Novaya Gazeta, the Russian newspaper known for its critical coverage of President Vladimir Putin’s government, was notably absent from the Russian leader’s annual press conference last week.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said they simply forgot to call representatives of the newspaper to attend Thursday’s press conference.
“The Novaya Gazeta was not called, I would say – it’s a human factor. In fact, they just forgot. It might be a mistake of me to admit it that way, but, indeed, we forgot to call them, “Peskov told Russia. 1 TV on Sunday.
Other media left out proactively contacted the Kremlin and expressed interest in attending, Peskov said.
COVID rules have prevented last minute invitations
Two days before Putin gave his press conference, Kremlin staff remembered Novaya Gazeta. But unfortunately it was too late, Peskov told the TV channel.
By that time, the more than 500 accredited journalists had presented three negative PCR tests in order to be allowed into the venue where the conference was being held, he said.
Peskov added that the absence “in no way prevented a question from Novaya Gazeta from being expressed.”
Indeed, a journalist from the radio station Ekho Moskvy read a question on behalf of the newspaper.
Putin was asked if he knew the names of the perpetrators of the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya and Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov.
Politkovskaya was gunned down outside her Moscow apartment in 2006 after years of writing critical of Russia’s war in Chechnya.
She is one of the six Novaya Gazetajournalists to be murdered.
Russia-1 TV asked Peskov on Sunday whether the Russian president was unhappy that journalists from Novaya Gazeta were not invited.
“No, he was not,” Peskov replied, adding that Putin answered the question, referring to the efforts of the investigating authorities.
Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitri Muratov was co-winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize
Respected for critical and investigative coverage
Novaya Gazeta, which is published three times a week, was founded in 1993 after the fall of the Soviet Union.
It focuses on in-depth investigative reports on corruption and rights violations.
The newspaper is one of the few independent media outlets remaining in Russia, and its editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for his protection of free speech in his homeland.
The newspaper survived a Kremlin crackdown on independent and critical media which saw several media outlets labeled as “foreign agents” or forced to shut down.
Several prominent journalists have fled the country.
Russia occupies 150th place in the press freedom ranking compiled by Reporters Without Borders.
mm / fb (AFP, dpa, Interfax)