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The culture of Russia

Geography, People, Culture, and Economic Profile

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Media and publishing of Russia

Nineteenth-century Russian journalism was characterized by its robust nature, with newspapers and substantial monthly periodicals serving as key platforms for discourse. Following the 1917 revolution, a diverse array of daily newspapers and monthly journals persisted, spanning various political and artistic orientations. Nonetheless, the government’s intent to consolidate control over information and propaganda swiftly became evident, leading to the suppression of most independent media by the early 1920s. The prevailing publications of the era were the daily newspapers Pravda and Izvestiya. Literary journals fared marginally better, with publications such as Krasnaya nov and LEF featuring significant literary contributions during the 1920s. This literary tradition experienced a resurgence in the 1960s with Novy mir and was later complemented by Ogonyok in the 1980s, though the latter’s period of innovation was short-lived.

From their inception in the Soviet Union, radio and television were predominantly under the influence of the Communist Party, serving as key instruments of propaganda. Prior to the mid-1980s, television content was largely comprised of propaganda, interspersed with high culture offerings and the occasional lower-tier thriller film.

The era of glasnost marked a pivotal moment, with innovative television programming playing a role in the dissolution of the Soviet state. Media oversight by the government began to diminish, culminating in the complete abolition of official censorship by 1989. While a significant segment of the press transitioned to private ownership, the government maintained control over certain key media elements, particularly television news. Prominent newspapers like Rossiyskaya Gazeta retained wide readership as the government’s official publication. Independent newspapers, including Argumenty i Fakty, Moskovskii Komsomolets, and Nezavisimaya Gazeta, also held sway and garnered substantial readership. The influence of Pravda waned in the 1980s, with Komsomolskaya Pravda and Sovetskaya Rossiya emerging as primary news sources for Russian communists. Additionally, independent English-language newspapers like The Moscow Times have established a presence.

In the period following the Soviet Union’s dissolution, Russian television initially demonstrated a degree of autonomy from the central government. However, by the mid-1990s, the Yeltsin administration was exerting considerable influence over the medium. State control over television persists, with Russian Public Television and the state-run Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company being notable examples. Independent commercial stations like NTV and TV-6, with extensive national reach, coexisted alongside hundreds of regional and local broadcasters. Independent outlets critical of the government faced challenges during Vladimir Putin’s presidency, as seen in the closure of TV-6 and the exiling of media magnates Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovsky. The government oversees two press agencies, ITAR-TASS and the Russian Information Agency-Novosti, successors to the Soviet-era TASS agency.

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