OSCE has condemned the persecution of journalists in Russia

OSCE / Photo: Free Press Archive

Journalists must not be punished for carrying out their professional duties and detention should not be used as unfair pressure on media workers, the representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said today on freedom of the media. Teresa Ribeiro, condemning the practice of prosecuting journalists in Russia.

Ribeiro noted that continued cases of criminal and administrative charges against journalists in Russia have resulted in a further decline in media freedom and access to information.

"Over the past few weeks, I have drawn attention to a significant number of new prosecutions... These cases often relate to the alleged 'dissemination of false information about the Russian armed forces,' which is punishable under a new law enacted after Russia's invasion of Ukraine," he said. Ribeiro.

The former producer of the first Russian channel, Marina Ovsjanikova, is accused of "spreading false information about the Russian armed forces" and faces up to ten years in prison for the one-man protest she organized outside the Kremlin on July 15.

"The charge of spreading 'false information' regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine is being instrumentalized to silence dissenters," Ribeiro said.

Administrative fines are still used to financially undermine the media and journalists, and authorities have fined Novaya Gazeta for "abuse of media freedom" and threatened to suspend its registration as a print and digital publication, the OSCE reports.

The journalist of Life.ru, Alexandra Bayasitova has been placed in pre-trial detention and accused of "extortion for the purpose of acquiring property" and faces a prison sentence of up to 15 years if found guilty.

"Journalists must not be punished for performing their professional duties and detention must not be used for unfair pressure on media workers." Violating OSCE obligations, the Russian authorities do not allow their citizens access to basic information and create an atmosphere of fear and repression," concluded Ribeiro.

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