NEW YORK, June 8, 2022 – Russian authorities must halt efforts to silence coverage of the invasion of the country in Ukraine and drop all fines and penalties imposed on entities reporting on the conflict , the Committee for the Protection of Journalists said on Wednesday.
On June 3, the Kirovsky District Court in downtown Yekaterinburg fined the independent Vecherniye Vedomosti Newspaper 150,000 rubles ($2,415) for “discrediting the Russian armed forces” in its reporting on Telegram, the newspaper said outlet, media reportsand Vecherniye Vedomosti Director Guzela Aitkulova speaking to CPJ via messaging app.
Separately, the Svetlogorsk City Court in the western Kaliningrad region ruled on June 5 that a list of soldiers killed in Ukraine published by the private Pskov-based news website was confirmed 60.ruconstituted “secret information,” which prompted the site to remove the list to avoid criminal charges several media reports. 60.ruAccording to these reports, the list was compiled from information openly released by official sources.
“After criminalizing the publication of so-called false information about the war in Ukraine, prosecuting journalists and banning dozens of news websites, the Russian authorities continue their efforts to silence media outlets reporting on military casualties and anti-war protests in Ukraine report to Russia. said Gulnoza Said, CPJ program coordinator for Europe and Central Asia. “The authorities must lift the fine imposed Vecherniye Vedomostienable 60.ru publish freely and allow journalists to do their jobs.”
The fine of Vecherniye Vedomosti, published by the newspaper’s parent company, Technotorg, comes from an 18th-century issue telegram mail by the newspaper covering the imprisonment of an artist who, according to Aitkulova and news reports on the case, allegedly distributed anti-war stickers on the streets of Yekaterinburg.
Vecherniye Vedomosti‘s telegram mail contained a blurred image of those stickers, Aitkulova told CPJ, saying the post contained “no words about the Russian army”.
On June 6, authorities also told Aitkulova they were investigating another 54 Telegram posts from the channel, which allegedly also discredit the armed forces, she said.
“We are outraged that we are actually being punished for our journalistic activities right now,” Aitkulova told the CPJ. “This all looks like revenge for our independent position. And an attempt to destroy us without blocking us – by crushing us financially.”
She said Technotorg intends to appeal the June 3 verdict and no hearings have been scheduled on the other posts. CPJ emailed the Kirovsky District Court for comment, but received no response.
In his judgment against 60.ruTriggered by a lawsuit filed by a military prosecutor, the Svetlogorsk City Court ruled that listing the names of Svetlogorsk residents who died serving as soldiers in Ukraine constituted illegal disclosure of classified information, punishable by up to seven years in a penal colony, according to the Russian Criminal Code and media reports.
So is the state media regulator Roskomnadzor permitted by law Block outlets found to have shared such information.
After the court’s decision, a number of online publications were associated with the media network Shkulev Media Holding, including 60.ru and 74.ruremoved websites commemorating Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine, citing “the safety of journalists,” according to the NGO group. Roskomsvoboda.
When CPJ emailed the Svetlogorsk City Court, a representative sent a press release It was published on June 1, stating that an unnamed website “published information revealing personnel losses of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation during a special operation, names and personal data of those killed.”
CPJ by email 60.ru and 74.ru for a comment, but received no response.