Meduza (Russian: Медуза, named after the Greek goddess Medusa) is a Russian- and English-language independent news website, headquartered in Riga, Latvia. It was founded in 2014 by a group of former employees of the then-independent Lenta.ru news website. Free mobile applications for iOS, Windows Phone, and Android became the basis of the media. A semi-official motto of the portal is "Make the Kremlin sad".
|Founder(s)||Galina Timchenko, Ivan Kolpakov, Ilya Krasilshchik|
|Publisher||Galina Timchenko (since 2019)|
|Managing editor||Kevin Rothrock|
|General manager||Galina Timchenko|
|News editor||Eilish Hart|
In 2014, Galina Timchenko was fired from her job as chief editor at Lenta.ru by oligarch Alexander Mamut, a supporter of Vladimir Putin, after she had interviewed Right Sector. She launched the new webpage Meduza in October 2014. Several former journalists of Lenta.ru joined the new online site.
Timchenko told Forbes that the decision to base Meduza in Latvia was made since "right now, establishing an independent Russian language publishing house in Latvia is possible, while in Russia it is not". Moreover, Timchenko stated: "We understood that in Russia, most likely, they would not let us work."
Russian businessman and former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and telecommunications magnate Boris Zimin had been considered as passive investors, but they parted ways "for strategic and operational reasons". Timchenko said Khodorkovsky had wanted 100 percent control of Meduza, which she considered unacceptable. For financial reasons, Timchenko and her partner at Amond & Smith Ltd, Sergey Nazarkin, based Meduza in Latvia.
In February 2015, the website also launched an English-language version. In January 2016, founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Galina Timchenko handed over the role of chief editor to her deputy Ivan Kolpakov.
In August 2017, Meduza started a partnership with the American news website BuzzFeed News. The partnership included publishing each other’s materials, sharing experiences, and carrying out and publishing joint investigations.
On October 20, 2018, at the outlet's annual celebration, Meduza chief editor and co-founder Ivan Kolpakov reportedly groped an employee's wife, saying, "You're the only one at this party I can harass and get away with it." Kolpakov was temporarily suspended until Meduza publicly censured and reinstated him. The incident triggered a social media backlash. On November 9 Kolpakov announced his resignation saying that "it is the only way to stop the crisis engulfing the website and minimize the damage to its reputation". He was reinstated as chief editor on March 11, 2019.
In 2019, Meduza started the English podcast The Naked Pravda, which highlights how Meduza's top reporting intersects with the wider research and expertise that exists about Russia.
In February 2023, the iPhone of Galina Timchenko was targeted with Pegasus spyware. The attack occurred a day before a conference of exiled independent Russian media that was held in Berlin and which Timchenko attended; her phone could have been used to evesdrop on the journalists' conversations during the conference. This attack is the first confirmed instance of Pegasus being used against a Russian journalist. It is unclear which state carried out the attack.
By 2014 Meduza had a team of around 20 journalists. No Latvian journalists contribute to the project.
Since March 2015, Meduza has published a daily news called "Evening Meduza".
In September 2022, it announced the creation of English email dispatch "The Beet", aiming to amplify "local perspectives" from Central/Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, "without centering Moscow".
Three months after opening, Meduza had 1.3 million monthly readers of its Internet publication. In 2017, Meduza had 7.5 million readers per month and 2 million followers on social media. In 2020, Meduza was the leading Russian site in social media links, according to Medialogia, a company that monitors and analyzes exclusivity Russian sites on media and social networks. By March 2022, Meduza's website had between 12 and 18 million monthly visitors. The majority of readers are younger than 45.
Meduza aims to fill a market niche that exists due to "a long list of forbidden topics which Russian media do not raise for various reasons—due to direct and indirect censorship".
In June 2019, Meduza journalist Ivan Golunov was arrested by Russian police for claimed drug offences. Colleagues and friends of Golunov said they believed the charges to be fabricated, motivated by his investigations into corruption. Following a public outcry, Golunov was released, and five police officers were fired and later arrested.
On 23 April 2021, the Russian Ministry of Justice designated Meduza as a "foreign agent". In response, the European Union rejected the decision, saying this restriction "goes against Russia's international obligations and human rights commitments". Russia's actions caused financial difficulties for Meduza, as they stopped many advertisers from Russia, which were the portal's main source of income, from displaying their ads at Meduza's pages. This resulted in an international campaign to collect funds to ensure Meduza's survival through donations and buying subscriptions. Timchenko said the designation made it even harder to obtain sources that are willing to talk to the reporters – specifically without the protection of anonymity.
Meduza published an editorial condemning the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022; due to its coverage of the invasion, the site was blocked on the territory of Russia by Roskomnadzor among other news websites due to the "systematic dissemination of fakes". Despite the actions of Roskomnadzor, Meduza managed to maintain most of its Russian readers, but the economic sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine also hit Meduza's finances, as the sanctions made it nearly impossible to send donations from Russia and 30,000 members across the Russian border were suddenly unable to donate to the website. As a result, Meduza launched a campaign seeking donations from new supporters outside of Russia. On March 11, Reporters Without Borders announced a mirror site has been set up. Russian journalist Ilya Krasilshchik, the former publisher of Meduza, was charged under the "fake news" law for denouncing the war in Ukraine.
On 26 January 2023, the Russian prosecutor-general’s office declared Meduza as an undesirable organization in Russia. In March 2023, Timchenko said that while "Russian propaganda has enormous financial sources" and the government can spend billions to spread disinformation, Meduza has a "little crowdfunding campaign by people of good will around the world, and some support from international organizations".
- 2016 - Ilnur Sharafiev received the Redkollegia award for the article 18 thousand rubles per person published in Meduza.
- 2022 - Galina Timchenko received the Committee to Protect Journalists' (CJP) Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award as Meduza's CEO and publisher for "extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom".
- 2022 - The Fritt Ord Prize for courageous, independent and fact-based journalism
See also Edit
-  Archived 24 September 2022 at the Wayback Machine tadviser.com
- Ivan Kolpakov has been named Meduza’s chief editor Archived 1 July 2022 at the Wayback Machine meduza.io
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- ""Обязанность властей — обеспечить журналистам возможность заниматься своей работой в атмосфере, свободной от страха и принуждения"" [The duty of the authorities is to ensure that journalists are able to do their work in an atmosphere free from fear and coercion.]. Meduza (in Russian). 24 April 2021. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
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