MOSCOW – A Moscow court on Monday upheld a request by Russian authorities to revoke the license of a major independent newspaper that for years criticized the Kremlin, the latest move in a months-long crackdown on independent media, opposition activists and human rights groups.
The ruling against Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s most renowned independent newspaper, comes amid Russia’s relentless military campaign in Ukraine and Kremlin efforts to silence critics of what it calls a ‘special military operation’ .
Dmitry Muratov, editor of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning newspaper, on Monday called the decision “political” and “without any legal basis”, and he promised to challenge it.
Roskomnadzor, Russia’s media and internet regulator, asked the court to revoke Novaya Gazeta’s license, accusing it of failing to submit the newsroom’s charter to the authorities on time.
Novaya Gazeta announced on March 28 that it was suspending operations for the duration of what it quotedly called “the special operation” in Ukraine, the term Russian authorities insist the media use for military action. in Ukraine.
His team, however, launched a new project, Novaya Gazeta Europe, from abroad, criticizing the operation in the former Soviet neighbor of Russia.
Days after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, Russia’s Kremlin-controlled parliament approved legislation banning the alleged disparagement of the Russian military or the spreading of “false information” about the the country’s military operation in Ukraine.
Dozens of Russian independent media have been banned as a result, while others have announced a halt to all reporting related to Ukraine.
The United Nations Human Rights Office condemned the decision in a statement released on Monday.
“The judgment against Novaya Gazeta is a further blow to the independence of Russian media whose activities have been further undermined by legal restrictions and increased state controls imposed following” Russia’s military action in Ukraine, spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement.
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