Press release, Kirkenes, Murmansk, Luleå, Oulu, September 29th 2015
On Monday 28th of September, Thomas Nilsen was fired from his position as chief editor of the online news site BarentsObserver by the owners of the Norwegian Barents Secretariat, the three Northern Norwegian county administrations.
STATEMENT FROM BARENTS PRESS INTERNATIONAL, CONCERNING THE RESTRICTION OF BARENTSOBSERVERS' EDITORIAL FREEDOM
Old Polyarnaya Pravda paper is back
On February 17, in Murmansk, the first issue of revived paper Polyarnaya Pravda was published. Today, the name of the newspaper is Polyarnaya Pravda Plus . It has the same editor, Ildar Rekhimkulov.
We are publishing the article devoted to the editor, written by Arne Store, our Norwegian colleague and one of the founders of Barents Press International .
The man who never gives up
He lost everything in one day, on 16 November 2009. Some of his colleagues wept openly. 125 people were dismissed when the newspaper Polyarnaya Pravda got a new owner.
This day Ildar Rekhimkulov called all employees at an emergency meeting. He experienced a difficult moment as he was at the threshold of his 18 year editor career. He had to tell them that the newspaper would go to a small Russian company with the non-Russian name Trans Atlantic Managing Group. He would no longer be an editor.
- This was the end of “Polyarka”, "said Ildar Rehimkulov. - Someone will have a job in a new newspaper, someone will be fired. Newspaper suffered severely from the economic crisis, so employees were ready for the dramatic reports, but they refused to believe that their old fellow “Polyarka” was no longer to exist.
Ildar Rekhimkulov, Polayrnaya Pravda Plus editor
Ildar Rehimkulov is a popular man among colleagues from Kirkenes, Finnmark. For many years he helped to co-operate and to have an exchange of information. Ildar is one of the Russian journalists who were from the very beginning in the organization of Barents Press International, since 1992.
Ildar is optimist
Now he is sitting here and smiling at table in a cafe.
- You know, people are like a newspaper - never gives up – said he, and then immediately stated - will try to create a new Polyarka! It will be called "Polyarnaya Pravda Plus" - he said, laughing over a cup of espresso.
Then he paused, and took a deep breath before responding again to a question about how came the day of the newspapers’ close in the old brick walls on Karl Marx Street in Murmansk.
- The newspaper was a sort of bastion since 1920. I also started here. Two years later after having graduated from the University in Leningrad in 1983, I became the editor of the news department. My colleagues elected me as an editor in 1991. It really was a hard work. But we managed to survive after facing political overturn, crises, lack of paper for printing and lack of money support. Maybe that's why people took the news about the newspaper collapse so seriously.
Employees didn’t received salaries for many months, and dismissal at the end of the year was a disaster for many of them. The new owners offered to pay staff wages for the last six months, in exchange for an agreement to write a letter of resignation. About 30 newspaper employees and 100 people involved in the subscription and delivery were left without work.
Today "Polyarnaya Pravda" publishes eight-page publication once a week, and basically it contains information which is provided by the energy company that has contacts with the new owners.
- Most of the journalists got job in other newspapers and TV, but some have remained unemployed. I think, still 6,000 of our subscribers are yearning for our newspaper.
- Usually, people do not like political or economical power. But power doesn’t like people neither - and especially journalists, "- laughed unemployed editor. – Therefore it is needed a way for communication, and only the media can give it.
Ildar Rehimkulov explains in detail how the new "Polyarnaya Pravda" - Polyarka" will convey important news to people. But he sides the specific issues of critical journalism.
- Certainly, a new paper must be independent. People need to believe the newspaper - said Rehimkulov.
Over 30 years of experience as a journalist and editor, Ildar Rehimkulov learned enough about the political balancing act. Now people in Murmansk are going through a new round of political and economic reforms.
- People are tired of politics. Taxes rise high and price increase doesn’t stop. That's why a good newspaper is necessary, repeated Rehimkulov for the fifth time. - And you will see that we are moving to better future. Now we can easily get multiple visas and visa is canceled in the near border of Norway. We are lucky to view the "Polyarnaya Pravda" in the streets of the city this year! - Said Ildar Rehimkulov, pushing away a cup of coffee and thoughtfully leaning back in his chair.
Arne Store, Murmansk-Kirkenes