Few outlets exist in the Russian media for the open expression of political dissent. Ekho Moskvy, funded by Gazprom Media, is one of them. The radio station was subjected to unfounded smears by state television recently suggesting that the station was in receipt of foreign subidies; the kind of thing the Kremlin has never entirely let go of doing abroad since 1918. Given the feverish xenophobia that has grown since the 1990s Russian tv thus played to the worst kind of sentiments prevailing in society. It was a matter of time before some lunatic took a knife to one of the senior editors, which happened today. A previous journalist at the station fled Russia last September for fear of her life. Obviously with good reason.
When speaking in Washington DC a couple of years ago about the disastrous consequences for democracy of the state monopolising the media in Russia, I was severely taken to task by of all people Eugene Rumer, formerly national intelligence officer for Russia, on the grounds that I had ignored the existence of such liberal outlets as Novaya Gazeta and the station Ekho Moskvy. Given what has been happening, he should seriously reconsider the Panglossian complacency so typical of the Obama administration’s approach to Russia.