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Russia: raid at student magazine a 'new low' in press freedom crackdown

Office of online publication DOXA raided, with four journalists facing criminal charges and possible three-year jail sentence

New crackdown comes after interrogation of investigative journalist Roman Anin

‘Silencing those brave enough to speak up - including students - shuts down the future of press freedom in Russia’ - Natalia Zviagina

Responding to a wave of raids and searches at the office of Russian student magazine DOXA and the apartments of its staff members, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director, said: 

“The authorities have stooped to a new low as they tighten their grip on media perceived to be disloyal to the Kremlin. 

“From slowly suffocating these outlets with economic penalties or forcing their owners to self-censorship, they have moved to an all-out attack on journalists and other media workers. 

“Silencing those brave enough to speak up - including students - shuts down the future of press freedom in Russia. 

“A few days ago, police broke into the apartment of Roman Anin, one of the country’s leading investigative journalists, and interrogated him overnight. Now, they’ve knocked down the doors to the apartments of journalists of a student magazine and moved to prosecute them. 

“The brazen targeting of DOXA journalists and Roman Anin is clearly politically motivated and a chilling reminder of the broader crackdown on freedom of expression in Russia. 

“The Russian authorities’ intention is transparent. Investigations into corruption will not be tolerated, mobilising youth to actively and peacefully participate in society will be prosecuted, and those journalists and media outlets who receive foreign funding will be ostracised and labelled ‘foreign agents’.” 

Morning raids

This morning, security officers conducted searches at the office of the online student magazine DOXA, at the apartments of four of its staff, and at the homes of the parents of two of the journalists. According to their lawyer, the basis for the searches was a video message from DOXA staff members posted on 23 January ahead of protests against the imprisonment of Aleksei Navalny. In the video, the journalists called on the authorities to stop intimidating students who take part in Navlany protests. They also encouraged young people to defend their right to peaceful assembly, join human rights groups and organise with fellow students.  

DOXA editor-in-chief, Armen Aramyan, and three journalists - Alla Gutnikova, Vladimir Metelkin and Natalia Tyshkevich - have been charged with the “involvement of minors in the commission of acts that pose a danger to the minor’s life” (Article 151.2 of the Criminal Code), which carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment. A court has been asked to place them under house arrest, prohibit them from using the internet or communicate with anyone other than family members and lawyers. 

Roman Anin case

On 9 April, Roman Anin, editor-in-chief of the investigative site Vazhnye Istorii, was searched and interrogated for seven hours overnight under Article 137(2) of the Criminal Code (“violation of privacy”). Anin was later summoned for another interrogation yesterday. The case was opened at the request of the then-wife of the head of the state-run oil company Rosneft, Igor Sechin, who, according to an article written by Anin, had links to a £70m luxury super-yacht. 

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