Newspaper Moscow Times declared ‘undesirable’ by Russian govt amid escalating crackdown on independent media

The Russian prosecutor general‘s office has declared The Moscow Times, a popular online newspaper among Russia‘s expatriate community, as an “undesirable organisation,” effectively banning its activities within the country. This designation subjects anyone who cooperates with the newspaper to potential criminal prosecution, with penalties of up to five years in prison.
The move is part of a broader crackdown on critical news media and opposition in Russia.It is a more severe measure than the “foreign agent” designation applied to the news outlet in November, which required increased financial scrutiny and prominent labeling of public material.
The Moscow Times had already relocated its editorial operations out of Russia in 2022, following the enactment of a law imposing harsh penalties for content deemed to discredit the Russian military and its actions in Ukraine. The newspaper publishes in both English and Russian, but its Russian-language site was blocked in Russia several months after the start of the war in Ukraine.
In an editors’ note addressing the decision, the newspaper said, “The labelling of The Moscow Times as undesirable is the latest of many efforts to suppress our reporting on the truth in Russia and its war in Ukraine…. This designation will make it even more difficult for us to do our jobs, putting reporters and fixers inside Russia at risk of criminal prosecution and making sources even more hesitant to speak to us.
“We refuse to give in to this pressure. We refuse to be silenced,” the newspaper said.
The Moscow Times was founded in 1992 as a daily print paper distributed for free in locations popular with expatriates, whose presence in Moscow had soared following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It later transitioned to a weekly print edition and eventually became an online-only publication in 2017.
Russia has systematically targeted individuals and organizations critical of the Kremlin in recent years, labeling many as “foreign agents” and some as “undesirable.” Other news outlets declared as undesirable include the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, whose editor Dmitry Muratov is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and the online news site Meduza.
Additionally, Russia has imprisoned prominent opposition figures, such as anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, who was President Vladimir Putin’s most persistent domestic foe, and dissidents Vladimir Kara-Murza and Ilya Yashin.
(With AP inputs)


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