Grigory Pasko: Journalists Are Fleeing Russia


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A well-known Russian journalist, head of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations  Oleg Panfilov in early November moved for permanent residency from Moscow to Tbilisi. In a conversation with journalists he explained that his decision was based on the fact that in Russia unknowns were constantly threatening him through the internet with physical lynching.

This news appeared on the internet on the 9th of November. To me this «news» was known two months ago: Oleg himself had told me about his desire to forsake Russia. In so doing no arguments in the form of threats did he name. I think that in this situation, unnamed colleagues were inaccurately treating the essence of the event.

Oleg told me that he intends to live in Georgia and to read lectures at the journalism school in the Tbilisi state university, as well as to actively cooperate on the “Caucasian telechannel”  being opened as of the new year in Tbilisi, which, presumably, will broadcast to the whole Caucasian region.

Also Oleg spoke about how the Center for Journalism in ExtremeSituations will continue to work as before. The Center – is anoticeable phenomenon in the milieu of human rights journalism andthe system of monitoring the observance of the rights of journalistsnot only in the RF, but on the whole post-Soviet space as well.

The appearances and declarations of Oleg Panfilov on this topic arewell-known to my colleagues. Thus, in particular, he , making referenceto facts, asserted that in recent years a catastrophic situation hasevolved in the Russian mass information media. As a result of thecrisis, several thousand journalists have lost their jobs – massinformation media have reduced staffs by 15-30%. In so doing “it iscomplex to say specifically how many mass information media employeeswere reduced with violation of Labor legislation”, noted the journalist.

Panfilov had likewise declared that Russia is found in first place inthe world with respect to the quantity of initiated criminal cases inrelation to journalists. In so doing 95% of them are initiated byrepresentatives of the power.

By the way, Oleg Panfilov is far from the first (and, most likely) notthe last journalist to abandon Russia. In their time from the countryleft correspondent of radio «Liberty» Andrei Babitsky;  television presenter SavikShuster;  «Novaya gazeta»correspondent Sergei Zolovkin; the female Chechen journalist Mainat Abdullayeva; journalists fromKarachayevo-Chnrkessia Yuri Bagrov andFatima Tlisova;Elena Tregubova, who had written the book «Tales of a Kremlin Digger»; journalist from Kemerovo Alexander KosvintsevMananaAslamazyan, who had headed the foundation”Educated Media” and the organization “Internews»;  Mikhail Voitenko, former editor-in-chief of the authoritative net magazine “Morskoybulletin – Sovfrakht“… Thelist can be continued. All of them were threatened by obvious danger.Panfilov, I can presume, could have had such danger lying in wait forhim in the future.

At any rate, on the site Grani.Ruhe said: «InGeorgia I can feel myself professionally indispensable. I can take partin public processes, that are interesting to me. It is not wanted toconduct the remaining years to no purpose… If one is to speak of somekind of undercurrent, then, of course, it is there. The undercurrentconsists of the fact that Georgia – is a country much more free thanRussia, and here there are prospects for development both forjournalistics, and for society, it is more interesting for me here now.Unfortunately, I have to say that in Russia there are fewer and fewersuch prospects, and to be honest, I am already sufficientlydisenchanted in the prospects of my work in Russia»

Photo: Oleg Panfilov.