A photo of people protesting against war in Ukraine in front of the Russian embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania.
People protesting against war in Ukraine in front of the Russian embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania. Credit: Dovile Ramoskaite / Unsplash Credit: Dovile Ramoskaite / Unsplash

Independent media is under attack in Russia in the wake of that country’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine. Multiple news outlets not associated with the state have been censored or forced to close.

In a letter to subscribers, The Guardian shared how it has joined other news agencies in Europe in publishing articles by Novaya Gazeta, the Russian independent daily, whose editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, won the Nobel Peace Prize last year along with Maria Ressa in the Philippines. Novaya Gazeta has suspended publication in Russia because of the censorship.

“We can’t publish a newspaper in Russia anymore, so we called for solidarity with our European colleagues to print a ‘decentralised newspaper’ across Europe. The idea of the Russian free press has to be alive,” Novaya Gazeta‘s Kirill Martynov said.

“Along with the likes of Liberation and Le Monde in France and die Tageszeitung in Germany, the Guardian published two articles – a subtle piece about Russian public disquiet by pollster Alexei Levinson and an Op-Ed by Martynov himself on how Vladimir Putin seized on the idea of a war for a ‘Greater Russia’ to inject some sense of heroic glory into his cynical leadership,” Martynov added.

Martynov said his long-term hope is to recreate Novaya Gazeta Europe as a pro-European Russian voice and to share news of what is going on inside Russia with the outside world.

Financial support for independent media is critical – but even more vital now is activism to support freedom of the press. If independent media disappear, so do the democratic systems that hold power to account and allow informed citizens to participate effectively in the decisions that – as we have seen in Ukraine – are a matter of life and death.

Sara Speicher

Sara Speicher is WACC Global deputy general secretary. WACC Global is an international NGO that promotes communication as a basic human right, essential to people’s dignity and community.