Western observers often use the term 'Putin's Russia' in discussing developments in Russian politics, society, & culture. It has become a meme of sorts in an effort to imply authoritarianism under Vladimir Putin. A key pillar of this meme is that the Kremlin controls all mass media in Russia, thus shaping the minds of Russians to Putin's needs & liking. The regime has far from full control over television in Russia, the Internet remains almost entirely free & there are a plethora of independent radio channels & print media. There is also significant pluralism of views on state-owned media, including television, the main source of news for most Russians. We can bust the misconception communicated by this meme of a mythical totalitarian effect of television & state media in general on public opinion by comparing Russian public opinion with Putin's views on the eve of his rise to power.
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Natylie Baldwin is author of The View from Moscow: Understanding Russia and U.S.-Russia Relations available in e-book and print. She has traveled throughout western Russia since 2015 and has written several articles based on her conversations and interviews with a cross-section of Russians. She blogs at (more...)