Russian opposition candidates rallied members of the media on Saturday ahead of the country’s parliamentary election in September.
The dozen of opposition candidates spoke to a crowd of 200, mostly journalists, as the Russian government has been cracking down on the media as elections near, Reuters reported.
"(President Vladimir) Putin set up a goal for himself: all media have to be destroyed because they are bothering him," opposition candidate Marina Litvinovich said.
“My friends, we have to resist while we can. Many media will have to go underground,” Litvinovich added.
The government has already labeled almost 50 journalists “foreign agents,” and has arrested journalists who called for media freedom.
“I’m against labelling the TV channel Dozhd as a ‘foreign agent,’” Farida Rustamova, a Dozhd journalist, said at a protest in August. “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.’”
The opposition candidates told the media they would work to get rid of the legislation labeling journalists foreign agents if they are elected, according to Reuters.
The foreign agent status is put on journalists or outlets who have political bias and get foreign funding, but many say it is a tactic to silence opposition.