LONDON: The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned on Monday attacks against Russian journalists, urging Russian authorities to “stop harassing members of the press and labeling them as foreign agents.
“Blocking websites, detaining journalists, adding them to the foreign agents list; in Russia, authorities will clearly use all means at their disposal to stifle independent reporting,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator.
“Russian authorities must drop all charges against Yevgeny Levkovich, immediately repeal their arbitrary law on so-called foreign agents, and swiftly investigate the recent attack on journalist Vasiliy Vorona.”
On Friday, the Russian Ministry of Justice labeled three Russian journalists “media foreign agents,” namely independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta correspondent Iryna Borukhovich, reporter for the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Ekaterina Mayakovskaya, and Andrei Filimonov, a contributor to another of RFE/RL’s Russia projects.
Notably, individuals on the foreign agent list must regularly submit detailed reports of their activities and expenses to authorities, and their status must be listed whenever they produce content or are mentioned in news articles.
On the same day, Russian police briefly detained Yevgeny Levkovich, a reporter for Radio Svoboda, at his home in Moscow, and charged him with “discrediting the army.”
The following day, state media regulator Roskomnadzor blocked the independent news websites Holod and Discours.io.
And on Sunday, two unidentified people attacked Vasiliy Vorona, a correspondent with the independent news website Sota.Vision, as he was interviewing people in Moscow.
Attacks against journalists and independent media outlets in particular have increased substantially following the Russian invasion into Ukraine. Roskomnadzor blocked over a dozen independent media outlets since the end of February, while restricting access to social media platforms.
Many independent broadcasters such as Echo of Moscow, Novaya Gazeta, Dozhd TV and Wonderzine were taken off air and access to their websites was blocked.