Russia media crackdown during Ukraine war, draws global Christian communication group's flak
The World Association for Christian Communication has called for an end to the attacks on freedom and democracy in Ukraine, the loss of life, and an end to the disinformation and propaganda fueling the conflict triggered by Russia's invasion of its neighbor.
"Communication rights are severely threatened in Russia, where independent media are being closed as the government tightens its grip on news and information sources," WACC said in a statement.
President Vladimir Putin has witnessed growing protests against his invasion of Ukraine and the flattening of civlian targets in cities, and does not want Russians at home to know about it.
On March 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law threatening jail time for journalists who challenge the Kremlin's Ukraine narrative, CBC News reported as the heavy artillery moved into the information spehere.
Russia claims that a Ukrainian nuclear facility is now under Kremlin protection after a fire caused global anxiety, but few western nations believe Russia's version of events.
The Comittee to Protect Jouranlists says the law makes it a crime to disseminate "fake" information about the invasion of Ukraine, with a penalty of up to 15 years in prison for anyone convicted.
"WACC adds its voice to that of PEN International calling for an end to the attacks on freedom and democracy in Ukraine, the loss of life, and an end to the disinformation and propaganda fuelling the conflict," it said in a statement on its website.
The war on Ukraine is a tragedy said the Chrisitan communications group.
"It is matched by a war on trust as disinformation and lies are used to silence ordinary Russians."
Despite the horrific situation, WACC said it urges independent media outlets in Russia and Ukraine to do whatever they can to keep people fully informed and urges organizations and individuals outside Russia to share the news and information coming from independent media.
"Communication rights are severely threatened in Russia, where independent media are being closed as the government tightens its grip on news and information sources," said WACC.
Novaya Gazeta, known for its reporters' investigative work and whose editor-in-chief Dimitry Muratov received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021, has closed.
The online television station Dozhd (TV-Rain), and the radio station Ekho Moskvy, which reaches millions of people in many regions of Russia, have been forced to stop broadcasting.
Fortunately, websites of independent media that are banned in Russia, but still active, can be accessed from abroad as well as within the country via virtual private networks (VPNs).
However, TV news, which is firmly in state hands, remains the main source of (dis)information for many Russians, especially older people.
"We are standing on the brink of a global disaster whose consequences can only further damage an already fragile world," said WACC.
"On behalf of communication rights activists worldwide, WACC adds its voice to that of PEN International calling for an end to the attacks on freedom and democracy in Ukraine, the loss of life, and an end to the disinformation and propaganda fuelling the conflict."
The World Association for Christian Communication is a non-governmental organization that builds on communication rights in order to promote social justice.