Daghestani newspaper Chernovik has warned the paper could face closure due to pressure from the authorities, including pressure on advertisers and on printing houses to cease producing it.
Speaking to OC Media on Friday, Magomed Magomedov, the newspaper’s deputy editor-in-chief, warned that the paper may close if they are unable to resolve their current issues.
‘Now we can work only on the website and on Telegram channels. Because of this, we are losing our income and the issue of the existence and maintenance of the publication arises’, Magomedov told OC Media.
Founded in 2003, Chernovik is one of the few media outlets in the North Caucasus that maintains editorial independence.
Magomedov put the blame for the newspaper’s problems squarely on the authorities.
‘After the arrival of each new leader of Daghestan, we have faced serious difficulties, because each leader, for some reason, still saw us as a special danger’.
On Wednesday, the paper’s printing house in Rostov-on-Don refused to print the paper. According to Chernovik, the company’s owner threatened to fire employees if the newspaper was printed.
Magomedov said this was the third printer Chernovik has approached this year, after several months ago the company in Daghestan in which Chernovik had been printed for almost 20 years refused to continue.
Magomedov said the printing house, as well as a second one the paper approached in Daghestan, was visited by law enforcement officers who ‘recommended’ that they not cooperate with Chernovik.
‘There were “recommendations” or “instructions” to the administration of the leader of the republic or to law enforcement agencies to do something to shut down Chernovik,’ he said.
‘This period has shown us that our newspaper has started to provoke more violent reactions from the current head of Dagestan, Sergey Melikov,’ he said.
Magomedov said representatives of state agencies also conducted ‘inspections’ of companies advertising in the paper, forcing several to pull their ads.
‘Now we are in such a situation that we are not able to find a printer that will meet the specific requirements for printing our newspaper and agree to cooperate with us’.
Magomedov said Chernovik would hold a press conference on Monday to explain that their financial problems were related specifically to pressure from the authorities.
‘We are also planning to make an appeal in the name of the President of Russia. Of course, we do not expect to receive a quick answer or any kind of response to our appeal, but nevertheless, we, as citizens of Russia, should take advantage of this opportunity’, Magomedov explained.
Chernovik has long faced pressure from the authorities in Daghestan.
In 2019, the newspaper’s religion editor, Abdulmumin Gadzhiyev, was arrested on terrorism charges. Security forces subsequently raided Chernovik’s offices, supposedly as part of the investigation.
Gadzhiyev remains in prison as his trial continues, despite international rights groups insisting on his innocence.
In 2011, Chernovik’s founder, Khadzhimurad Kamalov was gunned down outside the paper’s offices in the Daghestani capital, Makhachkala.
Though a disgraced former Daghestani official was convicted this year of orchestrating the killing, Kamalov’s brother and current Chernovik owner, Magdi-Magomed Kamalov, maintains that the authorities had pursued the wrong people.