Dewhirst Martin Censorship in Russia, 1991 and 2001 [Цензура в России, 1991 и 2001]

23 октября, 2019

Martin Dewhirst. Censorship in Russia, 1991 and 2001 [Цензура в России, 1991 и 2001] (60.06 Kb)

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Volume 18                        March 2002                        Number 1
Special Issue:
Russia After Communism
Edited by
Censorship in Russia, 1991 and 2001
Censorship was always one of the most important means of controlling Soviet society and ensuring the predominance of the Communist Party and, in particular, its top leader at any particular time, whether Lenin or Gorbachev. The specifically Soviet type of censorship can be traced back to 24 October 1917, when the latest issue of the liberal newspaper Russkaya volya (Russian Freedom) was confiscated and then burnt by Red Guards because in their opinion it contained some “libellous concoctions”.[1] The following day the paper”s printing press was requisitioned and used to produce the Bolshevik publication Rabochii put” (The Workers” Way). This set the pattern for the next few months, and by the autumn of 1918 no non-Bolshevik newspapers or journals were appearing regularly on territory held by the new regime. The Decree on the Press of 27 October 1917 justified this “temporary measure” by stating (probably correctly) that at the current stage “counter-revolutionary” (that is, all non-Bolshevik) publications were no less dangerous than bombs and machine-guns – after all, the Bolsheviks formed only a tiny minority of the population of the country. The decree would be repealed, it stated, as soon as the new order was consolidated and normal conditions of public life obtained.
Sixty-nine years later, shortly after the tragedy at Chernobyl”, Gorbachev apparently felt that this decree could be relaxed, if not repealed, because by now the extraordinary restrictions on the circulation of ideas and information were themselves as dangerous as bombs and machine-guns and were weakening rather than strengthening the regime he was hoping to consolidate. One could claim that five years later Gorbachev was proved wrong and Lenin and Trotsky were proved right, although there was nothing inevitable about the inability of either Gorbachev or the 1991 “coup plotters” to stay in power and reimpose much more stringent censorship regulations (and regulations of many
22                                                                                                                                                                           RUSSIA AFTER COMMUNISM
other types). Even the Yeltsin regime resorted to censorship on occasion -as, of course, do those with the power to do so in all other countries. The majority of people would probably agree that censorship in certain areas and in certain circumstances is not only not wrong, but can be justified morally, politically or on both grounds.
    Before taking a brief look at the official censorship scene in the USSR in 1991 and the general situation regarding censorship in post-Soviet Russia in 2001 we should recall that the official censorship agency generally known as Glavlit was always “merely” an executive organ of the state and that all the really important decisions on control of the media and on impeding freedom of speech were taken by the leaders and lower-ranking, often provincial, officials of the CPSU (Communist Party) and organs of state security such as the OGPU and its successors. Another way of putting this is to say that there does not have to be an official censorship body for regular and rigorous censorship to exist. A particularly virulent and aggressive campaign against freedom of the press and freedom of speech raged for nearly five years before the statutes on Glavlit were issued on 6 June 1922, after the Civil War was over. Few would deny that censorship exists in Russia today, even though this is forbidden, except in any area where a state of emergency has been declared, by the Law on the Media as well as by the Constitution (after all, the Russian Federation is very far from being a Rechtsstaat and a liberal democracy, and neither the Constitution nor any other official document provides a definition of censorship). A final point to bear in mind here is Russian officialdom”s addiction to hypocrisy and understatement (as well as, when appropriate, overstatement); whereas the 1922 statutes of Glavlit frequently use the word tsenzura, the much stricter replacement statutes of 1931 prefer the more genteel, but much more all-embracing, term kontrol”. This clever word-play made it possible to claim quite “truthfully” (pravda taking precedence over istina: both words translatable as “truth”) that there was no censorship in the USSR.
    Between late 1986 and 1990 the budget, and hence the number of staff on the payroll, of Glavlit was reduced and some of its employees were even put to work on decensoring activities such as declassifying the spetskhrany (special collections in libraries which could not be consulted by anyone without special permission). The full name of the organization was changed to GUOT (Chief Directorate for the Protection of State Secrets in the Press and Other Media), although it was still generally referred to as Glavlit. Some of the relevant archives in Moscow and St Petersburg have been studied and described in excellent publications by a
CENSORSHIP IN RUSSIA, 1991 AND 2001                                                                                                                                                         23
number of Russian scholars (not least those mentioned in note 1), and to avoid repetition I shall here cite a few of the documents to be found in the extremely rich and well-organized archives in what is sometimes called (especially by local patriots) the third Russian capital, Nizhnii Novgorod.
