News / Europe

Journalists Document Threats to Free Media by Russian Security Services

Authors Irina Borogan (left) and Andrei Soldatov in New York, 7 Oct 2010
Authors Irina Borogan (left) and Andrei Soldatov in New York, 7 Oct 2010

The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists says 19 journalists have been murdered in Russia during the rule of former President and now Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The independent watchdog group hosted a book presentation Thursday by two Russian investigative journalists who have documented the resurgence of security services under Mr. Putin and the threat those services represent to free media in Russia.

In a recently published book entitled, The New Nobility, Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan cite a law enacted while Mr. Putin was president that expanded the term extremism to include media criticism of state officials.  Soldatov says senior Russian officials use legal pressure, including imprisonment to muzzle journalists.

"But if you attack low level officials, for example, a lieutenant, colonel, majors, it might be more difficult for you; it might be more dangerous. The same problem with local and regional governments - they feel [themselves] so uncontrollable, even by the Kremlin, so they feel free to use very harsh methods against journalists," he said.

Harsh methods include attacks that result in broken bones, brain damage and death.

CPJ director for Europe and Central Asia Nina Ognianova introduced the authors of New Nobility, noting that the name of their book is derived from a statement by former FSB (The Federal Security Service) director Nikolai Patrushev.  He said the organization is driven by a sense of Russian patriotism. Ognianova says ten years of investigative research by Soldatov and Borogan dispel such a notion.

"It's not a sense of nobility, a sense of service that is driving the services, but rather a sense of greed.  And that the security services have really turned into a business; a corporate interest that is functioning without accountability and with impunity," said.Ognianova.

Andrei Soldatov notes Prime Minister Putin is the first Russian leader whose base of power lies exclusively with the security services.  He says there was a brief period soon after the Soviet collapse in 1991 when the FSB responded to public opinion and journalists, because it feared the possibility of political reforms. That responsiveness proved to be short-lived.

"The Kremlin openly declared that the FSB was so weakened during the democratic reforms of the 1990's, so the secret services needed support, not criticism. That's why the FSB started to cut contacts with journalists," Soldatov said.

With the accumulation of 19 unsolved and poorly investigated murders of journalists, investigative journalism has been largely silenced in Russia. The authors cite the newspaper Novaya Gazeta as one of the few remaining independent voices left in the country. But even it has had several writers murdered, including Anna Politkosvkaya who was gunned down in Moscow exactly four years ago.

But Irina Borogan notes journalists still obtain inside information about the FSB from dedicated lower level officers who are dissatisfied with wrongdoing at the organization.

"Especially useful for journalists might be fired officers. They have many problems with their leadership and you can use them.  And they have very good information for you," Borogan said.

The authors of New Nobility conclude that Russian security services have an excessively suspicious, inward, and clannish mentality that has translated into weak intelligence and counterintelligence operations. They add that security agents are now everywhere in the Russian government, undermining the effectiveness of state governance as a whole.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid