Putin, Predator of the Press
Here’s what RWB has to say about Putin:
President from 2000 to 2008 and now prime minister for the past two years, Vladimir Putin continues to make his influence felt in the Kremlin. Strong leadership from the top in all areas of society has been his guiding principle in the reconstruction of a strong state after the years of confusion and dilution of authority under Boris Yeltsin. The press has not been spared. “Control” is the key word for this former KGB officer: control of the state, control of the economic and political forces, control of geopolitical strategic interests and control of the media. The national TV stations now speak with a single voice.
Independent journalists and human rights activists are exposed to considerable danger, especially in the North Caucasus. Five journalists were murdered in 2009. Twenty-two have been murdered since 2000. President Medvedev has recognised the existence of political murders for the first time. The Nashi (Ours), a young patriotic guard created by the Kremlin in 2005 at the behest of Putin and others who lament Russia’s imperial decline, sues newspapers critical of the Soviet past or the current government when it is not staging actual manhunts. As well as manipulating groups and institutions, Putin has promoted a climate of pumped-up national pride that encourages the persecution of dissidents and freethinkers and fosters a level of impunity that is steadily undermining the rule of law.
Ouch. Putin being lumped together with the likes of Kadyrov, and avowed murderer of jouranalist, and the Taliban in Afghanistan is one of the lowest moments of Russian history since Putin first came to power. The people of Russia ought to be ashamed, but what they’ll actually do is lash out in frenzy against the “racists” and “Russophobes” at one of the world’s most well-respected journalist rights organizations.
The Kremlin, of course, rejected any possibility that Putin could be a press predator, lashing out with typical blind frenzy. In a new low in neo-Soviet stupidity, Putin’s press secretary declared the conclusion “absolutely wrong” even though he admitted he had no idea what the criteria were. He ignored the fact, that, as we reported recently, RWB is far from the only organization that has concluded Russia is one of the world’s worst oppressors of the media.
So as usual, Russia will recklessly ignore this data regarding the decline of civilization in Russia, and will go on sinking into the depths of barbarism exactly the way the USSR did. A mature, confident, forward-looking, civilized nation would admit, in Russia’s shoes, that it had as serious problem with press repression and take steps to reform.
But Vladimir Putin’s Russia is no such country.