Criminalizing Journalism

Our readers are likely familiar with the unfortunate fate of Yevgeny Gontmakher, an economist who published the article Novocherkassk-2009 (translated on this blog), providing a bleak outlook of what many one-factory Russian towns are experiencing in the economic crisis.  Now it seems that another figure, Aleksandr Bragin, is being targeted for having published an article on the economic crisis.  Didn’t he know that it’s against the law for the media to cover the recession?

From RFE/RL:

Bragin’s article was posted on December 29 on the website of the Russian Popular Democratic Union, an opposition party led by former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, whose regional Ulyanovsk branch is headed by Bragin.

Yelena Dikun, a Kasyanov aide, told RFE/RL’s Russian Service that law enforcement agencies are accusing Bragin of tarnishing the region’s image.

“Bragin published anarticle on the party’s website about the socioeconomic situation inUlyanovsk during the crisis,” Dikun said.

“The department forcombating terrorism and extremism is now demanding that the article betaken down from the website, claiming that Bragin is harming theregion’s image.”

Dikun added that the party had no intention of heeding the police’s demands.

“Thereis no slander in this article. There are only facts about theunemployment rate in the region, about the nonpayment of wages, aboutthe growing prices,” she said.

“This information has not beenrefuted. Of course, nobody is going to take this article down from theparty website. We feel deeply indignant that if someone tells thetruth, he is immediately detained.”