Berlin, March 28, 2022 – In response to an announcement Monday that the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta would suspend publication after receiving a warning from the country’s media regulator, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement of concern:
“In their attempt to quash all independent coverage of the war in Ukraine, Russian authorities have closed down or otherwise silenced independent media outlets, and have forced journalists to flee from prosecution. Novaya Gazeta has been one of the last bastions of Russia’s free press,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said. “Russia’s draconian censorship tactics must stop. Now more than ever, it is critical that Russian news outlets be allowed to provide unbiased coverage. Novaya Gazeta must be allowed to operate freely.”
In its March 28 statement, Novaya Gazeta said the state media regulator, Roskomnadzor, had issued a warning over the newspaper’s coverage, and that it would cease publishing in print and online until the end of Russia’s so-called “special operation” in Ukraine.
According to reports by Russian state news agencies, authorities alleged that Novaya Gazeta published material from a group classified by the Russian government as a “foreign agent” without labeling it as such. The regulator previously sent Novaya Gazeta a warning for allegedly failing to mark foreign agent material on March 22, according to those reports.
Under Russia’s foreign agent law, a third warning for such an offense could result in the government closure of the news outlet.
Novaya Gazeta often publishes reporting critical of the Russian government, including the invasion of Ukraine, and recently covered an interview Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave to a group of independent Russian journalists. Roskomnadzor published a notice on Telegram warning that media outlets were barred from publishing that interview, and stating that it had opened an investigation into the outlets that participated in it.
Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief and founder of Novaya Gazeta and 2007 recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 for his work amid government repression.
[Editors’ note: This article has been updated in its sixth paragraph to include Roskomnadzor’s notice on Telegram.]