Barroso and Putin address reporters in Moscow in February 2009. (Reuters/Denis Sinyakov)
Barroso and Putin address reporters in Moscow in February 2009. (Reuters/Denis Sinyakov)

European Commission must press Russia on impunity

New York, February 23, 2011–In advance of key meetings on Thursday between the European Commission and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the Committee to Protect Journalists urges European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to address Russia’s record of rampant impunity in resolving the killings of journalists. 

“Physical attacks and murder have become routine methods used to silence journalists in Russia,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. “It is imperative that President Barroso engage with Prime Minister Putin to end impunity and uphold the rule of law in Russia. When sensitive subjects are underreported for fear of reprisal, the public–both domestic and international–is left to rely exclusively on official information.”

Russian officials have made public commitments to protect journalists, but with convictions elusive, violence against the press continues. Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee, responsible for probing the country’s most serious crimes, announced it would reopen at least five unsolved cases after meeting with a CPJ delegation in Moscow in September 2010–CPJ’s third consecutive yearly visit to Russia to press officials for justice. While no journalists were murdered in 2010, at least one reporter was brutally beaten in retaliation for his work. And his assailant, like nearly all attackers in anti-press cases, remains at large.

Russia ranks eighth on CPJ’s Impunity Index, a list of countries where journalists are killed regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes. Nineteen journalists have been murdered in the country since 2000, according to CPJ research.