Tag Archives: journalism

US will work with Russia to investigate journalist’s Moscow murder

Following the fifth anniversary of the Moscow murder of Paul Klebnikov, a Forbes editor who started the Russian-language edition of the magazine, the Russian government has agreed to accept help from the U.S. in investigating the killing.

One can only hope that the involvement of American investigators will help catch the assasins—and that Russia’s commitment to resolving the case will give journalists who continue to work under dangerous conditions in Russia some respite from the violence and intimidation they sometimes face.

New York Times on Russian Racism

As I was writing yesterday’s post about Russian racism, I was surprised to find that the American media had ignored this issue as America’s first black president visited Moscow. But today, the New York Times addressed Russian racism in a piece on Russia’s lack of Obama-mania:

In the background is the question of race, which Russians view through a complicated prism. For decades, Soviet propaganda hammered home the idea that the United States was an irredeemably racist country, as opposed to the Communist bloc nations. But Russia in recent years has been plagued by racist violence against people from the Caucasus region and Central Asia, as well as other immigrants.

Yet many young Russians, like David Zokhrabian, 21, who recently received a graduate degree in international relations from Moscow State University, said Mr. Obama’s race cut both ways. “Students in Moscow, they are pretty positive about this,” he said. “It’s cool, modern, progressive. All the students know American history, they know about segregation, so it shows us about democracy, how it can be.”

But the same cannot be said for average Russians, he said, adding: “It looks weird to them. They just think that America has gone crazy.”

Understanding today’s Russia

With President Obama in Moscow, America’s attention has been focused anew on its former cold war adversary. But nearly two decades after the fall of Communism, Russia remains an enigma to many Americans.

In an excellent example of explanatory journalism, Clifford J. Levy, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist, offers a simple six-step guide to “decoding Russia.”

Mr. Levy’s broad ideas about modern Russia are quite perceptive and accurate (no earth-shattering revelations), and should be read by every American who wants to gain a better understanding of the new Russia.

They reflect a strong understanding of what makes Russia tick – an understanding no doubt fed by Mr. Levy’s command of Russian and his efforts to reach out to Russian readers and sources.

Through all of Mr. Levy’s points runs a common thread – to understand Russia today, one needs to have an accurate understanding of Russia’s past. As I’ve written about before, this includes an appreciation for the massive toll of World War II – the Great Patriotic War – on Russia, and Russia’s perception that it bore the brunt of the conflict.

Beyond World War II, it’s important to acknowledge that Russians have a mixed view of their past – and that for many, the Soviet system had favorable aspects, while the current capitalist system has its pluses and minuses as well.

For more on what you need to know to understand Russia, including a brief overview of Russia’s take on former president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (TIME Magazine’s 2007 Person of the Year), check out Mr. Levy’s piece.

Have your own questions about Russia? Leave them in the comments or send me an email, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Russian prison spokesman: allegedly-tortured inmate beat himself

A Russian journalist says Zubayr Zubayrayev, imprisoned in Volgograd, was tortured because he is Chechen.

But Russian authorities say the man admitted in a videotape to beating himself, and a Russian court has fined the journalist 200,000 rubles (about $6,500) and ordered that she retract her articles, The Moscow Times reports.

The journalist, Yelena Maglevannaya, refused, and has fled to Finland, where she is currently seeking asylum.

According to The Moscow Times, Maglevannaya also received death threats after her stories about Zubayrayev were published.

She is far from the only journalist to be threatened for her work in Russia.

The Moscow Times noted:

More than 15 Russian journalists covering political issues have requested asylum abroad since Vladimir Putin assumed power nine years ago, said Oleg Panfilov, director of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations.

“They can’t stand the working conditions [in Russia],” Panfilov said.

But the ones who have fled abroad are perhaps the luckiest.

Sixteen Russian journalists have been killed due to their reporting in Russia since 1999, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Fifteen of the murders remain unsolved, CPJ said, including those of Forbes editor Paul Klebnikov, an American, and Novaya Gazeta reporter and author Anna Politkovskaya, who reported from Chechnya and wrote critically on the current state of affairs in Russia.