The International Press Institute (IPI) today condemns the arrest of over two dozen journalists and media workers across Russia in recent days as they were carrying out their professional duties and reporting from protests against the Kremlin’s partial military mobilization.
IPI and our global network demand that the Russian authorities immediately drop any outstanding criminal charges against those who were detained and warn that the Kremlin’s systematic eradication of journalistic freedoms and silencing of critical media shows no sign of abating.
After anti-mobilization protests broke out on September 21, at least 18 journalists were among thousands of people arrested in cities across Russia that day, according to the independent Journalists and Media Workers Union (JMWU) and the OVD-Info rights group.
As protests continued in cities across the country over the weekend, IPI documented at least nine more confirmed detentions of journalists and media workers, with the majority occurring on Saturday, September 24, bringing the total to at least 27.
In analysis of media reporting of those detained, IPI identified Zvezda online magazine reporter Yuri Kuroptev, Sota Vision journalists Artem Krieger, Boris Zhirnov, Ekaterina Parfyonova and Nail Mullaev, and RusNews journalists Andrey Kichev, Roman Ivanov and Irina Salomatova.
Also detained were Glavnye Novosti correspondent Alexander Pelevin, Alevtina Trynova of Vecherniye Vedomosti, Caution Media journalist Sergei Prostako, RosPhoto photographer Pavel Daisi and Superpower journalist Kristina Hacker.
Also arrested while covering the events in their cities were Pskov-based journalist Maxim Bartulev, Yekaterinburg-based journalist Christina Hacker and Tomsk-based journalists Natalya Baranova and Alexander Sakalov, as well as Moscow-based journalist Denis Lipa.
While most of the journalists were quickly released, some had protocols drawn up which could lead to fines or criminal prosecution. Kinchev from RusNews, for example, was charged with discrediting the Russian armed forces in a post he made on social media in May 2022, under Article 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses.
Journalist Denis Lipa was beaten by police in Moscow after he showed them his press card, according to OVD-Info. Journalist Artem Krieger from Sota Vision, one of the few remaining independent news outlets based in Russia, was broadcasting live on YouTube from a protest when he was arrested. He was charged with disrupting traffic and held overnight until he was issued with a summons to the military registration and enlistment office to check his deferral status for mobilization.
The majority of the journalists arrested on September 21 wore PRESS vests or insignia at the time and identified themselves to police as they were being detained, including handing over professional press cards and written notice of their editorial assignment, according to the JMWU.
All the cases documented here involve journalists who were attending rallies in a professional capacity to report on the protests, which were sparked by the announcement by Vladimir Putin on September 21 of the partial military mobilization. Police appear to have made no distinction between protesters and journalists covering the events.
Public protests are currently banned in Russia. Independent war reporting has also been criminalized, with journalists facing fines and prison sentences for discrediting the Russian armed forces or spreading false information about Russian armed forces’ actions.
Following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24, the Kremlin has moved to wipe out all remaining sources of independent news and tighten its grip over the media ecosystem through the passing of draconian laws and widespread regulatory censorship. Almost all of the last major bastions of independent news such as Novaya Gazeta and Ekho Moskvy have been blocked and shut down. The smaller independent outlets that remain face threats of criminal persecution or administrative harassment.
IPI’s Ukraine War Tracker has so far documented 446 violations of media freedom or attacks on the press in Russia since the start of the war, ranging from arrests of journalists covering protests, to website blocking and the liquidation of media organisations. Click here to see the full data.