Unprecedented repressions against Russian professional and citizen journalists

4 FEBRUARY, 2021, LONDON – During nationwide protests in support of Alexey Navalny between January 16 and February 3, 2021, the Justice for Journalists Foundation recorded 195 incidents of detentions and arrests of professional and citizen journalists.  
A total of 373 attacks were carried out against at least 260 Russian professional journalists, bloggers and media workers and their families.

The data was collected from the open sources, including OVD-InfoMediazona,Novaya Gazeta, MBK Media, MeduzaThe InsiderTV RainThe Bell, Glasnost Defence Foundation, Journalists’ and Media Workers’ UnionPravozashita Otkritki, official pages of the regional publications, as well as personal pages of journalists and bloggers in the social media. The number of attacks demonstrate an unprecedented scale of repressions by the Russian authorities aimed at impeding the professional work of journalists in covering protest activities. The clearly marked PRESS vests, editorial tasks and press cards served as a reason for the journalists’ detention, rather than their protection from the police and the riot units (OMON).

The Justice for Journalists Foundation urges the international community to closely follow the numerous persecutions of media workers in Russia and to call on the Russian authorities to comply with the international conventions on freedom of expression and human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Moscow saw the highest number of attacks on journalists, bloggers and media workers – 149, followed by Saint Petersburg – 64, and Khabarovsk – 15.

Majority of the attacks were carried out by the police, riot units (OMON) and other state security forces, and included:

  • 164 cases of detentions (sometimes the same journalists were detained twice during the day or various protest actions);
  • 31 cases of non-fatal attack / beating / injury / torture during the detentions as a result of which some journalists were seriously injured. In particular, photo correspondent George Markov suffered a concussion and closed brain injury, Dmitry Bairov’s hand was injured, Elizaveta Kirpanova suffered a head injury while beaten, Ivan Kleymenov suffered a head injury and he was held in the paddy wagon in the torturous conditions, Sota.Vision correspondent Fedor Orlov suffered shoulder dislocation, journalist Sergey Kolotovkin’s shoulder was injured, cameraman of the YouTube channel Real View Fedor Khudokormov was attacked by a national guard who brutally beat him with baton;
  • 31 journalists were sentenced to between 3 to 30 days in detention centres under administrative cases, in particular under Article 20.2. «Violation of the established procedure for the organization or holding of a meeting, rally, demonstration, procession or picket»;
  • 11 media workers received administrative fines, and administrative reports were drawn up in other 13 cases – those journalists were released with the obligation to appear in court at a later date;  
  • At least six criminal cases have initiated against five journalists on the grounds of the public calls for extremist activities; calls for riots; use of violence against a law enforcement officers in the course of an unauthorized action; violation of epidemiological norms and the organization of mass disorder, with prison sentences of three years or more.

Other attacks against professional and citizen journalists included intimidation, harassment, pressure and threats; deprivation of the freedom to leave the dwelling; confiscation, seizure and damage of the professional equipment; surveillance and hacking into emails and social media accounts.

The full and detailed information about attacks on journalists, bloggers and is available in our Media Risk Map as well as in the Incidents Database.