To speak freely and tell truth to power has been a dream of centuries for Russia’s intellectuals and rebels. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, free speech was the most intoxicating achievement of the 1990s, yet it was misunderstood and misused and the unprecedented opportunity to safeguard freedoms was lost. The mainstream media today have reverted to their role as normalisers of lies and fake news to bolster the state, a role that was as pivotal to Soviet power as it is to Putin power. The question to ask is how did the mainstream media change so rapidly from being almost preternaturally sensitive to any encroachment upon their freedom during the Gorbachev and Yeltsin years to accepting their subservient patrimonialstatus today? These issues are raised in Daphne Skillen’s book “Freedom of Speech in Russia; Politics and Media from Gorbachev to Putin” (retail price £26.99 – on sale to members at the bargain price of just £15.00. CASH ONLY.
Dr. Skillen witnessed Russia’s transition to democracy first hand in the late 1980s and 1990s, working as a journalist and media consultant for international development agencies. She worked on democracy-assistance programmes with Washington DC-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems, with the Soros Foundation and with EU organisations. She was DfID’sMoscow media manager between 1996-1998, in the Yeltsin era, she received an award from the Russian Union of Journalists for services to the cause of Russian journalism. Dr Skillen has degrees from London, Sydney and Colorado universities. Her doctorate is from UCL SSEES. She was a visiting research fellow at SSEES between 1988-1993. She has also worked in other countries of the former Soviet Union and in South-East Asia.