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Russia declares independent media outlet The Moscow Times an “undesirable organization”

The office of Russia’s General Prosecutor has declared The Moscow Times an “undesirable” organization, effectively banning it across the country, according to a report by the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency.

In a statement published on its website, the prosecutor's office said: “The work of the publication is aimed at discrediting the decisions of the leadership of the Russian Federation in both foreign and domestic policy.”

The Moscow Times is yet to comment on the designation.

The “undesirable” label bans the work of The Moscow Times inside Russia, puts staff members at risk of arrest and jail time, and criminalizes engagement with the outlet — including by sharing its content online.

Moscow introduced the “undesirable” list in 2015 to crack down on foreign NGOs, banning Russians from working with or donating to these organizations. The law has since been used against independent media outlets, human rights groups, environmental organizations (such as Greenpeace), and educational institutions. The Insider and Bellingcat were branded as “undesirable” in July 2022.

The General Prosecutor's Office has also previously recognized the activities of multiple other Russian independent opposition media outlets — including Meduza, Important Stories, Proekt, and Novaya Gazeta Europe — as “undesirable.”

In April 2024, The Insider confirmed that the Russian government maintains an informal list of “undesirable organizations” beyond those included on its official registry. These include the American Councils for International Education, Cultural Perspectives, and the Institute of International Education — NGOs that have run educational programs and student exchanges in Russia and other countries for many years.

Founded in 1992 as an English-language newspaper, The Moscow Times initially catered mostly to Western expats as Russia opened up to the world after the fall of the Soviet Union.

It later emerged as one of the few Russia-based publications in English to maintain editorial independence, eventually launching a Russian-language service.

The Moscow Times counts many prominent journalists among its former staff, including Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter currently on trial in Russia on espionage charges that he and his paper vehemently deny. Russian prosecutors have not published evidence to support its accusations against the American reporter.

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