“Vladimir Putin completes his mass media muzzling”

La Croix: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is preparing to open a center for the protection of journalists in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine still spared the fighting as of March 5, 2022. What will be the role of this center?

Christopher Deloire: Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, hundreds of journalists on the ground, especially Ukrainians, send us requests every day to obtain means of protection allowing them to continue working – helmets, bulletproof vests… We have therefore decided to urgently set up this center for freedom of the press. It should start in the coming days, in close collaboration with our local partner since 2014, the Institute for Mass Information. The great difficulty is that even before being able to deliver this material, it must be procured. We have therefore sent inquiries to potential suppliers in many countries.

More broadly, this center is called upon to become a hub carrying out a wide range of activities. In particular, we want to act for digital protection and the fight against technological censorship because we have developed a solution which makes it possible to unblock censored sites. Finally, RSF lodged a complaint with the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in connection with the armed attacks on several television towers.

LC: Since Friday March 4, the Russian authorities have blocked Facebook and restricted access to Twitter. After the censorship of the Russian media, Vladimir Putin attacks information of foreign origin?

CDs: We must first remember that Vladimir Putin has been working for twenty years to build a leaden screed on the Russian media. There remained a few pockets of resistance, independent media with which he decided to put an end to by adopting on Friday March 4 an amendment which provides for up to fifteen years in prison in the event of the dissemination of information aimed at “discrediting” the forces. Russian armies. In Russia, the last sources of media freedom are disappearing as a result: the Echo radio station in Moscow has just decided to dissolve itself, the Dojd television channel has suspended its activities and the Novaya Gazetta newspaper has had to withdraw several articles from its site. web so as not to risk putting the key under the door.

Ukraine: “The Russian authorities are waging war on the truth”

By attacking Facebook and Twitter, Vladimir Putin completes this mass muzzling. Until now, foreign platforms have allowed him to broadcast his propaganda, but since Facebook, for example, suspended the accounts of Russian state media RT and Sputnik earlier this week, he no longer sees any use for them. Moreover, Vladimir Putin’s narrative to justify the war in Ukraine is so misleading that he fears that a significant percentage of Russians will realize it. And then, beyond the case of digital platforms, the text voted on March 4 also applies to foreign media…

LC: Like several other media, the BBC has therefore decided to suspendtemporarily“the work of its journalists in Russia to ensure their”security“. And some fear that the decision of the EU to close RT and Sputnik will provoke reprisals – censorship and physical repression… So information has (again) become a weapon of war?…

CDs: The characteristic of war criminals is to intimidate silence, hence the attempts at intimidation and the information war. This has already existed for a long time to try to destabilize democracies on the one hand (I am thinking of Russian interventions on social networks during election campaigns in particular), and on the other hand to mobilize Russian opinion.

Twitter in turn blocks Russian media RT and Sputnik in Europe

As for the European decision to close RT and Sputnik, it targets media created to support a censor and propagandist regime that intends to destabilize democracies. It is obvious that Europe must develop a legal framework. At RSF, we advocate for a system of protection for democratic information spaces, including in times of peace, to promote freedom of expression and of the press in the face of dictatorial regimes. It is about freedom, independence, pluralism and the reliability of information.

Ukraine, courage is back in Europe


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