Crowdfund lifeline for Russia opposition magazine hit by record fine

Moscow (AFP) –


Russia's only opposition magazine has crowdfunded almost $370,000 in four days to avoid bankruptcy and possible closure after it was hit with a record fine, its editor said on Tuesday.

The New Times, known for its no-holds-barred coverage of President Vladimir Putin's regime, has been fined more than 22 million rubles ($338,000) over alleged failure to provide information about its financing, its editor Yevgenia Albats said last Friday.

She said at the time the struggling media outlet would not be able to pay off the enormous amount and would likely have to go out of business.

But supporters of the publication raised more than the needed amount in just four days, Albats announced on Twitter on Tuesday.

"We did it!" she wrote. "We could! We can! Thank you all!"

Albats told AFP in late October that the ruling would mean "bankruptcy" for the opposition journal.

"For 12 years they've been trying to get us for something, every year they come up with a different kind of test and they haven't found anything," the magazine wrote in its crowdfunding campaign statement.

The court ruling came after Albats interviewed Putin's top critic Alexei Navalny for the liberal Echo of Moscow radio last month.

The ruling was made in the absence of the magazine's representatives, its editor said.

Established in 2007, The New Times had a small print run but punched above its weight with its searing covers and an uncompromising anti-Kremlin stance.

Last year the magazine discontinued its print edition due to financial trouble and a lack of advertisers, publishing an online edition.

The magazine's online edition exists thanks to donations from supporters it receives via a charity designated by Russian authorities as a "foreign agent".

In 2012, Russia adopted a law which requires NGOs that receive funding from abroad to register as "foreign agents", a move critics said was part of a clampdown on civil society.

Kremlin critics say that over the past few years the authorities have been seeking to tighten control over the internet that is seen as the last bastion of free speech in Russia.