Who's killing Putin's enemies?
February 24, 2007 11:30 PM   Subscribe


 
Anna Kachkaeva, who broadcasts a weekly interview show on Radio Liberty . . . who is also the head of the television department at Moscow State University, went on: 'There is no censorship - it's much more advanced. I would call it a system of contacts and agreements between the Kremlin and the heads of television networks. There is no need to start every day with instructions. It is all done with winks and nods. They meet at the end of the week, and the problem, for TV and even in the printed press, is that self-censorship is worse than any other kind. Journalists know - they can feel - what is allowed and what is not.'

Sounds awfully familiar.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:43 PM on February 24, 2007


'The majority of the population, they are absolutely happy,' Alexei Volin, who served for three years as deputy chief of staff in Putin's government and now runs a highly successful publishing house, said when we met in Moscow. 'They get more money. Consumption has increased two and a half times in the past six years. People are buying cars, country houses, they are going to big shopping malls - as big as those in the United States.' Volin, a trim, clean-cut, 43-year-old man dressed in a white button-down shirt and khaki Dockers, smiled. 'They are just as happy as they can be,' he said. 'They don't have a headache because of some political problem or the concentration of power. They don't watch TV news. They don't care.' He went on: 'There is another group. They are unhappy, because political life has been frozen. They don't like the situation with Russian television or the press. Several months ago, I talked to one important Kremlin person and I asked him why is our TV news so awful and dull. And his answer was, "Why are you watching TV? People like you should go read the internet if you want information. TV is not for you. It's for the people."'

My only criticism of this post is that I wish you'd waited until Monday to make it. I think it demands a larger readership, particularly among Americans.
posted by maryh at 12:33 AM on February 25, 2007


Maryh, I'm posting something I found interesting at the moment I found it: sunday morning here.
I'm not going to schedule my life around mefi and the needs and day rhythm of the US.
Sorry.
posted by jouke at 12:49 AM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jouke, I was trying to tell you I think this is a very important story, and a lot of readers here, and in other places as well, probably don't read this site on weekends. But I see that it was also printed in the New Yorker (not online yet), so my crummy little country has been exposed to it as well. So shut my mouth.
posted by maryh at 12:56 AM on February 25, 2007


when Russia's young democrats jettisoned the rules of democracy they also forfeited their independence. That made what came next for the media, and for Russia, possible - perhaps even inevitable.

The 1996 election 'put a poison seed into the soil,' Andrei Norkin, a former anchor for NTV, told me. Norkin now works for the satellite network RTV1, which is owned by Vladimir Gusinsky. 'And, even if we did not see why, the authorities understood at once: mass media could very easily be manipulated to achieve any goal. Whether the Kremlin needed to raise the rating of a president or bring down an opponent or conduct an operation to destroy a business, or a man, the media could do the job. Once the Kremlin understood that it could use journalists as instruments of its will, and saw that journalists would go along, everything that happened in the Putin era was, sadly, quite logical.'

posted by dreamsign at 2:03 AM on February 25, 2007


Sounds awfully familiar.

Yet again, I challenge you to go and live in Russia for a few years before making idiotic comparisons.
posted by Krrrlson at 2:26 AM on February 25, 2007


Yes, we're much better. People we dislike just disappear instead.
posted by Malor at 2:48 AM on February 25, 2007


maryh is right--this is big stuff, but the story's gonna wilt. Sad. Thanks, though, for the post.
posted by toma at 3:29 AM on February 25, 2007


'People call the newspaper,' she wrote, 'and send letters with one and the same question: "Why are you writing about this? Why are you scaring us? Why do we need to know this?"'

Maybe astroturfed like the "thousand" of complain letters sent to the FCC for this or that word or tit showed on some TV or radio. Turns out many were fake, photocopied and produced by few individuals, paid by who isn't hard to imagine. Hey but these are "not dangerous" let's focus on the evil bloggers helping this or that political party _transparently and evidently_ like dailykos and freerep.

