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

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs