Number 144. That’s what Reporters sans frontieres ranks Russia in its new annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index. According to RSF, the index is complied from questionnaires sent to 15 freedom of expression organizations and a network of 130 correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists, and human rights activists around the world. The index ranks 169 nations.
Russia’s ranking is surely nothing to be proud of, especially considering Russia’s indexed neighbors. The five states ranked above Russia are Azerbaijan (139), Sudan (140), Singapore (141), Afghanistan (142), and Yemen (143). The five states Russia looks down on are Tunisia (145), Egypt (146), Rwanda (147), Saudi Arabia (148), and Zimbabwe (149). As a whole, being sandwiched between these ten states makes Russia the rotten meat in a moldy press freedom sandwich.
As for why Russia ranked so low, RSF said this: “Russia is not progressing. Anna Politkovskaya’s murder in October 2006, the failure to punish those responsible for murdering journalists, and the still glaring lack of diversity in the media, especially the broadcast media, weighed heavily in the evaluation of press freedom in Russia.” Once again, the Politikovskaya murder hangs over Russia’s international standing like a bit lead albatross.
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By Sean — 10 years ago
The Russian Extremism Law has found a new target: South Park. The notorious Basmanny court announced that the show “bore signs of extremist activity” in response to a motion filed by the Moscow city prosecutors office. The Prosecutors office charged twelve cartoons, South Park, The Simpsons, Family Guy (translated into Russian as the Griffins), Metalocalypse, Drawn Together (translated into Russian as Multreality), Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl, Angry Kid, and others with “promot[ing] violence and cruelty, pornography, anti-social behavior, abound with scenes of mayhem, the infliction of physical and ethical suffering, and are aimed at invoking fear, panic and terror in children. . . Practically all the cartoons exploit the topic of suicide, and characters demonstrate readiness to risk their lives for the sake of deriving extreme sensations.”
Well, yes. That’s why they’re funny.
What is missing from most reports in the English press is that the request to look into South Park came from a Russian evangelical group. According to Ezhednevnyi zhurnal, “The prosecutor’s claim was proceeded by a request from Protestants from the Union of Russian Christians of Evangelical Faith (ROSKhVE) who demanded the opening of a criminal case against the channel (2×2) and prohibit the showing of the cartoon.” ROSKhVE began their campaign against South Park in March. Here is a their open letter (Russian only). What has caught the ire of ROSKhVE was South Park’s ridicule of religion, specifically the episode Mr. Hanky’s Christmas Classics.Post Views: 452
By Sean — 11 years ago
One day later and Russia and world have reacted to the arrest of 10 suspects in Anna Politkovskaya’s murder. Most of the Russian media have led with the story. The Kremlin funded English language Russia Today provided an overview of the story and the subsequent international reaction. The popular daily Komsomolskaya pravda hyped the fact that one of its correspondents originally spotted the killer, reporting that he “conducted himself like a agent or an operational worker from [Russian] security forces.” One of those arrested, Pavel Riaguzov, served in the central administration of the Moscow region FSB. According to statements given to the press by FSB General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Kupriazhkin, Riaduzov has long been suspected of having criminal ties. KP wondered whether Riagunov was indeed the person their correspondent spotted. Moskovskii Komsomolets also focused on the Riaguzov angle, and like KP, pointed to his connections to criminal elements. “The Chekist allegedly provided wiretaps and details of Politkovskaya’s conversations.” Riaguzov’s lawyers called the accusations “complete nonsense.” Nezavisimaya gazeta focused on the Western media’s obsession with the claim that the murder might be connected to Boris Berezovsky.
But not all the Russian media is so tame or sensible. Writing in the ever critical Ezhednevnyi zhurnal, Iuliya Latynina, in a bold headline “A Trotskyist-Berezovskii Operation,” searches for the conspiracy behind the conspiracy. And sadly Stalin’s historical footprint always seems to reveal itself on these occasions. She asks why the findings about Politkovskaya murder were revealed to the public at this moment. She gives three answers. First, simply, the “shit already had began to ooze,” and the revelation about the arrests to the public was inevitable. There was no way to hide the fact that those arrested–two former chekisty, some police officers, and Chechens bandits–was going to go unnoticed. If the government didn’t construct a preemptive narrative, it was likely the public would have made their own conclusion. And Latynina thinks that this conclusion would be unpleasant for the authorities. “For example, the public could decide that security agents . . could hardly take orders from enemies of the regime, which could keep all of their business under lock and key, but easily take orders from persons who keep their business quiet in case of failure. I personally think that this version is the most believable.” By her logic the first rule of politics is: control the message.
