SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 2 February 2023, Thursday |

Russian news outlets urge Putin to end media ‘crackdown’ under ‘foreign agent’ law

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been urged by several leading Russian media outlets to end what they claim a “crackdown” on journalists and media firms, who have been branded as “foreign agents” and “undesirable” organizations.

In the run-up to September`s legislative election, the officials had declared several outlets as “foreign agents” under a 2017 Russian law that requires them to put a disclaimer on any content they produce and disclose information on their funding.

More than a dozen media, including Meduza, TV Rain and Novaya Gazeta have signed an open letter to the government pleading them to repeal the law, which they argue is a death sentence for independent media as it scares off advertisers, potential sources and reporting partners.

“We are convinced that these events are part of a coordinated campaign to destroy independent Russian media, whose entire ‘guilt’ is constituted by their honestly fulfilling their professional duties to their readers,” The Guardian quoted the letter.

“We demand that this campaign be halted right now.”

Some outlets said they have been forced to close because a foreign agent declaration had destroyed their business models.

Earlier this year, Russia heavily fined US broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty this year and froze its Moscow bank accounts for refusing to publish the disclaimer after being declared a foreign agent.

Rejecting the claims that the media is being persecuted, the Kremlin described the appeals made by the outlets as “emotional”.

It said that such designations showed that the law was functioning and that the legislation was needed to protect Russia from foreign meddling as journalists and NGOs can be manipulated.