World Press Freedom Day

Submitted on Fri, 05/03/2019 - 14:47

Excerpt from the briefing by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day declared by the UN General Assembly in 1993 to raise awareness of the need to ensure the free operation of the media and the safety of journalists.

At the same time, we have to note that the state of freedom of speech and freedom of the media in the world is far from satisfactory. First of all, we have recorded violations of the rights of Russian journalists on an unprecedented scale while performing their professional duties in a number of countries which formally declare their commitment to the principles of freedom of speech, while at the same time waging aggressive campaigns against unwanted media, in particular Russian outlets. Journalists have their accreditations withdrawn; they are denied visas and shut out of media events. Aggressive information campaigns are being launched to discredit their activities.

Vivid examples of this include the discrimination against the Sputnik agency and the Russia Today TV channel in France; the growing campaign in the German press to discredit Russian and Russian-language media in that country; the policy of exerting pressure on Russian media in the United States, where social media censorship is being promoted under the guise of fighting misinformation and ensuring proper conditions for holding elections; the anti-Russia misinformation campaigns waged by official London; restriction of the Russian information presence in the Baltic countries. This list is far from complete. Unfortunately, Brussels and the European Union also got involved in such misinformation campaigns, having created special agencies to fight “Russian propaganda” – in fact a machine for thwarting Russian journalists.

The situation with freedom of speech and the safety of journalists in Ukraine continues to be of particular concern. We have repeatedly pointed out to the international community the overt policy of censorship in the media, gross violations of the rights of journalists, going as far as their physical elimination – from shelling of film crews to illegal arrests of journalists carried out with the full connivance of the global public.

Head of the RIA Novosti-Ukraine agency Kirill Vyshinsky has spent almost a year in custody, arrested on absurd, false and far-fetched charges of treason and other criminal acts.

Russia strictly abides by the principle of transparency and openness of its media landscape, ensuring the unimpeded work of foreign and domestic journalists, and willingly cooperating with relevant international agencies on media issues. So if we take any action against foreign journalists, correspondents, or media – that would be an exclusively proportional response. Yet, never in history of modern Russian have we used any tools from our Western partners’ arsenal on Western correspondents or anyone from the international press corps accredited in Moscow, except when compelled to act symmetrically – otherwise our journalists would have had to stop working in the countries where they are based.