Kremlin Forces Independent Russian News Outlet To Close
Russian news outlet Open Media, financed by Putin's enemy former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, said on Thursday it was shutting down after the communications watchdog blocked its website for most users.
The independent news outlet Open Media said also the Kremlin watchdog included it on a list of internet pages engaging in the so-called extremist activity.
The news outlet, which was founded by Kremlin critic Mr. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, said on its Telegram channel that it had not been informed by the watchdog of a decision to ban the site.
Instead, the outlet said it had received several letters on Wednesday asking it to remove content from its site that was against the law, without an indication of the content in question.
Together with our investor, we have decided to stop our work because the risks are too high for the project team members, the author of Open Media statement informed.
Unfortunately, the authorities do not need media projects with a critical view on what is going on in the country, the more critical a project is, the shorter its lifespan. But at least we have tried, the author explained.
A spokesperson for communications watchdog Roskomnadzor did not respond to a request for comment.
Numerous investigative media organisations have been outlawed in Russia in recent months as part of a widening crackdown ahead of September’s parliamentary election that has targeted media regarded by authorities as hostile and foreign-backed.
Authorities last month labelled some journalists from the Open Media outlet, as well as from several other non-state outlets, as “foreign agents”.
The term carries negative, Soviet-era connotations and subjects those designated to extra government scrutiny.
Navalny's organisations banned in Russia
The news about the blockade of the outlet and including it in the black Internet list comes after the first appellate court of general jurisdiction in Moscow recognized the decision of the Moscow City Court, which declared the Anti-Corruption Foundation, FBK, and the headquarters of the unjustly imprisoned Russian opposition Alexei Navalny.
On June 9, the Moscow City Court recognized FBK, Mr. Navalny's headquarters and the Foundation for the Protection of Citizens' Rights as extremist organizations and banned their activities in Russia. According to the prosecutor's office, Mr. Navalny's associates wanted "to create environment for changing the foundations of the constitutional order, including using the scenario of the 'color revolution'."