Russian History


The Media

For most of the Soviet era, the news media were under full state control. The major newspapers, such as Pravda , Izvestiya , Krasnaya zvezda , and Komsomol'skaya pravda , were the official organs of party or government agencies, and radio and television were state monopolies. In the late 1980s, these monopolies began to weaken as stories such as the Chernobyl' disaster reached the public in detail, an occurrence that would not have been possible before glasnost . Then, after seventy-five years of state control, the media began an era of significantly less restricted activity in 1992.

In the post-Soviet era, the news media have played a central role in forming public opinion toward critical national concerns, including the Chechnya conflict, the economic crisis, and government policies and personalities. In the environment of freewheeling expression of opinion, public figures such as Boris Yeltsin and government actions such as the Chechnya campaign have received ruthless criticism, and the deterioration of Russia's environment, public health, national defense, and national economy has been exposed thoroughly, if not always accurately. However, the national and local governments have exerted heavy pressure on the print and broadcast media to alter coverage of certain issues. Because most media enterprises continue to depend on government support, such pressure often has been effective.