Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Putin’s Other War – Against Independent Media – Spreads across Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 21 – In addition to his war in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has launched a war against independent media in his own country. His officials have shuttered two regional television channels and harassed or closed dozens of Internet and print media outlets across the country.  

            Those who remain fear for the future but are trying to cope in various ways so as to remain honest journalists and bring Russians news without putting their own journalists at risk of prison. The SeverReal portal spoke with three of them who described their different approaches to this situation (

            Denis Kamalyagin, editor of the Internet newspaper Pskovskaya guberniya, has already emigrated because “there is no place for independent journalism in Russia today.” Nonetheless, he tries to keep informing his audience drawing on stringers and the work of his editors who like him are doing so from abroad.

            Yaroslav Vlasov, a journalist with, says his site is blocked but continues to work, carefully avoiding the use of words about the fighting in Ukraine that bring instant action by the authorities and covering instead other social and economic topics that can still be reported more or less honestly.  

            At present, everyone is afraid; but “we all the same have remained in Russia” and do everything possible to remain within that “’legal’ field” that the federal authorities still allow journalists to occupy. Our journalists don’t call what is happening in Ukraine a war but we do cover the funerals of those Russian soldiers who have died there.

            And Elena Ivanova, editor of Saratov’s Svobodnyye Novosti,” says that no one has any clear recipe of how to survive as there is a mine field all around. But she says her journalists continue to work despite these uncertainties and despite her effort to get the authorities to clarify exactly what the new rules are, something the powers that be won’t do.

            “None of our editors intends to leave Russia,” she continues. “We live and work in Saratov; we do not have any paths out or the financial resources to emigrate. We simply seek in this situation to do journalism as far as possible and to remain, however pathetic this sounds, honest people.”

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