Russia’s Media Censorship Loosens

Ahead of tomorrow’s planned protests in Moscow, the usually docile Russian state media has been experimenting with some more diverse programming, according to Charles Clover in the Financial Times:

Russian TV viewers, long accustomed to boring, government-approved fare on the nightly news, got a surprise on Sunday when protest leaders Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Ryzhkov were interviewed on separate state-run channels.

“The information blockade has been broken,” cheered Alexander Ryklin, chief editor of the online opinion website Daily Journal. “The obvious changes in the leading TV channels’ information policy attest primarily to the fact that any changes are possible in Russia today, as long as there is serious pressure from civil society.”

Mr Nemtsov said on his blog that it was the first time in five years that he had been shown on state TV. However, he attributed the fact not to a political thaw but to the regime’s desire to “show an imitation of free speech”.

The article also mentions a restaurant which gained permission to screen a banned film about the FSB’s alleged involvement in the 1999 apartment bombings which sparked the second Chechen War.  It seems interesting that previously taboo subjects can now be considered by a wider audience, but one wonders how long it will last.