A court in Moscow has revoked the print license of the independent Novaya gazeta newspaper, which was founded in part with money from former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, less than a year after its editor in chief, Dmitry Muratov, won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Basmanny district court said on September 5 that it had invalidated the newspaper’s license at the request of the country’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor.
“The newspaper was killed today. They stole 30 years of life from its employees. Deprived readers of the right to receive information,” Novaya gazeta said on its Telegram channel.
Roskomnadzor filed the lawsuit against one of the last independent Russian media outlets in late July, saying the newspaper’s editorial board failed to provide the periodical’s new charter to the Justice Ministry after an ownership change.
Novaya gazeta’s lawyers insist that the changes in 2006 did not require presenting the charter to the authorities.
This is a “purely political decision, it has no legal grounds to it,” Muratov said in a tweet on the Novaya gazeta Europe feed. He added that the outlet will appeal the ruling.
Novaya gazeta began publishing in 1993 and was one of the most respected publications in post-Soviet Russia. It suspended operations inside the country in March after being forced to remove material from its website on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The paper is best known for its investigative reports on corruption and rights abuses. In a country ranked as one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists, its reporting has earned international accolades but has also put its reporters in considerable danger.
Several of the publication’s journalists and contributors — including Igor Domnikov, Yuri Shchekochikhin, Anna Politkovskaya, Anastasia Baburova, Natalya Estemirova, and Orkhan Dzhemal — have been killed since 2000 and others attacked.
“Today, our colleagues, already killed by this state for the performance of their professional duty, were killed again,” the newspaper said in its statement on Telegram.
Some members of the paper’s staff left Russia after it stopped publishing and launched a new outlet, Novaya gazeta Europe, from Latvia’s capital, Riga. Russia’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, has blocked that website inside Russia, as well.
Muratov has remained in Russia despite fears for his safety and freedom over his vocal opposition to the conflict in Ukraine. In June, he auctioned off his Nobel Prize for $103.5 million.
“The judgement against Novaya gazeta is yet another blow to the independence of Russian media,” UN Human Rights Office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement, adding that press “activities have been further compromised by legal restrictions and increased state controls imposed following the Russian Federation’s attack on Ukraine.”
Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Moscow quickly adopted a law criminalizing the dissemination of “false” information that “discredits the armed forces.” The law has been central to a massive crackdown against dissent over the war in Russia.
Also in July, Roskomnadzor blocked the website of the magazine Novaya rasskaz-gazeta — also produced by the staff at Novaya gazeta — for allegedly “discrediting the Russian armed forces.”
In 1990, Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to reducing East-West tensions, and three years later he used some of his prize money to invest in the small, independent newspaper, helping it buy its first computers.
Gorbachev was laid to rest on September 3 after dying five days earlier after what doctors vaguely called a “serious and prolonged illness.”
Source : RFE/RL