On 14 May 2021 the Russian authorities declared the online media outlet VTimes a ‘foreign agent.’ The Moscow Times wrote that ‘VTimes was launched last October by former senior editors and journalists from the Vedomosti business daily after the appointment of a pro-Kremlin editor-in-chief sparked an exodus from their previous employer. The news website has vowed to keep alive Vedomosti’s tradition of independent and objective journalism.’ The newspaper, whose Russian-language partner VTimes is, noted that the ‘foreign agent’ designation ‘puts the independent news site’s future in jeopardy as it risks cratering its advertising budget and levying steep fines for auditing violations.’
The Moscow Times, 14 May 2021: Russia declared The Moscow Times’ Russian-language partner VTimes a “foreign agent” on Friday amid what critics call the Kremlin’s ongoing crackdown on free speech and independent media. The designation puts the independent news site’s future in jeopardy as it risks cratering its advertising budget and levying steep fines for auditing violations. VTimes was launched last October by former senior editors and journalists from the Vedomosti business daily after the appointment of a pro-Kremlin editor-in-chief sparked an exodus from their previous employer. The news website has vowed to keep alive Vedomosti’s tradition of independent and objective journalism.
In other news:
RFE/RL, 14 May 2021: RFE/RL’s bank accounts in Russia have been frozen following a visit by court bailiffs to the U.S. agency’s Moscow bureau. The move came after agents of the Federal Court Bailiffs Service on May 14 initiated enforcement proceedings against RFE/RL’s Russian branch over unpaid fines accrued because of violations of Russia’s controversial “foreign agents” laws. The bailiffs service sent RFE/RL a court resolution authorizing it to search for the organization’s bank accounts and to freeze them. RFE/RL’s Moscow-based bank was ordered by the bailiffs service to seize the agency’s accounts in order to provide payment for the unpaid fines of 5 million rubles ($68,000). The enforcement proceeding pertains to 10 protocols that were confirmed in court and for which the two-month payment period has expired. Earlier on May 14, bailiffs spent about two hours in RFE/RL’s Moscow bureau and initiated an inventory of equipment there. They did not interfere with work at the bureau or detain anyone.
RFE/RL, 13 May 2021: A St. Petersburg court has upheld the legality of the Russian Justice Ministry’s decision to designate feminist performance artist and activist Darya Apakhonchich a “foreign agent.” The Leninsky District Court wrote in a press statement on May 13 that Apakhonchich’s lawsuit had failed to satisfy requirements for a case to be heard. Apakhonchich was among the first individuals in Russia to be included on the Russian government’s list of “media organizations fulfilling the functions of foreign agents.”
The Moscow Times: An influential Russian feminist activist and sex blogger, Tatiana Nikonova, has died from an unknown illness at age 43, a message on her website said Wednesday. Nikonova had advocated gender equality, sexual literacy and adolescent sex education, and supported the LGBT movement since 2001. She launched a feminist blog in 2012 and had since gained hundreds of thousands of social media followers. “Tanya Nikonova died suddenly due to illness this afternoon,” her friends and colleagues wrote on her website, Nikonova.online, late Wednesday. They did not disclose the cause of Nikonova’s death. The activist had written on Facebook last week that she was in the hospital, BBC’s Russia service said.