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Novaya Gazeta on hold after Russia warning

Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper, whose editor Dmitry Muratov was a co-winner of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, says it will suspend its online and print activities until the end of Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine.

The investigative paper, which has removed material from its website on Russia’s military action in Ukraine to comply with a new media law, said it had received another warning from state communications regulator Roskomnadzor on Monday about its reporting, prompting it to pause operations.

“We are suspending the publication of the newspaper on our website, social media networks and in print until the end of the ‘special operation on Ukraine’s territory’,” the paper wrote on its website.

In a separate message to readers, Muratov said the decision to halt publication was difficult but necessary.

“There is no other choice,” the note said.

“For us, and I know, for you, it’s an awful and difficult decision.”

Roskomnadzor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In comments published by Russian news agencies, the regulator said it had given Novaya Gazeta a second warning for failing to properly identify an organisation deemed a “foreign agent” by the authorities in its publications.

Pressure against independent media outlets has mounted since Russia sent troops into Ukraine last month, with most mainstream media and state-controlled organisations sticking closely to the language used by the Kremlin to describe the conflict.

Novaya Gazeta’s announcement follows the closure earlier this month of radio station Ekho Moskvy, one of the few remaining independent voices in Russian media.

Readers of Novaya Gazeta and anti-Kremlin activists voiced their regret that the paper could no longer operate in the current Russian media environment.

“I would really like Roskomnadzor to be the one to halt its work,” the team of jailed political activist Andrei Pivovarov wrote on Twitter.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, who is leading peace negotiations with Russia, wrote on Twitter that the loss of Novaya Gazeta made Russia a country “without media… without discussion, without political competition, without a full-fledged parliament”.

“That is why Russians do not see, hear or realise anything,” Podolyak wrote.

“No matter what language you speak to them.”

Established after the break-up of the Soviet Union, Novaya Gazeta and its reporters have for years been subjected to intimidation and attacks over investigations into rights violations and corruption.

Muratov dedicated his Nobel award in October to the memory of six of his paper’s journalists who had been murdered for their work.

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