European Federation of Journalists

Russia: foreign correspondents targeted by new intimidation practices

Picture credits: Mikhail Lebedev /

The Russian authorities have taken intimidation of foreign correspondents to a new level: recently, the police began visiting journalists’ homes to dissuade them from covering demonstrations in Moscow by the wives of soldiers mobilised for the war in Ukraine. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and its Russian affiliate JMWU denounce this new form of censorship.

After the mass arrests of journalists covering a rally of the wifes of Russian soldiers mobilised in Ukraine near the Kremlin on 3 February, the Russian authorities have moved on to a new form of pressure, which until now they have reserved for activists: several foreign correspondents, including Christina Hebel, Moscow bureau chief for the German weekly Der Spiegel, were visited at their homes on 9 February by the police, who ordered them not to take part in the demonstration of soldiers’ wives planned for 10 February. Correspondents based in St Petersburg faced the same threats of administrative and criminal proceedings for alleged “unlawful activities”.

“The Russian regime is clearly seeking inspiration from China, where journalists are sometimes “invited to tea” by the authorities,” said Andrei Jvirblis, Secretary of JMWU. “The manner is more martial in Russia, acting with a soldierly roughness that is quite traditional for police henchmen of the tsarist era”.

“This new form of intimidation aimed at establishing self-censorship is completely unacceptable, especially as it applies to vulnerable foreign correspondents, who could lose their accreditation at any time,” denounces Maja Sever, EFJ President . “We call on the Russian authorities to immediately put an end to this pressure which only aims to hide reality from public opinion.”