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Study On Russia’s Attempt To Control Former Soviet Republics Through Media

The Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) of the Washington DC-based think-tank National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has sponsored a study on the increasingly insidious role played by the Russian media to manipulate public opinion within the former Soviet Republics to favour alliances with Russia at the expense of ties with the West.

 â€˜The Last Gasp of Empire: Russia’s Attempts to Control the Media in the Former Soviet Republics,’ is authored by David Satter, once the Moscow correspondent of the Financial Times and now fellow at the Hudson Institute and School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
“The push by Russia to influence the media among its near neighbours not only marks an important thrust of Russian foreign policy, it also poses a major challenge to the international media development community, which over the past two decades has spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to help build sustainable and independent media institutions in the former Soviet space,” the study says.
Recent events in the Ukraine where the government which favours a stronger economic relationship with Russia is at odds with the citizenry who are demanding deeper economic ties with EU saw Ukrainian journalists deliberately targeted by suspected government thugs. 
Highlighting the consequences of Russia’s manipulative use of the media Satter says, “The result of Russia’s policies is that there is propaganda pressure nearly everywhere in the former Soviet republics, and this pressure, which is sometimes subtle and sometimes direct, stands as a barrier to a democratic future and an ethical and professional press.”
The study also gives recommendations on how Russia could be countered: “Ultimately, this requires support for foreign broadcasting, for the enabling institutions that ensure media independence, and for high quality journalism, including investigative journalism in the former Soviet republics.”
While recommending foreign investors buying stakes in Russian commercial media organisations and training programmes for Russian journalists, the study also calls for, “the media development community to collaborate more closely with broader development and foreign policy efforts to support democratic institutions.”
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