Journalists were arrested on Saturday in Russia while protesting for media freedom after the Russian government labeled a media outlet a “foreign agent.”
The protest took place outside the FSB, the country’s domestic security agency, after TV channel Dozhd was labeled a foreign agent by the Justice Ministry, a decision the outlet says it plans to appeal, The Associated Press reported.
“I’m against labelling the TV channel Dozhd as a ‘foreign agent,’” Farida Rustamova, a Dozhd journalist at the protest, stated. “I want to work and live freely in Russia. I want to have an opportunity to be a free journalist. I don’t want my colleagues to be arrested, searched and labeled as an ‘enemy of the people’ or ‘agents.’”
Signs at the event included ones that said “You are afraid of the truth” and “Journalism is not a crime.”
Dozhd has been highly critical of the Russian government and has monitored the situation between the government and opposition leader Alexey Navalny closely, according to the AP.
Navalny was poisoned in Russia and later flown out of the country to Germany to receive treatment for his poisoning. He was jailed upon reentry to the country.
The government's decision to label Dozhd as a foreign agent will hurt the outlet’s advertising ability in Russia.
The Russian government has been cracking down on dissent against the country, especially with the upcoming September parliamentary elections.
“The fact that we don’t want to write stories that other pro-government media do doesn’t mean that we violate something and that we are some ‘foreign agents,’” Yulia Krasnikova, a journalist with Vazhnye Istorii, said. “I’m here to protest it and to support my colleagues.”
The move comes after the country refused to renew the visa of a journalist from the United Kingdom.