The Russian authorities have a habit of executing politically controversial acts on Friday evenings. The phenomenon is known as “Clusterfuck Fridays” (it rhymes in Russian, but we can’t print it here), and another such Friday unfolded late on August 20, when the Justice Ministry designated two new “foreign agent” media outlets: the investigative news website iStories and the television network Dozhd, as well as a handful of independent journalists. Immediately following the announcement, Meduza special correspondent Kristina Safonova spoke to Natalia Sindeeva, Dozhd’s founder and CEO.
I’m calling you because of the news that…
Yes, Kristina. I don’t have anything to say yet except a bunch of obscenities.
Did the Justice Ministry reach out to you?
No, no. We found out from the news reports.
So it’s unclear on what basis they designated Dozhd as a “foreign agent”?
Of course, it’s not clear. But, obviously, this was bound to happen, sooner or later. How do you answer a question like this when the state’s repression machine has activated? So, really, it’s strange that we held out for as long as we did. No matter — we won’t give up so easily. We’ll continue our work!
I hope so very much. Do you plan to challenge your new status in court?
I think we must.
Dozhd is hardly the first publication to be declared a “foreign agent.” Did you prepare for this in any way?
There’s no way to prepare for this. We tried to think it through, but it’s just not possible. How can you go about thinking that you’ll be knocked in the head tomorrow and hospitalized with some kind of injury? It’s the same thing, you see?
It’s impossible to prepare for this, but we’ll be thinking hard now.
Russian Justice Ministry designates Dozhd and iStories as a ‘foreign agent’ media
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Translation by Kevin Rothrock