EDITORIAL: Putin’s Beetroot Republic


Putin’s Beetroot Republic

Reporters without Borders has released its 2008 ranking of 173 world nations for press freedom.  Russia comes in at #141, the bottom 15% of all nations in the world.  Last year Russia was #144, so it has actually improved 3 spots since then, and six spots from the position it had in in 2006.  But it still lags behind its position in 2005, when it was already abysmally low at #138.  Georgia ranks much higher, at #120.  Ukraine is higher still, at #87.  Many banana republic African countries, such as Zambia, Cameroon and Guinea, allow more press freedom than is permitted in the Beetroot Nation run by proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin.

RWB says this about Russia:

Russia, which suffers from a basic lack of democracy, continues slowly but steadily dismantling the free media, with industrial groups close to President Vladimir Putin buying up nearly all independent media outlets and with passage of a law discouraging NGO activity. Each year several journalists are murdered in Russia with complete impunity. The person who ordered the July 2004 killing in Moscow of Paul Klebnikov, editor of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, remains publicly unknown. The murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in early October 2006 is a poor omen for the coming year.

So KGB man Putin is “slowly but steadily dismantling the free media.”  And this includes the Internet.  We’ve previously reported on how even obscure bloggers like Dimitri Solovyev and Savva Terentiev have been prosecuted for criticizing the Kremlin, and a movement is now underway to cut off Russian servers from the outside world so that the Kremlin can shut down the entire Internet whenever it desires to do so.

One has to wonder how many RWR surveys the world needs to see, and how many more spots Russia needs to fall in the rankings, before the Western world will realize that it now confronts a fully neo-Soviet state bent on cold-war confrontation with all the values of democracy we hold dear.

2 responses to “EDITORIAL: Putin’s Beetroot Republic

  1. FYI you have a small error here. Georgia is ranked #120 in this year’s Reporters Without Borders Freedom Index: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=29031 … For some reason to an older report from 2006, which is a reminder of how far Georgia’s democracy has fallen in the past few years. Saakashvili is a mini-me of the malignant little troll.


    Thanks for the correction! The post has been updated.

    It’s quite true that Georgia could be doing a far better job with press freedom. But you fail to acknowledge two very important distinctions.

    First, Russia isn’t being attacked by a huge aggessive neighbor, yet its score for press freedom is far lower than Georgia’s. That speaks volumes about Georgia’s committment to this issue. If Russia were besieged as Georgia is, there would be no such thing as newspapers, TV or internet news in Russia.

    Second, Georgia isn’t a pretender to the G-8 democracy table, Russia is.

    Therefore, to refer to Georgia as Russia’s “mini me” is simply in accurate and misleading.

  2. Point taken about the G8, which is a joke, but I disagree about coming up with excuses for media crackdowns. External enemies are always used to justify shutting down opposition media. Either you’re committed to democratic values or you ain’t.

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