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The New Republic: While the West Watches Crimea, Putin Cleans House in Moscow

Author: Julia Ioffe
March 14, 2014

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"While the world awaits Sunday's referendum in Crimea and nervously watches the Russian troops massing on Ukraine's eastern border, the world is missing that, in Moscow, Vladimir Putin is busily cleaning house."

While the world awaits Sunday's referendum in Crimea and nervously watches the Russian troops massing on Ukraine's eastern border, the world is missing that, in Moscow, Vladimir Putin is busily cleaning house.

Yesterday, Russian journalist Leonid Ragozin wrote here about Putin's renewed crackdown on the media: What began just days before the Olympics with a Kremlin attack on Dozhd, the last independent television station in Russia, has now extended to Lenta.ru, arguably the best news site in Russia. On Wednesday, the site's editor-in-chief was fired and replaced with a Kremlin loyalist, and the whole staff quit in protest. Yesterday, the Kremlin went full-China on the Internet, the holy of holies of the Russian opposition. Using some flimsy legal pretexts, it banned access to various oppositional news sites, to the website of Moscow's biggest radio station, and to the blog of Alexey Navalny, who is currently under house arrest. Last week, the owner of Dozhd announced that, due to the clampdown, the channel is going to close in a couple months.

Within the span of a couple months, the Kremlin, by hook and by crook, has cleared all the media underbrush. There's suddenly not much left of the independent media, even of what little of it there was left after Putin's first two terms at the wheel.

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Presidential Inbox Series: Russia

Speakers: Andrei Shleifer and Julia Ioffe
Presider: Thomas Graham

Experts discuss Russia, as part of the U.S. presidential inbox series examining the major issues confronting the administration in the...