Friday, November 25, 2005

Another nail in the coffin of free speech?

Many stories have come out of Russia in recent years about the increase of state control of the media, the judiciary and so forth. But what about governmental control of non-governmental organisations? That’s an idea that seems completely at odds with itself, doesn’t it? But, according to the fears of many NGOs working in Russia, that’s exactly what’s going to happen there.

Russia's State Duma has given its preliminary backing to a new bill which would give the state greater control over non-governmental organizations working in the country.

Sponsors of the bill say it will prevent money laundering, ‘extremism’ and undue foreign influence - an idea that one NGO,
Human Rights Watch, says is ridiculous. They reckon the bill will only mean that many NGOs will be forced to close their regional offices in Russia.

So, who’s right? State control of NGOs would certainly be another nail in the coffin of free speech and independence in Russia, but how independent are foreign-funded NGOs anyway? Does he who pays the piper pay the tune as well? (A quote that admittedly comes from President Putin himself...)

Check out the interview I
did with HRW researcher, Diederik Lohman.

And if you want to find out more about it, there's a couple of good articles on
Guardian Unlimited and the BBC's webpage.

Disclaimer: We accept no responsibility for the content of outside sources

Violent dissent? Why not leave a comment below?


At 8:32 AM, Blogger Adam Daniel Mezei said...

No doubt that the chill has begun to sink in, and in pernicious fashion no less! Doh!

Take the "A GOOD LIFE" piece done up last Friday the 18th of November on our (sycophant alert!) RNL. I JUST had a chance to catch up and listen to it finally (sorry, globetrotting like the star I am is tough) -- it being about the NETWORK -- YHRM (Network -- Youth Human Rights Movement) in Moskva.

Staffed by a humble but savvy-as-all-getup young female Secretary-General, their noble efforts have already been sorely undermined, evidenced by the apparent attacks on their online real estate (emails to every single one of their e-contacts in either their Russian or English versions resulted in -- ouch -- bouncebacks!).

Many seem to think the world houses only one superpower, but actions like those of Mother Russia's State Duma seem to bear out quite the opposite reality, ne?

I'm afraid for the young'uns, like me and them. There was this amazing nadir of youthful and hopeful intellectualism (including said Sec.-Gen.) which sprouted out of circa 1992-2000 Russia's youth, much of it connected with NGO-type activity.

Where will all of it seep to?

If all of Russia's best and brightest abscond to places in the West -- as they do over here to cities in my native Canada -- like Vancouver (where I am presently situated, and where Russian is heard everywhere) I mean, what rump vestige shall remain back home? (Rhetorical question alert).


These guys have long-term vision. Lest we forget a certain president of a certain former-socialist nation is a certain master Machiavellian-type character, consummate understander of the human psychological conditon, and linhuist extraordinaire.

Planned well in advance, this move was. Way in advance.

Like a wise man once said -- "...born in the blood, bred in the flesh..." (huh?)

Didn't someone say that?


p.s. JG and SJ. Your show rocks the house! I work out to it, and in light of the need I'll occasionally have for more, er, vigour in my workouts, might I suggest similar corpuscle-churning themes in the future? Bravo, bravo.

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Jonathan Groubert said...

Dear Daniel,

Glad we inspire your workouts.
Sarah wrote this piece, but I check the site more often so I'll respond.

Let us not forget that many sources say Russia's media is almost totally under the implicit control of the government. Implicit, I say, not because they have direct control of the content, but rather the government controls the support infrastructure.

If you want to know more about this, read the work of Anna Politkovskaya at

Her articles on the war in Chechnya led to fiscal and even physical reprisals against her and her publisher.

For a more thorough overview, check our Reporters withou Borders Annual Report at

At 8:36 AM, Blogger Borscht said...

J, p.s. I don't mind being called 'Daniel' -- provided you also tag an 'Adam' to its left side, otherwise said Adam's momma might be a trifle miffed -- doh! ... :-P

Okeydokey...well, if you'll permit me to digress for just a mo or five...

How about other stories in countries with more rampant vice and corruption levels than the former USSR, a nation not even in the EU, and more rightly within the purview of your station and program, kind sir?

I mean, let's take the ready example, say, of the Czech Republic -- one of the, if not THE, most corrupt nations in the entire EU (statistically proven, which study, don't ask me now, but I can dig out the link at Radio Prague, if you're really keen on me doing so...)

I don't want to get into the precise specifics (tautology alert?), but I and a colleague have been investigating the possibility of perhaps going into a fuller research (book length) of a particular current event taking place in the CR that has -- for example's sake -- "BRE-X" and that vile ilk written all over it (example merely provided as an allusion).

What I'm driving at here, Miss Daisy, (<--- what was that?!), is the fact that one can't write about these sorts of scandals in countries much more so-called 'advanced' and 'European' than Russia.

Why do we focus on Russia, when there are more pernicious examples of coercive reportage (killings, maimings, financial repercussions, etc.) taking place right on Holland's proverbial dike-step?

Care to opine, mon cher?

Like my grandfather used to say, Shish-Kabbible! (<--- non sequitur alert number two!)

At 8:37 AM, Blogger Borscht said...

Sorry, Adam Daniel Mezei moonlights as Borscht in his, er, spare time...

Have you eaten your vegetables today?


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