Russia’s independent news website Newsru.com announced on Monday that it had shut down after 21 years on the web, citing financial difficulties caused by the political climate in the country.
The news aggregator said that “major advertisers stopped cooperating with us” after Russian-Western relations deteriorated over the 2014 annexation of Crimea and that other advertisers “began to be especially wary this year.”
Newsru.com linked its decision to the risk of running afoul of Russia’s media and “foreign agent” laws that the authorities have been tightening in recent years.
“We increasingly had to write about the adoption of restrictive laws that could affect us any day. We were forced to label more and more respected people and sources of truthful information as foreign agents and extremists,” the announcement stated.
“The current situation in the economy and in the legal field makes Newsru.com’s high-quality work no longer possible,” the outlet said in its last message.
Newsru.com’s chief editor Yelena Bereznitskaya-Bruni said the outlet’s former staff does not plan to launch new projects but will remain focused on the Russian-language Israeli offshoot Newsru.com.il.
“In the current situation, we realized that we won’t find funding in the near future for what we love and know how to do — objective news,” Bereznitskaya-Bruni told the Podyom news website Monday.
“So we’ll do some non-political projects or nothing at all. I’m not ready to describe a bright future right now,” she added.
Newsru.com, which was co-founded by the late “godfather” of the Russian internet Anton Nossik, was launched under its previous address ntv.ru on Aug. 28, 2000.
It changed to its current domain name in 2002 after state-run Gazprom took control of the NTV independent broadcaster, a takeover seen as a turning point in media freedom in post-Soviet Russia.
Newsru.com said its archive of 1.1 million news items will remain accessible as a “history of events of the 21st century” that is “extremely important for understanding what’s happening today.”
“The archive will keep you from being naive and trusting. It will help you compare facts and answer many questions,” Newsru.com said.