The International Federation of Journalists condemned the closure of Russian newspaper Gorodskiye Vesti (City of Volgograd), following the publication of a cartoon showing the Prophet Muhammad and other religious figures last week.
“At a time when editorial independence needs to be defended, we find the closure of this newspaper shocking”, said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “What makes this act of political interference even more intolerable is that the cartoon was promoting antiracism and non-violence”.
The Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) considered as “inadmissible” the behaviour of local authorities, arguing that the Russian Constitution guarantees the principle of press freedom and the secular character of the state.
The Gorodskiye Vesti has been forced to be closed down on Thursday 16 February and it remains closed. The legal document closing the newspaper and its publishing Company - "Volgograd-inform" was signed by Mr. Andrey Doronin, acting as Mayor of Volgograd, and the case will go to Court soon.
“We share the concern of the Russian journalists union”, said Aidan White. “The IFJ says the choice to publish or not a cartoon dealing with religious beliefs is the responsibility only of the editorial team. The decision of the Mayor of Volgograd is a clear example of abusive censorship that breaches national laws as well as basic international standards of freedom of expression”.
For more information please contact +32 2 235 22 00
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 100 countries