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Russia: Freedom of the Press

Categories: Eastern & Central Europe, Russia, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Human Rights, International Relations, Media & Journalism, Politics

An interesting discussion on the freedom of the press in Russia took place in the New York Times’ Russian-language LJ community [1]: an article by Clifford J. Levy [2], translated into Russian, received over 1,000 comments [3] from the Russian bloggers, and 45 of these comments were then translated into English [4] and featured on the New York Times’ web page, along with about 100 more reactions from the paper's Anglophone readers.

The following post [5] (RUS) by LJ user cincinna-c is not part of the New York Times-inspired conversation, but seems to recapture some of its essence well:

I was strolling around town with one English guy today – Simon from Bristol…

When he learned that I worked in the media, […] Simon asked me straightforwardly: “Is it possible for you to publish critical views on the last election, or the true inflation figures, in your or some other paper?”

I didn't know how to respond…

Before, I could send such a piece to a couple more publications, in addition to my paper… What it's like now I don't know… I think that even in my paper it's only if my editor gets sick, falls asleep or is in general caught off guard that I could express my opinion (on how people's well-being isn't growing as fast as has been declared; on how we are left with fewer mechanisms of controlling the government, etc.)… And it's not because she [the editor] doesn't understand anything or is charmed by our statewide successes… She is just being careful… “Just in case”… The way kindergarten teachers used to teach kids to draw Putin – “just in case” – and officials were displaying his portraits on the walls… […]

Here is one of the comments to this post:


It was happening gradually.


[…] After [exiled media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky [6]]'s case everyone was still giggling, thinking it wasn't serious, this war. But first they stopped using the sharpest of the political cartoons in newspapers, then collages got banned. They started doctoring headlines right after [jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky [7]]'s arrest, I guess.