The Putin government has made a clever calculation: a few newspapers, with tiny elite audiences, can publish highly critical investigations and editorials as long as that reporting and criticism stays absolutely disconnected from television.

Makes sense, preaching to the converted doesn't convert, but doesn't make anyone look bad and mass remains well informed about Paris&Annenicole.
posted by elpapacito at 3:54 AM on February 25, 2007


but the story's gonna wilt.

Don't wanna come off a a pessimist here, exactly, but I'd argue that this story would "wilt" whether it was on MeFi (as well as every newspaper headline across the nation) at 8:00am Monday in LA, high noon Wednesday in Chicago or closing time at your favorite NYC drinking joint. I just don't think most US citizens would work up more than a passing interest, at best, in this story. Not saying that's a good thing, or whatever, but...

Now, if the US government/media opinion-making machine decided to start casting Putin and his merry gang of thugs as The Enemy of Our Freedoms (the job position currently held by, y'know, the A-rabs) then you'd start to see some concern from Joe Citizen. But there's only so many foreign affairs he's gonna worry himself with.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:21 AM on February 25, 2007


It was in the 1-29 issue of the New Yorker and is available online at their site as well.

I hope this doesn't sidetrack the conversation too much, but does anyone know which publication commisioned tha piece first? (It was in TNY one month earlier). Neither of theses publications seem to be the type to buy an already-printed piece. But anyway, it's very good and worth reading, even on a Sunday.
posted by jtajta at 6:55 AM on February 25, 2007


I read this last month in The New Yorker and found it gripping and horrifying, and yes the US news has been dumbed down in similar fashion, although we haven't heard of any journalists being gunned down outside their homes.

I'd imagine it would be even more horrifying to The Guardian audience in the UK because of the poisoning incident last November.

FWIW, this isn't the first time I've noticed a political article in The Guardian that had been published earlier in The New Yorker. They must have some kind of arrangement.
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:09 AM on February 25, 2007


My only criticism of this post is that I wish you'd waited until Monday to make it. I think it demands a larger readership, particularly among Americans.

I don't think that'll wendell Cardoso. I'm not sure it'll even matteo.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:28 AM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks jouke for that pointer. I agree with you, you post when you post. It's up to the individual to be informed. If tv is your source of 'information' and you think you are informed, then that's your business.

I recently saved a printed excerpt of a speech given by Anne Applebaum ]WaPo op-ed columnist and at Slate, author of 'Gulag'[ titled Russia's latest export: 'managed democracy'. ]$3.95 for full article, Toronto Star[

I've always disliked and mistrusted Putin. C'mon, ex KGB. Russia's people have so often been ruled by their czars, much to their detriment. Who stands to benefit from offing Putin's detractors¿ Why, Putin himself. No kidding. CSI 101 eh¿

I'm not sure how reliable the St. Petersburg Times are. FWIW, in English.
posted by alicesshoe at 7:45 AM on February 25, 2007


Yet again, I challenge you to go and live in Russia for a few years before making idiotic comparisons.

Krrrlson, since you have clearly not:

a) Read the Guardian article
b) Seen the Frontline episodes I referred to
c) Read my previous response to you about other historical abuses of press in the US

I continue to see no reason to conduct any conversation with you about a subject you're willfully and joyfully ignorant of. Good luck.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:21 AM on February 25, 2007


Yet again, I challenge you to go and live in Russia for a few years before making idiotic comparisons.

