Russia: critical journalist collects prize, then flees the country

By Jane Whyatt

Threats against vocal Putin critic and journalist Yulia Latynina have been building up for months. Now they have come to a head, and she has fled her homeland of Russia. In a tweet she cited ’death threats’ and used the hashtag #Putin.


Yulia Latynina Yulia Latynina. Photo: Dmitry Rozhkov, Yulia Latynina 05, CC BY-SA 3.0 by Dmitry Rokhkov

The Russian Union of Journalists awarded Latynina the prestigious Kamerton Prize on 8th September. This award for achievements in the field of protection of human rights and freedom of the press was established on August 30th, 2013 - the birthday of the murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Like Politkovskaya she used to write for "Novaya Gazeta". She was also a host on the liberal-leaning Echo Moscow radio station.

Her decision to flee follows a campaign of intimidation which has seen her parked car burst into flames, a bucket of faeces thrown on her, and a foul-smelling gas released into her family’s apartment, causing sufferance to eight people - including children.

After her car was burnt out, Yulia Latynina commented “They are prepared for casualties. It’s pretty frightening“. Latynina’s parents Leonid and Alla are both writers and they are also believed to have left Russia.

"I have left Russia in connection with threats to my life," Latynina said on Twitter, adding the hashtag "#Putin."

ECPMF chair Henrik Kaufholz, a former foreign correspondent based in Moscow, comments: "Independent journalists – of which there are very few – are really in trouble in Russia of today. Yulia Latynina who is one of these few and a well known radio journalist had to leave the country after the burning of her car and several threats. Of course the ECPMF would like the Russian police to find the people responsible for all kinds of harassment against Ms Latynina. Experience shows that this is seldom the case and we therefore urge the OSCE and the Council of Europe to expose the situation of the press in Russia".

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