03 Feb 2020 Lvl. 1
Resolved
Alert created on: 24 Jan 2020 n° 9/2020 Russian Federation

Head of the Russian Republic of Chuvashia says Critical Journalists Should be “Wiped Out”

Source of threatState
CategoryHarassment and intimidation of journalists
Partner RSF
Partner RSF
Mikhail Ignatyev, the head of the Russian republic of Chuvashia, during the Russia’s Press Day celebration on 18 January 2020, said that journalists who "criticize from morning to night" should be "wiped out” (the word he used was "mochit," a Russian underworld slang term notoriously used by the Russian President with reference to Chechen militants in 1999). Ignatyev accused critical journalists of causing "street protests" and of preventing the authorities from "seeing to the improvement of green spaces and public spaces and opening new industries."

Later Ignatyev stated that he had always had "correct relations with journalists who criticize objectively and compose their articles correctly" and apologised "as a kind-hearted person" to those he might have "upset" by his use of the term “wipe out," adding that he was referring to "people who claim to be journalists but have just one aim – to discredit the authorities by all means possible."

Reporters Without Borders called for his resignation for violating the Chuvash Republic’s constitution, which says its president must ‘protect the citizen’s freedom and human rights.

OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir also denounced the statement, saying that "such a declaration from a public official is unacceptable and may endanger journalists’ safety.”
Resolved
03 Feb 2020: On 3 February 2020, following the dismissal of Mikhail Ignatyev, the partner organisations to the Platform declared this case to be “resolved”, concluding it was no longer an active threat to media freedom.
Updates
03 Feb 2020
On 29 January 2020, President Putin dismissed Mikhail Ignatyev from office, a day after the governor was expelled from the United Russia party. The presidential decree cites ”the loss of confidence" of the head of state as the motive for the dismissal.
Follow-ups
24 Jan 2020
For the OSCE Representative for Media Freedom "such a declaration from a public official is unacceptable and may endanger journalists’ safety."
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