Newspapers in Russia
Censorship easing during the last year of the Soviet Union led to an
increased readership, and editions grew sharply for all major newspapers except
the Communist Party's Pravda, whose circulation dropped from 9.7 million copies.
1989 to 3.2 million ex. 1991. However, in the last year the ransom number prices
multiplied as a result of the abolition of government subsidies for newsprint.
Therefore, TV soon became the dominant information medium in the new Russia.
Half of the shares in the former Soviet national channel Pervyj Kanal were sold
in 1994 to private owners, and financier Boris Berezovsky (1946-2013) took over
control. In parallel, another financier, Vladimir Gusinsky (born 1952), built
the popular NTV channel.
Both Berezovsky's and Gusinsky's media empires were perceived by Vladimir
Putin as a threat to his authority when he was first elected president in 2000.
Shortly after Putin's accession, both NTV and its holding companies were stormed
by masked personnel from the tax police and security services and Gusinsky was
forced to sell the holding company -Media. The following year, Berezovsky was
forced to sell his TV holdings to Putin's related financier Roman Abramovich.
Following Putin's re-entry into the 2012 presidential office, several
journalists with independent profiles have been forced to leave positions within
media companies controlled by the state or by businessmen who have accepted
Putin's leadership role.
The annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the subsequent war in eastern Ukraine
were coordinated with an organized disinformation campaign in Russia's state
media. Media researchers have documented how a couple of hundred news images
from other situations or other parts of the world have been published in Russian
media stating that they show the consequences of attacks from Ukraine. A British
study published in April 2015 identified nearly 20,500 automated Twitter
accounts that make a positive statement on, among other things, Russian Ukraine
policy. Interventions have been made against social media and local press
reporting Russian soldiers who have fallen in battle in Ukraine. In some cases,
journalists have also been abused.
In 2014, control over the internet was tightened by a law that says blogs and
social media with more than 3,000 followers must register publishing
certificates in the same way as regular media.
In 2014, approximately 70 per cent of the population stated that they mainly
followed the news development via state TV channels, 5 per cent via private TV
channels, 15 per cent via the Internet, 2 per cent via radio and 1 per cent via
state newspapers. The role of the private magazines as news brokers is
Two of the dominant news agencies, Tass and RIA Novosti,
are state-owned. In 1991每2013, RIA Novosti was the name of the former Soviet
publishing house APN, which through books and newsletters would both disseminate
an authorized image of Soviet society to the outside world and provide a Soviet
perspective on other countries. In 2013, RIA Novosti was replaced by Rossija
Segodjna (Russia today) with a mission similar to the historic APN.
Instead, RIA Novosti became the name of a new news service which, like the 2014
multimedia editor Sputnik (formerly Radio Moskva / Voice of Russia) is
divisions under Rossija Segodjna.
The third news agency, Interfax, consists of several private
regional and national agencies with different orientations working under a
common brand. The Ministry of the Interior produces elements of law enforcement
for both central and regional TV channels.
Internet and mobile telephony
More than half the population uses the internet regularly and many do so via
their mobile phones. There are almost twice as many active mobile phone accounts
as residents of the Russian Federation. However, access to the internet and
mobile telephony is limited outside the cities. In Moscow, Saint Petersburg and
Yekaterinburg, however, the use is significantly higher than the national
The Internet is mainly used for e-mail, video and telephone calls, to listen
to music and to watch movies, to search for information at work or for household
needs and in social networks. Among the latter, Russian Odnoklassniki (a
counterpart to Swedish StayFriends), VKontakte (which is similar to Facebook)
and Moj Mir, like Odnoklassniki and 40 percent of VKontakte, are dominated by
Mail.Ru (which can be compared with web portals such as Yahoo !, Lycos and
Google in Western Europe and the United States). Approximately one in ten
Internet users use the technology to stay informed on social issues.
The largest operator for mobile telephony with a third of subscribers is MTS,
which is controlled by the Russian Federation's largest listed holding company,
Sistema, where the financier Vladimir Yevchenko (born 1948) owns 64 percent of
the shares. The second largest operator MegaFon is owned by the magnate Alisher
Usmanov (born 1953) together with TeliaSonera. Another quarter of subscribers
are customers of VimpelCom, which operates under the Beeline brand and is owned
by Telenor and the Russian financier Michail Fridman (born 1964).
