Saturday, October 28, 2017

‘Russian Journalists Must be Armed and Very Dangerous’

Paul Goble

            October 28 – Since Vladimir Putin came to power, 143 journalists in Russia have been killed, and many more like Tatyana Felgengauer of Ekho Moskvy last week have been brutally attacked. The regime has done little to protect them, often not making any real effort to find their murderers of assailants. But now some journalists are taking steps to allow them to fight back.

            Dmitry Muratov, the editor of Novaya gazeta, has announced that he has no choice but to arm his journalists so that they can protect themselves and will supply them with pneumatic pistols to shoot any attacker.  The Kalashnikov arms company has helpfully offered to sell journalists such guns at a discount (

            As Igor Yakovenko points out in Yezhednevny zhurnal, the government has made clear that it is not going to do anything to protect journalists, many of whom have been killed or attacked for doing their jobs and exposing malfeasance of various kinds by the Putin regime itself (

                Because that is so, the Russian commentator continues, many have decided that “Russian journalists must be armed and very dangerous.” One can thus understand why editors like Muratov are taking the steps they have announced, but tragically, these steps, in the absence of government protection of journalists, won’t “prevent the absolute majority of tragedies.”

            Yakovenko notes that he covered issues involving the defense of journalists for ten years, from 1998 to 2008, and that can say “with certainty” that having guns in their possession would not have saved Natalya Estimirova, Anna Politkovskaya or Yury Shchekochikhin. The forces arrayed against them are just too overwhelming. 

            “A favorite subject of present-day fantasies,” he continues, includes the description of the world after a nuclear or some other catastrophe in which there are no governments, police or courts and in which people form into armed groups “in which there is no place for the weak” and which attack all outsiders.”

            “In this anti-utopia, there is no place for journalism: in such a world, it simply isn’t needed.  If Russia goes along this path, then this will be a Russia without journalists,” not a country where journalists will succeed in protecting themselves by purchasing guns and being prepared to use them. 

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