May 18, 2022

Image credit: CNBC

Russian media: How do Russians learn about the Ukraine conflict?

The current state of the Russian media is unprecedented. Access to practically all independent outlets is restricted or curtailed—or they filter themselves—as reporting restrictions to become more severe.

Despite this, unedited information can still be obtained in Russia.

The majority of Russians still get their news from television. It is tightly controlled by the Kremlin and constantly broadcasts anti-Western propaganda. While Ukrainians are accused of shelling their cities, Russian forces are portrayed as liberators.

In the press, there is more diversity of view, but it still mostly follows the Kremlin line. The Novaya Gazeta, a stalwart of independent reporting for almost 29 years, halted operations on March 28th after receiving warnings from Russia’s media watchdog, Roskomnadzor.

Most independent news websites, as well as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are prohibited or limited online.

But, more importantly, these roadblocks are extremely simple to get through.

Virtual private networks (VPNs), which allow you to avoid limitations, are now recognisable to anyone in Russia who is somewhat knowledgeable about computers and cellphones.

They haven’t been outlawed in Russia yet, and millions of Russians rely on them to get uncensored information.

It’s a different story when it comes to reporting about the conflict. Russia approved a law in early March that makes disseminating “false information” about the Russian army punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

This implies that anyone who reports anything that contradicts the Kremlin’s version of events in Ukraine will be punished. It’s even forbidden for the media to refer to it as a “war”; it’s supposed to be referred to as a “special military operation.”

On the other hand, the Russian independent media continues to defy government restrictions.

The Meduza and Mediazona websites are two of the most well-known outlets; both have been blocked in Russia and have been labelled “foreign agents” by the Russian government.

Due to domestic constraints, both websites function from afar.