Russian Court's Ban of Newspaper Novaya Gazeta is a Punch in the Face of Freedom of Speech

Opinions |Author: Iveta Cherneva | September 7, 2022, Wednesday // 09:19|  views

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Iveta Cherneva, human rights author and analyst; finalist for UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of speech in 2020

The recent ruling by a Russian court in Moscow to revoke the license of Russian newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, is a punch in the face of freedom of speech. Globally, not just in Russia.

Novaya Gazeta's editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, claims that the court's decision has no legal basis.

The Russian authorities are accusing the newspaper of being a foreign agent. Foreign asset or spy is a usual angle that governments around the world often take in order to discredit and eliminate media or human rights organizations. In this case, the Russian authorities' argument is that the newspaper has failed to comply with the Russian laws applying to foreign agents, without the paper actually being a foreign agent.

Aggressively going after media and critical voices in a society brings about the proverbial "chilling effect", which silences and scares the exersize of free speech. That's observed not only in Russia.

Russia's "foreign agent" laws have a chilling effect on the exercize of free speech in Russia, but also beyond. They deprive of the truth people globally, especially in light of Novaya Gazeta's reporting of Russia's war on Ukraine which is a topic of global interest.

The Russian court's judgment, in a series of increased government pressure on Russian media, is an illustration of the attack on media freedom and independence by Russian President Vladimir Putin. This goes all the way up. Actions by the Russian authorities of this kind make the job of journalists impossible – literally. Novaya Gazeta has now been banned from publishing in Russia. That should worry not only Russians but also people all over the world who care about media freedom and freedom of speech, and who care about those who inform and bring the truth.

/Iveta Cherneva

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Tags: Novaya Gazeta, Russian, foreign


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