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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

01/05/2000

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In Chechnya, a War Against the Press

ASSINOVSKAYA, Chechnya -- In addition to keeping a lookout for Chechen fighters, Russian troops in Chechnya are alert for other threats: videotapes, notebooks and unsupervised reporters. At checkpoints like the one at Assinovskaya on the road toward Grozny from Nazran, Ingushetia, soldiers searched cars not just for weapons and guerrillas. Videotapes were confiscated, the excuse being that the checkpoint lacked a VCR to screen them. Every page of written matter was scrutinized. By means of bureaucracy, searches and intimidation, the military is fighting an information war to influence how the conflict is seen by the public. It is a crucial issue because Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's popularity is generally viewed as a result of the war's perceived success. The result of the military's effort: much blander coverage than during the 1994-96 war, when hard-hitting television and newspaper coverage by Russian and foreign journalists helped swing public opinion against the war.

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