MOSCOW -Russian investigative news outlet “Proekt” on Friday said it was closing down a U.S.-registered legal entity a day after authorities in Russia banned its activities, but would find a way to continue its investigations into Russia’s elite.
Russian authorities declared Proekt an “undesirable” organisation on national security grounds on Thursday in the latest blow against media which look into areas the authorities say are off-limits.
The move was part of a wider crackdown ahead of September’s parliamentary election on media seen by the authorities as hostile and foreign-backed. Proekt has published a series of deeply researched and unflattering investigations into Russia’s ruling elite.
“The company Project Media, Inc., registered in the United States…is being liquidated and no longer has a financial relationship with any journalists working in Russia,” Proekt said in a statement posted to social media.
“However we as journalists continue to believe that our work is important and needed by our motherland. We’ll announce separately in what form our journalistic collective will continue its work,” the statement said.
The closure and move by the authorities against the news outlet would not result in fewer journalistic investigations focused on Russia, said Proekt, which has promised to release what it has described as a major new expose next week.
Russian authorities on Thursday also labelled eight journalists as “foreign agents”, including reporters from Proekt and the Open Media outlet.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that the “foreign agent” label did not equate to a ban on working.
“They can continue their work, continue their activities. It is not equivalent to a ban on work,” Peskov told reporters.
Journalists on the receiving end of such a designation in the past have complained they need to attach a long disclaimer explaining their status to every social media post and file itemised financial reports on their earnings and spending every few months to the justice ministry.
The Kremlin denies a media crackdown is underway and has described Russia’s media market as vibrant with many different outlets to choose from.