One of the harshest acts of censorship since Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February is the classification of Meduza, the largest Russian independent news site, as an “undesirable organisation.” The parent company of Meduza, which is registered in Latvia, “threatens the foundations of constitutional order and the security of the Russian Federation,” the prosecutor general of Russia claimed in a statement on Thursday (January 26), without providing any other information.

The ruling says Meduza is prohibited from functioning in Russia, and anybody who “cooperates” or even posts a hyperlink to its online material risk receiving a six-year prison sentence.

The Kremlin’s newest attempt to censor discussion about the conflict in Ukraine is the ban on Meduza. The public’s ability to receive information on the war has been curtailed, effectively outlawing Russia’s independent media.

The choice will probably make it significantly difficult for its reporters, the majority of whom are based in Latvia, to communicate with people in Russia, so limiting the website’s audience. Despite the migration of thousands of individuals who opposed the war or sought to escape it, its readership of around 15 million people has mostly stayed in Russia.

“We’d like to say that we’re not scared and we couldn’t care less about this new status — but that’s not true,” Meduza said in a statement. “We are scared for our readers. We are scared for the people who worked with Meduza for many years. We are scared for our loved ones and our friends.”

“Nonetheless, we believe in what we do. We believe in freedom of speech. We believe in a democratic Russia. The bigger the pressure, the harder we will stand up to it,” Meduza added. 

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