Shortly after taking office as President in 2000, President Putin issued a
supplement to the law governing SORM, the technology used for intercepting
mobile telephony and the Internet. The network operators are obliged, at their
own expense, to provide representatives of certain authorities with connection
and software for monitoring the servers. Later that year, the Supreme Court
ruled that an authority is required to inform an operator when using SORM.
Authorities that have the right to use interception technology are the police
and security police, the special tax police, the customs and the border guard.
In 2012, the Internet control legislation was supplemented, resulting in a
federal agency that blacklists and blocks websites with, for example, child
pornography and extremist material. Politically uncomfortable material also
appears to be blocked.
According to opinion polls, two-thirds of the Russian Federation's population
is prepared to accept some censorship of the Internet. On a number of occasions,
regional servers have been shut down for some time or ordered to block websites
that have published politically oppositional messages. DDoS (congestion attack)
attacks have on some occasions been targeted at websites that have reported
irregularities in general elections.
Radio and TV
Although TV's share of the media auditorium is declining slowly, but surely
TV is still the largest. Most viewers have the state-owned channel Rossija 1 as
well as the half-state-owned Pervyj channel and NTV with 12每15 percent of
viewers respectively. It is also these three channels that have the greatest
coverage in the terrestrial network (83每93 per cent of the residents). Many
regional channels are linked to the nationwide or controlled by regional
authorities, but there are also standalone ones.
Contrary to television viewers, the number of radio listeners increases
slightly and amounts to about 40 million daily, of which just under a quarter
use the old technology with wireless radio. Through this, broadcasts are mainly
distributed from state-owned radio Maj芍k and Radio Rossii as well as
municipal-owned local radio stations. However, the largest proportion of
listeners have privately owned radio stations such as Europa Plus (about 15
percent), which fill much of the program time with music. Echo Moskvy, which is
partly owned by the semi-state Gazprom-Media and reaches about 5 percent of the
listeners, gives room for more opinions in society than most news media in the
Daily press and magazine
The largest editions among the newspapers are the free newspapers Iz Ruk v
Ruki and Metro, the latter owned by the Swedish Kinneviks sphere. Among those
sold through subscriptions / ransom numbers, the state of Rossijskaja Gazeta and
privately owned Moskovsky Komsomolets dominate, which daily come out in just
over 1 million items. Izvestija can also be counted among the more influential
daily newspapers with a circulation of about 335,000 copies. (2012) under the
control of Petersburg magnate Jury Kovaltjuk (born 1951)), Kommersant (edition
220,000 copies) owned by the magnate Alisjer Usmanov, business newspaper
Vedomosti (edition just over 130,000 copies) long owned by Dow Jones, Financial
Times and Sanoma and Novaja Gazeta (edition 110,000 copies) with the last of the
Soviet Union President Michail Gorbachev among the partners. Among the major
weekly magazines can be mentioned the picture magazine Ogonj車k with an edition
of 860,000 copies, which is now controlled by Kommersant.
In the fall of 2014, a new law was passed which means that media companies
may own a maximum of 20 percent of foreign interests. As a result, some fifteen
international media groups, including Swedish CTC Media and the Modern Times
Group, have begun to divest part of their holdings. Finnish Sanoma sold its
shares in April 2015.
Russia's first regularly published newspaper was Vedomosti ('Bulletins'). It
began to be published in 1703 on the initiative of Peter I. the tsar's reports
on the war against Sweden. The first privately owned magazine was called
Trudoljubivaja Ptjela ('Diligent Bite') and was published in 1759. In the latter
part of the 18th century, Truten ('The Drone') and other satirical magazines
gained considerable popularity.
From the beginning, all non-religious works were personally controlled by the
self-ruler. Religious writings were guarded by the Holy Synod. In the early 19th
century, Russia was given the first laws governing censorship, and special
bodies were set up to prevent anything that undermined the authority of the
tsarist regime. In the 1860s, Alexander II facilitated censorship, which
contributed to the emergence of a mass proliferation press. In 1864,
Peterburgsky Listok ('Petersburg magazine') became the first newspaper to focus
on sensations and local news. In 1866 the news agency RTA (Russkoye Telegrafnoje
Agentstvo) was founded.
In the 19th century, the Russian tradition was founded with so-called thick
magazines, where debate and publicity are mixed with novels and literary works.
