Putin’s free-press

Currently, one of Russia’s only major television networks not under government control, Media Most, might lose that moniker if a deal the media giant made recently with the Gazprom Corporation comes to bear. Because of a large debt owed to Gazprom, Media Most’s owner, Vladimir A. Gusinsky, was forced to sell shares of his company to the government-controlled gas corporation, giving it — and thus the government — a 46 percent stake in Media Most.
One of the first and most impacting things a fascist nation can do is control the media, which is causing a fear among many Russians that their country is returning to Soviet practices. The Kremlin has been pushing Media Most in this direction for some time by threat of litigation against some of Media Most’s top officials, who have at times been critical of the government’s actions.
This sale was necessary for Media Most, which has been struggling to repay Gazprom since the gas company filed suit against the media conglomerate. On Sunday, a prominent Russian news show called “Itogi” charged the new Russian president Vladimir Putin with returning the Russian government to the management style of the Soviets.
President Putin denies any knowledge of the Media Most debt negotiations and says that he supports media freedom. If that were true, however, the media and government agencies would be completely separated. But as soon as a government controls what its citizens see and hear, it can feed people anything and call it truth.
This is how totalitarian style governments gain and retain their power and control. After Russian finally broke free from the control of Communism, the thought of a return to a Soviet style of government is an unfortunate setback. The threats of litigation against Media Most executives reveal the kind of game the government officials are playing. There is confidence, though, that after many years of media independence, the government will not easily regain control of Russia’s journalism organizations.