NUJ condemns Russia’s domestic crackdown on reporting of war on Ukraine

  • 04 Mar 2022

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet has condemned new Russian legislation designed to criminalise journalism and deter the independent reporting of the invasion of Ukraine.

She said:

 “At a time when the Russian population are hungry for reliable news and information Putin is going all out to block news outlets and silence journalists. It is a cynical and deliberate attempt to criminalise journalism and instil fear in reporters and their reading public. Ultimately it is a futile exercise, and the fearless reporting taking place will win out.

"The NUJ pays tribute to all those courageous journalists and media workers who continue to carry out their work in the most challenging and febrile of circumstances. Journalists across the NUJ and around the world stand in solidarity with their colleagues performing such a vital service in Ukraine and in Russia.” 

Russia’s parliament passed a law on Friday 4 March, imposing a jail term of up to 15 years for intentionally spreading “fake” news about the military, and fines for public calls for sanctions against the country.  The move has led the BBC to suspend the work of all BBC News journalists and support staff in Russia, although its reporting in Russian will continue from outside Russia. 

Other Russian news outlets, including Novaya Gazeta, have announced they will stop its war coverage as a result of the censorship, in order to protect journalists and their readers from being prosecuted. 

The deepening crisis has seen millions of people turn to the BBC, around the world, including in Russia – reinforcing the global value and importance of Britain’s public service broadcaster. The audience for the BBC’s Russian language news website more than tripled its year-to-date weekly average, with a record reach of 10.7m people in the last week (compared to 3.1m).  In English, visitors in Russia were up 252% to 423,000 last week.  Audiences for its Ukrainian language site has more than doubled year-to-date, with a reach of 3.9m in the past week (compared to 1.7m) and the audience for increased 154% in Ukraine.   

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