Novaya Gazeta Could Face Closure After Second Government Warning

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – July 21, 2015) One of Russia’s last independent newspapers, the Novaya Gazeta weekly, plans to appeal in court the second government warning it has received within a year – which crosses the threshold that allows the authorities to shut it down. Media watchdog Roskomnadzor issued the latest warning for an expletive that […]

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Medvedev Promises No Blacklist for Foreign Journalists Working in Russia

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Houssam Alissa – June 12, 2015) Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev condemned foreign countries who blacklist Russian journalists Thursday and said Russia has no intention of setting up its own blacklist, RIA Novosti reported, despite a series of recent incidents in which Western journalists have been prevented from working in Russia. Medvedev said the barring of […]

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Rare Russian Bastion of Independent Media Suffers Identity Crisis

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – June 5, 2015) As several top commentators publicly severed ties with Ekho Moskvy, experts speculated that the editorial policies of Russia’s leading independent radio station have shifted to accommodate a changing society, not to do the Kremlin’s bidding. A number of prominent opposition-minded analysts, economists and literary figures have announced in recent […]

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Moscow Times: More Than 80% of Russians Favor State Censorship of Literature, Film, Art

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – May 8, 2015) Fourteen percent of Russians do not support state intervention when it comes to the content and dissemination of artistic creations, the survey also showed. A vast majority of Russians think the state should censor artistic creations believed to be vulgar, immoral or harmful to society, according to a survey […]

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Soviet-Style Censorship Returns to Russian Arts

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman, Moscow Times Theater Critic – April 3, 2015) How many bulls does it take to trash a china shop? We may have an answer by the time the dust settles in a seemingly self-refueling controversy that keeps swirling around an opera house in Novosibirsk. Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said this week on […]

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Religious Offense Charges Against Russian Opera Director Dropped

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Church at Kremlin, adapted from defense.gov Image

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Peter Spinella – March 11, 2015) A Russian opera director who found himself mired in legal controversy after he provoked the ire of a local church leader was cleared of a charge of offending the sentiments of religious believers, the theater announced Tuesday via Twitter. Director Timofei Kulyabin had faced administrative charges for offending religious […]

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Embattled Teatr.doc Proudly Returns to the Stage

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – February 16, 2015) “I always thought this democracy stuff was, you know … ,” Alexei Yudnikov said, his voice trailing off with disgust still ringing in it. “Yes, yes! No, no!” A couple hundred people burst into laughter. The joke was both subtle and obvious. Yudnikov was emceeing the reopening of the […]

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Moscow Times: Russian Culture Ministry Reverses Plans to Ban Films That Undermine ‘National Unity’

Movie Theater file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 20, 2015) The Culture Ministry has reversed plans to deny distribution licenses to films deemed harmful to Russia’s “national unity,” after the proposed restrictions drew widespread criticism. A ministry spokesman said some of the requirements set for films seeking clearance for screening in Russian movie theaters and on television had been lifted, the Interfax […]

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Top Russian Official ‘Ashamed’ Of Culture Crackdown, Quits Ministry

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Claire Bigg – January 15, 2015) A prominent Russian public figure has slammed the country’s culture minister for overseeing a deepening crackdown on artists critical of authorities, quitting a ministerial commission in protest. Yevgeny Savostyanov, the head of Russia’s Coordination Council on Intellectual Property Protection, said in an open letter that he was “ashamed” of Culture […]

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A new drama in Moscow: Teatr.doc – a pioneer of ‘New Drama’ in Russia – has recently been evicted from its basement home in Moscow. But is it all an act?

