The Czech authorities are facing increasing calls to conduct a prompt investigation into a string of threats aimed at journalists associated with the independent investigative news outlet IStories (https://istories.media/en/). Reporters Irina Dolinina (Ирина Долинина) and Alesya Marokhovskaya (Алеся Мароховская) have been targeted with several messages sent to IStories’ website between March and September 2023 (https://istories.media/en/stories/2023/09/19/istories-journalists-threatening/).
These messages not only contained threats but also sensitive personal information of both journalists. This unsettling situation has stirred apprehension regarding the safety of independent Russian journalists currently residing in Czech Republic where many of IStories’ editorial team relocated following Russia’s invasion on Ukraine.
The first threat, issued in March 2023, disturbingly included the specific streets where Marokhovskaya and Dolinina resided at that time. Subsequent messages, especially the one in August 2023, hinted at the sender’s awareness of Marokhovskaya’s relocation and even made reference to her dog. As if these weren’t troubling enough, additional warnings surfaced, cautioning both journalists against attending a journalism conference in Sweden.
While the exact source of these threats remains elusive, they cannot be unequivocally linked to any particular journalistic investigation. However, both journalists harbor strong suspicions that these menacing messages might be related to their extensive coverage of the ongoing war. Notably, the threatening messages were dispatched from the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org,” It’s worth noting that the letter “Z” has taken on connotations of pro-war sentiment, particularly in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Some of the treats are documented online: https://storage.googleapis.com/istories/stories/2023/09/19/pust-ne-spyat-spokoino-vashi-gnidi/index.html
This deeply concerning incident underscores the persistent threats confronting independent Russian journalists, even when they are based in European Union.
Furthermore, it is noteworthy that Russian authorities have previously targeted IStories, branding it as an “unwelcome” entity and “agent form abroad”.
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) strongly condemns the threats targeting journalists Irina Dolinina and Alesya Marokhovskaya. Such threats against journalists working in the pursuit of truth are utterly unacceptable. We call on Czech authorities to conduct a swift and comprehensive investigation into these threats, ensuring the safety and protection of these journalists. Freedom of the press must be upheld, and journalists should not live in fear for their lives due to their work.
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non-profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.
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