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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.