The Barents Observer

An Arctic value for freedom of speech and support for democracy

апреля 05, 2017
The Barents Observer is a journalist-owned online newspaper covering the Euro-Arctic region and northern Russia.

With a devotion for cross-border journalism the Barents Observer provides daily news reports from and about Scandinavia, Russia and the Arctic.

Our dedicated and experienced team of Norwegian and Russian reporters produces news and multi-media contents with reach for global audiences interested in Arctic issues. We follow the key trends and developments in topics like climate change, energy and industry, shipping, civil society, borders, politics, ecology, security and indigenous peoples issues. 

The Barents Observer is a journalistic product following the principles of the Norwegian Rights and Duties of the Editor.

Our core values are freedom of speech and support for democracy. By providing impartial information and opinions across the borders of the Arctic and the Barents Region, we aim to be a counterbalance to authoritarianism and propaganda. Our reporting serve local societies, support regional development and promote international cooperation.

The Independent Barents Observer is a non-profit stock company fully own by the reporters. No regional or national authority have owner interests in the company, nor influence on the newsmaking. The newsdesk is located in Kirkenes, the Norwegian Arctic town located just few kilometres from the borders to Russia and Finland.

The Independent Barents Observer publishes in English and Russian. Additionally, we are playing with the idea of adding Chinese language, of which we have launched a pilot-version.


The Barents Observer is funded by donations from many individuals, private companies, foundations and others. A grant from European Endowment for Democracy makes it possible for us to publish all news in Russian language for our thousands of readers in Russia. Despite Kremlin’s censorship authorities, the Roskomnadzor, tries its best to block the Barents Observer from the Russian internet, we still manage break through. The Foundation Fritt Ord has granted journalist project support. We have got business start-up grants from both Innovation Norway and Sør-Varanger municipality.

In 2022/23 we invited Russian exile-journalists to come work with us. With this, the Barents Observer creates a free and safe environment on the Norwegian side of the border for Russian journalists that have fled their country in fear of prosecution for doing their job. Our passion for freedom of Russian journalism is made possible by donations from private persons, grants from the Fritt Ord Foundation and Tinius Trust. In collaboration with UiT - Norway’s Arctic University we run a project aimed at strengthening free and independent voices among Russians in exile, including knowledge building and journalism. 

Each one of us can contribute with a small or larger donation. Together we will make a difference!

In the Circumpolar north, we have teamed up with the two media networks Eye on the Arctic and Arctic Today. Both are republishing our articles. We do also cooperate with other Russian exile-media, such as 7x7 Journal and Novaya Gazeta Europa. 

The Barents Observer takes the pulse on regional mass media and in 2021 published the report «Repression by Law.» In 2019, the report «Free Media on the Scaffold» was published and in 2017 - the «Journalism in the Borderland. Barents Media Freedom 2017». In 2016, we published the »Barents Observer - Prosessen» (in Norwegian), the story about how Norwegian regional politicians tried to halt the editorial freedom of the only Norwegian online newspaper published in Russian.

The Barents Observer was started by Atle Staalesen in 2002 as a private initiative based on the need for increased flow of cross-border knowledge in the Barents Region. The news site has since the start been bi-lingual English-Russian. In the period 2005 to 2015, the editorial desk of Barents Observer shared office and the reporters were employees of the Norwegian Barents secretariat. That secretariat was owned by the northernmost counties and in 2015 the board of the secretariat decided to remove the editorial freedom of the newspaper. Simultaneously as the secretariat tried to stop the editorial rights, Russia’s secret police, the FSB, asked Norwegian officials to close down Barents Observer. 

Naturally, it was unacceptable for Barents Observer not to follow basic principles of free journalism and the reporters moved out, added „Independent“ to the name and re-launched the newsdesk as a journalists owned media. The secretariat still holds the domain name „“ hostage and is unwilling to share the article-archive for the period 2008-2015. 

Atle Staalesen is founder of the Barents Observer. 


The Barents Observer today has six employees:

  • Atle Staalesen, founder and journalist
  • Thomas Nilsen, editor
  • Denis Zagore, journalist and multi-media content
  • Georgii Chentemirov, journalist
  • Elizaveta Vereykina, video-journalist 
  • Olesia Krivtsova, journalist

We also have Saara-Maria Salonen, a freelance journalists contributing from Inari in Finland.

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