Newsletters / MBK Media and Open Media forced to close in Russia

On August 5 MBK Media, Open Media and Human Rights Project were all forced to close. Yesterday Roskomnadzor decided to block websites related to all those projects in Russia citing “connection with undesirable organization”.

The reason given by the authorities – “connection with an undesirable organizations” (and in fact – with me – a citizen of Russia) means a high personal risk for journalists. As a result, I agreed with the editors to close those projects in Russia. (…)
Political repressions, the destruction of the institutions of an independent court and elections, silencing of human rights defenders and journalists all show that Putin’s regime and Putin personally returned to the outdated Soviet model, slightly modified to incorporate Putin’s personal greed and the greed of his entourage. (..)
Decades of undermining not only of the economy, but also morality of the society, lead to the gradual destruction of the country.
I cannot agree to this.
I and those of like-minded people who are ready for a new level of risk will continue our fight with the regime until it is completely dismantled.
Our goal is a free society, an open Russia!

Under the recently changed law the connection with an undesirable organization charge means journalists working with the project would risk up to 6 years in jail. While there is no substance whatsoever to those allegations, without the independent judiciary and rule of law it’s impossible to defend oneself against them in Russia as demonstrated by several recent cases.

The move against the independent media platforms comes as part of crackdown on the opposition ahead of State Duma Elections this September. In May Otkrytka, another project connected to MBK announced they were forced to dissolve. Two days later Andrey Pivovarov, former executive director of Otkrytka, was taken off a taxiing plane and arrested. He remains in pre-trial detention center in Krasnodar and continues his election campaign from jail. In July the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office also decided to declare Future of Russia Foundation, Khodorkovsky Foundation, Oxford Russia Foundation and European Choice “undesirable organizations”:

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