Moscow Again Moves Against Novaya Gazeta Amid Free Press Crackdown


MOSCOW -- A court in Moscow has revoked the registration of the Novaya gazeta newspaper's magazine just a day after it annulled the license of one of the last independent media outlets in Russia as part of a media crackdown amid the Kremlin's war against Ukraine.

The Basmanny district court ruled on September 6 that the license of Novaya rasskaz-gazeta was to be cancelled at the request of media regulator Roskomnadzor, which alleged the magazine broke the law by registering in March 2009 but only publishing its first issue in July 2022.

The July issue of the magazine was previously blocked by Roskomnadzor for allegedly "discrediting the Russian armed forces" amid Moscow's ongoing, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

The same court on September 5 cancelled Novaya gazeta's registration at Roskomnadzor's request, claiming the newspaper's editorial board failed to provide the periodical's new charter to the Justice Ministry after an ownership change.

The Kremlin has used Russian courts to intensify pressure on the free press since invading Ukraine in late February.

On September 5, a court sentenced former journalist Ivan Safronov to 22 years in prison for treason in a case his supporters say is retribution for his reporting several years ago that exposed details of Russia's international arms deals.

Novaya gazeta chief editor Dmitry Muratov, who won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, condemned the court's September 5 decision to revoke the publishing license of Novaya gazeta, calling it a "miserable, ordered, and political" decision that has "no legal grounds."

Novaya gazeta was founded in part with money from former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and was one of the most respected publications in post-Soviet Russia since 1993. It suspended operations inside the country in March after being forced to remove material from its website on Russia's full-scale aggression against Ukraine.

Some members of the paper's staff left Russia after it stopped publishing and launched the newspaper Novaya gazeta.Europe from Latvia's capital, Riga. Roskomnadzor has blocked that website inside Russia as well.

Muratov has remained in Russia despite his vocal opposition to the conflict in Ukraine.

Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Moscow quickly adopted a law criminalizing the dissemination of "false" information that "discredits the armed forces." The law has been central to a massive crackdown against dissent over the war in Russia.

In 1990, Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to reducing Cold War tensions and three years later, he used some of his prize money to invest in the small, independent newspaper, helping it buy its first computers.

Gorbachev was laid to rest on September 3 after dying five days earlier of what doctors vaguely called a "serious and prolonged illness."