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Russia revokes media license of top independent newspaper

MOSCOW — A court in Moscow on Monday upheld a motion from Russian authorities to revoke the license of a high independent newspaper that for a long time has been critical of the Kremlin, the most recent move around in a months-long crackdown on independent media, opposition activists and human rights groups.

The ruling against Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s most renowned independent newspaper, comes amid Russia’s grinding military campaign in Ukraine and the Kremlin’s effort to silence critics of what it calls a particular military operation.

Dmitry Muratov, Nobel Peace Prize-winning editor-in-chief of the newspaper, called the ruling on Monday political rather than getting the slightest legal basis,” and he promised to contest it.

Roskomnadzor, Russia’s media and internet regulator, petitioned the court to revoke Novaya Gazeta’s license, accusing it of failing woefully to submit the newsroom charter to authorities promptly.

Novaya Gazeta announced March 28 that it had been suspending operations throughout what it described in quotation marks because the special operation in Ukraine, the word that Russian authorities insist media must use for the military action in Ukraine.

Its team, however, launched a fresh project, Novaya Gazeta Europe, from abroad, criticizing the operation in Russias ex-Soviet neighbor.

Days after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, Russias Kremlin-controlled parliament approved legislation that outlawed alleged disparaging of the Russian military or the spread of false information regarding the countrys military operation in Ukraine.

A large number of Russian independent media outlets were banned consequently, while other announced halting any reporting linked to Ukraine.

The U.N. Human Rights Office condemned the ruling in a statement Monday.

The judgment against Novaya Gazeta is just one more blow to the independence of Russian media whose activities have already been further compromised by legal restrictions and increased state controls imposed following Russias military action in Ukraine, spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement.

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