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Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Sunday Magazine

The Economist, via the brilliant Edward Lucas, reports on New Times magazine, to which La Russophobe introduced readers back in July of last year.

Here's what Edward has to say about the publication:

New Times is pretty much the only truly independent weekly left in Russia. Its editorial staff includes two of the remaining leading lights of serious Russian journalism: Yevgenia Albats, the country’s best investigative writer; and Raf Shakirov, fired from the editorship of Izvestia, once a top Russian daily, for his coverage of the botched anti-terrorism operation in Beslan. Its website carries footage of the Kremlin’s bully boys beating up opposition demonstrators -- pictures that Russian television will scarcely touch.

The magazine is not perfect. Some may find it too wordy, or self-important, or shrill. But at least it is independent: it has no “sponsors”, no “roof.” The publisher, Irena Lesnevskaya, was told by a top Kremlin official that hiring Ms Albats was a “mistake.” Almost any other magazine in Russia would have hurried to correct the “mistake.” Ms Lesnevskaya politely refused.

Sympathetic outsiders who read Russian might consider subscribing. Every little helps. But what New Times really needs is advertisers. And in Russia now, nobody wants to risk incurring the Kremlin’s displeasure. Advertising in New Times would be commercial suicide, Russia’s top business people explain, while insisting that privately they are devoted to the cause of press freedom.

The only people who can help are those who have nothing to lose. It is time for Polish sausagemakers, Georgian wine producers, and Estonian sprat-canners to step forward for their unlikely moment of glory. They have suffered Russia’s spiteful boycotts and bans for months. Diplomacy has got them nowhere. They are mostly now thriving in other markets. So why not hit back, by taking out advertisements in New Times. “Dear Russian customers! We are sorry we can’t sell you our products right now—but please rest assured, we will return to you as soon as better times allow.”

The cost would be tiny relative to the psychological impact. Perhaps the tourist authorities could join in, underlining the welcome that awaits Russian visitors—sometimes to their surprise—in Warsaw, Tallinn and Tbilisi. Even Mr Putin’s Russia won’t touch the freedom to travel, leaving little scope for Kremlin revenge.

Outsiders can’t stop the Kremlin closing the New Times if it wishes. But they can at least help make it a commercial success while it lasts.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is elmer (no Google account).

Actually, the best slogan and billboard that I saw was for Georgian wine.

It went something like this:

Drink Georgian wine! It's more freedom than is allowed in Russia!

Anonymous said...

This is Hector,

A good ad would depict Yeltsin and Putin standing over Russia's impoverished slums and homeless; as well as the ruins of Grozny. The caption would read "Preserve Democracy at all costs!" At one of the bottom corners a label saying: "Approved by the white house in the same of freedom and democracy" with a U.S flag.

DOWN WITH U.S AND RUSSIAN IMPERIALISM!

http://www.geocities.com/h_marroquin/Communist.html