Russian Newspaper Co-Founded by Mikhail Gorbachev Shuts Down After Warning

Novaya Gazeta, one of the largest independent investigative newspapers in Russia co-founded by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and currently led by Nobel prize winner Dmitry Muratov, has announced a halt to production until the end of the war in Ukraine after being issued a warning from the Russian government.

"We received another warning from [Russian communications regulator] Roskomnadzor," the editors of the paper wrote in a statement. "After that, we suspend the publication of the newspaper on the website, in networks and on paper - until the end of the 'special operation on the territory of Ukraine.' Sincerely, the editors of the "Novaya Gazeta"

Several other American and foreign media outlets have halted reporting from inside Russia out of concern for the safety of their employees after the country created a new law that allows the reporting of "false information," including using the terms "war" and "invasion" for Russia's actions in Ukraine, to be punished with prison time.

The Roskomnadzor said in a statement issued through other state media outlets that the warning was the second given to the newspaper for failing to label an organization deemed to be a "foreign agent" by the government as such. The purpose of the law is to identify foreign organizations who are acting "in the interests of other states" for readers, state media reported.

Russia Novaya Gazeta Newspaper
Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta has halted production until the end of the war in Ukraine. Above, the Gazeta's editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov attends an interview with AFP in Moscow on March 24, 2021. Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said Monday on Twitter that the announcement made Russia a "country without media (the last free 'Novaya Gazeta' was closed), without discussion, without political competition, without a full-fledged parliament."

"This is the modern [Russian Federation]. That is why Russians do not see, hear or realize anything. No matter what language you speak to them."

Muratov, the paper's top editor, was the co-recipient of a 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for "fighting for press freedom." He has been with the paper since its inception in 1993, which has since been lauded for its investigative efforts and critical reporting on the Russian government.

The editor dedicated the award to the six Russian journalists from the newspaper who have been killed for reporting information deemed harmful to the government. Earlier this month, Muratov also announced that he and the paper had decided to place the Nobel Prize up for auction, with proceeds going to benefit humanitarian aid programs for Ukrainian refugees. Millions of Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes in the month since the invasion began.

Last week, Spotify announced that it would be halting service within Russia out of concern that hosting podcasts and other content that reports on the war in Ukraine could put its employees in danger. The announcement cited the "recently enacted legislation" from the Russian government that indicated to them they could no longer provide their "trusted, independent news and information" reporting on Russia and Ukraine.

Other international outlets like CNN and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation have halted reporting from inside Russia for the safety of their employees, while the BBC briefly suspended reporting before announcing a return earlier this month out of the "urgent need" to report on the war.

Newsweek contacted the Roskomnadzor for further information on the warning.

Update 03/28/22, 2:30 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information and background.

Update 03/28/22, 1:35 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.