Moscow, Russia — Saturday Russian police detained several journalists protesting the authorities’ decision to classify top independent television channels as “foreign agents”.
Journalists held individual pickets outside the headquarters of the FSB, the country’s premier security agency, at Moscow’s Rubyanska Square.
They said “journalism is not a crime” or “fear the truth” to protest the Ministry of Justice’s move to add Dozhd (Rain) TV channels and online research outlet Vazhnye Istorii (Important Stories) on Friday. I had a placard. List of “foreign agents”.
Detainees were handed a subpoena to attend a court hearing for violating the rules for holding pickets. This is an administrative crime that can be fined up to $ 270.
“I’m against labeling the TV channel Dozhd as a” foreign agent, “” said Farida Rustamova, a Dozhd journalist who picketed Saturday. “I want to work and live freely in Russia. I want the opportunity to be a free journalist. Colleagues are arrested, searched and labeled as” enemies of the people “or” agents “. I don’t want that. “
Yulia Krasnikova, a journalist at Vazhnye Istorii, has accused the authorities of moving unconstitutionally.
“The fact that we don’t want to write stories like other pro-government media do does not mean that we are violating something and that we are’foreign agents’. No, “Krasnikova said. “I’m here to protest it and help my colleagues.”
The Ministry of Justice has acted under the law used to designate non-governmental organizations and individuals funded abroad and engaged in activities that are broadly described as political as “foreign agents.” This label represents a scrutiny by the government and has strong derogatory implications that can undermine the credibility of media outlets and impair advertising visibility.
Dozhd accused the move of being unfair and said he would appeal.
The television channel is keenly critical of the Russian authorities’ crackdown on dissenting opinions and regularly publishes live reports from opposition protests. It has extensively covered the poisoning and imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, and the criminal cases filed against Navalny’s allies.
Russian officials put pressure on opposition and independent media prior to the September 19 parliamentary vote. This is widely regarded as an important part of Putin’s efforts to consolidate his control prior to Russia’s 2024 presidential election.