Russia: Vedomosti journalists demand removal of editor in chief for censorship

Journalists at Vedomosti, one of Russia’s most prominent business publications, have demanded the removal of Editor in Chief, Andrey Shmarov, for what they claim is pro-Kremlin censorship. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) together with the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) urge Vedomosti's ownership to act to protect the independence of media professionals and respect press freedom.

Credit: YURI KADOBNOV / AFP A photo taken on June 10, 2019 in Moscow, shows the front pages of Kommersant, Vedomosti and RBK dailies newspapers.

In March, Vedomosti was sold to Konstantin Zyatkov, the publisher of Argumenty i Fakty, a weekly newspaper owned by the Moscow government and to the businessman Alexei Golubovich. In the following days, they publicly announced that nothing would change under the newly installed chief editor Andrey Shmarov.

However, according to the company's journalists the situation deteriorated, and on 23 April, Vedomosti journalists wrote an editorial where they asked for the removal of Andrey Shmarov due to his efforts to censor articles and information. Among others, Shmarov allegedly removed an online article written by economist Konstantin Sonin from University of Chicago and banned the publication of data from independent pollster Levada Center about the Kremlin’s latest policies.

Vedomosti journalists wrote: “Vedomosti will become just another dependent and controlled media outlet whose task won’t be fulfilling the needs of its readers with verified news and high-quality analysis, but fulfilling the interests and ambitions of its official and unnamed owners

The Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) strongly opposes any attempt of censorship and advocates for the social and labor rights of journalists. "We have already expressed and confirmed our intention to resolve the conflict at the editorial office. We are ready to provide our colleagues with the necessary support and take all necessary measures to preserve freedom of speech and journalism".

IFJ said: “We are appalled by the level of censorship facing Vedomosti 's journalists and call on the newspaper's owners to respect press freedom and the public's right to know. We urge the owners of this well-respected publication to prevent any interference with the independent work of Vedomosti‘s journalists”.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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