Russia Direct has compiled a special round-up of the most influential and interesting media outlets that provide insights into political, economic and social spheres in Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to the media on April 16, 2015. Photo: AP
Kommersant is one of the oldest publishing houses in contemporary Russia. It produces a large number of well-respected print media, including the Vlast Magazine and Ogonek. However, the publishing house is best-known for its newspaper of the same name - Kommersant. It covers the most resonance business, social, and political news in Russia.
Now the Kommersant newspaper is known for its reporting on the Ukrainian crisis contributed by Ilya Barabanov, parliamentary reporting by Viktor Hamraev, in-depth articles about the Russian military-industrial complex by Ivan Safronov, coverage of social life and current issues by Grigory Tumanov and Alexander Chernih, and live blogging of big stories by Artyom Galustyan.
Founded in 1999 by Sanoma Independent Media, The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal, Vedomosti quickly became one of the most trusted sources of financial information in Russia.
As a result of a new law adopted in February 2015 which limits foreign ownership of the media in Russia, the newspaper had to change one of its owners: Sanoma sold its shares to Demyan Kudryavtsev, a former top-manager at the Kommersant Publishing House.
However, this didn’t seem to have influenced its editorial policy: The newspaper keeps producing quality content and is highly-regarded for its original business investigations.
For instance, one of the most recent articles which has been widely discussed in Russia describes business connections between Alexander Fedotov, a new owner at the Russian edition of Forbes, and Dmitry Sablin, a senator who has launched a pro-government movement called Anti-Maidan.
#3. Novaya Gazeta
Novaya Gazeta is one of the most respected independent newspapers in Russia and is best known for its journalistic investigations. Most recently, it released a special edition devoted to the Malaysian Boeing crash in Donetsk where it analyzed in detail the main versions of the tragedy.
This year it also broke a story describing the wedding of a 17-year-old girl and a Chechen police officer who was originally reported to be already married and to be 57, although he later claimed he was 46 and single. This "wedding of the millennium,” as it was dubbed in the Russian media, has raised public attention to the problem of human rights in Chechnya.
Outside of Russia Novaya Gazeta became best known for Anna Politkovskaya’s investigations of the war in Chechnya.
Even though Meduza is a Riga-based medium, it is considered to be one of the best news publications on Russia. Because of its English version, it seems to be part and parcel of a must-read list of any non-Russian speakers interested in the country. Having attracted numerous small investors, the medium operates as an independent publication. Its content meets the highest standards of professional journalism.
Particularly, it brings together a lot of exclusive interviews and unique reports from Meduza’s special correspondent, Daniil Turovsky, who provides a very detailed coverage of the most relevant events and problems in Russia and the world.
One of his most recent reports comes from a very dangerous place: the border between Turkey and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Greater Syria (ISIS). "At the edge of hell: The mad world of the borderlands between ISIL and Turkey," it reads.
Turovsky vividly described the place that brings together "former and future fighters for terrorist organizations from across Europe and Asia, thousands of Syrian and Kurdish refugees, international and humanitarian aid workers, and smugglers and merchants making good business out of this war."
The RBC Group includes many different media assets but the most well-known are the newspaper, the TV-channel, and the website – all three by the same name, RBC. Even though the group states that it is focused on delivering business-related information, the RBC TV Channel, in fact, operates mostly as an all-news TV Channel which broadcasts news programs every fifteen minutes. This is a very fast and convenient way for both Russians and those outside of the country to find out what’s happening in Russia now.
Although there was gossip about the financial crisis in the group and possible change of the owner, RBC is still owned by Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire owner of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, and the group seems to be doing well.
#6. TV Rain
The TV Rain Channel (Dozhd) gained its popularity during the protests of the Russian opposition in 2011. It was the only TV channel that provided balanced and uncensored reporting of these events. TV Rain also provided quality coverage of anti-corruption investigations of prominent Russian opposition activist Alexey Navalny.
In the beginning of 2014 the channel was disconnected from cable networks after it raised a question about whether the war-time blockade of Leningrad was indeed unavoidable during one of its evening shows. The attack on the channel was considered by many as politically motivated.
TV Rain quickly lost income and was forced to move to another office. It introduced a subscription service to survive and now it seems that the is recovering pretty successfully. The Hard day's night program and the evening show by Ksenia Sobchak and Pavel Lobkov are especially popular with the audience.
The Slon Magazine is a relatively new medium launched in 2009 by the team of Leonid Bershidsky, a journalist and a publisher, with financial support of Alexander Vinokurov, the present owner of the TV Rain Channel. Slon focuses on analytical content created by both journalists and experts. The majority of the Slon articles are behind a paywall.
One of the most recent texts that attracted public attention is an opinion piece about the Russian diaspora abroad contributed by Vyacheslav Inozemtsev, director of the Center of Post-Industial Studies.
The Snob Magazine is interesting primary as a space for discussion where one can find opinion pieces on various topics contributed by well-known figures, including Russian writer Boris Akunin, journalist and political commentator Sergey Parkhomenko, or media entrepreneur Anton Nosik, among many other writers.
Interfax is the place to go to for breaking news both in Russian and English. It is the only major Russian non-governmental news agency and it specializes in the developing markets of Eurasia. Interfax was founded in 1989 and has gained respect for its objectivity, speed and exclusives.
While today Russian news agencies tend to provide information in a way that is favorable to the government, Interfax regards professional journalistic standards as more than standards of loyalty. The agency doesn't omit coverage of important social or political events and reports in a neutral manner.
#10. Takie Dela
Takie Dela is a publication launched in collaboration with a charity foundation called “Need Help” (Nuzhna pomosh). The solid team of its journalists includes such well-known figures as Andrey Loshak, Ekaterina Gordeeva, Olga Allenova, Olga Bichkova, and Valery Panushkin.
The publication is exclusively devoted to social issues in Russia. For instance, Takie Dela has recently published an article by Ekaterina Gordeeva, which describes how the Russian medicine operates under Western sanctions with no Western medicaments and almost no Russian substitutes.