Literary critic Vissarion Belinsky and writers such as Pushkin and Chekhov
collaborated in these. The social debate was dominated by Golos ('The Voice')
and Novoje Vremja ('New Age') during the late 19th century, but it was only in
the early 1900s that the press became truly politicized. Moscow's largest
newspaper was the liberal Russkoye Slovo ('The Russian Word'), Saint
Petersburg's the conservative Birzhevyje Vedomosti ('Exchange Bulletins').
Inspired by Aleksandr Herzen, the revolutionary opposition had begun publishing
Russian-language newspapers in Western Europe during the 19th century. In 1912
the Bolsheviks were able to start their magazine Pravda ('The Truth') in Saint
Petersburg. The Russian press,
After 1917, gradually all the mass media came under the control of the
Communist Party. The leading Russian-language newspapers and later radio and TV
got the entire Soviet Union as a sprawl; see Soviet Union (Mass Media).
Book and publishing system
The first printed Russian volume, a translation of the Acts of the Apostles,
was published in Moscow in 1564 by Ivan Fjodorov. A manuscript tradition existed
from the 11th century with the Ostromie Gospel (1056每57) as the oldest memorial.
Primarily religious literature for liturgical and educational use came in print;
all texts were printed from the beginning with Cyrillic alphabet. The church and
the tsar quickly realized the importance of the printing press, which is why all
book publishing came to be central.
The first real printing house, Moskovsky petjatnyj dvor ('Moscow
printing house '), was founded by Ivan IV in Moscow in the early 1560s. In the
1600s, books with educational content began to be printed: ABC book and grammar,
among other things. Meletij Smotritsky's "Slavjanskaja grammar" ("Slavic
grammar"), printed in Vilnius in 1619, reprinted in Moscow in 1648 and 1721.
Some scientific literature was published, as well as some foreign.
In the 18th century, book publishing underwent a radical change through Peter
I's reforms: state printing houses were founded in Moscow and Saint Petersburg;
a bourgeois Russian alphabet, based on the antiquarian style, was introduced in
1708. Thereafter, only religious literature could be printed with the older
Cyrillic alphabet. In 1783, the state monopoly ceased and private printing
houses were founded, but they were banned as early as 1796 under the impression
of revolutionary events in Europe. During the first half of the 19th century,
typography and graphic technology were developed. In 1872 the first part of Karl
Marx's "Das Kapital" was published in Russian translation.
At the turn of the 1900s, the publication of religious literature was still
significant; political literature was mostly printed abroad or illegally in the
country. In 1906, a legal Bolshevik printing press, Vperjod ('Forward')
arose in Saint Petersburg. At the same time, mass production of brochures was
introduced. After 1917, the publishing and printing services went into the hands
of the state. Specialist publishers emerged: Vsemirnaja literatura
('The World Literature'), Nauka ('Science'), Progress
(publishing of foreign literature). In 1926, the publication of Bolshaya
sovetskaya entsiklopedija began.
After the fall of communism, book publishing dropped dramatically, but has
increased just as dramatically since the Russian economy began to recover from
around 2000. Absolutely reliable statistics are missing, but in 2008 the number
of new titles was estimated at close to 100,000, and sales were estimated at
2.2-2, US $ 5 million. However, the financial crisis hit hard in 2009 in all
parts of the book industry. Electronic publishing and internet sales play a very
small role compared to Western industrialized countries.
The largest publishers include the Azbuka 每 Attikus (Azbooka 每 Atticus)
group, to which Inostranka, specialized in translations of foreign fiction into
Russian, OLMA Media Grupp with many bestselling Russian authors and the
publishing and teaching publishing company Prosveschjenije ('Enlightenment')
with voice from the Soviet era.
The Russian became a fictional language in
the early 1700s, when Peter the Great's reform policy
brought about a cultural boost for Russia. A century
later, Ivan Krylov published his first fables. Somewhat
later, the romantic lyricist Alexander Pushkin (Eugen
Onegin) and the novelist Michail Lermontov (The Hero of
Our Time) appeared, followed by the satirist and
socialist Nikolaj Gogol (Dead Souls, The Auditor).
From the middle of the 19th century, Russian
literature experienced a flourishing era and a number of
writers became internationally famous. The Russian
classics include Ivan Gontyarov (Oblomov), Ivan
Turgenyev (Fathers and Sons), Fjodor Dostoevsky (Crime
and Punishment, the Karamazov Brothers), Lev Tolstoy
(War and Peace, Anna Karenina). Alexander Ostrovsky
(Storm) created the realistic drama. The next classic
generation was the playwright and novelist.
