March 18, 2022 11:55 am (EST)
A Kremlin crackdown on independent media is walling off Russians from the truth about the country’s widely condemned invasion of Ukraine, but Western-funded media outlets are ramping up efforts to circumvent censors.
Vladimir Putin’s government continues to call Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation” and has instituted harsh punishments for media outlets that do not hew to the state line. However, some foreign-based media have bypassed Russian censorship in various ways, providing Russian citizens vital access to facts about the war.
Are Russian media able to report on the war in Ukraine?
It is nearly impossible. The few remaining Russian independent media outlets with any sizeable followings, notably TV Rain and the radio station Echo of Moscow, shut down following Putin’s signing of the March 4 “fake” news law, which threatens imprisonment for any journalist who deviates from the Kremlin’s portrayal of the conflict in Ukraine. Many Western outlets shut down their Russia bureaus as well, depriving their audiences of access to news from within the country.
Meanwhile, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other foreign social media platforms that disseminate Russian-language information are blocked, and TikTok temporarily banned users in Russia from uploading new content. But YouTube and the encrypted message app Telegram, which are used heavily by state propaganda sources, are reportedly still available and widely used in Russia.