There’s no rushin’ media reform

Putin unrepentant over grabbing control of TV webs

Small steps.

Seems Russian prexy Vladimir Putin is willing to open up media access to his political rivals.

Just don’t look for it anytime soon.

And, at least in his state of the nation address last month, he remained unrepentant about grabbing control of TV webs from anti-Kremlin oligarchs in the first place.

Most of Russia’s media is state-owned (pubcaster Rossiya), part state-owned (Channel 1), controlled by state-owned companies (NTV) or redirected (Kremlin critic TVS’s frequency was given to a sports station).

This guaranteed Putin favorable coverage in elections in late 2003 and early 2004 — and drew criticism from election observers.

Putin promised in his April 25 address (aired on Rossiya) to fix this, and vowed to set up a commission for freedom on TV comprised of members of the recently founded Public Chamber, whose deputies are — surprise — largely pro-Putin.

Even his promise to give equal airtime to all political parties drew skepticism.

The Russian newspaper, Moskovsky Komsomolets, hit the nail on the head: “Why is it that Putin has suddenly noticed problems that he had preferred to ignore before?

“Probably because the main weapon of the powerful today, television, has become less effective. People don’t believe in it.”

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