Russia declares Moscow Times newspaper ‘undesirable’ after harsh criticism


The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office on Wednesday declared The Moscow Times, an online newspaper popular among Russia’s expat community, an “undesirable organization.”

The name comes in the midst of a heavy-handed crackdown on criticism news media and the opposition. It means that the newspaper must cease all work in Russia and that any Russian who collaborates with the newspaper will face up to five years in prison.

It is a stricter measure than the designation “foreign agent” in November, applying to the news media, subjecting individuals and organizations to stricter financial oversight and requiring all their public materials to prominently display a notice that they have been declared foreign agents.

The Moscow Times moved its editorial operations out of Russia back in 2022, after a law was passed imposing severe penalties for material deemed discrediting the Russian military and its government. war in Ukraine.

The newspaper publishes in English and Russian, but its Russian-language site was blocked in Russia several months after the start of the war in Ukraine.

The publication began in 1992 as a daily print edition distributed free of charge in restaurants, hotels and other locations popular with expatriates, whose presence in Moscow increased after the fall of the Soviet Union. The print edition was later reduced to a weekly, and in 2017 it became online-only.

Russia has in recent years methodically oriented people and organizations critical of the Kremlin, which many label as “foreign agents” and some as “undesirable.” Other news organizations labeled as undesirable include the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, whose editor Dmitry Muratov won a Nobel Peace Prize, and the online news site Meduza.

Russia has also jailed prominent opposition figures, including an anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, who was President Vladimir Putin most persistent domestic enemy, and dissidents Vladimir Kara-Murza And Ilya Jashin.

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