17 July 2021
Statement by the Moscow PEN Centre and the Free Speech Association
The attack on free speech and the erosion of the foundations of the journalistic profession continue.
Eight of our journalist colleagues have been registered on the ‘foreign agent’ list. They are Roman Bandanin, Yulia Yarosh, Maksim Glikin, Yulia Liukyanova, Maria Zheleznova, Peter Manyakhin, Olga Churakova, and Elizaveta Maetnaya. In addition to the endless and senseless reporting requirements imposed by the Ministry of Justice, this practically closes off all possibility of working for any officially recognised media outlets for these journalists and has leaders in the profession to the edge of the sidelines of their field. At the same time, the publisher of the Russian investigative news site Proekt, the American organisation Project Media, Inc. has been designated as undesirable. This automatically means the destruction of the most important investigative website. And at virtually the same time the website of the Russian human rights group Team 29, accused of publishing material produced by undesirable organisations, was blocked.
These are trying times for journalists, bloggers, commentators, and human rights defenders, but the biggest losers in all this are our fellow citizens, the ‘ordinary readers and viewers’ whose interests the authorities claim to have at heart. It is their horizons that have been artificially narrowed. It is their constitutional right to know about what is happening in the country and in the world from different sources that has been violated. We protest against the decisions of the Prosecutor General and the Ministry of Justice. It is pointless to hope these decisions will be revoked, but we declare our solidarity with those who are being persecuted. The truth is on their side.
Translated by Fergus Wright