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Russia’s opposition magazine faces closure over $340,000 fine

Russian opposition journalist Zoya Svetova holds a copy of The New Times (pictured December 2013), a magazine known for its no-holds-barred coverage of Vladimir Putin that has been fined over alleged failure to provide financing information © AFP/File / ALEXANDER NEMENOV

Moscow, Russian Federation, Oct 26 – Russia’s only opposition magazine, The New Times, faces bankruptcy and apparent closure after a court slapped the outlet with a fine of nearly $340,000, its editor said on Friday.

The magazine known for its no-holds-barred coverage of Vladimir Putin’s nearly two-decade reign was fined over alleged failure to provide information about its financing to the state communications watchdog, said editor Evgenia Albats.

“This is bankruptcy,” Albats told AFP, saying the struggling media outlet would not be able to pay off the enormous amount.

She said the publisher had suddenly been slapped with a fine of 22,250,000 rubles ($338,000) and she herself had been fined 30,000 rubles. The ruling was made in the absence of the magazine’s representatives.

The court ruling came after Albats interviewed Putin’s top critic Alexei Navalny for the liberal Echo of Moscow radio earlier this week.

Established in 2007, The New Times had a small print run but punched above its weight with its searing covers and an uncompromising anti-Kremlin stance.

Last year the magazine discontinued its print edition due to financial troubles and a lack of advertisers, publishing an online edition.

Albats said she had hoped to restart the print edition but now feared that the publication would have to close altogether.

The magazine’s online edition exists thanks to donations from supporters it receives via a charity designated by Russian authorities as a “foreign agent.”

Albats said the magazine regularly submitted paperwork to the authorities but she did not know they had to do it every three months.

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In 2012, Russia adopted a law which requires NGOs that receive funding from abroad to register as “foreign agents”, a move critics said was part of a clampdown on civil society.

Kremlin critics say that over the past few years the authorities have been seeking to tighten control over the internet that is seen as the last bastion of free speech in Russia.


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