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(opendemocracy.net – Alexey Krizhevsky – January 14, 2015) Alexey Krizhevsky is culture editor at gazeta.ru and member of Teatr.doc Teatr.doc is on the move. Having performed its last plays and a holiday evening, the theatre packed its bags and left the tiny basement in the centre of Moscow – its home for many years. The director of the independent theatre, […]

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Culture Minister Wants ‘Patriotic Internet’ to Protect Russians

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – January 15, 2015) Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky has called for the creation of a “patriotic Internet” to combat Western ideas, adding that those who are against Russia are against the truth. Russia needs to “consolidate the state and society on the basis of values instilled by our history,” said a statement released […]

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Theater and the Heart of a City: Moscow’s Teatr.doc’s Confrontation with Authority

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(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Blair A. Ruble – January 2015) Blair A. Ruble is vice president for programs; director, urban sustainability laboratory; and senior advisor, Kennan Institute, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. On the evening of December 30, 2014 — just as two dozen or so patrons were settling into their seats at a purposefully ramshackle basement […]

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Russia’s Oscar Hopeful Is Dark, Critical — And Patriotic

Map of Russia

(RFE/RL – Robert Coalson – January 5, 2015) In the film Leviathan, a drunken mechanic in a far northern Russian town clashes with a greedy, drunken mayor who is determined to expropriate the man’s land for his own mansion. The mayor contemptuously refers to his subjects as “insects” and, in a fit of vodka-fuelled honesty, pulls back the curtain on […]

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Russia to Make Internet Providers Censor Content – Report

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexey Eremenko – December 3, 2014) The Kremlin is pushing to have Russian Internet providers filter content before delivering it to users, a potentially very costly censoring procedure, a prominent news website said. The new rules may be passed by the State Duma before the year’s end, Gazeta.ru said Monday, citing an unnamed source “familiar […]

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Russian independent radio board chairman says not aiming to destroy station

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(Interfax – November 18, 2014) Mikhail Lesin, chairman of the board of directors of Gazprom-Media, which owns the Russian editorially independent radio station Ekho Moskvy, met the station’s members of staff on 18 November, privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax reported on the same day. They met to discuss the ongoing dispute between Lesin and Aleksey Venediktov, the station’s editor in […]

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Navalny Wins Court Case Against Federal Media Watchdog

Alexei Navalny file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – October 29, 2014) Opposition activist Alexei Navalny announced his victory Tuesday in a lawsuit challenging the Russian federal media watchdog’s refusal to register his news outlet as an official media outlet. Navalny filed an application with the agency on June 2 to set up the “Alexei Navalny Information Agency,” a news outlet that would focus […]

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Can Russia Disconnect From The Internet?

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(RFE/RL – Luke Johnson – October 02, 2014) After chairing a meeting of the Russian Security Council on October 1, President Vladimir Putin insisted the Kremlin was not planning to limit access to the Internet or put it under total state control. The authorities would, however, take additional measures to increase cybersecurity and continue to shut down sites promoting extremism, xenophobia, […]

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Curbs on Foreign Ownership Will Gut Russia’s Media

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Delphine d’Amora – September 28, 2014) An era in Russian media ended Friday as parliament passed a law limiting foreign ownership in domestic media assets at 20 percent, hitting some of the world’s largest media companies and turning back the clock on an industry that has thrived on foreign brands and capital. Since the draft […]

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When literature came under state control: 80 years since the First Congress of Soviet Writers

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – August 27, 2014) When literature came under state control: 80 years since the First Congress of Soviet Writers When the First Congress of Soviet Writers opened on Aug. 17, 1934 in Moscow, it marked a watershed in Soviet literature. The artistic freedom that had characterized the turbulent 1920s was now gone, replaced by forced […]

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Law Requiring Bloggers to Register as Mass Media Comes Into Force

File Photo of Little Girl at Computer Next to Globe

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – August 1, 2014) A law requiring popular bloggers to register as mass media took effect Friday, tightening government control over the country’s influential online voices but leaving some uncertainty as to how strict the immediate scrutiny will become. In accordance with the new law, any blog that receives more than 3,000 hits […]

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Arts world up in arms as Russia bans swearwords in films, books and TV

