| The U.S.-based human rights organization Freedom Watch
released a study document on the decline in press freedom in many countries
including Russia in 2003.
According to the study, after being downgraded from Partly Free to Not
be Free in 2002, Russia continued on its course of restricting press freedoms.
In 2003, the Kremlin consolidated its near total control over the broadcast
media, Freedom House said. Authorities also used legislation and financial
pressure to further restrict critical coverage, particularly on sensitive
topics such as the war in Chechnya.
"Economic pressures can lead to an increase in self-censorship among
journalists," Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor has
said in a press release. "Unfortunately these factors are often overlooked
when examining levels of press freedom."
Russian media experts, meanwhile, have a different take on why the media
is subservient. Pavel Gutiontov, the secretary of Russia's Journalist
Union, told MosNews that there's not so much pressure from the top as
there is a desire of the media to please the authorities.
"The authorities are not enforcing total control," he told
MosNews in an interview. "The sad thing is that the press is readily
secondguessing what the authorities would want it to print." Adding
that he couldn't name many outright repressions by the government last
year, Gutiontov said that "the inner censor is once again becoming
the main censor (Ed. the chilling effect is meant here). The press is
tame, just as it was up until 1985-86," when perestroika began.
For Gutiontov, new laws and liberal reforms will not resolve the problem.
"We have to do a lot of work to eradicate our inner slave - from
ourselves, from our editing rooms, from television," he told MosNews.
In the meantime, Gutiontov remains pessimistic, saying that he doubts
that Russia will see a revival any time soon of the media exuberance that
the nation witnessed ten years ago. "First of all, society needs
of Speech and Media Law in Russia