Articles by Alexei Pankin



A Boost for the Kremlin's Soft Power

In 2009, I interviewed former RIA Novosti editor-in-chief Svetlana Mironyuk. Referring to the Russia-Georgia War of 2008 and the fact that most Western media had sided with former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, I asked her, "Why is it that Russia, a country with a powerful information agency like RIA Novosti, always seems to lose in the information wars?"

Protect Russian Culture and Language

At a recent meeting of Russia's literary and educational elite, President Vladimir Putin expressed his concerns about the fate of the Russian language: "It has become the norm not only for ordinary Russians, but unfortunately also for those in the mass media and film industry to disregard the rules of their native language."

Dispelling the Smoke Screen

The statement that "smoking is harmful to your health" is only a theory, not a medical fact.

Yeltsin's Attack on White House, 20 Years On

I spent the second half of August visiting Japan and kept abreast of events in Russia by reading the local English-language press.

Illiberal Ethnic Slurs by 2 'Liberal' Activists

Journalist Oleg Kashin, who was savagely beaten near the entrance to his home, published a commentary piece on the Svobodnaya Pressa (Free Press) website analyzing why an influential national daily newspaper is so strongly supportive of President Vladimir Putin.

Trying to Remain Moral Amid 'Dom 2'

President Vladimir Putin deeply offended me last month. On June 19, the Federal Communications Agency suggested that the Pyatnitsa television channel stop airing its "Vacation in Mexico" reality show.

Public Television Says Life in Russia Isn't So Bad

About two years ago, one of the directors of Georgian Public Broadcaster told me that the concept for public television in Georgia was developed with the participation of leading European experts.

Celebrating Press Freedom Russian-Style

World Press Freedom Day was celebrated on Thursday, and the Russian  press marked the event by opposing censorship, re-examining its own values and experimenting with innovative business models.

Putin Is a Gift From Heaven for Novaya Gazeta

April 1 marks the anniversary of Novaya Gazeta, Russia's fearless, opposition-oriented investigative newspaper. The publication was founded 20 years ago by a group of outstanding Soviet-era journalists who abandoned their alma mater, Komsomolskaya Pravda, in protest over the way the historic newspaper was trying to adapt to the new market economy.

No One Wants Glazyev at Central Bank

The shock wave from the explosion of the meteorite on Feb. 15 was felt not only in Chelyabinsk but also throughout the Russian media.

The Kremlin Needs Smart PR

While I was attending the World Newspaper Congress in Kiev in September, one of the heads of UNESCO asked me, "Aren't you frightened of living in a nation whose president throws dissidents in jail?"

How Journalists Defend Against Lawlessness

I received an invitation last week to attend the national Restoring Leadership forum to be held on Tuesday. Speakers at the forum were listed as senior managers from leading private and state corporations, governors, ministers, deputy ministers and presidential advisers.

Zinovyev Aimed at Communism but Hit Russia

The views of Soviet dissident writer Alexander Zinovyev, much like his work and his life, cannot be categorized according to conventional ideas or stereotypes.

Russians Are the Luckiest People on Earth

How lucky we are to live in Russia and not in the West or the East.

West Is on the Wrong Side of Pussy Riot

After the failed putsch of August 1991, the democratic West had an opportunity to establish a protectorate over Russia and conduct radical political and economic reforms like those it implemented in West Germany and Japan following World War II.

A Soviet Manager Will Save Public TV

The creation of public television in Russia reminds me of the financial crisis that hit in August 1998.

Putin's Split Personality

Paul the Octopus correctly predicted the outcomes of a surprising number of games in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Likewise, the weekly magazine Odnako Ч whose editor-in chief is Mikhail Leontyev, an outspoken conservative who supports a strong Russian state Ч has made some very accurate predictions concerning events in Russia.

Putin's Sobchak Problem

In a recent article that ran in Russia Beyond the Headlines, a newspaper supplement that is produced by state-owned Rossiiskaya Gazeta and is distributed to leading publications around the world, political correspondent Dmitry Babich wrote: "The much-praised middle class Е who were behind the protests never threatened Putin with strikes. The reason was simple: The city could happily live with those people striking."

How Pensioners Can Make Elections Honest

Vladimir Lenin once said, "Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the entire country." Today, that slogan would read: "Communism is fair elections plus Internet access for the entire country."

And Now for a Scandal About Public TV

Public television will be established in Russia any day now. The only person who knows the details of this station Ч which is supposed to be independent from political pressure Ч is President Dmitry Medvedev. But that hasn't stopped a storm of speculation.

The Public Television Predicament

Responding to efforts to formulate a concept of public-service broadcasting in Russia, legendary television personality Anatoly Lysenko quipped: "The authorities tossed the public a bone, and rather than chew on the bone members of the public began gnawing on one another."

Russians Want Daylight More Than Democracy

Some members of the Moscow intelligentsia have been working overtime to come up with rather outlandish material for the media.

Why Russians Would Vote for a Bolshevik

I recently bumped into an old acquaintance who, without even bothering to say hello, immediately asked, "Are you going to the next protest rally on Feb. 4?"

Russia's Media More Accurate Than in the West

I spoke with about 100 pleasant young people last week at the monthly meeting that Russian Reporter magazine editors and journalists hold with readers. Some of the young people had posted election reports on the magazine's web site.

The Soviet James Bond

Last week, the army ceremoniously laid to rest retired Colonel Vitaly Shlykov with a three-volley salute and an honor guard marching under the Russian flag. At the memorial service, Valentina Melnikova, secretary of the Union of Committees of Soldiers' Mothers, recalled how Shlykov had helped make that organization truly professional and effective back in the early 1990s.

Going From Earthquakes to Elections on TV

The State Duma election television campaign kicked off Nov. 5 by intruding on the usual morning programming. In nonelection times, the programming follows a standard pattern. But now, politics have invaded this television paradise.

Medvedev Surfed His Way to Irrelevance

According to a joke that circulated at the recent Russian Internet Week forum, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin did not allow President Dmitry Medvedev to run for a second term "because he spent too much time on the Internet." The forum is the main annual event of the domestic Internet industry and closely reflects the main development trends in this most dynamic of all segments of Russia's public life.

Common Way to Fight Enemy No. 1

The Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper called former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was given a seven-year sentence last week, "Yulia Khodorkovskaya."

Kudrin's Wise Advice to Curb Defense Costs

The Russian media discussed Kudrin's dismissal even more enthusiastically than it did the news of the tandem switch announced at United Russia's convention on Sept. 24.

When People Start to Laugh at Their Leaders

Columnists consider it a major stroke of luck when an important political event occurs on a Thursday. That gives them the opportunity to discuss it with colleagues and friends during their habitual Friday night jaunts to the local pub. Last Friday, the conversation quickly focused on Mikhail Prokhorov's decision to resign as chairman of the Right Cause party.