    By the middle of 1991 the local Directorate of Glavlit (UOT), formally attached to the Regional Executive Committee (pri oblispolkome) but very conveniently housed next door to its other colleagues in the massive KGB headquarters, was apparently still functioning normally, even though its personnel had been cut back from the usual establishment of some 23 employees to a mere eight: the Head of the Board (a man), five first-category “editors” (another euphemism – all women), one second category “editor” (also a woman) and the cleaning lady. It had not been easy to decide whom to dismiss after receiving letter No. 9-165 of 18 March 1991 from GUOT headquarters in Moscow, concerning the reduction in the organization”s budget for that year. On 9 April the censors” profkom (trade union committee) discussed three ways of keeping within their even further reduced budget: discharge the Deputy Head, the senior accountant and two editors; discharge the Deputy Head and three editors; discharge the senior accountant and four editors.
    The first option was deemed the best solution, as it meant that the principle of “last in, first out” could be applied better than in the other alternatives and because the Deputy Head (a man) “has not displayed energy and initiative [and] has tried to shift some of his work on to others”.[2] Moreover, two “editorial” jobs could be cut painlessly: one employee had anyway been due to be pensioned off on 1 April, and another woman had already been transferred to the editorial offices of the newspaper Nizhegorodskaya pravda (Nizhnii Novgorod Truth) on 26 November 1990. These suggestions of the profkom and the administration were then to be discussed by the whole “working collective” – a good example of Soviet democracy at work. To judge from the minutes of the profkom”s meetings, the group of censors did indeed constitute a friendly and well-organized working collective. On 6 May, for example, the profkom”s agenda concerned the allocation of funds for an in-house tea-party (chaepitie) to celebrate Victory Day and to buy flowers for those censors who had fought in the Great Patriotic War. It was resolved to allocate 16 roubles 39 kopeks for the tea-party and 8 roubles 50 kopeks for the flowers.[3]
    It should not be thought that censors were leading a particularly privileged and comfortable existence; living conditions for them, as for the majority of the Soviet population, had been and were still getting
24                                                                                                                                                                            RUSSIA AFTER COMMUNISM
worse. On 28 June the profkom decided to provide a dotatsiya (grant) of one rouble a day for June and July to each of the censors to help them to meet the cost of their lunches and an additional subsidy towards the price of their season tickets on public transport.[4] On 17 September (that is, after the failed coup attempt) UOT employees in Nizhnii Novgorod were allotted 80 roubles for the purchase of potatoes,[5] and at the end of the year they were able to earn an additional 50 roubles for selecting, packing, loading and unloading waste paper (makulatura – in other words, virtually all the files and reference materials in their offices).[6] This bonus was connected with the Instruction issued on 17 October by the head of the local branch of Glavlit to destroy the bulk of its records and archives as (supposedly!) “not possessing scholarly or historical value and having lost practical importance” .[7]
    It is of some consolation to serious historians that this act of vandalism, initiated in Moscow (as many readers will know, similar barbaric practices are widespread in the West as well), at least had to be carried out on the basis of, and be accompanied by, so-called akty (documents), which were to be retained at least temporarily, giving the titles of all the items that were then unichtozheny putem sozhzheniya or polnost”yu unichtozheny putem szhiganiya (destroyed by means of burning or incineration – there were evidently no shredders available).[8] The four Nizhnii Novgorod akty are dated 20, 25, 27 and 27 December 1991 and identify respectively 233, 52, 143 and 6 – in all, 434 – items that went up in smoke just before the Soviet Union came to an inglorious end and earned the censors a little extra money before they all lost their jobs. (This is the reason why the author of this article cannot at present reveal what exactly the censors were censoring in 1991. Despite recently spending a month in Nizhnii Novgorod and enlisting the help of local historians and archivists, he was unable to discover a single former censor – they had all disappeared without trace – or any edition of the Index (Perechen”) of Information Banned from Publication in the Media.)
