In order to get around the Russian government’s blocking, five investigative media organizations—including Proekt (Project), Vazhnye istorii (Important Stories), The Insider, Bellingcat, and the Alexei Navalny team—launched an app called Samizdat.

Samizdat (self-publishing) is the term used throughout the Eastern Bloc during the Soviet era for the distribution of unlawful articles that were frequently typed or written by hand and passed from reader to reader in order to get through the Russian authorities’ censorship.

According to the developers, Roskomnadzor, the Russian federal executive agency in charge of policing and censoring Russian mass media, is unable to block the application. It enables everyone inside Russia to read all news organizations’ investigations in a single location without the need for a VPN (virtual private network).

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Notably, each team on Samizdat is in charge of its own publications: There is no common editorial policy or management. Also, the project’s developers have sent an email inviting additional independent journalists to participate.

Russian authorities have designated Bellingcat, The Insider, and Vazhnye istorii as “foreign agents.” Russia also views The Insider and Bellingcat as “undesirable organizations.”

In Russia, new laws were passed after the war broke out, allowing anyone to be labelled a “foreign agent.”

These media outlets report on the Russian war in Ukraine, the movement of Russian military hardware, the significant fatalities suffered by the Russian army, the fact that the sons of Russian authorities are avoiding mobilisation, as well as how the children of Russian authorities live abroad.

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