The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists' group, today gave its full support to the protesting journalists and media workers at the Russian television station NTV.
"This is a moment of truth for press freedom and democracy in Russia," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ, "the struggle of NTV journalists and media staff is about defending editorial independence and the journalists' right to take editorial decisions according to conscience. They have the support of journalists throughout Europe and all around the world."
The IFJ and its Russian affiliate, the Journalists' Union of Russia (JUR), condemned the "boardroom coup" by the quasi-state company Gazprom, which had sacked NTV's old board at a meeting on April 3rd and had appointed an American investment banker Boris Jordan as the new director general.
"NTV journalists have not been consulted over the changes in management. Given the dominance of the Russian state in Gazprom, they are rightly worried about the independence of NTV", said Aidan White. "If Boris Jordan is serious about his claim not to interfere with editorial independence at NTV, he must negotiate with the journalists."
The IFJ called on the NTV management to agree a Charter for Editorial Independence that would guarantee consultation rights of staff over changes in management and/or editorial policy as well as grant journalists the right to refuse an assignment if it is in breach of journalists' professional ethics as laid down in the JUR's code of conduct or the IFJ declaration of principles on the conduct of journalism.
"The Journalists' Union of Russia has been trying to negotiate such a charter with media owners throughout Russia. The recent events at NTV show how crucial safeguarding editorial freedom is to defending democratic rights and independent journalism", said the IFJ.