On March 9, 2016 people in masks attacked the bus with Russian and foreign journalists and human rights activists at the Chechen-Ingushetia border. Masked people beat the driver and passengers, burned down the minivan and stole all their equipment.

At that time our colleagues got hurt – Russian journalists Egor Skovoroda (Mediazona), Aleksandra Elagina (The New Times), freelance photographers Anton Prusakov and Mikhail Solunin, Sveriges Radio’s correspondent Maria Persson Löfgren and Norwegian Fagbladet’s journalist Øystein Windstad. Some of them were seriously injured, got psychological traumas and suffered from PTSD. After the incident, a group of Russian journalists decided to found an independent union for collaborative protection of their rights and interests. That’s why we specifically call March 9 the birthday of our union.

JMWU was officially registered by Russian Ministry of Justice in November 2017.

On the end of 2020 JMWU has up to 580 active members mostly workers of independent media in approximately 40 regions across Russia. We have four independently working regional organizations, in St Petersburg, Tyumen, Khabarovsk and Khakassia.

Since it’s creation, the JMWU launched several effective campaigns and initiatives in support of journalists and independent media. Indeed, like many other unions, our main goal is to defend labor rights, and we are actively working in this direction. But the current political environment in Russia also demands that the JMWU focus its efforts on freedom of speech issues and rights of journalists to accomplish their duty in descent working conditions, without threats, persecution, violence, gender discrimination and so one.

In 2019 the JMWU was admitted as a member of European Federation of Journalists (EFJ). We are a constantly growing organization.