OSCE Media Freedom Representative strongly deplores the continued practice of judicial persecution of journalists in Russia

Published in World
Tuesday, 16 August 2022 10:55

VIENNA, 15 August 2022 – Following recent cases of criminal and administrative charges against journalists and media professionals in the Russian Federation, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro, strongly deplores the continued practice of judicial persecution resulting in further decline in media freedom and access to information.

“Over the last few weeks, a considerable number of new cases of judicial persecution have been brought to my attention,” said Ribeiro. “These cases often refer to the alleged ‘dissemination of false information about the Russian armed forces,’ which is criminally punishable under a new law adopted following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

Marina Ovsyannikova, former producer at Pervyi Channel, has been charged with ‘dissemination of false information about the Russian armed forces’ and faces up to ten years imprisonment for a single-person picket she organized in front of the Kremlin on 15 July. Perviously, Fortanga’s editor-in-chief and journalist Isabella Evloyeva faced a criminal charge for a similar offence of ‘dissemination of false information’ based on her posts on Fortanga’s Telegram channel about the losses of the Russian army and the bombardment of a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, Ukraine.

“The charge of spreading ‘false information’ in connection with the Russian invasion of Ukraine is being instrumentalized for the purposes of silencing dissenting voices,” Ribeiro said.

Furthermore, administrative fines continue to be used to financially undermine media outlets and journalists. For example, authorities imposed a fine on Novaya Gazeta for ‘abuse of media freedom’ and threatened to invalidate its registration both as a print and digital outlet. Vladislav Postnikov, editor-in-chief of the Ekaterinburg-based independent news outlet, Vietchierniye Vedomosti, and Sergey Smirnov editor-in-chief of Mediazona were also fined on charges of ‘discrediting the use of Russian armed forces.’

On 9 August, Life.ru journalist and former correspondent for Kommersant and Izvestia, Alexandra Bayasitova, was put in pre-trial detention and charged with ‘extortion in order to get property’ (art. 163-6.3, Criminal Code). She faces up to 15 years imprisonment if convicted.

“Journalists must not be punished for carrying out their professional duties. In addition, pre-trial detention should not be used for putting unjust pressure on media workers. By violating OSCE commitments, Russian authorities deny their citizens access to essential information and create an atmosphere of fear and repression,” concluded Ribeiro.  

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter @OSCE_RFoM and facebook.com/osce.rfom.

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