I doubt this affects the lives of average Russians, I'm sure the average mefite could live just as well in Russia as the U.S.
posted by delmoi at 9:13 AM on February 25, 2007


The New Yorker: Kremlin, Inc. -- "Why are Vladimir Putin’s opponents dying?"
posted by ericb at 11:46 AM on February 25, 2007


Or, what jtajta posted! ;-)
posted by ericb at 11:50 AM on February 25, 2007


Author Michael Specter is a Moscow-based writer for the New Yorker and New York Times. From his website, the PDF of the original NYer article.
posted by librarycat at 11:51 AM on February 25, 2007


(ok, maybe not Moscow-based, but he does a lot of reporting from or about Russia.)
posted by librarycat at 11:53 AM on February 25, 2007


“The entire world is obsessed with energy security and resources,” Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor of the quarterly journal Russia in Global Affairs, told me. “You need it. We have it. It is up to us to decide how to deal with that. India and China are seeking new sources of energy to secure their very rapid growth. The U.S. is lost in its war in Iraq, the European Union has no idea what it is anymore. And then there is Russia: stable, wealthy, controlled very solidly. No opposition. There is really a feeling of superiority, a sense that Russia is now an indispensable nation, as Mrs. Albright said just a few years ago about the United States.”

Wow, what a fascinating, horrifying article. Reminds me that just a few years ago, one of the cornerstones of the Bush administration's energy policy was increased reliance on Russian exports.
posted by mediareport at 12:15 PM on February 25, 2007


Perry Anderson recently wrote a great article for the London Review of Books along similar lines, opening the article with a description of Politkovskaya's funeral and raising the question as to why her death had caused so little outrage/revolt. I had not been aware of the Guardian essay, so thanks.
posted by slow, man at 1:46 PM on February 25, 2007


Thanks for posting this. The whole post-Soviet era seems to be as much of a conspiracy-laden real-life spy novel as the cold war era was. As mediareport says, horrifying and fascinating.
posted by biscotti at 2:56 PM on February 25, 2007


I continue to see no reason to conduct any conversation with you about a subject you're willfully and joyfully ignorant of.

You see no reason to listen to anyone who calls you on your bullshit.


I doubt this affects the lives of average Russians, I'm sure the average mefite could live just as well in Russia as the U.S.

Your confidence is admirable, but I see no basis for it. To make comparisons to the Russian situation while being ignorant of the Russian perspective is either shortsighted or willfully dishonest.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:44 PM on February 25, 2007


You see no reason to listen to anyone who calls you on your bullshit.

I see no reason to listen to a troll. Good luck.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:53 PM on February 25, 2007


Reminds me of the old Johnnie Taylor tune: “Who’s makin’ love, to your old lady, while you were out makin’ love.”
posted by Smedleyman at 8:01 AM on February 26, 2007


Now we know why Dubya gazed lovingly into Putin's soul and declared him good.
posted by nofundy at 11:30 AM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this, jouke.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:42 PM on February 26, 2007


I see no reason to listen to a troll. Good luck.

It's a relief to know that you have the comfort of an imaginary Internet audience consisting entirely of people who agree with you and trolls. Without it, I would fear for the safety of the people around you.
posted by Krrrlson at 5:27 PM on February 27, 2007


It's a relief to know that you have the comfort of an imaginary Internet audience consisting entirely of people who agree with you and trolls.

I can't recall the last time you've actually responded to someone without insulting them.

Honestly, do you have anything of substance to say? I mean, at all?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:26 AM on February 28, 2007


Expert in Russian Poisoning Case is Shot
"FBI agents say they are assisting police in suburban Washington who are investigating the shooting of a Russian expert — a man who spoke out on 'Dateline NBC' last weekend and strongly suggested that remnants of the KGB were responsible for the bizarre poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko."
posted by ericb at 8:56 PM on March 2, 2007


I can't recall the last time you've actually responded to someone without insulting them.

I can't recall the last time you've actually responded to criticism instead of insulting those who dare speak out.

Honestly, do you have anything of substance to say? I mean, at all?

Hypocrite much?
posted by Krrrlson at 10:40 PM on March 3, 2007


I can't recall the last time you've actually responded to criticism instead of insulting those who dare speak out.

Ladies and gentlemen, Krrrlson. The man who dared to speak out!

You're funny, Krrrlson!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:08 AM on March 4, 2007


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