Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s leading opposition newspapers, has been issued with an official warning from Russia’s state media watchdog Roskomnadzor, who has accused the publication of violating the country’s anti-extremism laws. Known for its hard-hitting journalism and biting critique of the Kremlin, Novaya Gazeta is the latest in a rapidly growing pool of independent media publications to be targeted by the watchdog in recent months.
The warning, issued on Friday, came in response to an article by journalist Yulia Latynina entitled If we aren’t the West, then who are we?, in which the author draws parallels between Russia’s current political leaders and the fascist regime in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. Accusing the publication of “inciting social, racial, national and religious hatred”, Roskomnadzor forced Novaya Gazeta to block parts of the article deemed offensive.
The sections considered inflammatory were quoted in Roskomnadzor’s official warning on its website. They have now been redacted on Novaya Gazeta’s website. Comparing Russian politicians to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, the redacted paragraphs read: “Russian official powers, deputies…have invented a separate ‘Russian culture’, which contradicts European soullessness… Hitler, in Mein Kampf, opposes the harsh, Nordic cultural topics of European development and soullessness. This is typically characteristic of fascism: under the pretence of freeing a nation from a ‘foreign culture’, the nation is freed from any culture altogether and is plunged into times and customs of barbarism.”
“Only three developed nations — the Jewish, Chinese and Indian nations — can claim an autochthony (indigenous) culture. All the rest are offshoots, cross-breeds, dirty blooded,” it reads.
Alisa Kustikova, website editor of Novaya Gazeta St Petersburg, told The Calvert Journal that under the law, Roskomnadzor could close down the publication altogether in the future: “Roskomnadzor said that this is the first warning issued to Novaya Gazeta. If we ever publish something again which incites a warning from them, they can shut us down entirely.”
Since the start of the Ukraine crisis earlier this year, a number of independent media publications have suffered funding cuts and sudden editorial reshuffles, with the Kremlin introducing a slew of laws aimed at curtailing media freedom and increasing government control over the distribution of information in the country. Last month, the State Duma passed a bill limiting foreign shareholding in Russian media organisations to 20%, spelling doom for the independence of a number of leading media publications with foreign majority stakeholders.