Russia's Manipulative Media

MOSCOW: Today, there are no political parties in Russia, only mass media. This is the little noticed result of the last parliamentary and presidential elections. To be sure, the press is powerful in most democracies and often influences the ways in which political messages are read by the public. But in more developed systems, political programs and ideas are ultimately the work of political parties and politicians – what people ultimately vote for or against. In Russia, the media don't "mediate"; they are the very source of Russia's political ideas. Russian voters vote don't vote a party line, they vote the mass media line.

Last summer there was little doubt that the coming parliamentary elections would make the Luzhkov/Primakov Fatherland-All Russia party (OVR) the biggest fraction in the Duma. After the vote on December 19, OVR was not even runner up: it came third, with 13% of the vote and 46 out of 450 seats in the Duma. Similarly, no one doubted last July that the next President would be either ex-prime minister Primakov or Moscow's mayor Luzhkov. All that was left to guessing was which of the two would agree to be prime-minister in the other's presidential administration. When the presidential election occurred, however, neither man was anywhere to be seen.

What happened to OVR, supposedly the new party of power? What happened to Primakov and Luzhkov? Did they change their political positions? Did OVR commit some huge political blunder that finished them off? They were destroyed, not by themselves or their unpopularity with voters, but by the mass media. That same mass media also created a new idol who has now swept all before him. A new inter-regional movement, Unity, founded only in September ‘99, dominated the parliamentary elections last December on a platform that could be summarized in two words: Vladimir Putin. From then on the presidential election was a yawn: the only (not very exciting) question was whether Putin would need one or two rounds to switch from being the "acting" to the "elected" holder of the highest office. In the wake of Putin's personal juggernaut, Unity also lapsed into desuetude.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/IBB80fb;
  1. China corruption Isaac Lawrence/Getty Images

    The Next Battle in China’s War on Corruption

    • Chinese President Xi Jinping knows well the threat that corruption poses to the authority of the Communist Party of China and the state it controls. 
    • But moving beyond Xi's anti-corruption purge to build robust and lasting anti-graft institutions will not be easy, owing to enduring opportunities for bureaucratic capture.
  2. Italy unemployed demonstration SalvatoreEsposito/Barcroftimages / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

    Putting Europe’s Long-Term Unemployed Back to Work

    Across the European Union, millions of people who are willing and able to work have been unemployed for a year or longer, at great cost to social cohesion and political stability. If the EU is serious about stopping the rise of populism, it will need to do more to ensure that labor markets are working for everyone.

  3. Latin America market Federico Parra/Getty Images

    A Belt and Road for the Americas?

    In a time of global uncertainty, a vision of “made in the Americas” prosperity provides a unifying agenda for the continent. If implemented, the US could reassert its historical leadership among a group of countries that share its fundamental values, as well as an interest in inclusive economic growth and rising living standards.

  4. Startup office Mladlen Antonov/Getty Images

    How Best to Promote Research and Development

    Clearly, there is something appealing about a start-up-based innovation strategy: it feels democratic, accessible, and so California. But it is definitely not the only way to boost research and development, or even the main way, and it is certainly not the way most major innovations in the US came about during the twentieth century.

  5. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.