April 23, 2024

Press Freedom

Russian Federation

Russia March 7, 2006

H.E. Vladimir Putin
The Kremlin
Russian Federation
Fax: (011.7.095) 206-6277/ 5173

Your Excellency:

We are dismayed to learn that two Russian newspapers have been closed for printing cartoons in connection with the current furor over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. We understand the sensibilities that have been offended in the Muslim world by this incident, but it should not be an excuse or pretext for further inroads on what remains of media freedom in your country.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the regional prosecutor’s office in the city of Vologda has opened a criminal case against Anna Smirnova, editor of the weekly, Nash Region, accusing her of inciting hatred. Her paper had run a montage of the Danish cartoons, some of them partially obscured, to illustrate an article on the controversy. Her husband, Mikhail Smirnov, who owns the newspaper, later closed it down, an act of self-censorship that we find as disheartening as the prosecutor’s action.

In the city of Volgograd, the daily, Gorodskiye Vesti (City News), which is partly owned by the Volgograd city administration, ran a cartoon on February 9 depicting Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. It was intended as a sad commentary on the violence over the cartoons, which none of the four religious leaders would have approved. Even so, because many Muslims view any depiction of Muhammad as sacrilegious, Acting Mayor Andrei Doronin closed the newspaper on February 17, saying that those responsible for the cartoon would be fired and the rest of the staff transferred to a new publication. Doronin said the closure of the paper was an attempt to prevent incitement based on religious or ethnic grounds.

Your Excellency, the Overseas Press Club of America, which has defended press freedom around the world for more than 65 years, asks that you use your influence to quash the charges against Anna Smirnova and her newspaper and to press the city of Volvograd to bring back Gorodskiye Vesti.

Thank you for your attention. We would appreciate a reply.
Larry Martz
Norman Schorr
Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee



Mikhail Yefimovich Fradkov

Prime Minister

Government Offices

2 Krasnopresnenskaya Naberezhnaya


Russian Federation

Fax: (011.7.095) 206-4622


Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov

Foreign Minister

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Moscow 121200

Russian Federation


Yuriy Viktorovich Ushakov

Ambassador of Russia to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the Russian Federation

2650 Wisconsin Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20007

Fax: (202) 298-5735


Ambassador Andrey Ivanovich Denisov

Permanent Représentative

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

136 East 67 th Street

New York, NY 10021

Fax: (212) 628-0252


Mr. Dmitri Peskov

First Deputy Spokesman of the President of the Russian Federation

c/o Embassy of the Russian Federation

2650 Wisconsin Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20007

Fax: (202) 298-5735


Alexander R. Vershbow

U.S. Ambassador to Russia

Embassy of the United States of America

8 Bolshoy Devyatinskiy Pereulok

Moscow 121099


Fax: (011.7.095) 728-5090


Aleksey Kirillovich Simonov


Glasnost Defense Foundation

4 Zubovskiy Blvd., # 432

Moscow 119021


Fax: (011.7.095) 201-4947

E-mail: simonov@gdf.ru


Lynn Berry


The Moscow Times

16 Vyborgskaya Street, building 4

Moscow 125212

Fax: (011.7. 095) 937-3393

E-mail: l.berry@imedia.ru


Aleksander Vitalyevich Stukalin


Kommersant Daily

4 Vrubelya Street



Fax: (011.7.095) 943-9728

E-mail: kommersant@kommersant.ru


Tatyana Petrovna Koshkaryova


Nezavisimaya Gazeta

13 Myasnitskaya Street, building.3



Fax: (011.7. 095) 981-5434

E-mail: office@ng.ru


Vladimir Alekseyevich Borodin



18 Tverskaya Street, building 1

Moscow 127994


Fax: (011.7.095) 514-0223

E-mail: alekseeva@izvestia.ru


Pavel Nikolayevich Gusev


Moskovskiy Komsomolets

7 Ulitsa 1905 Goda

Moscow 123995


Fax: (011.7.095) 259-4639

E-mail: berestovenko@mk.ru


Robert Munro


The St.Petersburg Times

4 Isakiyevskaya square

St.Petersburg 190000


Tel/fax: (011.7.812) 325-6080

E-mail: munro@sptimes.ru


Tatyana Gennadyevna Lysova

Editor-in-Chief, Vedomosti

16 Vyborgskaya Street

Moscow 125212, Russia

Tel: (011.7.095) 232-3200/ 956-3458

Fax: (011.7.095) 956-0716

E-mail: vedomosti@imedia.ru


Dmitriy Andreyevich Muratov


Novaya Gazeta

3 Potapovskiy pereulok

Moscow 101990


Fax: (011.7.095) 923-6888

E-mail: gazeta@novayagazeta.ru