Live sheep wearing flak jackets are the latest in a series of menacing “gifts” sent to an independent newspaper in Russia after it published a series of critical reports into Vladimir Putin’s intervention in the Syrian conflict.
On Monday, nine sheep in cages, all wearing flak jackets emblazoned with the word “press” on them were delivered outside the Novaya Gazeta offices in Moscow.
It is not the first time disturbing items have turned up at the office.
On Oct. 17, a funeral wreath arrived with a picture of a reporter at the paper and a note that read, “Denis Korotkov is a traitor to the Motherland.”
Korotkov is known for his articles on Russian mercenaries fighting in the Syrian civil war. He has examined vulnerabilities in the Defense Ministry’s website, using them to obtain the details of Russian pilot Roman Filipov, who was killed fighting in Syria, Meduza reported. Korotkov joined the Novaya Gazeta earlier this year.
Then, on Oct. 18, another threat turned up at the office: a severed goat’s head. This time there was a warning against the entire editorial staff.
“Russian authorities should investigate and hold accountable the person or persons who delivered nine live, caged sheep donning ‘press’ flak jackets to the office of Novaya Gazeta today, the latest disturbing threat against the independent newspaper,” Gulnoza Said, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Eurasia spokesperson, said.
According to CPJ data, five reporters with Novaya Gazeta have been murdered for their work since 2000.
In the aftermath of the first incident, the newspaper released an editorial condemning the action and stating they would be informing the authorities.
They wrote: “People who unleashed the campaign against Novaya Gazeta and its journalists in social networks are well aware of the consequences of all these letters in an atmosphere of hysteria and hatred that has reached beyond the limits in Russia.”
“We have only two weapons: publicity — and therefore we continue our work; and — the law,” the editorial said. “We demand to investigate the facts of threats and punish those responsible.”
BuzzFeed News has contacted Novaya Gazeta for comment.