October 7, the young journalists club in Kirov held evening in memory of the journalist of "Novaya Gazeta" Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in 2006. Students and working journalists of regional media brought paper flowers to take part in the "Flowers for Anna" of the human rights organization Amnesty International in memory of the human rights activist and in support of freedom of speech in Russia. At the meeting, the participants remembered the key activities of Politkovskaya and discussed the problems facing today's journalists.
Journalism students, Kirov media workers and bloggers brought paper flowers, old editions of "Novaya Gazeta" and posters with the portrait of Anna Politkovskaya to the Herzen library. There were her three quotes on the screen: "The power of evil is in the anonymity. Therefore, everything must be called by its names", "Strong hands in the absence of hearts sign death sentences", and "You can not pretend to be free".
The head of the young journalists club Natalia Baranova told about the main topics raised by Anna Politkovskaya, about her human rights activities. Participants recalled how she helped the mothers of dead soldiers in the court, investigated corruption in the Ministry of Defense and the Command of the combined groups of federal troops in Chechnya; she organized the evacuation of residents of nursing homes and led negotiations with Chechen rebels who seized the theater center on Dubrovka in Moscow.
“There were criminal cases following 40 articles of Anna Politkovskaya. I believe this is a significant factor. Today it is very difficult for a journalist to achieve the authorities' reaction on any publication. Besides, not everyone will take responsibility for the fate of his hero, as Politkovskaya did. When asked why she was doing such a dangerous thing, the journalist replied: "No one is engaged in it, and if I do not do it — who else?". In my opinion, each of us should answer this question,” Natalia Baranova said.
Journalist of REN TV Kirov Aleksander Bykasov expressed the opinion that today there is no sense to wait for the reaction from the authorities:
“There are the very few of independent editorials or sites where journalists can freely speak about the government. Now everyone has the founders; editorials are dependent from the ruling party, or business. Most Russian holdings are pro-Putin or related to business structures. And a journalist can not easily talk about something. You agree that serious materials can be released only with the authorization. That is "pseudotruth". Internet is the only free ground, but there is also clamping down. It is not necessary to wait for a response from the authorities. A situation in Komi as an example: the power saw that the governor steals, only when it wanted to see it. Therefore, there can not be any reaction.”
Participants also recalled the situation on the newspaper "Krasnoye Znamya" in the Komi Republic. In 2013 it published an article with detailed facts of criminal activity of officials of the regional government. But in the end the newspaper was closed under pressure of the authorities. Talks on the resumption of the printed version began only after the arrest of the former head of the Komi Vyacheslav Gayzer and other officials.
According to the editor of the journal "Goods-money-goods" Nikolay Golikov (former editor of "Vyatka special paper", which was closed a year ago), the Russian media are in crisis created by the power:
“After the murder of Anna Politkovskaya there was a public expectation that the government would now attend to press freedom, and safety of journalists. It attended but a strange way. Now journalists are killed less because everything is done to ensure that such journalists as Politkovskaya would no longer appear. Or they will not be allowed to publish. The publications of Politkovskaya falls under the articles of the Criminal Code now. If she was listed in the informal list of enemies of the Russian people, there are formal enemies now, foreign agents, for example. There is no reason to kill journalists. But the work has become more difficult. The journalist is now "packed" by the administrative and criminal charges all round. If earlier you could be called with threats, at least you knew that you were on this side, and the law enforcement agencies were on the same side. Now that is all the way around. The crisis was not created by the media; now it is written into the structure and in such harsh conditions. I have not decided for myself how to get out of it. Now there is a issue not about the fight, but the non-cooperation with the regime. It is very difficult to find a niche in which you can not cooperate with the authorities.”
The correspondent of "7x7" Denis Strelkov recalled the situation related to the case of the beating of journalist Oleg Kashin. The investigation indicted the three persons involved in criminal proceedings, which are connected with the governor of the Pskov region Andrey Turchak. However, the governor has not been questioned.
“Kashin first believed in the Russian investigation, he thanked Medvedev, but in the end he wrote a "letter to the leaders of the Russian Federation", which accused the government of favoring the customer. The situations of Anna Politkovskaya and Boris Nemtsov are similar. But this story with Kashin has forced journalists to rally. A number of the one-person pickets took place in the capital. I think that we also have to express solidarity and to monitor such events in Kirov.
In turn, Natalia Baranova noted that, according to the international organization "Reporters without Borders", Russia is on the 152th place out of 180 in the ranking of media freedom. The report also says that the pressure in the country increased by the "draconian laws", blocking sites, and the destruction or strict control of independent news agencies. Thus, 29 journalists have been killed in Russia for the last 13 years.
Student of the Vyatka State University Yekaterina Nagaichuk said that today many young journalists are disappointed in the profession:
«Many people are simply not ready for a hard work. University imposes certain patterns. But you need to go your way, do not be afraid of being misunderstood, to try, to make mistakes, to get into trouble, and to realize that you're doing something right, something that will change not only you but also the people around. Each journalist should have ideals. And this is not about "selling". These are internal settings. In other words, you need to be prepared for such profession. You should understand that you will be tested for strength by the society every day. It’s a test for survival, ability to confront, and learn to speak about this confrontation.
At the end of the meeting participants observed a minute of silence in tribute to the memory of Anna Politkovskaya.
Kseniya Chudinova, «7x7»