As journalists in the UK, we take for granted many of the everyday privileges which our peers in other parts of the world are denied.
The freedom simply to report the facts, to hold power to account, without the fear of targeted reprisals from the state or security forces.
Yes, there is a worrying rise in social media abuse from (mostly) anonymous trolls, and the Government’s Online Safety Bill could have a damaging effect on journalists’ freedom of speech, even here in the UK.
But our job is far easier than it is in authoritarian countries, where investigative reporters often pay with their lives. Fifty-five journalists and media workers were killed in 2021 around the world, according to UNESCO.
In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, where any notion of democracy has long been forgotten, Novaya Gazeta is one of the last remaining independent newspapers.
Set up in 1993 by former president Mikhail Gorbachev with money from his Nobel Prize win, it has had a tumultuous history. Seven of its reporters, including Yuri Shchekochikhin, Anna Politkovskaya and Anastasia Baburova, have been murdered for their investigative work since 2000.
Its current editor Dmitry Muratov, who himself won the Nobel Prize last year, has shown solidarity with Ukraine today by publishing an edition of the newspaper in Ukrainian.
“We all gathered at the editorial office early today. We are in grief,” Mr Muratov said on Thursday. “Our country, on the orders of President Putin, started a war with Ukraine. And there is no-one to stop the war. Therefore, along with grief, we and I experience shame.”
It’s hard to imagine the courage it must take to work in such an environment, and to openly criticise a tyrant like Putin.
In Ukraine, a democracy in a truer sense, where President Volodymyr Zelenskyy won 73% of the vote in the 2019 election, publications are starting to feel the heat from Russia being turned up.
The Kyiv Post has been an invaluable source of reliable information on the unfolding conflict. The same is true for the Kyiv Independent, which was set up by former Post journalists.
The latter title has reported genuine breaking news with a lightning emoji, to help readers follow the latest situation.
So it was depressingly predictable that the Kyiv Post would find itself targeted. One of Russia’s primary tactics now is to go after websites it sees as strategic threats.
In a tweet yesterday, as Putin’s forces struck Ukraine, the Kyiv Post wrote: “Dear friends and supporters. Our main Kyiv Post site has been under constant cyber attack today from the moment Russia launched its military offensive against Ukraine. We are and will be, doing our best to keep you informed in this difficult time.”
We saw amazing bravery on the streets of Moscow last night, where Russians openly protested against the invasion.
And we’re seeing examples of fearless reporting from both Russia and Ukraine, from journalists who are risking their lives to ensure the rest of the world understands what’s going on on the ground.
For what it’s worth, we appreciate what you do.
There are several Twitter lists if you’re looking for reliable coverage from Ukraine, including this one.
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