Russian blogger protests Norway press control

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The picket line outside the Norwegian Consulate in Murmansk. Photo: Blogger 51
12:26 CEST+02:00
A Norwegian government decision to sack the editor of the international Barents Observer newspaper has sparked 'free press' protests from a Russian blogger.

Aleksandr Serebryanikov, who calls himself Blogger 51, stood outside the Norwegian consulate of Murmansk, holding a sign with a picture of Thomas Nilsen, the editor who was fired after a longstanding conflict with the Norwegian country governments which control the site. 

"We live in amazing times," Serebryanikov wrote on the blog. "Today...I entered the Norwegian consulate to picket against censorship...Norwegian censorship." 

"How many Russian journalists have visited Norway and listened to stories about freedom of speech and the rights of journalists...and now here you are." 

The Barents Observer, a cross-border newspaper published in Russian,  English, and Norwegian, is published by the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, which is run by the  three northernmost counties of Norway. 

Nilsen received his notice of dismissal on September 28 following a long dispute over the Secretariat's refusal to grant him his wish to edit the newspaper under the principles of the Rights and Duties of the Editor, the code of principles drawn up by the Association of Norwegian Editors.

”I have done exactly what is an editor’s duty; standing up for our editorial freedom”, Nilsen said on the day he was fired. ”I stand up for this freedom, and do not regret having done my job." 

According to the newspaper, the dismissal letter argued that Nilsen has acted "disloyally to the owners" and "seriously mismanaged his duties as editor".

In his blog, Serebryanikov pointed out that this kind of language would be "well understood by any Russian citizen". 

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Serebryanikov is a controversial blogger in Murmansk. He has faced persecution by the Russian authorities, who have called him an extremist and threatened to commit him to a mental institution.

The Barents Observer has provided news on the Barents region for 13 years, helping to promote understanding between the Russian and Norwegian sides. 

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