Russian president in Palestine
I’ve been a bit shocked lately by the recent move of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. In this regard I have some thoughts related to to the current political game in Russia namely “who is faster and better: Medvedev or Putin?” Here are some recent images: Putin driving Lada Kalina, Medvedev with Bono; choosing the name for the Putin’s puppy or Medvedev sending tweets.
Several days ago I read: Dmitry Medvedev suggested O. Kashin will not change his position [RUS], and the next day: Medvedev “suddenly” met Kashin in Palestine [RUS]. Discourse has somewhat changed. It all seems odd: the busy president arrives to Palestine and suddenly meets the famous journalist. How does Medvedev know Kashin? Did they meet before?
And here comes the most interesting part: Medvedev wished Kashin to remain faithful to his positions and promised to “tear off the head,” of those attached him. Let me remind you that a journalist of the newspaper Kommersant, Oleg Kashin was severely beaten in November last year. This event has received considerable attention in the Russian society. Kashin became a sort of icon and symbol of the struggle for freedom of speech in Russia.
Some info about Kommersant
When I was writing my MA thesis on Russian media I have found out the following:
The Business oriented newspaper Kommersant may be considered one of the quality newspapers in Russia. It was founded in the 1980s and became a standard for independent Russian journalism. The BBC labels Kommersant as a “daily, business-orientated, controlled by steel tycoon Alisher Usmanov.” It is widely known in Russia that Usmanov is close to the Kremlin, he is also a CEO of Gazprom Invest Holding. Therefore there were concerns that Kommersant would become another newspaper controlled by the government after Usmanov purchased it in 2006. A prominent scholar Alexei Bessudnov evaluated the situation in the following manner:
Despite fears that the change of ownership would affect the independence of the newspaper […], this has not happened. Reportedly, the new owner does not interfere with editorial policy. The newspaper and other Kommersant publications keep a rather independent and critical approach, without taking sides openly.
It may be partially true, that Kommersant remains an independent newspaper more or less if compared to some other newspapers in Russia. I assume that Kommersant is an example of a partially independent newspaper with limited press freedom in sensitive issues like elections, and gas strategy of the country.
In this regard the discourse around Oleg Kashin being a symbol of freedom does not seem that logical to me. He was doing some investigative work and was asking undesired questions, but it was all pretty liberal and within the bounds of Kommersant. Kashin is not that hard-core as Alexey Navalny with his fight against corruption. Kashin did not mobilize people to write petitions or go marching on the streets, he was not even working in the prominent oppositional newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
Therefore Medvedev’s kind gesture looks fake, or maybe the poor guy is just trying to get the points in the presidential race? Anyways I assume that Kashin does not benefit from all this situation