The government is waging a campaign against the critical media and putting pressure on unwelcome journalists, the letter published on Friday said.
The initiators of the letter include the news portal “Medusa” and the TV broadcaster “Doschd”, which the government had classified as “foreign agents”. The Russian journalists’ union, the Russian branch of Forbes magazine and several other media companies also supported the appeal.
Current conditions limit the work of journalists
Organizations that are regarded as “foreign agents” in Russia must, among other things, disclose their funding and provide a reference to all publications. The classification as a “foreign agent” is incompatible with the constitution and violates the media law and freedom of expression, said the signatories of the open letter. The status either leads to the closure of the relevant medium or creates “discriminatory conditions” that limit the work of journalists.
Independent journalism is coming under increasing pressure in Russia
Putin’s spokesman Dmitri Peskov immediately rejected the demands made in the open letter. The authorities only implement applicable law, said Peskow. “The law should and will exist.” How the law is applied can however be discussed.
The legislation was extended to the media by non-governmental organizations in 2017 after the Kremlin-funded broadcaster RT was declared a “foreign agent” in the US. Independent journalism is coming under increasing pressure in Russia – especially in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in September.