The main Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta suspends publication until the end of the war

MOSCOW, Russia — Russia’s leading independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, whose editor-in-chief was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, announced on Monday that it was suspending publication until the end of military action by Moscow in Ukraine.

Editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov said it was a “difficult” decision, indicating it was an effort to “save” the respected publication and avoid a total shutdown.

“For us and, I know, for you, this is a terrible and difficult decision. But we have to save each other,” he said in a statement.

The announcement came more than a month after the start of the Kremlin’s military campaign in pro-Western Ukraine.

“We have received another warning from Roskomnadzor,” the newspaper said in a statement, referring to Russia’s media regulator.

“We are suspending publication of the newspaper on our website, social media and in print – until the end of the ‘special operation in Ukraine’,” he added.

In this file photo taken on March 24, 2021, journalists from the Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta work at the editorial office of the independent media in Moscow (Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP)

Co-founded by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1993, Novaya Gazeta is the only major newspaper to still criticize President Vladimir Putin and his tactics inside and outside the country.

Earlier Monday, Novaya Gazeta staff learned of an official warning from Roskomnadzor state communications watchdog, its second since last week.

Nadezhda Prusenkova, a spokeswoman for Novaya Gazeta, told AFP the newspaper still did not have a copy of the warning, adding that they learned of the development “from the news”.

If a media outlet receives two warnings from the communications regulator within a year, a court can shut it down.

Last week, Roskomnadzor said Novaya Gazeta failed to mark a nongovernmental organization mentioned in one of its articles as a “foreign agent” under Russian law.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov of Russia poses with the Nobel Peace Prize diploma and medal during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo on December 10, 2021. (Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

Russia is witnessing an unprecedented crackdown on dissenting voices and independent journalism, which includes labeling non-governmental organizations and media as “foreign agents” – a label that carries strong pejorative connotations and implies increased government scrutiny .

Novaya Gazeta itself has not been declared a “foreign agent”.

Last year, Muratov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Maria Ressa of the Philippines for their efforts “to safeguard freedom of expression”.

Last week, Muratov said the newspaper had decided to donate the gold medal to a fund to help Ukrainian refugees.

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