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‘Open Media,’ ‘MBK Media,’ and ‘Pravozashchita Otkrytki’ shut down citing risks for staff

Source: Open Media

Two news outlets and a human rights rights group linked to exiled former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky have announced that they are shutting down following the Russian federal censor’s decision to add their websites to the government’s blocklist.

In a statement posted on Telegram, Open Media said it’s shutting down as of Thursday, August 5.

“Yesterday, RIA Novosti published information that Roskomnadzor (RKN) blocked our website at the request of the Russian Attorney General’s Office, which considers Open Media connected to organizations recognized as undesirable in Russia. We still do not have confirmation of this information from RKN and the Attorney General’s Office, but we, together with our investor, nevertheless decided to stop work, because the risks for the project’s staff are too great.”

The publication underscored that it never cooperated with organizations designated by the Russian authorities as “undesirable” and was funded by a five-year grant from Mikhail Khodorkovsky. None of Open Media’s journalists had any ties to Khodorkovsky’s other companies, the statement said. 

“Unfortunately, the authorities have no need for media projects with a critical perspective on what is happening in the country, the more criticism, the shorter the life of the project. But at least we tried.”

MBK Media, which was also launched and funded by Khodorkovsky, is also shutting down after the block, editor-in-chief Veronika Kutsyllo announced on Facebook on Thursday. 

“This time the risks are too great — not only for the journalists who worked for the outlet but for any people who liked our content and decided to share it with others. […] I’m not prepared to jeopardize the freedom and lives of other people. Mikhail Khodorkovsky [isn’t either].”

Pravozashchita Otkrytki’s decision to shut down was announced by lawyer Anastasia Burakova. Another lawyer from the human rights group, Sergey Badamshin, told Meduza that he will continue to defend his clients and lead the bar association of which he is a member. “For me, the lawyers, the defendants, the prosecutors, the judges, and the police dog nothing has changed,” he added.

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