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Russia has passed ‘100 new laws’ restricting press freedom

Russian-Ukrainian journalist Galina Timchenko has been living and working in Latvia for years. There she founded an online multimedia platform that continues to write what the Russian media is no longer allowed to publish due to tough Russian censorship regulations. 

This content was published on July 4, 2022 - 12:15
Michele Novaga, Bruno Kaufmann, Carlo Pisani

"Freedom of speech and freedom of information are everything to me," explains Timchenko in this new edition of our “Global Voices of Freedom” series. The 60-year-old editor-in-chief of meduza.io confirms that freedom of the press and freedom of expression have been under attack in Russia for many years. She ran one of the most widely circulated Russian news media, lenta.ru, for a decade until 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region, with Russian-backed forces fighting Ukraine's armed forces.

"At that time, the Kremlin directly ordered the owner of Lenta to fire me," she tells SWI swissinfo.ch. "So I had to leave Russia for Latvia and Riga where I founded a new media outlet Meduza in order to have the freedom of the press that was no longer possible in Russia. For me and all my colleagues it was a real life change."

Today the new publication, which the Ukrainian-Russian journalist heads, is very popular not only in Russia but also internationally since it publishes news both in Russian and English. "Meduza is a multimedia platform that makes its voice heard on all social networks, on messenger and through newsletters," Timchenko adds. This has enabled it to attract many young people, who today make up half of the readership.

However, as a direct consequence of the Russian attack on Ukraine, in March meduza.io was blocked in Russia by the authorities. "Since then about hundred new laws restricting press freedom have been passed in Russia. There is military censorship, and the victims are precisely the media organisations: 100 newspapers have been declared foreign agents and accused of treason and espionage. And hundreds of journalists have left the country," Timchenko adds: "There will be no freedom of press and expression, no respect for human rights in Russia as long as Putin remains in power."

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