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28 Mar, 2022 15:46

Russian liberal newspaper suspends publication ‘until Ukraine operation ends’

Novaya Gazeta has decided to “temporarily” halt its operations after receiving two warnings in a row from the media regulator
Russian liberal newspaper suspends publication ‘until Ukraine operation ends’

The Moscow-based Novaya Gazeta newspaper has announced it will suspend its operations from Monday, after receiving the second notice in a row from the Russian media watchdog.

“We received another warning from Roskomnadzor. After that, we are suspending the publication of the newspaper on the website, in [social] networks and in print – until the end of the ‘special operation on the territory of Ukraine’,” the outlet said in a brief statement.

The outlet received the second warning from the regulator in a week on Monday. The notice came after the newspaper mentioned an unspecified “foreign agent” entity in one of its articles without identifying it as such, TASS reported. The first warning was lodged by Roskomnadzor last Tuesday over a similar issue related to coverage by “foreign agents.”

The newspaper’s team will spend the time off searching for new formats and exploring “new genres,” Novaya Gazeta’s editor-in-chief, 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov has said.

“The team is wonderful. And while the publishing is suspended, they will think about what new genres, products, and things they can do,” he told TASS.

Muratov has openly opposed Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, announcing last week that he would donate his Nobel medal to an auction to help Ukrainian refugees. The “foreign agents” legislation that ultimately led to the “temporary” suspension of Novaya Gazeta’s activities has been repeatedly targeted by the journalist as well. Apart from promising to funnel his Nobel Peace Prize money to help people who were accorded that label, he urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to revisit the “vague” and “extrajudicial legislation.”

Multiple media outlets critical of Russia’s authorities have fallen victim to the ongoing offensive in Ukraine, launched by Moscow last month. Early in March, Moscow’s liberal Telekanal Dozhd (TV Rain) “temporarily suspended” broadcasts after it was blocked by the regulator for alleged false reporting of the conflict.

A similar fate has befallen another popular liberal outlet, the Echo of Moscow radio station, which was accused of calling for “extremism” and of spreading “false information about the actions of the Russian military in Ukraine.” The outlet was shut down after a “majority vote” of its board of directors.

Moscow launched a large-scale offensive against its neighbor Ukraine in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military alliance. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the Donbass by force.