Friday, February 17, 2023

Ethnic Russian Regions have More ‘Disloyal’ Media Outlets than Non-Russian Republics Do, Moscow Censorship Agency Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 14 – While many might assume that the most anti-government media in the Russian Federation is to be found in non-Russian regions, in fact, according to the Russian government agency that supervises the media, the ten federal subjects that lead the country in terms of what that body calls “disloyal” media are all predominantly Russian regions.

            Moscow not surprisingly leads with 40, but Sverdlovsk Oblast is in second place with 24. The others in the top ten are St. Petersburg (12), Novosibirsk Oblast (10), Krasnoyarsk Kray (9), Transbaikal Kray (9), Pskov Oblast (6), Voronezh Oblast (9), Chelyabinsk Oblast (8), and Saratov Oblast (8).

            (This latest Roskomnadzor ranking is provided by For a reference to the full list and a discussion of how it has been compiled and what it may mean both for the regions and for Russia as a whole, see

            On the one hand, this ranking likely reflects the fact that Moscow is better able to follow Russian-language outlets than non-Russian ones; and on the other, it is also likely the product of the fact that heads of non-Russian regions are more aware of what allowing for “disloyal” media on their territories can mean for their careers and thus move against them.

            But even if one takes these and other factors, including size, into account, this listing is a clear sign that media outlets in predominantly ethnic Russian federal subjects are the leaders in dissenting from the policies not only of their own federal subject heads but also of the Russian government and the Kremlin as well.

            Picking up on the fact that Sverdlovsk Oblast is in second place on the list, Dmitry Sarutov, a Urals regionalist, says that it is clear both that Moscow fears the Urals will at the head of regions challenging Moscow and the borders of the Russian Federation and that Moscow is all too well aware of that danger  (

            Not long ago, he relates, Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov visited Yekaterinburg, the capital of Sverdlovsk Oblast, and blew up when a guide at the local history museum pointed to an exhibit discussing “Russian colonization of the Urals.” The director clearly viewed that as a sign that the Urals is already prepared to “stick a knife in the back” of Moscow and Russia.

            Given what is clearly happening, Sarutov says, it is ever more obvious to those who consider the matter that “the Urals will have a very special role in the impending disintegration of the Russian empire” because “the real correlation of forces in the Urals is not the same as other regions or as portrayed by polls and elections.”

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