By Paul Goble
The Russian government has now blocked the Fortanga portal for posting “information the distribution of which is prohibited in the Russian Federation,” according to the government declaration that now pops up when one tries to visit what has been an essential source on the Ingush opposition (eais.rkn.gov.ru/).
Earlier, the authorities forced the founding editor of the portal, Izabella Yevloyeva, to flee abroad, have harassed journalists associated with the site, and periodically interrupted access. But now they appear to have decided to take this final draconian step lest Fortanga.org continue to operate.
For the last two years, this portal, which is named for the river that marks the real as opposed to the Yevkurov-Kadyrov one, has reported on protests in the republic and their resonance outside. Windows on Eurasia and other outlets have relied on it for news about that small North Caucasus republic.
Whether those involved with Fortanga will develop a workaround remains to be seen, but this action is especially horrific in a small media market like that of Ingushetia. In places where there are many outlets, the closure of one is unfortunate; but in small places where there are few, the shuttering of even one is a tragedy.
What is especially worrisome is that the authorities in Moscow and Magas will now feel that they are far freer to act in ever-more repressive ways, confident that they have made it far more difficult for their opponents to report what is taking place. Indeed, this is another sign that the powers that be are getting ready for a massive show trial there.
One can only hope that other outlets will help fill the void left by the blocking of this most remarkable site. (For background on Fortanga.org and its founder, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/03/izabella-yevloyeva-another-heroine-of.html.)