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Tighter Control of the Media

 

Putins critics say that the attempts to impose tighter control of the media by the state bode poorly for freedom of speech and the future of the free press in Russia. Some believe that Putins ultimate goal is not only to harass and intimidate, but also to stop criticism, control competition, and neutralize opposition. As a result of the campaign of taming the oligarchs, the state or its corporate allies now largely control more influential media.

The sign of Gazprom, the new owner of the NTV national channel

Russian journalists accept that self-censorship is one likely defense strategy to state pressure. They point out that one problem in an underdeveloped civil society is there is no support from society for media freedom. However, most media practitioners think it is unlikely that the genie of media freedom can be put back in the bottle.

Russias major cities have now scores of independent TV stations, which include cable and satellite, providing alternatives or counterweights to the government-controlled TV channels. The news agencies and international broadcasters with their transmissions receivable in Russia also play a role in combating pressures on the media, while international media interests such as the Reuters news agency are now part of the substructure of Russian media and financial sectors.

New technologies such as the Internet provide additional sources of information and publication. President Putin himself uses the Internet to publish his articles and speeches and has even announced a nationwide competition for the best design of the presidential Web site after his official site was criticized by one of the participants in Putins on-line press conference of March 2001 for its boring look. 

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