At least 1,000 Russian journalists have fled their country in the nearly 12 months since Moscow invaded Ukraine, according to a new report on the state of the internet in Russia.
A number of mostly European countries have “accepted and helped keep and continue” the journalists’ work as Russia moved swiftly to clamp down on independent wartime reporting, the legal aid group Setevye Svobody (Net Freedoms Project) said Thursday.
More than three dozen journalistic teams and professional bloggers have found refuge in European countries like the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Latvia, as well as the South Caucasus republic of Georgia, it said.
Together with those who have launched their own news channels on social media, the exiled Russian journalists “have formed a ‘second Runet’ free of state censorship,” the report said, using a common term for the Russian-language internet.
In its report titled “Two Runets,” Net Freedoms Project listed at least 12 Russian media projects that have been created outside Russia since the country effectively outlawed independent war coverage shortly after invading Ukraine.
“It was clear that an office and editorial board in Russia were not a prerequisite for a Russian audience and for covering the Russian agenda,” the project said.
It named YouTube and the Telegram messaging app as the last remaining platforms where Russians retain unrestricted access to independent projects.
But the Net Freedoms Project also highlighted issues Russian journalists face in exile, the most pressing of which are financial hardships associated with increased costs and reduced online monetization opportunities.
“Top bloggers’ revenues could have been reduced by up to 90%,” said the project run by lawyers Damir Gainutdinov and Stanislav Seleznyov.