July 01, 2008

Notebook



for the leader of a country with one of the world’s highest rates of journalist murders, President Dmitry Medvedev was surprisingly relaxed during a May meeting with Vsevolod Bogdanov, president of the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ). Granted, the two didn’t discuss “sensitive issues” like dead-ended murder investigations or the past eight years of screw-tightening on the press. Yet, the two presidents did amicably conclude that Russian journalists should work harder to uncover corruption – Medvedev’s bugbear. “If such publications were appearing more quickly, the effect desired by the government and the people would also come about more quickly,” Medvedev said, agreeing with Bogdanov that if journalists help expose corruption, the “national projects” (specially targeted economic and social projects) will be more successful.

According to the International Federation of Journalists, 152 journalists have been murdered in Russia since 1994. “There is an evident climate of impunity surrounding the cases where a journalist was killed for his or her professional activities,” the organization wrote in its 2007 Russia report. Most cases remain unsolved. And many of the victims were in fact investigating corruption when they were murdered. “It’s very interesting logic,” wrote Natella Boltyanskaya in Yezhednevny Zhurnal, “Journalists are to fight corruption. Journalists are to die, while the people they are investigating are to get bloated on their illegal earnings and enjoy total impunity.” 

Some recent cases of journalistic persecution include:


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