Moscow has tried to destroy the free press for years, but after the invasion of Ukraine this fight became especially fierce. The new laws in Russia make criminally responsible anyone who classifies what happens in Ukraine as a war.
“Already at the beginning of March, in the first days after the introduction of military censorship, the police came to us, OMON came with weapons and scared all my fellows who were in the newsroom at that time. They threatened to send them to the front lines the next day. The fellows are young, of military age. They took all our equipment.”says Denis Kamaliagin, editor-in-chief of the Pskovskaya Gubernia.
Denis Kamaliagin continues his work at the open media center in Riga, which since the beginning of the war has provided assistance to more than 500 media workers from Ukraine, Belarus, and above all from Russia.
In the first months of the war, the Latvian Foreign Minister invited journalists working in Russia to come to Riga. Deutsche Well, the BBC’s Russian service, the Washington Post and others have opened offices in Latvia. Major Russian opposition media outlets such as Meduza, Novaya Gazeta, Current Times television and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty are now also based in Riga.
“We see Riga as a strategic place from which we can hear what Russians think, including Russians in exile. We still have access to some of our journalists and colleagues who continue to work under quite significant danger from Russia. And we also address Russian-speaking audiences in Russia, in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States, and also in the European Union”explains Lmars Svekis, bureau chief of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Fact-checking that refutes Russian propaganda messages, as well as investigative journalism have become crucial genres.
Journalists use anonymous tools and social media to communicate with colleagues and informants in Russia.
“The voices of Russia are heard. And it is very necessary that they be heard. And of course, in a certain sense, we can become the voice of the people who stayed in Russia, who don’t agree with what is happening.”says Timofey Rozhanskiy, a Current Time journalist.
Although Moscow actively restricts access to independent media and threatens those who read or view these publications, journalists know that their articles reach millions of people in Russia.
“We know that during the past year, at the beginning of the war and at the time of the announcement of the mobilization in September 2022, all the independent media had a record audience. People were very anxious to understand, to find out what was really going on.”says Kirill Martynov, editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta Europa.
“For many journalists, moving from Russia to Riga was a hastily adopted temporary solution. Now, they sense that this temporary solution could last a long time, or forever. Janis Laizans, Euronews”.
Source: Euronews Español