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(Russia Beyond the Headliines – rbth.ru – Nikolai Litovkin, RBTH – July 2, 2014) A law making it illegal to use swearwords in television, movies, literature, media reporting, concerts, and theatrical productions entered into force on July 1. Violators will face stiff fines. Prominent figures have expressed their dismay over the ban, arguing that it will limit cultural expression. Russia’s […]

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Media Regulator Could Block Foreign Websites for Failing to Reveal Data

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – May 27, 2014) Russia’s media watchdog has drafted a resolution that would allow it to block foreign websites in the country for failing to register with the Kremlin’s monitors, a news report said. The proposed government resolution, drafted by media regulator Roskomnadzor, would cover all websites that allow their users to exchange […]

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Medinsky the Media Magnet

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – May 19, 2014) Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky received an honorary fellowship on Thursday a few days late and not quite as planned. The institution doing the honors was Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy, but a planned ceremony in Italy on May 12 was junked at the last minute. Instead, the […]

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Interfax: Human Rights Council seeks liability for pursuit over criticism

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MOSCOW. May 14 (Interfax) – Head of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council Mikhail Fedotov said he intended to propose to include a provision in the Criminal Code on liability for pursuit over criticism. “The Soviet Code used to have such an article. Now we have proposed adding it again, however this idea has not been supported. Nevertheless, we will […]

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Human Rights Watchdog Defends Professor Sacked Over Ukraine Article

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – April 11, 2014) The Kremlin’s human rights panel has denounced as illegal the dismissal of a philosophy professor from Russia’s top university for aspiring diplomats for writing an article criticizing Russia’s actions in Ukraine and likening it to Germany in 1938. The presidential human rights council said in a statement on its […]

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Interfax: Kremlin human rights adviser defends Moscow’s taking VOA off air

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MOSCOW. April 10 (Interfax) – A member of the Human Rights Council, a Kremlin advisory body, has defended Moscow’s decision not to renew a contract to broadcast Voice of America in Russia. “Russian officials were not proactive in this situation. In this information war, which hasn’t been unleashed by Russia, it’s Moscow that’s been behaving in a gentlemanly way, and […]

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Bill to Toughen Law on Rallies Raises Concerns

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Oleg Sukhov – April 2, 2014) United Russia deputy Alexander Sidyakin late Monday submitted to the State Duma a bill introducing prison terms for repeat violations of a law on public rallies, stirring fears among analysts of a crackdown on the opposition. The move coincided with an effort by prosecutors to block all blogs being […]

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Human Rights Council concerned about battle against independent journalism in Russia

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(Interfax – March 31, 2014) The Russian Presidential Human Rights Council urges taking the professional community’s opinions into account when making decisions on closing mass media outlets. “These offensives against independent mass media outlets are characterized with the fact that owners or administrative people are leaving the legal field and operate on general notions of morality, interpreting them in their […]

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Russian Writers Call for Free Speech as Pasternak’s Birthday Celebrated

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(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – D. Garrison Golubock and Olga Chetina – February 17, 2014) Feb. 11 marked the 124th anniversary of the birth of Boris Pasternak, the famed Soviet author best known for his book “Doctor Zhivago,” which was published abroad after being banned in the Soviet Union. Pasternak’s birthday was celebrated with great fanfare by Russia’s literati, including […]

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NEWSLINK: Putin and the media – Dreams about Russia – Beyond the spectacle of the Sochi Olympics is a crackdown on Russia’s media

File Photo of Russian Television Studio

[“Putin and the media – Dreams about Russia – Beyond the spectacle of the Sochi Olympics is a crackdown on Russia’s media” – The Economist – February 15, 2014 – economist.com/news/europe/21596580-beyond-spectacle-sochi-olympics-crackdown-russias-media-dreams-about-russia] The Economist reports on concerns over media freedoms in Russia, including actions taken in the lead-up to the Sochi Olympics: Just as Vladimir Putin’s greatest project [the Sochi Olympics] […]

