Authorities in the Russian city of Vyborg, close to the Finnish border, are exerting pressure on the local independent newspaper, Vyborgskie Vedomosti, after the paper published an article about a criminal case against a local police chief.
Col. Gennady Kuznetsov, head of public safety at the Vyborg police department, was arrested on 24 December 2008 on charges of demanding a bribe from a local businesswoman. Many local entrepreneurs confirmed that police officers, together with organised criminal syndicates, engage in blackmail.
Immediately following the publication of the article, the editor-in-chief of Vyborgskie Vedomosti was summonned to the prosecutor’s office. Investigators demanded that the newspaper not publish any more details about the case against Col. Kuznetsov. The prosecutors also demanded to know the author of the article.
Vyborgskie Vedomosti is the only remaining independent media in Vyborg, and has published several articles critical of local authorities. The newspaper, established in 1990, has been published by its former and present employees since 1996.