Thursday, June 12, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Journalists in Russia’s Regions Limited in Covering Their Own Areas and Related Nearby Ones as Well

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 12 – In another recrudescence of a Soviet-era pattern, journalists working in Russian regions and republics are being restricted by local leaders from covering related events in nearby federal subjects, thus limiting the content of their outlets to Moscow-produced coverage of national and international news and truly local stories.

            Such restrictions simultaneously restrict the amount of cooperation among neighboring regions that many in the Russian capital see as a threat to their control and have the effect of reinforce in the media realm the image of the Russian Federation in the transportation one -- as a wheel where the spokes come out from Moscow and where one’s own region has no other ties..

            Margarita Lyange, head of the Russian Guild of Inter-Ethnic Journalists, told a meeting in Izhevsk this week on “the formation of an all-Russian identity” that these restrictions are unintentionally undermining the goals the government itself has set (

                She told the meeting in the Udmurt capital that “journalists in the regions [regularly] complain about the lack of respect” local officials show to national-cultural groups with links to other parts of Russia and manifest this by restricting their ability to find out about these others, produce news about those related communities, or even devote much coverage to their own.

            Lyange said that “journalists must have the opportunity to compare the situation in their regions with that in other subjects of the Russian Federation,” but “frequently they are kept within the framework of their own region,” something she described as resembling “information slavery” because it keeps everyone under the thumb of local officials.

            The journalist gave as an example the case of the onboard magazine of Izhevsk airlines, “in which there was not a line about the culture and beauty of Udmurtia but several stories were devoted to vacations in Italy, France and Spain.”  Such an approach shows a lack of self-respect and that in turn makes it hard to expect respect from others.

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