In the Komi Republic, activists have announced a fundraiser in support of 7x7’s former editor-in-chief Elena Solovyova**, who, together with several other organizations, journalists and social activists, was included in the list of foreign agent media by the Ministry of Justice on October 8. Viktor Vishnevetsky, the Syktyvkar City Council's deputy and the Vychegda Protection Committee's co-chairman, told 7x7 about the fundraiser.
He said that the fundraiser in support of Elena Solovyova** was grassroots and had no specific organizer. At the moment, the activists have raised about 10 thousand rubles and found an accountant who will help the journalist register her legal entity and report on her expenses. A person included in the register of foreign agent media has to do this according to the law.
Viktor Vishnevetsky said that activists who had defended the Shies station from the construction of a landfill, fought against oil spills and protested against gold mining in the Yugyd Va National Park were surprised by the Ministry of Justice’s decision to label Elena Solovyova** as a foreign agent media. According to him, she was one of the first journalists to come to Shies when officials tried to secure an information gap around the topic. In total, she visited Shies at least 30 times and became the main author to cover the protest.
"I personally have repeatedly visited Shies with her and consider her to be my friend. I know that she currently does not have a full-time job, she is a freelancer, and it will be much more difficult for her to get a job or keep doing her professional business - independent journalism - after being labeled as a foreign agent. Things have developed that she supports two children alone now. Money for her is a rainy-day fund for a start. Elena is strong and independent, and I am sure that she is going to cope with the problems that have arisen," Vishnevetsky told 7x7.
He added that the practice of declaring someone a foreign agent was an excessive and shadowy action, and labeling a journalist or media outlet as a foreign agent was an attempt to forbid the profession.
THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE (MATERIAL) WAS CREATED (OR) DISSEMINATED BY A FOREIGN MASS MEDIA ACTING AS A FOREIGN AGENT AND (OR) A RUSSIAN LEGAL ENTITY ACTING AS A FOREIGN AGENT.
Elena Solovyova** told 7x7 in an interview that she was grateful to everyone who decided to help her. The journalist called the inclusion of her and fellow journalists in the list of foreign agent media "harassment". She believes that this law should be abolished. Solovyova** had suggested that the Ministry of Justice could have included her in the register of foreign agent media due to her working with the Sever.Realii** Media Outlet, which was also a foreign agent.
Elena Solovyova is a well-known journalist in Komi; in 2012–2014, she was the 7x7 Online Newspaper’s editor-in-chief. She continued working with 7x7 after leaving office. In 2017, she won the Redkollegiya (‘editorial board’) Award for a longread in which she investigated the connections of nationalists from the Rubezh Severa* (‘the northern frontier’) Organization with the government of the Komi Republic in 2008–2016. Solovyova worked with Novaya Gazeta, The New Times and Sever.Realii** on separate occasions.
Activists collect money on the Sberbank card No. 4276 2800 1693 6947 (Timur Vladimirovich B.).
President Vladimir Putin signed a law tightening the legislation on foreign agents at the end of December 2020. Since then, state authorities are able to assign this status to almost any person if officials consider them to be engaged in information and political activities, receiving any money from abroad. Within less than a year, Meduza**, Vazhnye Istorii** (‘Important Stories’), The Insider**, Mediazona**, VTimes**, TV Rain** have been included in the register of foreign agent media. The Proekt (‘’project) Media Outlet has been labeled as an undesirable organization. The Ministry of Justice has labeled 56 people as individuals functioning as foreign agent media. 7x7’s journalist Sergei Markelov** was among the first to get this status.
On September 14, more than 150 media outlets, NPOs, civic and educational projects demanded that the authorities repeal the law on foreign agents. They filed an appeal with the State Duma, the Federation Council and the human-rights ombudsman. According to social activists and journalists, the exercise of the law is pressure on civil society and an attempt to destroy independent media. A petition with a demand to repeal the law on foreign agents on the Change.org Platform has been signed by more than 165 thousand people within a month.