Russian Media Experts Disagree with Freedom House Ratings

Russian media experts have dismissed as biased a report by NGO Freedom House on press freedom, listing Russia alongside Zimbabawe, but admitted the situation with journalism in the country remains complicated.

This year, Russia advanced from 173rd to the 172nd position in the annual Press Freedom report by the Washington-based think tank, which was released on May 1. The country is ranked on a par with Azerbaijan and Zimbabwe.

“I think this rating has nothing to do with reality. Although the situation here is complicated and we know it well, but it is a far cry from what the ratings imply,” Russian media association MediaSoyuz’s Vice President.

Yelena Zelinskaya sai. MediaSoyuz had asked Freedom House to share the methods and criteria they applied for the ratings report, Zelinskaya said.

“We received a polite answer that contained no explanation…. So it is unclear how all of a sudden our rating was raised?” she said. “I merely consider it as their opinion that is not based on any scientific method.”

The Freedom House report said Russia was upgraded to its current position mainly due to increasing use of the internet, social media, and satellite television which circulated reports by the state-run media during the December parliamentary elections and subsequent protests.

The head of the Journalists’ Union, Vsevolod Bogdanov, said he would not give too much importance to the report but admitted the situation in Russia’s media was far from ideal.

“I think the situation is complicated in general because today we have news as the focus of journalism, news in all kinds – in electronic media, in printed media – but we have no publicistic [opinion] journalism that would appeal to the people’s hearts,” he said.

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