RBC recently became the latest of many independent news organization in Russia to face resignations, restrictions and closures due to mounting pressure from authorities. In May, the editor-in-chief was dismissed, reportedly due to political pressure resulting from stories about Putin's inner circle. Two other chief editors and numerous editorial staff left in protest. The replacement chief editors, brought in from state-controlled media outlet TASS, wanted to introduce themselves to the remaining RBC staff. The Q&A with the new bosses started with a simple request: “Everything we discuss here … doesn't go beyond this room and doesn't end up on social media.” Naturally, the whole thing was recorded, and the transcript was posted online. [more inside]
The mines were frozen so they did not explode, while we walked for several kilometres along the [mine] fields.
The history of the Russian-Chechen conflict spans two centuries. Images of Chechen enemies were mentioned even in a lullaby by Lermontov that put children to sleep in the 19th century. War correspondents Robert Parsons, Sofie Shehab, Petra Prohazkova and Andrey Babitsky tell about the war they saw with their own eyes in Nino Kirtadze’s film “The Chechen Lullaby”. [more inside]
"The Western observer tends to split the Russian press into two camps: evil statists and martyrs. But for their part, members of the Russian press are convinced of their superiority over their Western colleagues, at least when it comes to Syria. Russian journalists aren’t under the illusion that they are more objective than their Western counterparts, but they are convinced of their ability to convey a more realistic, complex picture of the events in Syria." - The New Republic: In Russia, Even Putin’s Critics Are OK With His Syria Policy
Current TV previously & previously, the media company founded by Al Gore after the 2000 election, has picked up the kinds of in depth long form journalism being rapidly dropped by major networks, but has been tantalizingly unavailable for those without cable; until now. They have been putting their Vanguard episodes up on their website and on YouTube. [more inside]
"Without the participation of Microsoft, these criminal cases against human rights defenders and journalists would simply not be able to occur"
Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent - Adding to its long-running series on corruption and abuse in post-Communist Russia, the New York Times has reported on Russian authorities using the pretext of software piracy to seize computers from journalists and political dissidents critical of current policies. In a surprising twist, lawyers representing Microsoft have been found working with Russian police, despite reporters and NGOs providing evidence of legitimate software purchases. An official response to the NYT piece suggests impostors claim to represent Microsoft in Russia, and notes the company's offer of free software licenses to these and similar groups.
It took spontaneously crowd-sourced translators less than 24 hrs to make an article on the FSB's (former KGB) alleged implication in the Moscow 1999 apartment blasts accessible in Russian. Before, distribution of the issue of GQ in Russia had been banned by the editor himself. The topic (although the allegations are anything else than new) became an instant top in the russian blogosphere today (dynamic listing, will change with time)
The Exile is back. Iconoclastic Moscow-based web-rag The Exile, having recently been shut down by the Russian authorities for its often less-than-complimentary views on all things to do with the motherland, is back, having relocated to Panama. A victory for the spirit of Gonzo.
Newsfilter: Chechen war reporter found dead - Anna Politkovskaya. Courageous reporting from the "forgotten" conflicts in Caucasus. I guess she found out the truth too often.
Shhh! American Prisoners Being Held in Afghanistan This report is from Pravda, the Russian newspaper. I have not seen any media posting of this story and I wonder whether the story is false or our media does not want to go into this. Anyone at MF hear of this before?
The Best Investigative Reporter You've Never Heard Of died Wednesday from a rare blood disease he picked up reporting in the slums of Bombay. Robert Friedman was beaten by religious zealots after writing about Rabbi Meir Kahane, had a contract taken out on his life after writing about "The Most Dangerous Mobster in the World" and got a Valentine's card threatening rape and murder after writing about Russian organized crime links to the NHL. This December article about the Israel/Palestine situation, which may be the last piece he wrote, is detailed, balanced and yet pulls no punches -- a good example of his hard-hitting style. His death leaves a gaping hole in journalism.
Matt Taibbi, co-founder of the eXile, Moscow's most caustic and painfully funny newspaper, has relocated to Buffalo, NY (?) to work his journalistic mojo there. That is, if he's not arrested over this editorial.
The Stanley Cup finals -- a perfect time to reflect on what we know about the extortion of former Eastern bloc players in the NHL by Russian organized crime groups. A 1999 Frontline/Fifth Estate joint investigation lays it out nicely, including an eye-opening interview with a U.S. sports marketer who was run out of the Russian hockey world by mob greed. Also check the story of investigative reporter Robert I. Friedman, author of the alarming (some say alarmist) book Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America, the subject of a detailed eXile review here.
Ask Putin. At 15.00 GMT today, Vladimir Putin will answer questions posed by the public live online. Two Russian journalists and one from the BBC will select the questions, you can submit yours here. Accountability or Publicity on the part of Putin?