chapter  12
16 Pages

Politics and the Media in Postcommunist Russia

Russians don’t think much of the Gorbachev years. But they do value the glasnost that led to a broadening of press freedom and eventually, in 1990, the abolition of censorship itself. Censorship is still illegal, under the post-communist constitution that was adopted in 1993. Freedom of the media, however, is more fragile, partly for economic reasonscirculations have been falling, advertising revenues are uncertain, and distribution charges have been rising. Media freedom has also become more vulnerable because of political pressure, dramatically apparent over the Easter weekend of 2001, when armed guards seized the most important private television station, NTV. (In early 2002 the last remaining independent channel, TV6, lost a judicial appeal and also came under de facto state control.) What do Russians themselves make of all this? What do they think of the media outlets that are currently available to them, and which forms of output do they choose to consume? Does it matter that Russia’s post-communist media are increasingly partisan, and can it be shown to make a difference to the electoral behaviour of ordinary citizens?