This article was originally published by the openDemocracy on 30 September 2016.
Amid Russia’s conservative turn, a new brand of conservative civil society is mobilising against freedom of expression. Русский
Anton Belikov walks through the Direct Look exhibition, and attacks work by Sergei Loiko and Alexander Vasukovich. Video: Elena Balakireva.
On Wednesday evening, Anton Belikov, an artist and lecturer at Moscow’s Surikov Academy of Arts, walked through an exhibition of photographs documenting the war in eastern Ukraine, and threw paint over them. Having ruined and torn up the pictures as “war propaganda”, Belikov then turned to one of the photographers and the curator to say: “You wanted civil society? Well, now you’ve got it.”
These photographs by photographer Alexander Vasukovich and journalist Sergei Loiko were exhibited in Moscow’s Sakharov Center as part of the Direct Look photography prize. As a result of this attack, the Sakharov Center decided not to close the exhibition, but instead to hang posters detailing what took place on 28 September in place of the damaged works.
Silenzio. Press freedom under fire in Italy, photo: Zingaro. I am a gipsy too/flickr
Not many countries on Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index 2009 have reason to celebrate. The index sees many countries like Iran and Israel, quite predictably, slip as a consequence of protests, wars and crackdowns in the past year.
While it may not be a surprise that reporters in conflict zones or in countries that are slipping deeper into authoritarianism face severe restrictions and harassment, countries that have always prided themselves on their freedom and openness are slipping down the ranks at an alarming rate.
As the accompanying analysis suggests, several EU members, most notably France and Italy, have slipped down the index and now find themselves ranked in places 43 and 49, respectively, well below countries like Jamaica, South Africa, Mali, Uruguay and Macedonia; countries that may not always have been associated with the concept of free press. In Berlusconi’s fiefdom this is no surprise, but why is France almost as badly off as Italy? And, one might add, why is Spain ranked just one below France at place 44? What is wrong with the grand old dames of Europe? » More