Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

Predators of Press Freedom: Russia - Vladimir Putin

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 3 May 2011
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Predators of Press Freedom: Russia - Vladimir Putin, 3 May 2011, available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister, Russia

Vladimir Putin, who was president from 2000 to 2008 and has been prime minister for the past three years, continues to make his influence felt in the Kremlin. Tough leadership from the top in all areas of society is his watchword for rebuilding a strong state after years of confusion and diluted authority under Boris Yeltsin.

The press has not been spared. "Control" is the key word for this former KGB officer – control of the state, of economic and political forces, of geopolitical interests and the media. National TV stations now speak with a single voice. Independent journalists and human rights activists are exposed to considerable danger, especially in the North Caucasus. Brutal physical attacks on journalists, including Mikhail Beketov in November 2008 and Oleg Kashin in November 2010, have risen in recent years. Five were murdered in 2009 and 25 since Putin came to power in 2000.

President Dmitry Medvedev has recognised the existence of political murders for the first time but impunity is still the norm. The Nashi (Ours), a nationalist youth movement created in 2005 at the behest of Putin and others who lament Russia's imperial decline, sues newspapers critical of the Soviet era or the current government and also hunts people down. As well as manipulating groups and institutions, Putin has created an atmosphere of exaggerated national pride that encourages persecution of dissidents and freethinkers and a tradition of impunity that is steadily undermining the rule of law.

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