Russian journalist fights censorship, propaganda


Sofia RositaniEditor-in-Chief

Destene SavariauContributor

A prominent Russian journalist had his website censored two days prior to a lecture at Lyman Center, where he spoke about censorship in Russia.  

Nobel Peace prize winner and Russian Journalist, Dmitry Muratov, spoke, through an interpreter Vasiliy Arkahov, a friend of Muratov, for an event held by political science, history, journalism and English departments.   

President Joe Bertolino opened the event with introducing Muratov and an award-winning political reporter, Ebong Udoma, who moderated the discussion.   

“Tonight, Mr. Muratov will offer us a unique and critical perspective on the Ukraine conflict, Russian society and politics and the grave importance of free press which is under siege,” Bertolino said.   

Following Bertolino’s speech, chairperson of the journalism department, Cynthia Simoneau introduced Udoma and Muratov.   

“In the last 25 years, there have been over 250 journalists killed,” Muratov said.  

Muratov adds that 180,000 websites in Russia were censored. According to Muratov, the Soviets did not kill journalists, but over a 25-year period, 215 journalists have been killed. Recently a journalist was assaulted on a train because the media has been targeted in Russia.   

“I apologize for the censor, but I don’t want to humiliate myself with hope,” Muratov said.   

Muratov goes on to explain the constant war journalists face daily. According to Muratov, there are two sides to journalism in Russia.   

Soviet Russia- if you have something on your mind, write the opposite and expect heavy censorship. An example of this is when the Russian General Prosecutor censored or “‘shot”’ 180,000 websites. Or when the Echo of Moscow,- Russia’s third largest news platform, was taken over by Parliament.   

Versus Russia- where you can write your thoughts but can’t publish them; otherwise, you’ll be declared enemies of the state and likely executed. The seven police officers positioned throughout the building should answer your question. When they were addressed in a question about whether or not he feared for his safety.  

“I thought security was here to protect you from me?” He said. “In short, no.” Even when another journalist furthered the question about whether or not he fears for his safety if he returns to Russia, he still answered no. “I don’t fear for my life. I return to Russia because I’m not the only targeted one.”  

As told through Arkahov, Muratov details what life is like for journalists declared enemies of the state. He used images he took, and others took to show what it is like to be a journalist in a country where there is little to no freedom of speech. He showed images of executed journalists and a newspaper with an image of a journalist in a cage who was sentenced to 22 years in prison.   

Dmitry Muratov went into detail about his thoughts on journalism’s future in Russia.   

“As a journalist at this stage, I find it’s best to sit and observe with respect but leave it to the young journalists. This generation is my hope,” Muratov said.  

Young people in Russia “have a very difficult fate,” according to Muratov.  

Journalists speaking out and doing their jobs- has cost the lives of 19 young journalists labeled them as “foreign agents.”   

“In the motherland, the country doesn’t need the truth. It needs those who serve their country. We need propaganda, not journalism.”  

Muratov spoke about propaganda and how a lot of young people mainly watch and read the news that has propaganda. They do this because that’s the main news sources they can get due to other sites and broadcasts being censored by the country.   

“Propaganda is selling the idea of killing and the idea of murder,” Muratov said. “Propaganda always prepares people for something.”  

He compares propaganda to radiation at one point during the event.   

Muratov said, “The media genocide has been accomplished.”   

Muratov showing an image that was taken while a journalist was harmed. | Luke Molwitz

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