Despite Kremlin crackdown, new independent media outlets appearing outside of Moscow
By Paul Goble
Window on Eurasia (07.11.2022) – https://bit.ly/3EhR4Aw – Despite an expanded Kremlin crackdown since the start of Putin’s war in Ukraine, a crackdown that has led many journalists to flee the country and many media outlets to close, journalists beyond the ring road are seeking to create new and independent ones to provide honest and reliable information to the population.
Marina Aronova of the SibReal portal points to eight such outlets and interviews the editors of four of them, men and women who show on a daily basis there is more going on outside of Moscow than many who rely on Moscow sources alone suspect (sibreal.org/a/rossiyskie-regiony-glazami-nezavisimyh-smi-v-usloviyah-voennoy-tsenzury/32117869.html).
The first editor she spoke with was Viktor Muchnik who organized “This is Not Moscow Speaking” only ten days ago but has already attracted nearly 10,000 subscribers (t.me/Govorit_NeMoskva). He says that many Russians have been zombified by propaganda but others want real news, especially about local problems.
The second was Ilya Panin, who organized Cherta a month before Putin launched his expanded invasion of Ukraine (cherta.media/). He says he sees his task as “calling things by their own names and helping people find ways to escape the propaganda-defined universe many of them currently inhabit.
The third was Lola Tagayeva who is in charge of Vertski which was launched on April 26 but has been blocked in Russia since June 14 (verstka.media/). She says that just waiting passively for some change is not enough and that Russians need good information to be able to take things into their own hands.
“The regions are Russia,” the editor says. “Therefore, I do not see any division between journalism about the regions and journalism not about the regions. There is only journalism about Russia. And although our group is small, we seek as much as we can to report and raise issues which there are in the regions of the country.”
And the fourth was one of the Siberian journalists who launched Beda at the end of June (beda.media). Speaking anonymously, he said that his journal is devoted to the investigation of what he calls “’the Russian imperial project,’” or what others now call “the Russian world.” As such, it focuses less on current events than on examinations of longer-term trends.
“We don’t like the very idea of ‘region,’” he says. The national republics are unique and have their own identity, and talk about arranging “’relations’ between ‘the center’ and ‘the periphery’ is in fact part of the instrument of control” of the latter by the former, he continues. “We try to quietly escape from such notions.”
At the same time, Aronova’s interlocutor says, “we see that the absolute majority of major media in Rusisa speak from the center and reproduce all the colonial notions and tropes, even at the level of language. And all these people have enormous media resources, incomparable with the possibilities of ethnic activist communities.”
“Such Moscow centricity,” he continues, “is justified by the ideas of capitalism and enlightenment but in fact is based on Russian imperial thinking. This situation must be changed.” What is especially unfortunate is that many people who are liberal according to their own lights share this backwards vision.
At the same time, he continues, “not all ‘regions’ are colonies. Colonies are conquered territories that have been taken away from indigenous peoples” or occupied by force as were the Baltic nations. “But there is also diversity within the Russian Federation although it is much less than among the colonized.” That too must be recognized and reported about.
“The distorted idea of the Kremlin about federal relations and hypercentralization is abnormal and should not exist but it is not by itself colonization.” Distinctions matter, and he says that his publication is committed to ensuring that they are made. “Otherwise the struggle for decolonization begins to become a metaphor, losing its meaning and transformative potential.”
The four others Aronova notes but did not speak with journalist are Novaya Vlatka in Belgorod (thenewtab.io/), the environmentalist outlet Kedr media (kedr.media/), People of Baikal (baikal-journal.ru/) and the Siberian Media telegram channel (t.me/sibirmedia).
See all the news in Russian (with English version) at https://hrwf.eu/российские-новости/
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