DISINFO: Assault on freedom of expression? We don't do that in Russia
Why are Latvian citizens kept in custody, why are they threatened with legal persecution? They haven’t done anything wrong. They have shared pictures and used their rights to self-expression. What is wrong with that?
For us in Russia, this sounds like a brutal approach. Nothing of that sort is practised here. Everyone writes where they want and what they want.
Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative aimed at portraying Russia as protector of freedom of speech and the press.
Contrary to the claim, the Kremlin organises regular briefings with the leading media outlets to hand out instructions on how to write and about what and independent journalists are subjected to frequent threats, attacks and prosecution if not more.
According to the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, Russia is in 149th place out of 180 countries. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 83 journalists and media representatives have been killed in Russia since 1993. Out of them, 38 have been murdered directly for being engaged in investigative journalism related to corruption, politics, and human rights violations. According to the report, the murders can be traced to the Government. According to Reporters Without Borders, pressure on the independent media, blocking websites, and draconian laws became even more severe in the last years. Leading independent news outlets either ended up in the governmental control or were shut down under suspicious circumstances. That comes in addition to the 2020 report by “RWB” that states that “[a]t least 37 Russian professional journalists have been killed in connection with their work since 2000,” compared with 40 reporters killed in 1992-9.
Furthermore, the Russian parliament conversely passed a law in 2019 criminalising “public insult of a representative of power” and stipulating up to one year of “corrective labour” (i.e. penal colony) upon conviction (Art. 319). Although the law does not exclusively criminalise insults directed at the Russian president, half of all cases (51 out of 100) and three-quarters of all convictions (38 out of 51) between March 2019 and March 2020 concerned individuals who criticised Putin (pp. 5-6), including at least two journalists (see here and here).
Read our post “Russia is the world champion in free speech” or our analysis “Four factors affecting press freedom in Russia”, or more cases that claim that the West Falsely Claims Russian Media Not Free, or that Russia is the most liberal country and that there is no restriction of foreign media in Russia.