European Federation of Journalists

Russia: EFJ condemns the use of violence against journalists on Saturday

Picture credit: Valery Tenevoy.

The Russian Journalists’ and Media Workers’ Union (JMWU) and the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) recorded on 23 January at least 52 cases of detention and violence against journalists while covering protests in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in Russia. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) condemns the use of violence against journalists.

On Saturday, across Russia, tens of thousands of people defied a heavy police presence to join some of the largest rallies against President Vladimir Putin in years. OVD Info, an independent NGO that monitors rallies, said about 3,100 people had been detained, more than 1,200 of them in Moscow alone.

According to JMWU-OVD Info monitoring, 52 journalists were detained, obstructed or beaten, while covering the protests. Journalists were detained in at least 17 cities: St. Petersburg, Khabarovsk, Moscow, Makhachkala, Pskov, Stavropol, Kursk, Samara, Ufa, Voronezh, Novosibirsk, Vladivostok, Kazan, Blagoveshchensk, Krasnoyarsk, Cheboksary, Yaroslavl.

Sixteen journalists were detained in St. Petersburg, including, according to RUJ, “SotaVision” journalists Peter Ivanov, Anastasia Karpina, “Tardigrad” journalist Andrey Makashov, “Mediazona” correspondent David Frenkel, “Kommersant” journalists Oleg Delimbetov and Marina Tsareva, “TJ” editor-in-chief Sergey Zvezda, “47news” journalist Viktor Smirnov, and “Echo of Moscow” journalist Arseny Vesnin, who was beaten.

RUJ reported other cases of detention of journalists: Ruslan Valiev (“Echo of Moscow”) in Ufa, journalists from “Tatar-inform” agency, Efir TV channel and “Kazan Reporter” in Kazan, “66.RU” photoreporter Alexey Shkola in Yekaterinburg, “Krasnaya Moskva” journalist Ilya Matushkin in Saratov…

In Moscow, according to RUJ, “Novaya Gazeta” correspondent Elizaveta Kirpanova and “Meduza” journalist Kristina Safonova were injured. Dozhd TV’s correspondent Alexei Korostelev was detained. JMWU reported that the police smashed with a truncheon the camera of “Novaya Gazeta” correspondent Victoria Odissonova. AndAvtozakLive” journalist Nikita Stupin said he received an electric shock.

“The dozens of cases of detention and violence recorded by Russian journalists’ organisations on Saturday show that there is a deliberate crackdown on journalists covering these demonstrations in Russia,” said EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez. “The Russian authorities, who had already put pressure on journalists in the previous days, clearly tried to prevent journalists from covering these mass protests and police repression. We call on all repressed journalists to report any aggression or abusive detention, so that we denounce these violations of press freedom to the Council of Europe.”