The International Federation of Journalists today joined Russian journalists in a protest over official harassment of independent media just two weeks before the IFJ world congress opens in Moscow with a special focus on the crisis conditions facing media staff in the country. The IFJ condemned a police raid on the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and the detention of a number of journalists in a separate incident in the town of Samara on 11 May. The raid took place one week before a planned demonstration in Samara by the political opposition group 'Other Russia'.
“Police have targeted media for harassment and intimidation,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "It appears to be an attempt to soften up journalists in advance of the public protests. We support the strong condemnation of this action issued by our affiliate, the Russian Union of Journalists."
The Novaya Gazeta suffered two raids. The first took place at noon when officers confiscated and removed computers claiming they were using illegal software. The second raid a few hours later saw the removal of all the financial files from the office.
The evening before two journalists and a cameraman had been detained after interviewing the local leader of the political opposition ‘Other Russia’ that is staging the demonstration. Pavel Sedakov, correspondent of the business daily Kommersant, Kseniya Rusyayeva, correspondent for Ren-TV and a station camera operator Maksom Vnukov were all interrogated for over two hours about the ‘Other Russia’ plans for the demonstration.
“The public have a right to protest and journalists have a duty to report and inform the public," added White. "The police should be holding up the law not being used to subvert it.”
The Russian Union of Journalists will be hosting the IFJ World Congress which opens on May 28th with a special session on the crisis of impunity in Russia.
For more information contact the IFJ at 32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide