Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Russia Cracks Old Whip at Foreign Press

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Russia Cracks Old Whip at Foreign Press

Article excerpt

I felt that old deja vu when Vladimir Putin banned ABC News from operating in Russia. It was the first official crackdown on foreign journalists since Soviet times. In 1958, the CBS Moscow bureau, which I'd opened, was ordered closed by Nikita Khrushchev's government, enraged over a Playhouse Ninety production, "The Plot to Kill Stalin," which suggested Khrushchev had been complicit in Stalin's death. We tried, in vain, to explain that CBS News had no connection with CBS Entertainment. The bureau stayed closed for two years.

ABC's sin, in the Kremlin's eyes, was broadcasting an interview with Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev, who has a $10 million price on his head. The interview was obtained by a Russian freelancer. No matter. Mr. Putin wasn't amused. The Ministry of Interior said the interview amounted to "propaganda for terrorism."

Press freedom, generally speaking, hasn't fared well in the post- Soviet era. The main networks have been brought under government control. …

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