Aleksei Navalny

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New York, March 13, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the blocking today of independent and pro-opposition news websites in Russia, including Ezhednevny Zhurnal, Grani, Kasparov, and the website of the liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy. The popular blog of anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny and the personal blogging platform LiveJournal were also blocked. 

Inside the offices of Dozhd TV channel in early February. The channel has been dropped from cable and satellite providers. (AFP/Vasily Maximov)

Late last month, as thousands of international journalists prepared to descend on Sochi to cover the Winter Olympics, the Kremlin resorted to using a controversy to silence a critical television station. A direct move to shut down the station would have been too blunt--particularly at a time when all eyes were on Russia--so authorities resorted to exploiting a producer's blunder, blowing it out of proportion, and pushing a third party to do their bidding. This is what happened.

The scope of the National Security Agency's digital surveillance raises doubts about the U.S. commitment to freedom of expression online. By Joel Simon

Demonstrators march outside of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on October 26, 2013, to demand that Congress investigate the NSA's mass surveillance programs. (AP/Jose Luis Magana)

Anti-corruption blogger Aleksei Navalny has been convicted and sentenced to five years. (AP/Dmitry Lovetsky)

New York, July 18, 2013--Russian authorities must free on appeal the anti-corruption blogger and opposition activist Aleksei Navalny, who was convicted on politicized charges of embezzlement today and sentenced to five years in prison, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. Navalny was jailed immediately after the verdict was announced, according to news reports.

Aleksei Navalny attends his court hearing on July 2. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)

The trial of Aleksei Navalny is coming to an end at the Leninsky District Court in the river city of Kirov, 500 miles northeast of Moscow. Navalny, a charismatic 37-year-old lawyer, was propelled to fame through his activities as an anti-corruption blogger, activist, and a leader of Russia's opposition movement. Most recently, he pledged to compete in future presidential elections, and sought registration to run in the Moscow mayoral election. Both his activities as a blogger and his budding presidential ambitions have earned him the attention of Russian authorities eager to eliminate any opposition that would shake the political status quo.

Vladimir Putin speaks to the media following a live nationwide broadcast phone-in, in Moscow Thursday. (Reuters/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti)

In the year since Vladimir Putin returned to the Russian presidency, independent media, civil society groups, and opposition activists have been under attack. But as he has done in the past, Putin recently asserted that his government is not engaged in political repression.

A security guard at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, right, runs toward Pussy Riot supporters holding Cyrillic letters reading 'Blessed are the Merciful' in Moscow on Aug. 15. (AP/Novaya Gazeta, Yevgeny Feldman)

Record-high temperatures swept most of Europe this summer, but in Moscow the weather, much like the political climate, was chilly. I spent three months in the capital at the invitation of the Russian Union of Journalists, and witnessed how Vladimir Putin's third term in office kicked off with the passage of restrictive laws, harassment and prosecution of dissent, the jailing of an irreverent punk-rock band, and death threats by a top-ranking official against a prominent editor. 

Cyber-attacks on press up in number, down in cost

Novaya Gazeta, a leading Russian independent news outlet, has been under cyber-attack.

The last two weeks have seen a spate of denial-of-service (DOS) attacks against news sites, coordinated attempts to overwhelm outlets with fake incoming data so the sites cannot respond to legitimate users.

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