Russia restricts liberal media outlets
Russia has demanded the country’s media regulator pull two popular liberal press outlets off the air due to their coverage of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.
On Tuesday, the General Prosecutor’s office ordered Roskomnadzor to restrict access to the Echo of Moscow’s Radio Station and TV-channel Rain for their alleged spread of false information in relation to the actions of Russia’s armed forces in the Eastern European nation.
Television channel Rain, known as Dozhd in Russian, has been designated as a foreign agent due to its links to overseas funding. Echo of Moscow is indirectly state-owned by the Gazprom media conglomerate.
The General Prosecutor’s office also accused the two agencies of calling for violence against Russian citizens, as well as encouraging violations of public order by urging participation in mass demonstrations against the military action.
Echo’s editor-in-chief, the well-known liberal journalist Alexey Venediktov, hit out at the decision, arguing that “these claims are not supported by any examples or evidence.” He insisted that “they are groundless and offensive to journalists and Russian citizens.”
Venediktov also promised to challenge the order in court. “We see a political component [in this], as well as the introduction of censorship, which is directly prohibited by the Constitution of the Russian Federation,” he said.
The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists criticized the measures against the outlets, arguing that “Russian authorities should allow Echo of Moscow, Dozhd TV, and all other news outlets to work freely, and should refrain from restricting access to social media platforms.”
The organization, however, did not condemn the ban of other Russian media, namely RT and Sputnik, in the EU earlier this week. Brussels claimed that these two outlets are state-sponsored propaganda and promised measures to limit their access across the bloc.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the offensive into Ukraine last Thursday after the leaders of the recently recognized breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics appealed for assistance in relation to what they claim was increasing “aggression” from Kiev’s armed forces.