    What can be said is that Soviet censors were expected to be discreet about their functions and place of work[9] but were not supposed to feel embarrassed about their efforts to strengthen their country, state and society or to suspect that some of what they did might be counterproductive. Thus moral encouragement was periodically required, and on 13 March and 12 April 1991 the Nizhnii Novgorod censors” profkom petitioned for two of its longest-serving members to be awarded the prestigious Pochetnaya gramota Glavnogo Upravleniya — the Certificate of Merit of the Chief Board [of Glavlit] in Moscow.[10] Material
CENSORSHIP IN RUSSIA, 1991 AND 2001                                                                                                                                                          25
stimulation was also required, as suggested above, and one has the impression that by the autumn, with Yeltsin in charge, the benign head of the local censorship board, a former party official with a good war record for bravery named K.V. Masyagin,[11] may have felt that his organization”s days were numbered and that he might as well spend up his office”s remaining revenues for the good of his subordinates (and not forgetting himself, of course). On 17 September, immediately after a meeting of the profkom (see note 5), he issued an Order (Prikaz.) allocating 80 roubles each to six of his colleagues and to himself for the purchase of potatoes,[12] and on 5 February 1992 he instructed that the first category editors be paid an additional 14 roubles, the second category editor 13 roubles, 51 kopeks, and he himself 13 roubles for sorting out, taking away and destroying the remaining makulatura.[13] The following day, at what appears to have been its final session, the profkom resolved to award its chief (namely, K.V. Masyagin) a financial bonus of 1,000 roubles for his many years of devoted service to the Directorate.[14]
    On 15 January Masyagin had had the unpleasant task of issuing two more Orders. In the first, in line with Order No. 210, dated 22 November 1991, of Mikhail Poltoranin, the Minister of the Press and Mass Media, abolishing the USSR GUOT, Masyagin had to discharge (vysvobodit”) his remaining seven subordinates from their jobs. In his second Order, in conformity with Order No. 210 and Instruction No. 2, dated 6 December 1991, of Boris Nemtsov, the head of the administration of Nizhnii Novgorod oblast”, Masyagin had formally to dismiss himself.[15] However, he rescinded this latter Order on 14 February on the grounds that Poltoranin”s ministry had still not allocated funds for winding up the affairs, settling the outstanding debts and paying off the employees of the Nizhnii Novgorod Directorate of GUOT. (Naturally, he makes no reference to the 1,000 rouble bonus he had been awarded from office funds nine days earlier.[16]) It was therefore not until 15 May 1992 that Masyagin, unable to postpone the inevitable any longer, had to write another Prikaz. dismissing himself, this time on 10 June, by which date all UAT”s accounts were to be settled and closed, property handed over, and what remained of the Directorate”s archive deposited in the local State Archives, with the seals and rubber stamps going to the oblast” Directorate of Internal Affairs.[17] Since June 1992 there has been no permanent official censorship body in Nizhnii Novgorod or, with a few exceptions, elsewhere in the Russian Federation, although according to some recent opinion polls[18] more than half the population would welcome its return.
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    One could claim that in the 1990s there was no real need for a separate organization to censor the Russian mass media, inasmuch as there were no longer any printed mass media at all, so precipitously had print runs declined, especially after shock therapy began in January 1992 and a newspaper became a luxury item for most of the population. In addition, the trickle of arrests of people for supposedly revealing state secrets was enough to ensure that the media were cautious when they dealt with genuinely sensitive subjects. The continuing cold war within Russia between those who have a lot and those who have a little, plus the infighting between the various corrupt groupings within the Establishment, means that there has been a huge amount of published and broadcast kompromat (compromising data), chernyi piar (dirty public relations promotions) and zakaznye materialy (hidden advertising), but this has not been really dangerous to the Russian state or its new-old nomenklatura because the Cold War with the West is apparently over and the leaders of foreign countries evidently did not and do not want to undermine the regimes of Yeltsin and Putin, despite their misdemeanours in Chechnya and elsewhere.
    It is probably true to say that the degree of freedom attained by Russian radio and television, which have become far more important and influential than the print media since 1989 or 1990, is the greatest achievement of Russian society in recent years and, because he tolerated it, of President Yeltsin. None the less, the lasting results of this remarkable decade of liberalism are lamentable, both at the lower end of the scale (the flood of pornography, the gutter press, the low professional standards of many journalists, the appearance of a Russian translation of Mein Kampf and manuals on how to make explosive devices, and so forth) and at the upper end (very few new first-rate works of art, theatre, cinema, music and literature, declining standards in and less generous resources for education, culture and science, the devastating brain drain, and so on). This means that calls for the reintroduction of “formal” censorship, as well as for the restoration of order (poryadok, Ordnung) in general, have been coming not only from the Russian man and woman in the street, but also from more unexpected (until recently) sources, such as Aleksandr Minkin writing in Moskovskii komsomolets (The Moscow Komsomol Member).[19] To take another example, in 2001 the State Film Foundation of Russia organized the Fifth Festival of Archival Cinema in Belye Stolby near Moscow. Among the events was a round-table discussion between leading “liberal” film directors entitled “Censorship – a means of self-preservation of the nation or a “Gestapo for the Mind”?” When reading the transcript
CENSORSHIP IN RUSSIA, 1991 AND 2001                                                                                                                                                          27
of the debate[20] one should keep in mind that the Congress of the Soviet Cinematographers” Union in 1986 was the first large semi-public event in the USSR calling for greater freedom, at least for artistic if not for political activities.
