Staunton, Apr. 25 – In the past, the Kremlin focused on closing down or otherwise restricting Russian-language outlets critical of Putin and his war, Andrey Soldatov says, now “it appears to be going after those published in English as well,” a significant expansion in the regime’s efforts to “control the narrative about Russian government activities.”
Soldatov, a longtime specialist on Russian special services and their efforts to control the media, made that observation after Moscow this week blocked the websites of major Western think tanks that had had been available inside Russia to those who can read English (globalnews.ca/news/9650090/russia-information-macdonald-laurier-institute/).
Given the ready availability of machine translations, language is less of a barrier than it once was; and it certainly appears that the Kremlin has decided to try to ensure that materials in English and other foreign languages don’t reach a Russian audience if they contain criticism of the regime.
That constitutes a significant escalation in the Kremlin’s censorship efforts and is likely to be accompanied by attacks direct and otherwise on Western outlets that criticize Putin’s war in Ukraine as part of a still broader effort to control the narrative not only in Russia but beyond its borders as well.