October 24, 2006 — At the Shorenstein Center’s brown-bag lunch, Russian journalist Evgeni Kiselev discussed declining press freedom under Russia’s current president, Vladimir Putin.
In 2001, Kiselev — then a reporter for NTV, Russia’s first independent television news organization — was summoned to the Kremlin, along with his NTV co-workers. There they were told of the government’s decision to monopolize NTV.
Putin explained to the group of reporters that “if we behaved well, and if we did not protest what happened to NTV, then we could survive” in journalism, Kiselev recalled. He added that today, many of the journalists in that meeting, himself included, are no longer practicing television journalism because “it is not possible for a self-respecting journalist to work for this kind of television.”
Accordingly, Kiselev said, most independent Russian journalists are working in online forums, the influence of which has grown dramatically in the last five years. Why hasn’t Putin’s administration censored the Internet too? “They want to look good to their G-8 partners, who would take offense at such an action,” he said.