    It is difficult to translate glasnost” into English, and the phrase “relaxation of censorship” is perhaps closer to what Gorbachev had in mind than are the words “transparency”, “openness” and “sounding off” (this last is the closest to the implications of the Russian term). As has been shown above, the development of glasnost” between 1986 and 1991 was accompanied by the scaling down of the size and therefore of the activities of Glavlit which, as ever, was carrying out the instructions of the Party (if not, during this period, of the KGB – another nominally “state” organization – as well). In 2001 several leading former Soviet cinema directors not only insisted that censorship exists now in Russia but, perhaps because of the dramatic decline in the quality and quantity of Russian films over the past ten years, in some respects welcomed its reappearance and even claimed that censorship today is worse than in late Soviet times. Aleksandr Mitta, for example, said the following:
Even now the institution of censoring and editing continues to operate. It”s become even worse than before. Because earlier the censor was a human being, and you can always come to an understanding with a human being, argue about his point of view, -even he himself sometimes doesn”t mind having the wool pulled over his eyes and deliberately doesn”t notice something. Now everything is decided by money, and you can”t come to an understanding with money. It dictates its rules rigidly, stupidly and senselessly. State censorship at least thought about merit; in the background there were some sort of state interests, but what can money think about?
Aleksandr Sokurov, also implicitly contrasting Soviet censorship with economic and financial censorship, claimed that “A person brought up on what television and music for the masses provide will never read or watch anything serious”. In his recent articles (see note 19) Minkin makes in passing a similar point, contrasting the range of great prose and poetry that typical Soviet school-leavers knew 40 years ago with what their counterparts today have read.
    Information on the state of freedom of the printed and spoken word in Russia is provided on a regular basis by, among others, Aleksei Simonov in the Paris weekly Russkaya mysl” (Russian Thought) and by a variety of journalists in every issue of the Moscow weekly Obshchaya gazeta (The
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Communal Newspaper), the new periodical dos “e na tsenzuru (Dossier on Censorship), and the monthly magazine Zhurnalist (The Journalist). In the December 2000 issue of the latter, Simonov, the head of the Glasnost” Defence Foundation (set up in 1991), summarizes the results of a project to quantify the degree of media freedom in each of 87 of the 89 constituent parts of the Russian Federation. This was done by analysing (a) freedom of access to information, (b) freedom to provide this information and (c) freedom to disseminate such information. Freedom of access to information was tested by analysing the readiness of official bodies to respond to requests from journalists for information and by the readiness of official bodies to conform with the regulations for the accreditation of journalists from any media outlets. Freedom to provide information was found to be dependent on, among other things, the relative weighting in any particular RF administrative unit of state and of private TV companies, the ratio of the circulation figures of state-owned and privately-owned newspapers and periodicals, the number of violations of media freedom and the number of local regulations discriminating against privately-owned media outlets. Freedom to disseminate information depends, for instance, on the presence or absence of facilities and preferential rates for broadcasting and distributing the media and on the number of bureaucratic hurdles that have to be gone through before a person can, say, open up a newspaper kiosk (34 in the extreme case of the Omsk region).
When the project began, the expectation was that it would be possible to divide the 87 federal units into three groups – propitious (blagopriyatnye) regions where media freedom is satisfactory, inauspicious (neblagopriyatnye) regions, and regions which displayed an almost equal number of “good” and “bad” indicators. To the dismay of the investigators, not a single blagopriyatnyi federal subject was discovered. In the table on page 21 of this issue of Zhurnalist Moscow and St Petersburg come out best, followed by Vladimir and Vologda oblasts, with Magadan oblast”, the Chukotka Autonomous Oblast” and the Karachaevo-Cherkesskaya Republic bringing up the rear.
According to an important article published several years ago by Aleksei Simonov,[21] in 1996 there were (and, if his understanding of the phenomenon is accepted, there still are) six types of censorship operating in post-Soviet Russia. For the purpose of this study I shall use his terminology, but add my interpretations of what he meant by it. The reader will note that these types of censorship exist, to a lesser or greater extent, in many other countries, including those with a long tradition of liberal democracy.
