Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order creating two state awards targeted at journalists.
The decree, published on the Kremlin’s website on July 19, creates the "honored journalist of the Russian Federation" and "honored worker in the areas of communications and information of the Russian Federation" awards.
Opponents and media-freedom groups say Putin has tightened state control over the media since he came to power in 2000, reining in independent broadcasters, limiting coverage of opposition politicians, and keeping signs of dissent off TV screens.
The killings of several journalists who have sought to expose corruption, including investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya, have underscored the risks faced by those who challenge the authorities.
The "honored journalist" title will be awarded "for the formation of social responsibility and a civic position among citizens" and for "the objective coverage of the social, political, cultural life of the Russian Federation and other countries, as well as of domestic and foreign policy problems and international matters."
The decree also states that the awards will be given "as a rule" only to those who have worked 20 years in the field and who are laureates of other state prizes or awards from the Russian Union of Journalists.
Source: Radio Free Europe