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“Novaya Gazeta”, the last independent newspaper established in Russia, stops

Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, boss of

Another turning point, the last nail in the coffin of freedom of expression… The reactions on social networks to the announcement of the shutdown, even presented as temporary, of Novaya Gazeta had, on Monday, March 28, an end-of-the-world tone. Admittedly, the legendary newspaper, that of Dmitri Muratov, Nobel Peace Prize in 2021, and Anna Politkovskaïa, journalist murdered in 2006, ensures that it will resume its activities at the end of the“special military operation” Russian in Ukraine, but, in a devastated media landscape, his renunciation appears as a final defeat.

Formally, it is not because of the events in Ukraine that Novaia, as the tri-weekly is called, is forced to suspend its online and print publications. In a very restrained statement, the newspaper revealed that it had taken this step after receiving a second warning from Roskomnadzor, the Russian telecoms policeman, in less than a week, for breaching the law on “foreign agents”. . Concretely, the publication did not mention that an NGO, quoted in one of its articles, carried this infamous statute. It is this same pretext that led, at the end of 2021, to the banning of the Memorial association.

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Novaya Gazeta has been a survivor in recent weeks. The initiation by Vladimir Putin of his “special operation” wiped out what was left of independent media in Russia. Its last representatives, like the Echo radio station in Moscow, were either dissolved by the courts or forced to scuttle themselves. Hundreds of journalists have left Russia.

Hostile environment

While this offensive against the independent media began several years ago, the danger has increased with the recent adoption of new legislation, including in particular the law which punishes up to fifteen years in prison the dissemination of “fake news” on the action of the Russian army. This law has, for the time being, been used primarily against journalists from regional publications, now active only on social networks. Social networks that have themselves suffered a full attack, in any case foreign networks. They have been blocked or suspended, or even, in the case of Facebook and Instagram, banned for “extremism”.

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In this hostile environment, Novaya Gazeta was trying to tack. The newspaper complied with formal legal requirements, for example avoiding the use of the word “war”, banned, or refraining from writing about the operations of the Russian army, but he still published reports about the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Ukraine or life in the territories “liberated” by Russian troops.

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