An international news outlet covering Russia claimed that the country’s communications regulatory agency Roskomnadzor warned other news agencies on Sunday not to carry an interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zelensky gave a 90-minute interview on Sunday to Russian television station Dozhd, journalist Mikhail Zygar, a newspaper called Daily Kommersant, and an independent news website called Meduza.


Meduza, which is already banned in Russia as a “foreign agent,” said Roskomnadzor announced an “audit” to “determine the degree of responsibility and take response measures” within hours of the interview concluding.

“Minutes before this interview was originally published, Roskomnadzor, Russia’s censorship agency, demanded that no Russian media outlets release it,” Meduza alleged in its English-language version of the interview. “The agency provided no reasons for this demand, saying only that it had begun a ‘review to determine the degree of responsibility’ held by the publications that conducted the interview.”

“The Russian Prosecutor General said they would provide a ‘fundamental legal assessment of the contents of all published statements and the fact of their dissemination,'” according to the outlet.

Despite Rozkomnadzor’s efforts to suppress it, the Zelensky interview is readily available for viewing online. The Ukrainian president discussed topics such as alleged efforts to assassinate him, Russia’s attack on the port city of Mariupol, and Russia’s influence over Ukrainian politics.

“Our security service is in charge of that. They eliminate those who come here on a hunting mission. I’ve got nothing else to say,” was Zelensky’s brief comment on the subject of alleged assassination attempts.

Zelensky was dismissive of the leadership in the breakaway “independent republics” Russia created by fiat in eastern Ukraine, describing them as puppets of Moscow. He lamented that Russian leaders “do not recognize the autonomy of Ukraine.”

“We’re a state with a rich history and moral code. I think we’re now showing the truth of the situation,” he said. The president expressed his concern for future generations in Ukraine, as the Moscow Times reported:

Sadly, I do not think [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s plans are strategic. Strategy is about what will happen to a country in a hundred years. I’m in no position to give advice to the Russians, but that’s what I call strategy. What will happen in five generations? Where will we be? I’m interested in what is going to happen to Ukraine, as a citizen, as a father. My children will live here….

Putin has a different approach. He is focused on today. I think it is a mistake. But not only his mistake. It is also a mistake of his entourage. The party was great, but who’s going to clean the mess?

During the interview, journalist Mikhail Zygar asked a question forwarded by Dmitry Muratov, the Nobel Prize-winning editor-in-chief of newspaper Novaya Gazeta. On Monday, the paper announced it would suspend publication, both in print and online, under pressure from Roskomnadzor.

Muratov held out hope that the publication could resume once the war in Ukraine ends. Novaya Gazeta has been in publication since the fall of the Soviet Union.

“There is no other choice. For us, and I know, for you, it’s an awful and difficult decision,” Muratov said in a note to readers.

In early March, the Russian parliament warned that “spreading fake news about the Russian armed forces and the military operation in Ukraine,” as the Moscow Times summarized the bill, could be punished with up to 15 years in prison. Virtually all criticism of the Ukraine invasion was classified as “fake news” by the bill that passed through Parliament.

Roskomnadzor has issued directives over the past month blocking access to foreign news services, destroying Russian media outlets that criticized the attack on Ukraine, and even threatening punishment for media outlets that use phrases like “war” or “invasion” to describe what Putin prefers to call a “special military operation.”

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