Who and how violates the legal norms, which guarantee freedom of expression and freedom of speech in modern Russia? How is the Law on protection of journalists’ rights, independence of media and freedom of press actually enforced? What forms of censorship – officially banned by the Russian Constitution – are nevertheless systematically applied by the authorities?
We, members of the ‘Free Word Association’ – writers, journalists, cultural activists, and scientists – are extremely concerned about the threats aimed at our colleagues, the journalists of ‘Novaya Gazeta’, which published materials on mass detentions, tortures and extrajudicial reprisals of citizens in Chechnya. We believe that the threateningly aggressive reaction to journalistic work, made public on April 3 at a many- thousand gathering in the Central Mosque of Grozny, is unacceptable in a civilized society and should be evaluated in view of the Russian law. The lack of proper response from law enforcement services and the country’s leadership has entailed yet another threat, this time to journalists of the ‘Echo of Moscow’ radio station who stood up for their colleagues from ‘Novaya Gazeta’.
In recent years, the Russian government has introduced various kinds of restrictions in the field of freedom of speech and self expression. Repressive laws have been adopted, allowing punishment up to imprisonment for creativity and expression of opinions.