The International Federation of Journalists and its affiliate, the Russian Union of Journalists, last week marked the fifth anniversary of the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya with the launch of its ‘Russia – Conflicts in the Media’ database that records all attacks on journalists in Russia.
The database is the latest stage in the IFJ’s campaign to end the culture of impunity for journalists’ attackers that took off in the wake of Politkovskaya’s 2006 stairwell shooting.
While the IFJ welcomed further progress made in the announcement of new prosecutions last week, it notes that those who ordered the killings remain unidentified.
“While those behind Politkovskaya’s brutal killing remain free all journalists are forced to work in the shadow of fear,” said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. “It brings shame on the Russian judicial system that the instigators of her death continue to roam free five years later.”
A summary of the status of the investigation into Politkovskaya’s murder can be found in the IFJ’s database on Killed Russian Journalists (http://journalists-in-russia.org/) launched in 2009. This resource also reveals that over the past 18 years in only one case was the person who ordered the killing of a journalist convicted. In all the other cases only the immediate perpetrators have been put on trial and the number of acquittals has been exceptionally high by any standards.
The IFJ’s new database, ‘Russia – Conflicts in the Media’, compiling seven years of information collected by the Glasnost Defence Foundation and its monitors, reveals that for every killing at least ten journalists have been severely beaten and many hundreds more threatened for their work. It underlines the need to tackle the broader abuse of journalists that has allowed an atmosphere of violence to intimidate their work if the killings are to end, says the IFJ.
The database documents on an almost daily basis, a wide range of incidents – from censorship and criminal prosecution, to threats and assaults. It exposes a disturbing lack of response by the authorities to the widespread level of violence against journalists. It also tells the story of successful battles against unlawful dismissal, unfounded charges of defamation and of incitement to hatred against various social groups.
This new campaigning resource gives a voice to journalists across Russia that will enable them to address the authorities where and when they fail to confront the plight of journalists.
“Attacks on journalists are attacks on the broader public interest and the right to know,” said Arne König, President of the European Federation of Journalists. “This database can serve as a model for journalists’ unions wherever their members come under regular attack.”
The work is the result of five years of collaboration between the IFJ, the Russian Union of Journalists, the Glasnost Defence Foundation and the Centre for Journalism in Extreme Situations.
To access the ‘Russia- Conflicts in the Media’ site go to: http://mediaconflictsinrussia.org
Also visit IFJ database on killed Russian Journalists at: http://journalists-in-russia.org/