Latest population statistics of Russia, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
Anton Chekhov (Cherry Garden) and the first
proletarian author Maxim Gorkij (The Night Army, My
Modern lyricism had its breakthrough decades after the
turn of the century through poets such as Vladimir
Majakovsky, Osip Mandelstam, Anna Achmatova and Boris
Pasternak. Prose writers after the October Revolution of
1917 (see Modern History) include Isaak Babel, Michail
Bulgakov, Ivan Bunin and Michail Sjolochov. In the early
1900s, the Russian theater became a role model for
foreign countries through innovative directors such as
Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vsevolod Meyerhold.
During the Stalin period (1929–1953), all artistic
directions except the "socialist realism" were ascribed.
Many significant writers and other artists were
silenced. Several were arrested and died in prison
camps. After Josef Stalin's death in 1953, a brief
"thaw" came with the publication of socially critical
novels, as well as an emerging critical and centrally
critical poetry. A number of blacklisted plays,
including Majakovsky and Bulgakov, were released. In the
1970s, the experimental tradition of the 1920s was
passed on by Yuriy Ljubimov at the small Tagan Cathedral
The criticism of Stalinism culminated with Alexander
Solzhenitsyn's A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
(1962). Thereafter, the cultural climate again hardened.
Instead, there was extensive illegal manuscript
distribution (samizdat) within the country and smuggling
of manuscripts to the West. Boris Pasternak's great
novel Doctor Zhivago, who was smuggled to Italy, aroused
great prominence in the West. Pasternak was awarded the
Nobel Prize in 1958 but was forced to resign.
Solzhenitsyn received the 1970 Nobel Prize for smuggled
novels such as The First Circuit and the Cancer Clinic.
The award led to fierce controversy with the regime and
in 1974 Solzhenitsyn was expelled. In the early 1970s, a
large number of other cultural creators were forced or
allowed to emigrate.
Under President Mikhail Gorbachev's reform policy in
the late 1980s, the Soviet period began to be openly
criticized and previously banned authors and works were
published. In the 1990s, a young postmodernist
generation of writers appeared with an outspoken and
narrative technique that the Russian readers were not
used to. Vladimir Sorokin's novel Blue Fat aroused
excitement for both experimental style and candid sex
depictions, which led to prosecution for pornography
offenses. Viktor Pelevin's novels, such as Omon Ra, did
not stir less resurrection. Both of these authors have
retained their positions as the foremost in Russian
contemporary literature. An esteemed and more
traditional storyteller is Ljudmila Ulitskaja. A younger
generation of writers is trying to pick up the glove
after the Strugatskij brothers' science fiction
depictions of the 1980s with newly written fantasy
books. This includes author Dmitry Gluchovsky.
In the drama, a young generation sought new paths
during the late 1990s. They broke through in the early
2000s under the name "New Russian Drama" and portrayed
young people's difficulties finding their place in a
society where the cohesive kit was violence in various
forms. Among the most interesting playwrights are
Nikolai Koljada, Vasilij Sigarev, Evgenij Grishkovets,
the brothers Presnjakov, Ivan Vyrypaev and Jury Klavdiev.
Mention should also be made of the new documentary
theater verbatim, represented mainly by the small
theater Teatr.doc in Moscow.
After the takeover of the Bolsheviks, Russian film
gained a special position as a propaganda medium. The
foremost innovator was Sergei Eisenstein whose 1925 film
Panzar Cruiser Potemkin is regarded as an international
classic. The great Soviet postwar films include the
Cranes of 1957 (Michail Kalatozov) and Ballad about a
1959 soldier (Grigorij Chuchraj), who were the first to
portray the reality of the small world in the shadow of
Among the most internationally acclaimed Russian
filmmakers who began their career during the Soviet era,
Andrei Tarkovsky with films such as Andrej Rubljov,
Solaris, Stalker and The Victim. This includes Alexander
Sokurov with the movie The Russian Ark, and Nikita
Michalkov with Burned by the Sun.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in
1991, some difficult years for the Russian film industry
followed, but then a series of film successes were
produced. These include Alexei Balabanov's Brother and
Brother 2 and Cargo 200. The latter is a nightmare
account of events surrounding the body of a Russian
soldier sent home from Afghanistan in a zinc chest.