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Interfax: Russian bill tightening liability for extremism signed into law

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

MOSCOW. Feb 4 (Interfax) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a bill that toughens liability for extremism-related crimes. The document amends Russia’s Criminal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure, according to the authorities’ legal information website. “In an effort to neutralize the threats to national security posed by the destructive activities of religious organizations on Russian territory, […]

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Russian TV Promoting ‘Permanent Hysteria’ about Ukraine, Commentator Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 29, 2014) Any Russian with access to the Internet can get some idea of the dizzying and kaleidoscopic developments in Ukraine, but Russians who rely on government-controlled television are being fed a more or less constant diet of propaganda designed to promote “permanent hysteria” about that country, according to a “Novaya […]

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Journalist’s Expulsion Reveals Visa Quagmire

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – January 16, 2014) As pundits speculated about possible political repercussions of Russia’s decision to bar U.S. journalist David Satter, the country’s often cumbersome and conflicting visa application process came into the spotlight on Wednesday. While for some observers the visa bureaucracy was seen as a tool to cushion the state’s political decisions, […]

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Expulsion of U.S. Journalist Sparks Controversy Before Olympics

Truck at Russian Border Crossing

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – January 14, 2014) Russia has barred a U.S. journalist for five years in a move that has triggered a frenzy between Russian authorities and Western media on Tuesday, signaling possible heightened tensions ahead of upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. It was not clear whether David Satter, 66, was banned entry into […]

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Making ‘Separatist Propaganda’ Illegal is the Real Crime, Belotserkovsky Says

Map of Russia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 7, 2013) From the point of view of both international law and the critical needs of the peoples of the Russian Federation, Vadim Belotserkovsky argues, the new Russian law imposing criminal penalties for the  “‘propaganda of separatism’” is the real crime because it undermines “the inalienable right of peoples to self-determination.” […]

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RIA Novosti: Putin Signs Law Punishing Separatism with Jail

File Photo of Vladimir Putin Sitting at Desk

MOSCOW, December 29 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law would make spreading separatist views a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in jail. Under the law submitted to the Russian State Duma by the Communist Party, people will face a fine of up to 300,000 rubles ($9,200) for calling for action aimed against Russia’s […]

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Killing Irony with Ivan the Terrible and an Orthodox Activist

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(RIA Novosti – Natalia Antonova, Acting Editor-in-Chief, The Moscow News, October 8, 2013) Ivan the Terrible lived a long time ago and the passage of time does distort historical figures ­ so that the truth is sometimes hard to separate from fiction. Still, it is probably safe to say that Ivan the Terrible was not a fan of pluralism and […]

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Protest songs in Russia: A sign of democratic society

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(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Vasily Shumov, special to RBTH – September 20, 2013) In modern Russia, we can see that almost every public rally features a music performance that can be identified as a protest song. Russian protest songs have come a long way in the past 60 years following World War II­starting with songs created by […]

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Moscow Dismisses Western Criticism of Gay Propaganda Law

Russian Foreign Ministry Building Tower file photo

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, August 7, 2013) ­ A senior Russian Foreign Ministry official on Wednesday deflected Western criticism of the so-called anti-gay law, saying the recently adopted legislation did not violate the rights of sexual minorities in the country but was aimed at protecting minors. “As to the criticism of our law banning homosexual propaganda we have to reiterate […]

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Russia’s human rights ombudsman warns against consequences of bill banning ‘gay propaganda’

Vladimir Lukin file photo

(Interfax – June 11, 2013) Russian human rights commissioner Vladimir Lukin said that he feared “unwise” application of a bill banning propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations, which the Russian State Duma could pass in the the second and third readings on Tuesday. “The main issue will be the administration of the law. Cruel and unwise administration could lead to human […]

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Most Russians want ‘gay propaganda’ to be banned – poll

