Even as it congratulates Nobel winner, Kremlin ups its war on ...

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Even as it congratulates Nobel winner, Kremlin ups its war on free speech

The Pandora Papers have fuelled a belief that independent journalists are spies out to tarnish Putin’s image

Henry Meyer and Irina Reznik

While the Kremlin quickly congratulated Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov for winning the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, Russia’s relentless crackdown on independent media shows no sign of letting up.

A disclosure in the Pandora Papers leak of documents last week that an alleged former lover of President Vladimir Putin acquired a €3,6m (about R62m) flat in Monaco has added fuel to a belief within the Kremlin that there is a Western campaign to tarnish his image, said two people close to the government. That’s likely to intensify pressure on independent reporting outlets.

“This was a direct attack on Putin,” said Alexander Ionov, a pro-Kremlin campaigner who has successfully pressed authorities to slap draconian restrictions on media outlets critical of the president. “We’re going to wage a relentless battle with them and the organisations that sponsor them from the US and UK.”..

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