Tuesday, January 1, 2019

RFE/RL’s Idel.Realii Portal Not Only Informs but Helps Defend People of the Middle Volga

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 1 – Ever fewer people in the West accept the argument that there is no need for Western broadcasting to and Internet pages for people living within the borders of the Russian Federation given that as in Soviet times when Western “voices” began operating, people there have ever less access to reliable and accurate information.

            But even with this shift, there has yet to be an adequate appreciation of something else. Western broadcasts and web pages not only provide people in Russia with information, they make a direct contribution to improving the lives of Russians and others by calling attention to problems the powers that be in that country can’t afford to ignore.

            In an end-of-the-year article, Regina Khisamova describes how articles carried on RFE/RL’s Idel.Realii portal have had a direct and positive impact on the lives of people in the Middle Volga at whom its postings are directed and with whom it is in increasingly active correspondence (idelreal.org/a/29677171.html).

            Dozens of times last year, investigations by Idel.Realii journalists uncovered waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, illegality in the health care system, in education, and in the courts. In nearly every case, Khisamova reports, local and regional actions immediately opened cases and sometimes succeeded in having the guilty punished. In others, they were overruled.

            Most of the cases she describes are about individuals facing the problem individuals face in many societies rather than grand political questions, although in the case of the latter too,  Idel.Realii played a key role in its reporting about efforts by Tatars to protect their rights to instruction in their national language.

            Having gone into details about more than a dozen of such cases, Khisamova points out that officials in Tatarstan at the end of the year took an action which highlighted just how significant the portal has become: They blocked the site in republic ministries, the republic State Council, and the Supreme Court. 

            Others in the Middle Volga and indeed around the world, however, will continue to rely on Idel.Realii not only for reliable information but also as a defender of their rights against an often out-of-touch bureaucracy. 

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