Second reason: the case will die in the courts. The “lack of evidence” and “pressure.” This, Latynina thinks is the most unlikely.
Third, the announcement of the arrests is a preview of a “big autumn Presidential fight.” Taken with the bombing of the Neva Express and the arrest of Tambov mafia boss Vladimir Kumarin, finding Politkovskaya’s killers falls into a political context that Latynina thinks will “end Putin’s road to retirement.”
So much for the Prosecutor office’s request that “reporters be more accurate with various kinds of information from unofficial sources and refrain from publishing the reports that may hinder investigation.”
Latynina’s comments remind me a bit like Freud’s death drive. Either people like her are so traumatized by living where the leader is eternal that they can’t imagine anything different even if they oppose said leader, or the desire for say Putin to leave office is so great it doubles back as a perverted desire that he will stay. Wouldn’t everything Latynina thinks about Russia be undermined if there is a peaceful transition of power through, albeit flawed, elections? After all, she might find more comfort in a verified ego rather than in one faced with the horrific notion that what it thinks no longer conforms to reality. Where would she be if the great Evil Putin wasn’t there to give her purpose?
Since everyone is speculating about the timing of the arrests, there is one coincidence that can’t be ignored. The arrests come a few days before Politkovskaya’s birthday. She would have turned 49 on August 30.
The truth of the matter, however, is that the arrests have revealed something far more disturbing than any grand conspiracy to manufacture a way for Putin to remain in office. As Novaya gazeta’s editorial board noted in a statement on the arrests, the investigation shows that elements in Russia’s security organs and the criminal underworld have cooperative ties. How high up this goes or whether they are rogue or connected to the Presidential administration is unknown. Either way such elements are likely to out last this and future administrations.Post Views: 472
By Sean — 11 years ago
Lenta.ru reports that Ivan Bolshakov, the Moscow head of Yabloko Youth, was subjected to a criminal search and detention. He has now been released from custody. Bolshakov was detained in the Kursk train station in Moscow as he and Ilya Yashin waited to board a train to Nizhny Novgorod for a pre-election trip. According to Lenta:
They put Bolshakov in handcuffs, and after this they took him to the Ziuzinskii Interdistrict Prosecutor’s Office for questioning. As his comrade in arms [Yashin] emphasized that according to existing law a candidate to the State Duma can only be detained with approval of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation. The officers who conducted the criminal search did not have this.
Bolshakov’s detention, according to Yashin was because he was accused of assaulting a police officer during the Butovo protests in June 2007. No charges have been filed against Bolshakov and Yabloko considers the accusations “a complete fabrication.”
Bolshakov’s brief detention comes right before Yabloko Youth submitted a complaint to the Central Elections Commission charging that the website Zaputina.ru is really a front for Putin and United Russia and not an independent project. According to Russian electoral law, all election advertising must be paid with funds from political parties’ coffers. United Russia would be violating the law if Zaputina.ru was registered as mass media.
Za Putina is run by Konstantin Rykov, who stands as United Russia’s candidate for Nizhni Novgorod, and features among other things airbrushed Putinist Realist photos of Putin, the faces of many Putin supporters, a game called “Putin Chess”, video, and other propaganda promoting all things Putin. The site is slick indeed. And since its establishment at the beginning of this month it has clocked over 70,000 pro-Putinites, the majority of whom come from Moscow.
“The site Zaputina.ru is obviously for agitational purposes, and its creators are obliged to pay for its activities from the electoral funds of United Russia. Moreover, it’s clear that this internet portal is not a private initiative, but an expensive pre-electoral project. There are video clips on the site that shape a positive image of the main candidate. On the sites material Putin is presented as a hero,” Yashin told Gazeta.ru.
Looks like the run up to the elections are shaping up as expected.Post Views: 414