RUSSIA: SEEMO urges Russian authorities to protect independent journalists and outlets

RUSSIA, RUSSIA, 29/09/2017, 14:50

Vienna, 29 September 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed concern for the recent number of appalling media freedom and human rights violations occurring in Russia.  </p>

On 22 September, Sergey Samoilenko, editor-in-chief of the news website Sib.fm, announced his resignation after the website’s owner deleted a news story published earlier that day. The website, based in Novosibirsk, published an article about the rally planned by lawyer, anti-corruption blogger, and leading opposition politician Alexei Navalny, which was afterwards deleted at the owner’s request. The website had recently been sold to Viktor Ignatov, a Duma deputy from the pro-Kremlin political party United Russia. 

Samoilenko shared a Facebook status where he announced that he would be retiring in October and stated that in his view, “the owner made a meaningless and even idiotic decision”.

On 23 September, unknown perpetrators set the motorcycle of Aleksei Milovanov, editor-in-chief of independent news agency Novyi Kaliningrad, on fire. After noticing a fire outside his building, Milovanov called the police and fire department and it was established that his motorcycle was purposefully destroyed. On the same day, police forces detained Aleksandr Pavlov, a correspondent of the independent website Open Russia, during an anti-capitalist protest in Moscow. Despite having shown the policemen his press ID, Pavlov was detained in the Krasnoselski station and accused of disobeying police orders. He was released after one hour. 

Today, 29 September, the headquarters of the news website Lenta.ru were vandalized in southern Moscow. According to the police, assailants threw an incendiary grenade into the building earlier today. The outlet claims office windows were smashed and Nazi symbols scribbled on the walls, as well as the statement “You lie, Lenta”. 

Lenta.ru was a known independent outlet in Russia, until its longtime editor-in-chief Galina Timochenko was replaced by a pro-Kremlin editor in 2014.

“SEEMO is deeply disturbed by these horrific occurrences and sends full support to all media workers and outlets in Russia that face intimidation and attacks” Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General said today. “We call on authorities in the country to react in a transparent, democratic manner and help protect journalists and the outlets they work for, regardless of their political affiliations or positions. It is unacceptable for so many violations to happen in such a short time frame without a proper and fair reaction” Vujovic added. 

SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.

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