Points: 83 // Status: Not Free

181 - Russia

The state owns, either directly or through proxies, all five of the major national television networks, as well as national radio networks, important national newspapers, and national news agencies.

The state also controls more than 60 percent of the country’s estimated 45,000 regional and local newspapers and periodicals. State-run television is the main news source for most Russians and generally serves as a Propaganda tool of the government, while the newspapers and radio stations with the largest audiences largely focus on entertainment content.

About 61 percent of Russians accessed the internet in 2013, though the rate was higher in the cities. Russians have joined social-networking sites in large numbers and are among the heaviest social-media users worldwide. he Kremlin bolstered its international media presence in 2014 with the creation of a new multimedia news service, dubbed Sputnik. The government also owns RT, an international, multilingual satellite news network, 





Russia’s occupation of the Crimean Peninsula and involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine helped to drive an increase in propagandistic content in the Russian news media and tighter restrictions on dissenting views.  The main national news agenda is firmly controlled by the Kremlin. Meaningful political debate is mostly limited to weekly magazines, news websites, some radio programs, and a handful of newspapers, which generally reach a limited audience. These outlets operate with the understanding that the government has the means to close them at any time.

Although the Russian constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, politicians and government officials frequently use the country’s politicized and corrupt court system to harass the few journalists who dare to expose abuses by the authorities, which encourages self-censorship. Accessing information related to government bodies or via government websites is extremely difficult in practice. Ongoing insurgencies, corrupt officials, and crime within Russia continued to pose a danger to journalists who reported on them, and the remaining independent media outlets in the country came under growing pressure from the authorities.