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(1) Administrative censorship. Simonov appears to mean by this such methods of control as organizing inspections of the offices of media which do not support the federal or local authorities with sufficient zeal and then discovering fire hazards, unhygienic working conditions, unpaid taxes or other financial irregularities, and so on, claiming that the wom-out printing presses (probably still state-owned) can print only a small proportion of the usual number of copies, instituting proceedings for supposedly libellous or slanderous allegations against officials in over-critical media outlets, not providing subsidies for and not facilitating the distribution and circulation of “hostile” newspapers, and so forth. (The state still owns about 80 per cent of all the printing plants in Russia and over 90 per cent of the mass communications infrastructure.)[22]
(2) Economic censorship. This overlaps with administrative censorship and involves such ploys as not paying disapproved media to carry “official” notices, regulations, announcements and other documents from the local authorities and discouraging businesses from advertising in or backing such outlets by informally hinting that large contracts will go to companies that are friendly with the powers-that-be.[23]
(3) Censorship resulting from actions by or threats from criminals. Russia has a rather high crime rate, and journalism is a fairly dangerous profession. The Glasnost” Defence Fund reported on 13 January 2001 that 16 journalists died in Russia in 2000 as a result of their professional activities, five had disappeared and 73 had been physically attacked for defaming the “wrong” people.[24]
(4) Censorship resulting from editorial policy. The borderline between editing and censoring is always difficult to define. In Soviet Russia, where censors were often referred to as editors and real editors were supposed to relieve Glavlit plenipotentiaries of much of their work at the pre-censorship stage, there was no tradition of media provision of space or time to journalists who did not agree with the policies of the editorial board. The Soviet legacy still lies heavily on Russian society and habits today. Outside Moscow and St Petersburg it is not easy for even the most gifted journalists to find another job in the profession if they find they are being stifled by their present employer. Even in the capitals there may well be
30                                                                                                                                                                            RUSSIA AFTER COMMUNISM
considerably more trained journalists than there are suitable available openings. Not surprisingly, there is little solidarity in the journalistic profession.[25]
(5) Censorship resulting from editorial taste. Russian has several expressions which assert that taste is not something susceptible to discussion, so if the chief editor”s taste is different from that of a member of his staff there is little chance of something “distasteful” getting on to the former”s airwaves or pages. Job mobility in Russia has not yet reached Western levels.[26]
(6) Self-censorship. This is a world-wide phenomenon, but it was especially prevalent in the USSR, where the penalties for stepping out of line were harsher than in most other countries. In the parlous economic situation of post-Soviet Russia, with little job security for journalists and with many media outlets going out of business, it is not surprising that writing to “please the boss” (or, at least, writing intended not to upset him unduly) is said to be a feature of today”s media scene.[27]
The reader may feel that Simonov is stretching the definition of the term “censorship” too far. One of the leading experts on media law, Mikhail Fedotov, has denied that the temporary closure of a number of newspapers during and just after the peak of the political crisis in 1993 was an act of censorship,[28] and another specialist, losif Dzyaloshinskii, thinks that we should try to establish a dividing line between “censorship” and “restrictions on the circulation of information”.[29] Be that as it may, there is no denying that, despite the Constitution and the Law on the Media, an official military censorship (the “Service for Information Security in the Media”) does exist (within the Ministry of Defence)[30] and that the Federal Security Service (FSB, a partial successor of the KGB) has been arresting scientists and scholars who have revealed, or disseminated more widely than hitherto, information relating to supposedly banned but none the less existing chemical warfare facilities,[31] ecological dangers, especially from nuclear waste disposal,[32] and other areas partly covered by the Law on State Secrets but conflicting with the supposedly higher constitutional right of Russian citizens to be informed about hazards to their health and life. The Law on State Secrets and Yeltsin”s presidential decree “On the Index [Perechen”] of Information Relating to State Secrets[33] can be regarded as a sort of successor to the notorious “Talmud”, as the Index
CENSORSHIP IN RUSSIA, 1991 AND 2001                                                                                                                                                          31
(Perechen“), or handbook for censors and chief editors in Soviet times, was popularly known.
    It is not surprising that in 2001 more than half the population of the Russian Federation would welcome a return to “official” censorship. Glasnost” in the late 1980s, with huge increases in the print-runs of the newspapers, periodicals and books issued by the more daring publishing-houses, together with the arrival of more uninhibited radio and television programmes, drove the Soviet Russian population from a feeling of claustrophobia into a state of what one might call agoraphobia, with an accompanying desire for old-style certainties, limits, predictability and security. Only when it was too late did many people appreciate such benefits of the Soviet system as minimal voluntary unemployment, low prices for domestic utilities and public transport, cheap basic food, education and printed matter and fairly good public security. Print-runs began to fall as early as 1990, and many people were offended, if not by the increase in racist – and especially anti-Caucasian and anti-Semitic -outpourings, then at least by the upsurge of easily available pornography,[34] and scared by the increase in violence both on the streets and in the media. The greater influence of the Russian Orthodox Church was and is also conducive to a widespread feeling that freedom had gone too far and that restraints such as censorship would, on balance, be beneficial to society.[35] With the coming to power of President Putin and the subsequent attacks on the media empire of the most enlightened of the ex-Soviet oligarchs, Vladimir Gusinskii, it began to look certain that censorship in Russia would have a great future as well as a not very glorious past.

