Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Journalism and Putin

Interesting article in The Observer about the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and the consequences for reporting the news in Putin's Russia.

It is 11am and the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta is holding its editorial conference. Seated at the top of a long, wooden table, Dmitry Muratov, the paper's bearded editor-in-chief, is flanked by his senior team....

The mood is good-natured; there are arguments and jokes. But nobody doubts the seriousness of Novaya Gazeta. On the wall is a photo-gallery of dead colleagues. There is Anna Politkovskaya, Novaya's feted special correspondent, shot dead in October 2006. Next to her is the paper's deputy editor Yuri Shchekochikhin (mysteriously poisoned). Then there is reporter Igor Domnikov (bludgeoned to death). Two new black-and-white photos have just been hung on the wall.

One shows Stanislav Markelov, who was one of Russia's best-known human rights defenders and Novaya's lawyer. The other is of Anastasia Baburova, a 25-year-old freelancer for the newspaper. An armed assailant killed them both on 19 January, a few minutes' walk from the shimmering gold towers of the Kremlin. Markelov died instantly; Baburova lay dying in the snow. The photos provide a constant reminder of how dangerous the most basic function of journalism – telling the truth – has become in Vladimir Putin's Russia.

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