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Russia is reportedly ramping up prosecutions for involvement with independent media. The majority of cases are related to Meduza.

Source: Meduza
Maksim Shipenkov / EPA / Scanpix / LETA

The Russian authorities have ramped up prosecutions for alleged involvement with media outlets declared “undesirable” in recent months, according to Mediazona, with at least 19 cases filed since the start of 2024. In some instances, people have been charged for as little as sharing articles or posts from independent news outlets online.

Twelve of the 19 cases reportedly involved content from Meduza. The first person to be charged for “participating” in Meduza’s “activities” was exiled Bashkort activist Ruslan Gabbasov, who was fined 10,000 rubles (about $108) in February for sharing a Meduza post on Telegram in May 2023. A month later, a woman in Russia’s Chuvashia Republic was fined 5,000 rubles (about $54) for reposting one of Meduza’s Instagram stories from her own account.

Vitaly Obedin, an activist and politician from Yakutsk, was recently charged eight times for Meduza articles he shared in 2019 and 2020 — before Meduza was declared an “undesirable organization.”

The authorities have also begun targeting journalists for working with (and not just “participating in”) “undesirable organizations.” In April, journalist Dmitry Kuznets was fined 10,000 rubles for an appearance on a Meduza podcast, while freelance reporter Anastasia Zhvik was charged after publishing a story on Meduza’s site.

Other people have been charged for alleged “involvement” with other “undesirable” outlets like TV Rain, iStories, and Novaya Gazeta Europe.

Involvement with “undesirable organizations” has been punishable under Russian law since 2015. First offenses can carry a fine, while repeated offenses within one year are punishable by up to four years in prison. Meduza was declared “undesirable” in January 2023.

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