[1] For a short account of the Soviet system of censorship, see the entry on pp. 485—7 of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Russia and the Former Soviet Union (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). More detailed surveys in English are provided by M. Dewhirst and R. Farrell (eds.). The Soviet Censorship (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1973), and M.T. Choldin and M. Friedberg (eds.). The Red Pencil (Boston and London: UnwinHyman, 1989). Most of the excellent publications on this subject in Russian (for example, those by Zh.A. Medvedev, L. Avzeger, A.V. Biyum, D.L. Babichenko, T.M. Goryaeva, V.Yu. Afiani and M.V. Zeienov) deal with one or more of the decades before 1970. The following invaluable volumes take the story up to the early 1990s: H. Ermolaev, Censorship in Soviet Literature. 1917-1991 (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997); T.M. Goryaeva (compiler), Istoriya sovetskoi politicheskoi tsenzury: Dokumenty i kommentarii (Moscow: Rosspen, 1997); and A.V. Bijum (ed.), Zensur in der UdSSR: Archivdokumente 1917-1991 (Bochum: Project verlag, 1999; the contents are in Russian).
[2] Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Nizhegorodskoi oblasti (henceforth GANO), Fond No. 4254, opis” No. vr. khr., delo No. 24, listy Nos. 23 ob and 24.
[3] Ibid., listy Nos. 24 ob and 25.
[4] Ibid., listy Nos. 25 and 25 ob.
[5]  Ibid., list No. 25 ob.
[6] Ibid., listy Nos. 26 and 26 ob.
[7] Ibid., delo No. 12, list 1 (also classified as delo No. 29, ed. khr. No. 12).
       [8] Ibid., see especially listy Nos. 1, 13, 14, 19, 20, 25, 26, 29, 30, 35, 39, 40 and 41.
[9] See, for instance, the interview with I.V. Minushov, the head of the Moscow Directorate of Glavlit from 1987 to 1990, Subbotnik NG, No. 16 (the supplement to Nezavisimaya gazeta29 April 2000, p. 1(9).
[10] GANO, delo No. 24, listy Nos. 23 and 24 ob.
[11] Masyagin”s curriculum vitae (kharakteristika) reads as follows: “Konstantin Vasil”evich Masyagin was born in 1923. [He is a] Russian [with] higher education. He is a graduate of the Gor”kii Teachers” Training Institute and the Higher Party School attached to the Central Committee of the CPSU. K.V. Masyagin joined the CPSU in 1943; [he was] a participant in the Great Fatherland War [and] was wounded at the front.
     “K.V. Masyagin took up his first job in 1940. He was the head (zaveduyushchii) of a primary school, the secretary of the district committee of the Komsomol, the deputy head of the propaganda and agitation department and secretary of the regional committee of the Komsomol, the head of a department and deputy editor of the regional newspaper Arzamasskaya pravda, an editor of the urban newspaper Rabochaya Balakhna, second secretary of the Balakhna town committee of the CPSU, chairman of the town executive committee, first secretary of the Balakhna town committee of the party, [and] deputy chairman of the regional committee for television and radio.
     “Since May 1976 comrade K.V. Masyagin has been working as the Head of the regional directorate for the Protection of State Secrets in the Press. Comrade K.V. Masyagin has mastered [this] new [and] complicated area of work. Under his leadership the working microclimate in the collective was put in good order, [and] negative phenomena which had cropped up earlier disappeared. Of late, no violations of the demands of the normative documents on the part of the Gor”kii Directorate have come to light. At the present time the Directorate has become one of the centres within the USSR Glavlit system for the probation of the younger heads of the organs of censorship.
     “Comrade K.V. Masyagin constantly consults with party and trade-union organizations [and] enjoys great authority in the collective. K.V. Masyagin is continually broadening his outlook. He gives papers at party meetings and at sessions of the theoretical seminar. He carries out a large amount of public activities. He was a member and deputy chairman of the party commission of the Gor”kii city committee of the party for more than ten years, and he has been a member of the group of rapporteurs for the regional committee of the CPSU. He provides constant assistance to the younger employees of the Directorate in the study of the normative documents [and] in mastering the profession of censor [tsenzorskogo dela].
 “Comrade K.V. Masyagin has been awarded the Order of the Fatherland War, Second Class, two “Badges of Honour” with
insignia and nine medals.
Deputy Head of the regional directorate [of Glavlit] A.I. MATVEEV
Secretary of the party organization N.P. PTITSYNA Chairperson of the trade-union committee L.M. GRIBKOVA
14 November 1989.”
(Source: GANO, opis” No. 11, delo No. 54, list 8.) This document was evidently sent to Moscow, where V.A. Boldyrev, the head of the USSR Glavlit, issued an Order on 12 December 1989 bestowing on Masyagin the award Otlichnik Glavlita SSSR (“Exemplary employee of the USSR Glavlit”) (GANO, ibid., list 9).
[12] Ibid., opis” No. 5, delo No. 101, list No. 48.
