PARIS – The French-based, international Non-Government-Organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) organized on Wednesday a street campaign in Paris to draw attention on the Russian government’s freedom of the press track record under the slogan “During the World Cup, the repression continues.”
On the eve of the start of the 2018 Football World Cup in Russia, RSF launched a street campaign whose center-piece is a fake football pitch with life-size photos of seven journalists currently detained in Russia.
RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said at a press conference: “The intense public interest aroused by the World Cup must not eclipse the unfair match between the government and independent media in Russia,”
The campaign will continue to prevent this year’s biggest media event from being used by Vladimir Putin’s to disguise the steady decline in media pluralism in Russia that RSF has denounced.
According to RSF, the Kremlin controls the leading media outlets in Russia, using them as state-propaganda. Whenever an independent media outlet succeeds in reaching the general public, various methods are quickly used to sideline it.
“Press freedom is being trampled more now than at any time since the Soviet Union’s fall. To prevent the biggest media event of the year from being reduced to a Potemkin sham, we are spotlighting the faces of the journalists who embody the resistance to the Kremlin’s control of the media.”
RSF states that at least 34 journalists have been killed for their reporting in Russia since Putin became prime minister in 1999. In most of these cases, investigations go nowhere and the culprits are never identified.
Russia is ranked 148th out of 180 countries according to RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.