Last week, The Economist published a special report on Russia. At the time, Eternal Remont was four servings into a triphtophan coma and deep into the wonders of warm apple cider, 70 proof rakia, and a light dusting of cinnamon (I call it a Todor Zhivkov). Maybe that's why this throw-away line from said report has all the sting of a vicious hangover:
"[Russians] are even free to criticise the Kremlin on radio, in print and on the internet, though not on television."
Wait one second. That doesn't sound too bad. I mean, who really watches television anyway? The report continues, "Mr Putin has positioned himself as the symbol of a resurgent nation recovering from years of humiliation and weakness." And you can't fault the guy for that.
Enter Freedom House:
"Despite public objections, Russia’s Parliament also passed amendments to the Law on Fighting Extremist Activity, which Putin signed in July . The measure expanded the definition of extremism to include media criticism of public officials and authorized up to three years’ imprisonment for journalists as well as the suspension or closure of their publications if they were convicted. "
The Economist is guilty of many sins. But woefully misrepresenting press freedom isn't usually among them. I think I'll make another Todor Zhivkov until it all makes sense again.
(Thanks to robertamsterdam.com for the pic.)