Nataliya Yermolina was on the 21st of April included in the list of so-called "foreign agents." Photo: Igor Podgorny

"Protest region." Karelia gets another independent journalist on foreign agent list

Nataliya Yermolina has been doing journalism and civil society work for decades. She is the latest of several Karelians added to the "foreign agent" list.
April 25, 2023


“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Yermolina tells the Barents Observer.

“So far, I am only making fun of it all. I am experiencing the first moment of congratulations, I feel like a hero of the day or a person who has won something cool.”

“I have not yet realized the cons, but feel like on the crest of a wave,” she adds.

The north Russian region of Karelia today has the highest number of so-called foreign agents per capita in all of Russia. Yermolina is the fifth journalist and civil society activist from the region included in the list. She follows Georgii Chentemirov, the leader of the Karelian Journalism Union and reporter for the Barents Observer, that was included in the list in early April.

Status as “foreign agent” includes a stringent regime on labelling publications and social media contents, as well as comprehensive economic reporting to Russian authorities. It is not clear whether Yermolina intends to meet Moscow’s demands. 

The Republic of Karelia has a population of about 530 thousands. It is located along the border with Finland and has for decades been involved in close cross-border cooperation with the neighbouring Nordic country.



Nataliya Yermolina established the Agriculture Club art center in Karelia. Photo: Darya Ananina


According to Yermolina, Karelia is a “protest region” because of its many descendants of exiled dissidents.

“We are all descendants of deportees, even back to the Tsarist times. It was expensive to exile people to Siberia, but Petrozavodsk [the Karelian capital] was not far away and all kinds of disobedient people were sent here to Karelia. They gave us a good-quality undergrowth,” she underlines.

Yermolina last year fled to Montenegro, and learned about her inclusion in the infamous list from friends.

She is known for he independent journalism and civil society activities. She is board member of the Karelian Union of Journalism, the only union of its kind in Russia that officially has condemned the new censorship laws in Russia.

Yermolina is also the person behind the  Agriculture club, the art center in Petrozavodsk that organises courses, classes, exhibitions, concerts and movie festivals.




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