The New York Times is pulling its editorial staff out of Russia in response to the country’s passage of a censorship law that threatens jail time for those trying to report independently on Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The Times’ action is the latest in a line of other media companies and outlets taking similar steps to protect the safety of their staff while still aiming to report on goings on in Ukraine from outside the region.
“Russia’s new legislation seeks to criminalize independent, accurate news reporting about the war against Ukraine. For the safety and security of our editorial staff working in the region, we are moving them out of the country for now,” a Times spokesperson said. “We look forward to them returning as soon as possible while we monitor the application of the new law. We will continue our live, robust coverage of the war, and our rigorous reporting on Russia’s offensive in Ukraine and these attempts to stifle independent journalism.”
CNN, ABC News and CBS News were all among the media companies who were halting broadcasting from Russia, while BBC News was suspending reporting.
On Friday, Russia’s parliament unanimously passed a law banning what it called “fake news” — or news that is not approved by the Kremlin — with a punishment of up to 15 years in prison. The law targets specifically information about the distribution of so-called “false news” about the invasion of Ukraine — which President Vladimir Putin has euphemistically called a “special military operation.”
The draconian censorship legislation has forced some of the last independent Russian media to shut down, including the TV station Dozhd and the radio station Ekho Moskvy, and other sites have either been blocked or access to social media networks appears to have been slowed down in the country.