Censorship in today's Russia

December 12, 2017

In The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov parodied more than once the custom of the Soviet regime to abbreviate the names of government services and functions, such as the terms MASSOLIT, findirektor or Dramlit. The current regime under Vladimir Putin has taken over this old custom. There exists, for example, a Federal Service for the Supervision of Communication, Information Technology and Mass Media, an organization that controls the media, and which is abbreviated in Russian as Роскомнадзор [Roskomnadzor].

However, it is not only this abbreviation that evokes memories of the time of Joseph Stalin. The activities of this institution also show a strong resemblance to what the General Directorate for literary and publishing affairs, abbreviated in Russian as Главлит [Glavlit], did in the time of Bulgakov: the checking and censoring of information.

Indeed, on December 11, 2017, Roskomnadzor blocked several online resources on request of the Prosecutor General’s Office.

The list of websites includes openrussia.org (Open Russia), openuni.io (Open University), or.team (Open Russia Team), pravo.openrussia.org (Open Russia’s Human Rights Project), imrussia.org (Institute of Modern Russia), khodorkovsky.ru (Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s personal website), and vmestoputina.ru (Alternatives to Vladimir Putin). The websites are still accessible outside Russia.

It means that, for people living in the Russian Federation, article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that «everyone has the right to [...] receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers» is no longer applied.

We wonder how Bulgakov would have described this.

Click here to read more on propaganda and censorship in Russia



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