[13] Ibid., list No. 73.
[14]Ibid., opis” No. vr. khr., delo No. 24, listy Nos. 26 ob and 27.
[15] Ibid., opis” No. 5, delo No. 101, listy 68 and 69
[16] Ibid., list No. 76.
[17] Ibid., list No. 79.
[18] See, for example, the interview with Igor” Yakovenko in Nezavisimaya gazeta, 19 April  2001, p.8. Yakovenko, the general secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists, refers here to recent polls suggesting that 57 per cent of the population considers that the introduction of official censorship would be expedient.
[19] See his long articles entitled Neobkhodimost” tsenzury (The Imperative Necessity of Censorship”), 1 June 2001, p.3, and Tsenzura ili smert” (“Censorship or Death”), 8 June 2001, p.3.
[20] The so far unpublished transcript of the proceedings is in the possession of the present writer. It, or an article by 0. Aronson relating to the transcript, or both. will probably be printed in a forthcoming issue of Kinematograficheskie zapiski, Moscow.
[21] “Shest” vidov tsenzury” (“Six Types of Censorship”), Vechernyaya Moskva, 6 April 1996, p.2.
[22] See, for example, V. Svinin, Skrip mekhanizmov svobody slova (“The Grinding of the Machinery of Freedom of Speech”), Nezavisimaya gazeta, 1 June 2001, p.4, and V. Yemel”yanenko, Viw na svobodu slova (“Authorization for Freedom of Speech”), Moskovskie novost”i, 2000, No.17 (2-8 May), p.l9. According to I. Ognev, “Rubil”nik kak sredstvo informatsionnoi voiny” (“Pulling the Plug as a Tactic in the War of Information”), Obshchaya gazeta, 1999, No.49 (9-15 Dec.), p.ll. Eighty per cent of the media in the Russian Federation are controlled by the federal and regional state organs: Moskovskie novosti, 2001, No.17 (24-30 April), p.ll.
[23] See, for example, B. Sinyavskii, “Tsena bryanskoi pravdy” (“The Price [or Cost, or Value] of Truth in Bryansk”), Obshchaya gazeta, 1999, No.27 (8-14 July), p. 13, and I. Kuznetsova, “”U nas deneg na svoi gazety ne imelos”!” (“”We Didn”t Have Any Money for Our Own Newspapers”!”), Kaliningradskaya pravda, 7 March 2000, p.2.
[24] . See, for example, the third item in RFE/RL Newsline. Vol. 5, No. 9, Part 1(15 Jan. 2001), and A. Bondarenko, “Redaktorov obeshchali “zakataf v asfal”t”” (“Promise to “Steamroll Editors under the Asphalt””), Nezavisimaya gazeta, 1 June 2001, p.4.
[25] For an example of editorial censorship at Nezavisimaya gazeta (largely financed by a businessman named Boris Berezovskii), see I. Fal”kovskii, “Malen”kaya istoriya v odnoi otdel”no vzyatoi gazete” (“A Little Incident in One Individual Newspaper”), Dos”e na tsenzuru, 1998, No.2, pp.190-91. On the lack of solidarity in the profession, see S. Parkhomenko, “Yarmarka ziosloviya” (“Backbiting Fair” – an allusion to Thackeray), Itogi, 2000, No.21 (23 May), p. 10, and the “Appeal from regional editors and publishers to the chief editors and publishers of the central newspapers” in Moskovskie novosti, 2001, No.22 (29 May—4 June), p.l9. In 2001 the authorities suddenly set up a new union for journalists, Mediasoyuz, in an apparent attempt to split and reduce the influence of the Union of Journalists of Russia. On this latest effort to clone a pseudo-social organization, see, for example, A. Simonov, “Ovechka Dolli grazhdanskogo obshchestva” (“A Dolly the Sheep of Civil Society”), Russkaya mysl’, 21-27 June 2001, p.3.
[26] Perhaps the best-known cases concern the TV programme Kukly (Marionettes), showing even the previous and current presidents of the Russian Federation as puppets. On p. 172 of his article “Kukliada” (Znamya, 1998, No.3), the author V. Shenderovich recalls that even the editors of NTV shelved for a few months or forever a small number of his scripts for this programme owing to their “not showing a sense of proportion”, especially one depicting Yeltsin as Don Quixote and Korzhakov, his (then) favourite security chief, as Sancho Panza.
