Russian citizens bail out newspaper
A Russian court has ordered the opposition online newspaper The New Times to pay a fine of 22.25 million rubles (300,000 euros) for allegedly missing a deadline for handing in a financial report. A campaign for donations has gathered the money to pay the fine, which the small paper couldn't afford, within just a four days. Commentators from Russia and a neighbouring country are delighted.
The opposition lives on
In an interview with Echo of Moscow Yevgenia Albats, the editor-in-chief of The New Times, stresses that the spirit of the opposition in Russia remains intact:
“You have written us off too soon. You have crucified us and branded the democratically-minded in Russia as losers who have achieved nothing and made a mess of everything. But this is not true. This campaign in which a huge number of people from all over the country with different views, nationalities, religious affiliations and incomes have participated has proven: the democratic movement in Russia lives on. ... And the wave of protests that began in Moscow and St. Petersburg in 2011 and 2012 but was brutally crushed still exists.”
The shot backfired
Lietuvos žinios also sees the initiative as a positive development:
“Commentators in Russia agree: instead of stifling the critical online paper the Kremlin has achieved the opposite effect - mobilising critical-minded citizens. The lightning reaction shows that civil society hasn't been destroyed but is lying in wait. The success of the fundraising campaign strengthens civil society because it gives people the feeling that they can make things happen. And the regime is speeding up the process. In the government apparatus loyalty now counts more than competence, and serious mistakes are being made (for example the raising of the retirement age). Sociologists concur that more and more people yearn for social justice. Ever more Russians are coming to see that the GDP is not being distributed fairly.”