Dmitry Muratov, Nobel Prize-winning editor, ‘suspends’ outlet over Kremlin Ukraine reporting ban

Dmitry Muratov, Nobel Prize-winning editor, ‘suspends’ outlet over Kremlin Ukraine reporting ban

Novaya Gazeta, one of the last prominent independent Russian media outlets willing to challenge the government’s view of the war in Ukraine, said Monday it will suspend publication after receiving a second warning from the Kremlin about its coverage.

Editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov, who shared the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for his investigative journalism and defense of a free press, announced on the newspaper’s website that he was closing down editorial operations until the end of what Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government calls the “special operation in Ukraine.”

The Russian state media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, had issued a second official warning to the independent newspaper, saying it had failed to properly identify a non-governmental organization cited in one of its stories as a “foreign agent.”

A number of major Western news organizations, including CNN, Bloomberg News and the British Broadcasting Corp., have shut down their Russian operations after Mr. Putin approved a new media law effectively criminalizing a number of practices, including calling the Ukraine invasion a “war.” The law sets penalties of up to 15 years for publishing what the state considers “fake news” about the fighting.

In a separate message addressed to readers, Novaya Gazeta’s editorial staff called the move “difficult but necessary.”

“There is no other choice,” according to the note. “For us, and I know, for you, it’s an awful and difficult decision.”

German news agency Deutsche Welle (DW) on Monday became the latest Western media outlet to be deemed a “foreign agent” by the Kremlin, which cited what it said were “documents received from the authorized state authorities.” The German agency, whose website is now blocked inside Russia, had shuttered its Moscow bureau last month.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has justified the moves against Western news organizations in part by citing moves by Germany and other Western governments to curtail the reporting by Russian state-supported outlets such as RT.

“This latest, arbitrary decision by the Russian authorities was unfortunately to be expected. It is a further attack on press freedom and a fresh attempt to cut the Russian population off from free, independent media,” DW Director General Peter Limbourg said on the company’s website. “… This will not stop us from continuing to provide comprehensive and independent coverage of Russia and the region from our new studio in Latvia and from Germany.”