The Student Press Law Center calls for release and end to the harassment of student journalists in Russia

white logo saying SPLC and Student Press Law Center on a bright blue background

Andrew Benson
Communications and Outreach Officer

As an organization which supports, promotes and defends the First Amendment and freedom of expression rights of student journalists in the United States, the Student Press Law Center unequivocally condemns the raid on the offices of DOXA, a Moscow-based magazine run by student journalists from various universities, which has often been critical of government-run academic institutions. We also note with grave concern the raids that authorities made of the homes of DOXA staff members.

Four editors have been charged with “inciting minors to illegally protest” after the news site posted – and later took down, at the request of authorities – a video which encouraged students to voice their opinions and noted that it is unlawful for universities to expel students for participating in protests. The video was filmed at a pro-Navalny protest on Jan. 23.

In a statement issued on its website on April 14, DOXA stated:

Today at 6 am in the office of our magazine, as well as in the apartments of the editors and editors Armen Aramyan, Vladimir Metelkin, Alla Gutnikova and Natasha Tyshkevich, searches were carried out. The security officials also came to the home of Alla and Armen's parents. Now our colleagues are at the Investigative Committee. Today they are awaiting a trial to choose a preventive measure.

All four are charged under Art. 151.2 part 2 (persuading or otherwise involving a minor in committing illegal actions) for a video in which the children explained that expulsion from the university for participating in the action in support of Alexei Navalny is illegal. The video had to be removed at the request of Roskomnadzor. We disagree with the demand: there were no calls to illegal actions in our video - we said that young people should not be afraid to express their opinions. We have filed a lawsuit against Roskomnadzor, and a trial is due to take place in the near future.

The pressure that the journalistic community has faced lately is unprecedented, but we will not stop our activities. We will continue to highlight what is important to young people and continue to advocate for their rights. 

As of today, the four student journalists are under de facto house arrest, forced to wear electronic bracelets, banned from using the internet and restricted from leaving their homes. Each student is also required to report to authorities to be interrogated every working day until at least the end of May.

The Student Press Law Center joins with press freedom and human rights organizations like the Committee to Protect Journalists, PEN-America, Amnesty International and others around the world to lift up the important work of student journalists in Russia, and to demand both the immediate release of the DOXA staff and an end to the ongoing harassment they are facing at the hands of governmental authorities.

While student journalists in the United States are rarely arrested nor are their offices and homes often searched, they too have been targeted by government censorship and content restrictions. Student journalists in the United States are often limited in their reporting and subject to prior review by public school administrators (government employees) who want them to stay away from reporting on controversial or sensitive topics.

Since 1974, the Student Press Law Center has worked to support, promote and defend the First Amendment and freedom of expression rights of student journalists at the high school and college level, and the advisers who support them. Working at the intersection of law, journalism and education, SPLC runs the nation’s only free legal hotline for student journalists. We also provide training, educational resources and support the grassroots non-partisan New Voices movement, seeking state-based legislative support for student press freedom. The SPLC is an independent, non-profit 501c(3) organization based in Washington, D.C.