Putin, Maria Ivanovna from Ivanovo and Ukrainians on the Telly

By Henry Jackson Society

From the Communist Party to Putin: the road to the New Censorship and new “media reality” in Russia.

In winter 1987, I moved from Moskovsky Komsomolets to work for Nedelya (The Week), a weekend supplement to Izvestiya. At 22, I was admitted to the temple of Soviet journalism, and on my third day at work was brought an application form for my business cards, and instructions on how to obtain them.

Among the necessary steps, I was to “submit the form signed by the head of department and secretary of the editorial office to Room 601 for coordination”. I filled in the form, collected the requisite endorsements, and knocked at the door of Room 601, which was located in a passage between the new and old buildings of Izvestiya. I was admitted, and found a sternlooking man and woman reading galley proofs. The woman took my form and indicated with a nod that I should sit in a chair upholstered in light green leatherette.

Approximately one minute later she returned my form. Stamped beneath the business card layout were now the words “Printing permitted”. The censor of the Committee for the Protection of State Secrets in the Press deemed it permissible for 500 copies of my business card to appear in print.

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