[27]On self-censorship as it affects contemporary Russian society in general, especially where Chechnya is concerned, see G. Koval”skaya, “Samotsenzura”, Itogi, 1999, No.42 (19 Oct.), pp.20-22. It is very difficult for the outside observer to establish the borderline between self-restraint (often accompanied by self-interest) and self-censorship (sometimes accompanied by self-disgust), as practitioners rarely write about this. One might assume that some employees of the excellent, recently destroyed media holding of a rather benign oligarch, V. Gusinsky, have had to undertake a certain amount of self-censorship after deciding whether to work either for media associated with an oligarch with a much more dubious reputation (Berezovskii), or for media linked with three patently unsavoury oligarchs (A. Kokh, M. Lesin and B. Jordan), or for neither. On the year-long anti-Gusinskii campaign, which began in earnest a few days after Putin”s inauguration as president, see, for example, L. Andrusenko, “S NTV ukhodyat zhumalisty” (“Journalists are Leaving NTV), Nezavisimaya gazeta, 10 April 2001, pp.1 and 3; the special section in Moskovskie novosti, 2001, No.15 (10-16 April), pp.4-6; the special section in Russkaya mysl”, 12-18 April 2001, pp.2-3; G. P”yanykh, “Zhurnalisty NTV ne prodayutsya” (“NTV Journalists Do Not Sell Themselves”), Kommersant”, 13 April 2001, p.3; and A. Pumpyanskii, “Bennudskii chetyrekhugol”nik” (“The Bermuda Quadrangle”), Novoe vremya, on-line edition, 2001, No.15 (15 April). It goes almost without saying that many journalists in Western countries readily move to other media outlets with a quite different political orientation if this contributes to their bank balance and upward mobility.
[28]  During a lecture and discussion at the University of Glasgow in February 1998.
[29] At a round-table published in dos “e na tsenzuru, 1997, No. 1, pp.23-35 (pp.24-5).
[30] See, for example, A. Rikhter and F. Kravchenko, “Nikto, krome tsenzury, ne znaet, chto yavlyaetsya gostainoi. No za ee razglashenie gazetu mogut zakryt” (“Apart from the Censorship, Nobody Knows what Constitutes a State Secret. But They Can Close a Newspaper Down for Divulging One”), Zhurnalist, 1998, No.l, pp.50-51. The “rules for allocating information constituting a state secret to various degrees of secrecy” were published in the Byulleten” Gosudarstvennogo Komiteta Rossiiskoi Federatsii po vysshemu obrazovaniyu, 1995, No.ll, pp.14-25. The Law on State Secrets of 21 July 1993 is published in issue No.2, Zakonodatel”stvo Rossiiskoi Federatsii o sredstvakh massovoi informatsii, of the series “Zhurnalistika i pravo” (Moscow: Firma Gardarika, 1996). I shall be discussing attempts by, for instance, the Federal Agency for Governmental Communications and Information and the Federal Security Service to keep tabs on Russian Internet users in a forthcoming article, referring to articles such as V. Kochetkov, “”Zhuchki” dlya Interneta” (“”Bugs” for the Internet”), Novye izvestiya, 21 May 1999, p.6.
[31] See, for example, V. Mirzoyanov and L. Fedorov, “Otravlennaya politika” (“Poisoned Polities” or “A Poisoned Policy”), Moskovskie novosli. 1992, No.38 (20 Sept.), p. 16.
[32] See, for example, the interview with A. Nikitin, “Po moei stat”e sidit eshche mnogo lyudei” (“Many People Are Still in Prison on the Same Charge as Me”), Novoe vremya, 2000, No.38, pp. 14-15 (the 1993 Law on State Secrets is discussed in detail and placed in its historical context on pp. 12-22 of this issue); and, on the Pas”ko case, B. McLaren, “High Seas Treason”, Transitions, Vol.5, No.7 (July 1998), pp.79-81. The dangers to the state are apparently considered to be much more important than dangers to society, so it might be said that CPSU censorship has been replaced by state censorship. The new Russian Doctrine of Informational Security, much discussed and then finessed in 2000 by the Security Council, is also intended to strengthen the state and hamper the growth of a strong, independent civil society in Russia.
[33] See, for example, S. Abrashkin and K. Nikolaev, “Vse yavnoe stanovitsya tainym. Realizatsiya ukaza o gostaine mozhet nanesti ushcherb bezopasnosti Rossii” (“Everything Manifest is Becoming Secret. Implementing the Decree on State Secrets Could Damage the Security of Russia”), Kommersant”-Daily, 29 Jan. 1998, p.l.
[34] See the excellent monograph by Paul W. Goldschmidt, Pornography and Democratization:
Legislating Obscenity in Post-Communist Russia (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1999).
[35] For a revealing example of an extremely well-educated and highly cultured Russian Orthodox priest”s longing for the reintroduction of censorship, see M. Ardov, “Ne soblaznyaite malykh sikh!” (“Do Not Offend These Little Ones!”), Nezavisimaya gazeta, 25 April 1992, p.8; the reference is to St Matthew, 18:6, which also provides the epigraph to the second of the articles by A. Minkin referred to in note 19.

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