Great commercial success met the fantasy films Night
Guardian and Day Guardian by Timur Bekmambetov. Among
the "new wave" of Russian filmmakers in the 21st century
are Boris Chlebnikov with the film Free Flow, Andrei
Zvjagintsev with The Return, Kirill Serebrennikov with
Imagining Victims and Ivan Vyrypaev with Euforiya.
Visual art has a long tradition from icon painting
and folk art through realists such as Ilja Repin (died
1930) to modernism. International art development has
received crucial impetus from the Russian avant-garde of
the 1910s and 1920s with names such as Natalja
Gontjarova, Michail Larionov, Marc Chagall, Vasily
Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko. In the
early 1930s, modernism was banned and the partisan
"socialist realism" was raised to the norm in painting
as well as in all other art forms, that is, art would be
realistic in form but future-oriented socialist in
With the thawing weather under Nikita Khrushchev, the
young artists sought new ways and their experimentation
first found expression in abstract expressionism.
Following scandals and strong criticism from the
Communist Party, the innovative art was forced to become
underground. Under the collective term "non-conformism",
Soviet underground art developed in the 1970s and 1980s
a number of directions which should first be mentioned
Moscow conceptualism, represented by Ilja Kabakov,
Dmitry Prigov and Andrei Monastyrsky and SotsArt with
Komar & Melamid, Alexander, among others Kosolapov and
The market for Russian contemporary art exploded in
the mid-2000s and a number of galleries and art centers
opened in closed industrial areas. Art activist groups
have won both Russian and international fame through
political protest actions in artistic form.
Russian music has evolved from a rich folk and church
music tradition. In folk music, balalajka and accordion
were the most popular instruments. In the 18th century,
St. Petersburg became Russia's musical center, where
both German and Italian music gained great influence.
Concert life was developed and a number of
conservatories and music schools were set up. The
Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, which was built in 1825, has
formed the hub of the Russian musical theater with grand
opera and ballet sets.
Major composers during the 19th century were Nikolaj
Rimsky-Korsakov and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Alexander
Skrjabin and Igor Stravinsky noticed the "modernist"
music life before the revolution in 1918. Prominent
composers during the Soviet era were, among others,
Sergei Rachmaninov, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitry
Shostakovich and Aram Chatyaturjan. Apart from Alfred
Schnittke and Sofija Gubajdulina, Russian composers of
later generations now belong to the much younger
Vladimir Martynov. For Russia public policy, please
Prolonged penalty for Chodorovsky
A court sentenced former Yukos owner Michail Chodorkovsky, who is still
serving an eight-year prison sentence, for embezzlement. Chodorkovsky must
therefore remain in prison until 2016. In the West, the verdict is termed
political, since before he was arrested Chodorkovsky had supported the
Car bomb in North Ossetia
Five Russian soldiers are killed in a suicide attack against an army base in
Dagestan. In North Ossetia, 16 people are killed by a car bomb in a market.
Medvedev dismisses Luzhkov
Medvedev dismisses Moscow's longtime mayor Yuriy Luzhkov. He has been accused
of corruption and inaction during the big forest fires around Moscow during the
summer. He also criticized Medvedev for letting him stop a motorway construction
in a Moscow suburb.
Islamist leader killed
In Dagestan, Russian anti-terrorist forces kill Magomedali Vagabov, a radical
Islamist leader who is accused of being behind the attacks on Moscow's subway.
Russian spy ring in the US is revealed
A Russian spy ring is revealed in the US. The US authorities seize ten
Russians who plead guilty and flee to Vienna where they are exchanged for four
Russians who have been imprisoned in Russia for spying on the West's behalf.
MRI counseling resigns
Ella Pamfilova, the president's adviser on human rights issues, resigns since
the duma passed a law that gives the security service greater powers. It
triggers speculation about a power struggle in the Kremlin between conservative
forces and more liberal-minded groups.
Forest fires kill in Moscow
Large forest fires are raging outside Moscow, sweeping the city into smog. At
least 50 people are killed.
Attacks in Stavropol
Six people are killed in an attack on a concert hall in the southern Russian
city of Stavropol.
Explosion in the Caucasus
Twelve people are killed in Dagestan and two in Ingushenia in various
39 people killed in attacks in Moscow
In Moscow, 39 people were killed in two suicide attacks on the subway.
United Russia wins elections
In new local and regional elections, United Russia again wins, but with
poorer results than last year. The electoral authority criticizes irregularities
in the elections.
Demonstration in Kalingrad
Large protest demonstration against the Kaliningrad government.