Moscow upping the pressure on opposition

Russia has seen a crackdown on Kremlin critics in recent weeks. The authorities have taken harsh action against several independent opposition figures, including arrests, searches and investigation proceedings. The critical news website newsru.com has had to shut down after 21 years in operation, and Vtimes will also be discontinued on 12 June. Commentators are alarmed.

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VTimes (RU) /

Centrist media being liquidated

In an obituary dedicated to VTimes, ecologist Vladimir Slivyak praises the news site for remaining firmly objective right to the end:

“VTimes stated that it did not want to be turned into an opposition media outlet. And that is precisely its merit. It positioned itself in the middle, as befits journalists. But it is precisely this middle ground that is being liquidated in Russia. You're not allowed to be an honest, objective observer. If you disagree with the state power, you wear the label of a foreign agent. ... You can either be with the state or against it, somewhere in between is not possible. The closure of VTimes is a refusal to play by imposed rules, and timely civil disobedience. And it is the only honest response to what is happening.”

Echo Moskwy (RU) /

No one is safe any more

Boris Vishnevsky, a member of the St. Petersburg City Council for the liberal Yabloko party, sees everyone who is critical of the Kremlin in danger. He writes as follows in a Telegram post republished by Echo of Moscow:

“Almost every day now the 'legislators on steroids' [the Duma] make new proposals for bans, punishments and legal restrictions. Every attempt is being made to intimidate civil society by showing citizens that any disagreement with the state power is considered a criminal offence, and opposition activities are now crimes. Anyone who dares to raise their voice about what is happening, who supports those being persecuted, who demands a change of government through elections or who takes part in elections as an opposition candidate can now be crushed by the repression machine. No one is safe any more.”

Nowaja Gaseta (RU) /

Honest news is toxic nowadays

Novaya Gazeta looks at the closure of newsru.com for alleged financial reasons in the overall political context:

“The working standards of newsru.com, like those of 'Vedomosti' and other media before it, have come to be at odds with Russian reality. The most serious blow to newsru.com has been the fact that honest news has become too toxic for advertising clients. It's safer for them to take their money to outlets that write about lifestyle, homemade jam festivals or, in the worst case, geopolitics. Otherwise they are accused of funding the opposition. In view of the endless searches conducted at independent politicians' homes and offices and the suppression of Navalny supporters, the closure of newsru.com seems highly symbolic.”