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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Russian court upholds closure of Kremlin-critical independent newspaper

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A court in Moscow upheld a verdict to revoke the license of a top independent newspaper that has been critical of the Kremlin for years.

The ruling by the Moscow City Court against Novaya Gazeta, which was Russia’s most renowned independent newspaper until the authorities ordered it shut last year, comes as Russia’s campaign in Ukraine approaches its one-year mark.

The court rejected Novaya Gazeta’s appeal against September’s ruling by a district court in Moscow that approved a petition by Russia’s media regulator to revoke Novaya Gazeta’s licence.

The regulator accused the newspaper of failing to submit its newsroom charter to authorities on time, the claim that Novaya Gazeta rejected as a cover for what it described as the authorities’ effort to muzzle an independent voice.

Dmitry Muratov, Nobel Peace Prize-winning editor-in-chief of the newspaper, denounced Tuesday’s ruling, saying that it “serves a bunch of people who want to leave the nation facing only propaganda”.

Days after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine, last February, the Kremlin-controlled parliament approved legislation that outlawed alleged disparaging of the Russian military or the spread of “false information” about the country’s military campaign.

Dozens of Russian independent media outlets were banned as a result, while others announced they were halting any reporting related to Ukraine.

Novaya Gazeta announced on March 28, that it was suspending its operations for the duration of what the Kremlin called the “special military operation” in Ukraine.

But Novaya Gazeta’s staff who moved abroad launched a new project, Novaya Gazeta Europe, that has been strongly critical of the military campaign in Russia’s ex-Soviet neighbour.

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