Monday, July 15, 2024

Russia brands The Moscow Times as ‘undesirable’ in latest crackdown on criticism

Russian Prosecutor General’s Office Declares The Moscow Times as “Undesirable Organization”

The Moscow Times Declared “Undesirable Organization” by Russian Prosecutor General’s Office

The Russian prosecutor general’s office has recently made a controversial decision to declare The Moscow Times, an online newspaper popular among Russia’s expatriate community, as an “undesirable organization.” This move is part of a wider crackdown on critical news media and opposition voices in the country.

This designation means that The Moscow Times must immediately cease all operations in Russia. Additionally, any Russian individual who cooperates with the newspaper could face up to five years in prison. This drastic measure is even more severe than the previous “foreign agent” designation that was applied to the news outlet last November. The “foreign agent” label subjects individuals and organizations to increased financial scrutiny and requires any public material to prominently display the declaration.

The Moscow Times had already relocated its editorial operations out of Russia back in 2022, following the passage of a law imposing harsh penalties for content deemed to discredit the Russian military and its actions in Ukraine. The publication, which caters to readers in both English and Russian, had its Russian-language site blocked in the country shortly after the start of the conflict in Ukraine.

Founded in 1992 as a daily print newspaper distributed for free to expatriates in Moscow, The Moscow Times transitioned to a weekly print edition before eventually becoming an online-only publication in 2017.

The Russian government has been increasingly targeting individuals and organizations critical of the Kremlin, labeling many as “foreign agents” or declaring them “undesirable.” Other media outlets that have faced similar treatment include the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, whose editor Dmitry Muratov recently received a Nobel Peace Prize, and the online news site Meduza.

In addition to stifling the media, Russia has also imprisoned several prominent opposition figures, such as anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, who was a persistent critic of President Vladimir Putin, as well as dissidents Vladimir Kara-Murza and Ilya Yashin.

This latest move against The Moscow Times reflects an escalating trend of suppression and censorship of dissenting voices in Russia, raising concerns about the state of press freedom and democracy in the country.

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