Cheat sheet for media workers under threat

  • September 5, 2022
  • Reporters Without Borders
  • News

Over the past six months, Russia has adopted a series of draconian anti-press laws. In order to help threatened media professionals in Russia to choose a country of exile suitable for them and their needs, the JX Fund – European Fund for Journalism in Exile together with the Mass Media Defence Center from Voronezh has now launched the information platform Shpargalka | Exile.

Read in Russian /читать на русском

Since 4 March and the increase in anti-press legislation in Russia, even the use of the word “war” can carry a prison sentence of up to 15 years. These draconian laws have triggered a mass exodus of journalists. In order to help threatened media professionals in Russia to choose a country of exile suitable for them and their needs, the JX Fund – European Fund for Journalism in Exile together with the Mass Media Defence Center from Voronezh has now launched the the information platform Shpargalka | Exile, which is Russian for “cheat sheet”. Many media outlets can benefit from it – from the time they leave the country to the time they are re-established in exile.

Signposts on the way to exile

What documents do I need to enter another country? Can I open a bank account there? How do I get a work permit? What do I need to do to register a media company in exile? Do I have to pay taxes both in Russia and in my current or future country of residence?

These and other questions are essential for choosing a place of exile. However, if you are looking for reliable answers to these questions, in most cases you will have to fight your way through an extensive thicket of paragraphs and run the risk of not seeing the forest for the trees – especially since the information is rarely provided by the authorities in English, and even more rarely in Russian.

The information platform Shpargalka | Exile now gathers answers to 21 of the most pressing questions. All questions have been answered by lawyers from a total of 12 countries, and the catalog will be continuously expanded. The current list includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Germany, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia and Turkey. The information is updated regularly, as the entry requirements and legal frameworks of many countries change frequently in view of the tense international situation.

“Shpargalka | Exile answers all the questions we have been asked in recent months in connection with work in exile. The information platform is a tool that saves time in searching for up-to-date legal information and reduces the risk of violating the laws of other countries,” explains Galina Arapova, Director and Senior Media Advocate of the Mass Media Defense Center.

From flight to reestablishment

As soon as all individual questions of residence and social law have been clarified, the journalists can turn their attention to the question of in what form they want to reestablish their medium in exile. Some decide to found a new media project. Which legal forms come into question in each case and what tax implications go hand in hand with the various legal forms is also part of the Shpargalka | Exile information platform.

In recent months, the JX Fund has supported 14 media outlets in their reconstruction as well as five start-ups and the establishment of a media hub in Tbilisi (Georgia). In addition to large media such as Novaya Gazeta Europe, smaller media with social or regional issues are also part of the JX Fund’s portfolio, which aims to build a diversified exile media landscape with different target audiences in the long term.

Rethinking destroyed matter

What kind of architecture emerges after a war? How are temporary shelters designed on the foundation of a destroyed environment? What is the relationship between architecture and society?

Such questions are addressed by PYL – Russian for “dust” – a medium founded with the support of the JX Fund, whose staff is currently still spread across several countries.

“Our official re-establishment is planned for early next year in Berlin,” says the magazine’s editor-in-chief. “An NGO will help us coordinate our donations, both legally and in terms of accounting.”
On August 12, 2022, PYL went online with three reports on reconstruction plans in Ukraine as well as the restoration of South Ossetia. Two of the reports, originally written in Russian, have been translated into English, and those on the reconstruction of five Ukrainian homes are also available in Ukrainian.

Please stay in the job!

Another project supported by the JX Fund is Spektr.Press. The independent news platform was founded in 2014 in exile and currently reports mainly on the consequences of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine and the related political developments in Russia and Europe. In doing so, Spektr.Press also tries to help those colleagues who are now fleeing Russia. At the same time, their help will be used to strengthen its own information offering.

“Their greatest and most urgent need is to find work in new countries in order to continue their journalistic careers. Otherwise, they will have to give up their profession within a few months. On the other hand, Spektr.Press needs to build its capacity as soon as possible, as we have to cover a huge wave of events and a massive war agenda in Ukraine,” explains Anton Lysenkov, founder and editor-in-chief of Spektr.Press.

For all these media and media professionals, Shpargalka | Exile now forms a first basis for understanding the legal conditions and risks of changing location and working in different jurisdictions.