya Gazeta, Forbes Russia, and TV Rain, have published joint appeals to junk the blacklist and repeal laws on “foreign agents” and “undesirable organizations” altogether.
“We are convinced that these events are part of a coordinated campaign to destroy independent Russian media, whose entire ‘guilt’ is constituted by their honestly fulfilling their professional duties to their readers. We demand that this campaign be halted right now,” the letter read.
News outlet Meduza, which was tagged a foreign agent this year, for its part said: “These statuses either lead to media being shut down or create discriminatory conditions for them to work.”
“We’re sure these events are part of an orchestrated campaign to destroy independent Russian media whose only ‘fault’ is to honestly carry out their professional duties to their readers,” it said on its website.
It can be learned that top outlets and individual journalists were declared as foreign agents last year under a 2017 Russian law requiring them to affix a disclaimer to any content they produce and provide reports on their funding.
They argued that it was a death sentence for independent media as it scares off advertisers, potential sources, and reporting partners.
Apart from TV Rain and Meduza, the blacklisted outlets also included Radio Free Europe, The Insider, as well as investigative stories, regional publications, and human rights activists.
Some outlets have reportedly been forced to close, while others have been banned outright.
An investigative news outlet was also declared an undesirable organization in what was widely seen as revenge for a series of blockbuster investigations into senior members of government and businessmen with ties to Putin.
Despite the open letter, it was reportedly unlikely for the government to give in to calls.
A senior BBC correspondent was expected to leave Russia by the end of the month after failing to receive a visa extension.