Moscow Named Journalist War Zone

moscow-war-zoneNote to  Russian war reporters returning to Moscow after dodging bullets in Chechnya: keep those flak jackets on!

According to the latest report by The International Union of Journalists,  “Moscow is the most dangerous place for journalists in Russia, even more than in relatively unsafe regions like Chechnya”.

And with 312 journalist deaths since 1991, Russia has become Europe’s most lethal reporting beat (by contrast, the UK had 1 death, and Italy and France none).

But contrary to the pervasive media narrative about the Putin regime’s targeting of journalists, the report notes improvements over the 1990s – the very years during which much of the West was fawning over ‘democrat’ Boris Yeltsin.

In its words, “the total impunity that existed for killers of journalists until 1997 has gradually receded and…an increasing number of investigations have led to prosecutions…The ten cases brought to trial of journalists killed for their work since 1997 saw a 50 per cent conviction rate. Of these, however, only two led to the jailing of all those responsible for the murder”.

Indeed, while 19 journalists “were clearly murdered for their journalism and another 19 cases reveal strong evidence to suggest they were also killed for their work”, the real problem lies less with state assassinations of reporters and more with the fact that “the masterminds of attacks on journalists [, whoever they are,] are getting away with murder”.

These findings prove what this blog has written before: that contrary to being seen  as serious threats to the state, Russian journalists’ lives are simply considered cheap enough to dispense with at the slightest provocation. So that’s alright then!

Source: Foreign Policy Blogs, Tuesday, June 16
By Vadim Nikitin


The fear of journalists has caused Novaya Gazeta to stop reporting from Chechnya, as the editor-in-chief Dmitri Muratov has publicly told, i.e. in Helsingin Sanomat 7.6.2009.  Sorry to tell, the legacy of Anna Politkovskaya didn’t survive her assassination particularly long.

June 6th, The International Press Institute (IPI) presented its annual Free Media Pioneer Award to Novaya Gazeta, “a Russian newspaper that has withstood mounting government efforts to control the media and has paid dearly for its intrepid reporting over the last decade”.

Unfortunately, the present Novaya Gazeta does not seem to withstand efforts to control the media very well.

Mikael Storsjö

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