Continued intimidation of media NGOs in Russia further endangers free media situation, Mijatović says
VIENNA, 24 February 2015 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today said that the continued intimidation of the media NGOs in Russia further endangers the media freedom situation. Her comments come following a recent inspection of the Mass Media Defence Centre (MMDC) by the Justice Department of the Voronezh Region.
“The deliberate and excessive pressure imposed on the Voronezh-based MMDC and other civil society organizations in the media field is deeply worrying,” Mijatović said. “Discrimination of media organizations on vague pretexts effectively infringes free expression and free media.”
On 9 February, the Justice Department of Voronezh Region carried out an inspection as part of an official procedure for including MMDC in the register of “foreign agents”.
“MMDC is one of the key organizations in Russia providing legal support on media legislation issues for journalists, judges, media lawyers and law enforcement bodies, raising public awareness about these matters,” Mijatović said. “I call on the authorities to stop these stigmatizing practices now targeting MMDC."
The Representative noted that MMDC was subject to similar inspections in 2013 and 2014 along with other media organizations, including the Institute of Regional Press from St. Petersburg and the Institute for the Development of the Press (Siberia) in Novosibirsk. Both organizations were recently entered into the register of “foreign agents”.
Mijatović also noted that the Russian Union of Journalists raised concern about the issue.
In 2012 the Russian authorities adopted a law that requires NGOs to register as “foreign agents” on the basis that they engage in “political activity” and receive foreign funding. It has wide-reaching effects for NGOs working on civil and political, as well as social and economic rights. At the time, the Representative issued a public statement on this issue. The statement is available at www.osce.org/fom/100569.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.