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Monday, May 22, 2006

All Kremlin, All the Time

The New Russian Corporatism blog reports, relying on a story from Vedomosti:

In a March survey, the Union of Journalists said Channel 1 covered the activities of the Russian leadership (the president, the government and United Russia party) in 91% of its programs, with 71% of them in a positive key, while opposition parties received 2% of air time. Rossiya TV channel covered the authorities in 88% of its prime-time news. "The federal TV channels have monopolized the information space in favor of the ruling party and lost the characteristics of media sources," said Igor Yakovenko, secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists. "If the ruling party gets similarly disproportional representation in the press, the incumbent government will leave even the Communist Party behind."
The NRC blog suggests that Putin's neo-Soviet Kremlin is en route to establishing a tigher rein on the press than the original Soviets did, mostly because there is no "samizdat" culture of protest aimed at this Kremlin, no Solzhenitisn (not even the real one), no Sakharov. La Russophobe has always thought it was Putin's belief that the old Soviet Union failed not because its goals were wrong but because its rulers were too ham-handed and paranoid to make totalitarian horror work. Putin seems to realize that, handled propertly, Russians can be pied-pipered into simply going along with just about any outrage, as long as a pretext of liberalism can be maintained and the proper amount of steam allowed to escape every so often. Viewed this way, it's actually a good thing for Russia to be victimized by terrorist attacks, corruption, poverty and street crime, since they provide a logical justification for authoritarian rule. Since the Soviet streets were safe and corruption was hushed up, some people may have felt comfortable enough to rebel.

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