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – June 11, 2013) Russians have become more intolerable to homosexuality over the past few years, and the share of opponents of same-sex marriages has grown, the VTSIOM pollster has reported. Eighty-eight percent of Russian citizens welcome the proposed ban on the propaganda of homosexuality, compared to 86 percent in 2012, and only 7 percent support it. “A relative […]

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Fresh US-Russian Translation Examines TV Attitudes

File Photo of Russian Television Studio

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexander Bratersky – May 30, 2013) Russian television has often been labeled a Kremlin propaganda tool by its critics, with the intelligence of many who take it at face value being disdained by its opponents, unlike those who rely on the internet. But an American professor, whose book on Russian TV influence was recently translated […]

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Russia’s Top Social Network Under Fire

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(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW – May 28, 2013) When Vkontakte.ru briefly appeared on a government blacklist of banned websites last week, it raised eyebrows. Russia’s leading social network isn’t just a place where friends connect, make plans, and share experiences. It’s also one of the main platforms the opposition has used to organize its activities across […]

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Amnesty Report Slams ‘Repressive Legislation’

Russian Jail File Photo Showing Outer Wall, Windows, Barbed Wire

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – May 23, 2013) Amnesty International said Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin was marked by large-scale attacks on freedom of assembly and of expression, resulting in a large number of politically motivated criminal cases and repressive legislation. “Two new laws and 11 amendments to current legislation were made last year amid broadly weakened dissent,” head […]

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Moscow’s ‘Hyde Park’ speakers’ corner hosts non-political rallies on first day

Gorky Park file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, May 1, 2013) A rally promoting European electronic music in Russia was the first event held at the “Hyde Park” (speakers’ corner) that opened in Moscow’s Gorkiy Park on Wednesday (1 May), the creator of Hardcore Russia TV, Yuriy Markin, has said. “We are pioneers, the first people who held an action in this ‘Hyde Park’. We […]

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State controls media – Russian Union of Journalists secretary

Kremlin and Moscow Environs Aerial View

(Interfax – MOSCOW, April 18, 2013) Boris Reznik, secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists and a State Duma deputy, believes negative tendencies are emerging in Russian journalism. “The situation in information policies is worsening,” Reznik said at the tenth congress of the Russian Union of Journalists on Thursday. Specifically, Reznik said that “our media legislation needs further improvement.” “We […]

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Moscow’s ‘Hyde Parks’ awaiting applications

Gorky Park file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, April 15, 2013) The official portals of the Gorky Park (www.park-gorkogo.com) and Sokolniki Park (www.park.sokolniki.com) have opened the Hyde Park division, which are accepting applications to hold public rallies. The Gorky Park portal says that the site to hold public rallies can take up to 2,000 people. Public meetings can take place between 7 a.m. and 10 […]

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“Moscow Trials” Puts Art on Trial, Trials in Art

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – John Freedman – March 11, 2013) Journalist and theater director Mikhail Kaluzhsky called it a “theatrical slam.” Olga Shakina, a journalist from the Dozhd television channel, said it was a moment when “one theatrical event replaced another.” What they were discussing on Saturday on Echo Moskvy radio was a now-notorious performance of “Moscow Trials,” a […]

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Right to freedom of speech is inviolable – Russian president

Vladimir Putin file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 14 (Interfax) – The right to freedom of speech is inviolable, and no one holds a monopoly on the right to speak on behalf of Russia’s society, President Vladimir Putin said. “Citizens’ constitutional right to freedom of speech is inviolable and unshakeable. However, no one has a right to sow hatred and rock society and the country, thus […]

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Quoting the constitution in Yekaterinburg

Yekaterinburg file photo

(Moscow News – themoscownews.com – Natalia Antonova – February 4, 2013) The story, as told by Yekaterinburg-based journalist Aksana Panova on her Facebook page, is nothing short of amazing. Znak.com, an online portal where Panova works, decided to place banners with quotes from the Russian Constitution on the city streets. The banners went up – but not without a struggle. […]

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