Russian parliament member threatens journalist, editor

New York, March 18, 2013–A member of Russia’s parliament has used his public Twitter account to threaten two journalists with the independent daily Moskovsky Komsomolets, according to news reports.

Andrei Isayev, a parliament member with the governing United Russia party, posted on his account on Friday that “a severe retaliation” awaited a “particular editor and author” of a newspaper that had “organized a filthy, mean, dirty attack on three female deputies,” the English-language daily The Moscow Times reported.

News accounts reported that Isayaev’s threats were directed at Georgy Yans, a reporter for Moskovsky Komsomolets, and editor Aider Muzhdabayev in connection with an article published in the paper on Friday headlined “Political Prostitution Changes Its Gender.” The article had criticized three of United Russia’s female parliament members for switching parties–from opposition to pro-government–and for changing their position on restrictive legislation, including the re-criminalization of defamation, which they had once opposed.

“These menacing posts are especially alarming given the long record of politically motivated attacks against critical journalists in Russia,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Research Associate Muzaffar Suleymanov. “These remarks should be repudiated as ones that cross the line into threats against individuals’ safety.”

In a letter published on Saturday by the independent broadcaster Ekho Moskvy, Isayev claimed that in his post he was referring to unnamed individuals who publish “dirty, cursing, and swearing” commentaries online. He did not refer to the journalists by name, even though his posts had mentioned a specific article and its editor and author. The politician accused the independent press of “radical liberalism,” and said he considered the Moskovsky Komsomolets article to be a vulgar attack against successful women.

In an interview with the independent news website Gazeta today, Isayev said he did not regret his post and said the journalists, as well as the newspaper, should be brought to justice for insulting parliament members.

Pavel Gusev, chief editor of Moskovsky Komsomolets, said he had filed a complaint with the general prosecutor’s office, asking that the threats be investigated, news reports said.

  • For more data and analysis on Russia, visit CPJ’s Attacks on the Press.