Vladimir Putin has made it perfectly clear this week that he’s staying put at the centre of Russian politics, announcing that it’s ‘entirely realistic’ that he will become Prime Minister alongside his yet to be appointed successor. This allows Putin to fully constitutionally have a third term – and probably more – in the Presidential office, starting 2012.
As analysts predict new laws to centralise power and cut back on oppostion, it looks like bad news for the media. As OSCE Freedom of the Media Representative Miklos Haraszti will tell POLIS at our debate next week, the clampdown on free expression continues. Even the BBC – recently suppressed after its Russian partner, Bolshoye Radio, was told to stop re-broadcasting or face closure – remains a target.
A 2006 IFJ report puts the total number of media deaths in Russia since 1992 at 211. This makes Russia the most dangerous place in the world to practice journalism; second only to Iraq. As Anna Politkovskaya’s murder remains unpunished, a whole year on, it seems there is little indication that things will improve.
But is this all a bit misleading? When more than a thousand members of the Russian Union of Journalists got together at the Black Sea resort, debate thrived and journalism appeared in many ways alive and well. RIA Novosti London bureau’s Pavel Andreev will set out to POLIS why all is by no means lost for the Russian media.