Kremlin ‘forgot’ to call critical newspaper to Putin event

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Vladimir Putin’s spokesman blamed human error for not inviting Novaya Gazeta journalists to the Russian president’s annual press conference. The paper is under threat over its coverage of corruption and rights abuses.Novaya Gazeta, the Russian newspaper known for its critical coverage of President Vladimir Putin’s government, was notably absent from the Russian leader’s annual press conference last week.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said they simply forgot to call representatives from the paper to attend Thursday’s press event.

“Novaya Gazeta was not called, I would say — this is a human factor. Actually, they just forgot. It may be wrong of me to admit it this way, but, indeed, we forgot to call them,” Peskov told Russia-1 TV on Sunday.

Other media left out proactively contacted the Kremlin and expressed their interest in attending, Peskov said.

COVID rules prevented last-minute invite

Two days before Putin was due to give his press conference, the Kremlin staff remembered Novaya Gazeta. But sadly it was too late, Peskov told the TV channel.

By then, the more than 500 accredited journalists had presented three negative PCR tests in order to be allowed to enter the venue where the conference was held, he said.

Peskov added that the absence “in no way prevented a question by Novaya Gazeta to be voiced.”

Indeed, a journalist from Ekho Moskvy radio station read out a question on behalf of the newspaper.

Putin was asked if he knew the names of those behind the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya and Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov.

Politkovskaya was gunned down outside her Moscow apartment in 2006 after years of writing critically about Russia’s war in Chechnya.

She is one of six of Novaya Gazeta’s journalists to be murdered.

On Sunday, Russia-1 TV asked Peskov if the Russian president was unhappy that journalists from Novaya Gazeta were not invited.

“No, he wasn’t,” Peskov replied, adding that Putin had answered the question, referring to the efforts of the investigating authorities.

Respected for critical, investigative coverage

Novaya Gazeta, which is published three times per week, was founded in 1993 after the fall of the Soviet Union.

It focuses on deep-dive investigative reports into corruption and rights abuses.

The paper is one of the very few remaining independent media outlets in Russia and its editor in chief, Dmitry Muratov, won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for his safeguarding of freedom of expression in his homeland.

The paper has survived a Kremlin crackdown on independent and critical media that has seen several outlets labeled as “foreign agents” or forced to shut down.

Several prominent journalists have fled the country.

Russia holds the 150th place in a freedom of press ranking by watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

mm/fb (AFP, dpa, Interfax)

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