In late July 2018 three Russian journalists, Kirill Radchenko, Alexander Rastorguev and Orkhan Dzhemal were murdered in the Central African Republic while investigating Wagner, a private Russian mercenary group reported to be overseen by catering magnate Evgeny Prigozhin, a close associate of Russian President Putin and the head of the infamous Troll Factory.
In response to this tragedy, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, founder of Open Russia pro-democracy movement, Amnesty International-recognized prisoner of conscience, and Putin’s most prominent critic and his former business partner, philanthropist and a member of The Standing Committee of the Free Russia Forum Leonid Nevzlin established Justice for Journalists, a foundation set up in order to investigate violent crimes against journalists who have been targeted as a result of their professional duties.
The vast majority of murders of journalists remain unpunished, and there currently exists no international mechanism for pursuing and obtaining justice. This is a call to action, and this foundation is a pathway to justice.
Freedom of the press and democracy vitally depend on one another. As the bonds of trust between society, governments and traditional forms of media decline across the world, it is vital that important investigative work is protected, and that those who wish to silence independent journalism are brought to account.
Justice for Journalists Foundation (JFJ) is a London-based non-governmental organisation that funds journalistic investigations into violent crimes against media workers and raises risk preparedness among professional and citizen journalists. JFJ aims to facilitate journalists’ access to the existing resources and adapt those to the local specifics. We promote the importance of safety and help equip media workers with skills and knowledge to stand up to the challenges of their daily work.
An initial sum of five million dollars has been pledged by Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Leonid Nevzlin towards the future work of Justice for Journalists Foundation. The Foundation is run by an advisory board and a network of experts and investigators, drawing from a wide range of renowned professionals in a variety of fields. Those who have already agreed to become a part of the Foundation are listed below:
Former president of RFE/Radio Liberty, research Council Member at the National Endowment for Democracy, Senior Fellow at Georgetown University and an author.
Foreign correspondent for the Guardian, who has reported from Dehli, Berlin and Moscow, and author of Collusion: How Russia Helped Trump Win the White House.
Founder of Open Russia pro-democracy movement, Amnesty In-ternational -recognized prisoner of conscience, and the former CEO of the Yukos oil company.
Founder and publisher of Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s foremost independ-ent newspaper, known for uncovering government corruption and human rights abuses.
Businessman, philanthropist, former managing director of the Yukos oil company, founder of the Museum of the Jewish People (Israel) and co-owner of Israeli newspaper Haaretz
Special correspondent on Russian affairs for the Wall Street Journal, former head of FT in Russia, author of many books on Russia.
Board of Experts
Author and journalist with Moscow News, Kommersant, columnist in www.gazeta.ru and Radio Liberty, commentator for TV Rain. US Freedom of Press and Russian Golden Quill awards recipient. Co-chairs the Profession – Journalist contest with Open Russia foundation.
Russian-Canadian multimedia journalist and documentary producer; covered Russia, Central Asia, conflicts in Chechnya, Georgia, for TIME/LIFE, ARD, PBS, ABC News, CNN.te House.
Representative of Dossier Investigative Centre
Founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky to track the criminal activity of various people associated with the Kremlin.
Maria Ordzhonikidze is a Director of the Justice for Journalists Foundation. Over the course of her international career, Ms Ordzhonikidze has designed and managed a number of public awareness, advocacy, human rights and crisis management campaigns. As a Secretary General of the EU-Russia Centre she oversaw its research and lobbying efforts in Brussels and wider Europe. She ran the international litigation communication and advocacy campaign as the Head of Khodorkovsky Press Center in Russia. A visiting professor in International Communications at Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, she conducted training programmes for corporations, NGOs and individuals. Ms Ordzhonikidze has authored research and articles and regularly speaks on subjects including sociological and political trends, international relations, freedom of speech and global security. She holds an MA in Sociology from the Moscow State University and an MA in Intelligence and Security from the London Brunel University.
Lana Estemirova is a writer and human rights advocate. Daughter of the prominent human rights activist and journalist Natalya Estemirova, Lana spent first fifteen years in Russia. After her mother’s murder in 2010, Lana moved to the UK where she finished her secondary education and majored in International Relations in the London School of Economics. Lana is passionate about the rights of women, minorities and the safety of journalists and activists. She joined the Justice for Journalists Foundation in 2020 and is now developing the podcast to bring attention to the struggles faced by independent journalists worldwide and give voice to those who risk their wellbeing in order to tell the truth. Lana is currently working on her first book ‘Please, live!’ – recounting her and her mother’s life in Chechnya set against the background of two wars with Russia, Ramzan Kadyrov’s rise to power and the breakdown of traditional Chechen society.
Vafa Fati-zade is an international Project Manager and Lawyer. She has extensive experience in administering and managing large grant portfolios with the major US and European donor organisations. She has vast academic and practical knowledge of monitoring and reporting on human rights violations, democratic development, conducting trial monitoring, profiling political prisoners and carrying out election monitoring. In the course of her career Vafa worked with Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), holding various posts in the Missions in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Office in Baku; the headquarters of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) in Rome, Italy; Brussels-based International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), and consulted Media Law Defence Initiative (MLDI) and International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) in London. She joined the Justice for Journalists Foundation in 2020 to design and launch Orkhan Dzhemal Media Safety Academy and help manage JFJ’s journalistic grant programme. Vafa Fati-zade has an LLM degree in International Human Rights from the University of Essex in the United Kingdom and an MA degree in Social and Public Policy with Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies minor from Duquesne University in the US.