The Novaya Gazeta investigative newspaper in Moscow is defying Vladimir Putin after it asked its readers whether it should cease publication or continue amid threats by the Russian Roskomnadzor state media watchdog, which ordered them to stop calling the war in Ukraine a “war”.
It now appears that the newspaper has doubled down, with its editor saying that it will not only “continue to call war war”, he also said that upcoming editions of the paper would be in both Russian and Ukrainian.
The latest edition of the print version of the newspaper came out yesterday, on Monday (28th February). It can be viewed online here: https://novayagazeta.ru/issues/3232
The next edition of the newspaper is due to be published tomorrow (Wednesday, 2nd March), as the print edition is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The Russian authorities had ordered them to use the term “military operation”, which is how Putin defined his unprovoked attack when he announced it on television last week. Russian chess legend Garry Kasparov and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, among many others, have called Putin a “dictator” over his invasion of his peaceful neighbour.
In the early hours of Thursday, 24th February, the former KGB Lieutenant Colonel turned President, announced a “special military operation” in the region and warned anyone thinking of interfering that they would “face consequences greater than any you have faced in history”.
But the Novaya Gazeta, one of the few remaining independent newspapers in Russia with an estimated circulation of 90,000, have been calling Putin’s war a “war”.
The newspaper was founded by a group of journalists who used to work for the daily Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda and Will Vernon from the BBC reported yesterday evening (Monday, 28th February, at 5:48 PM;) that as a result of the threats from the Roskomnadzor state media watchdog, the newspaper is asking its readers what it should do next.
They have asked their readership to weigh in on whether they should “continue work under military censorship and implement the demands of the authorities” or “cease our editorial operations until the end of the war”.
The Roskomnadzor threats have also been reported by Qatari newspaper Al Jazeera, who say that the communications regulator has told media outlets in Russia to cease calling the invasion of Ukraine an “assault, invasion, or declaration of war”, threatening the paper with being blocked or fined.
The newspaper is run by award-winning journalist Dmitry Muratov, 60, Novaya Gazeta’s editor-in-chief, after he co-founded it in 1993.
Muratov shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Filipina journalist Maria Ressa last year. He has been commended for his courage in defying countless threats and for bravely covering subjects that no doubt make the Kremlin uneasy.
The newspaper tackles subjects such as government corruption, human right violations, police violence and is known for newspaper articles that are critical of the Putin regime.
Muratov has been a vocal advocate for the freedom of the press, arguing that it needs to remain independent from the power and influence of the state.
Other newspapers have also been threatened for spreading what the Russian authorities have labelled “unreliable information”, with Al Jazeera saying that Russian journalists who do not toe the party line are being labelled “foreign agents”.
And the BarentsObserver online newspaper, which is part of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat that is aimed at developing Norwegian-Russian relations and is tied to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, quoted the Russian military as saying: “Unfortunately, certain Russian media and first of all Novaya Gazeta do not listen to us [and] actively spread fake information provided by dope-smoking gangs of nationalists and the Ukrainian Security Service.”
The very fact that the newspaper has asked its readers what they think it should do, defy the Kremlin and Putin’s authority or fall in line, could be indicative that the tide is turning against the Russian despot.
Muratov was quoted as saying in the New Yorker yesterday (Monday, 28 February): “We continue to call war war” and “we are waiting for the consequences”.