Russian court revokes licence of independent media outlet Novaya Gazeta

Novaya Gazeta newspaper’s editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov and deputy editor-in-chief Sergei Sokolov sit in a corridor before a court hearing of a case to revoke the newspaper’s media license in Moscow, Russia.

Novaya Gazeta, one of the last independent news outlets still publishing inside Russia, was stripped of its media licence on Monday, and in effect banned from operating.

Russia’s media watchdog Rozkomnadzor had accused the publication of failing to provide documents related to a change of ownership in 2006.

Speaking outside court, editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov, a Nobel Peace laureate for his efforts to uphold critical news reporting in Russia, said the ruling was “a political hit job, without the slightest legal basis”. He said the paper would appeal.

Novaya Gazeta, a stalwart of Russia’s media scene since its foundation in 1993 with money from the Nobel Peace prize of late Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, had carved out a niche as Russia’s leading investigative outlet, even as press freedoms were gradually rolled back.

In March, it suspended operations in Russia after being cautioned for violating newly-passed laws imposing strict censorship of coverage of the conflict in Ukraine.

Staff have since set up a new spin-off online outlet in Europe, whose publications have also been blocked by Russian authorities.

Muratov himself has remained in Russia and on Saturday led the funeral procession of Gorbachev, his financial backer and friend.

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