Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s last remaining independent news outlets, has said it will cease operations until the end of the war in Ukraine after it received a second warning from the state censor for allegedly violating the country’s “foreign agent” law.
The warning came a day after its editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, spoke with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in a group interview with Russian journalists that was quickly banned by the state media watchdog, Roskomnadzor.
Novaya Gazeta is one of the country’s most important independent publications. A number of its journalists have been killed since the 1990s in retaliation for their reporting, including on the war in Chechnya.
The Roskomnadzor warning to Novaya Gazeta was allegedly prompted by the newspaper’s failure to identify a “foreign agent” in an unspecified publication. But it appeared to be an act of retaliation for the newspaper’s decision to report on the war and Muratov’s participation in the interview with Zelenskiy.
In an effort to avoid being shut down, the newspaper announced its surprise decision to halt publications until the end of Russia’s “special operation”, the Kremlin’s official term for the invasion.
“We have received another warning from Roskomnadzor,” Novaya Gazeta’s editorial board wrote in statement. “Following this, we will suspend the publication of the newspaper online and in print until the end of the ‘special operation on the territory of Ukraine’.”
The editorial board noted that the newspaper could have its license revoked because it had received two warnings from Roskomnadzor. It received the first warning last week.
Muratov, who received the Nobel peace prize in 2021 for his efforts to support journalistic freedoms in Russia, had decided to continue publishing Novaya Gazeta while obeying a Roskomnadzor directive that forbids journalists from describing the conflict as a “war” or “invasion”.
While other outlets such as Echo of Moscow and TV Rain were banned from Russia, Novaya Gazeta had continued reporting on the war and on the impact of sanctions on Russia’s economy. It is one of the only Russian news outlets to have a correspondent in Ukraine filing dispatches about the impact of the war on Ukrainians.
“I want to express absolutely my solidarity with Novaya Gazeta, its journalists and its editor-in-chief,” wrote Alexey Venediktov, the former editor of Echo of Moscow. “I hope that you will soon return to your readers, and therefore to me.”