Cultural figures in Russia are increasingly being scrutinized and accused of politically subversive activities; this trend is disturbing for its resemblance to the persecution of any dissent in the Soviet era.
Gazprom-owned NTV national television channel broadcast its “Profession: Reporter” depicting a large number of artists, writers, journalists and entrepreneurs as covertly working for overseas organizations, with the implication that these figures were involved in espionage or subversive activities. The first episode, “17 Friends of the Junta, ” targeted writer Dimitry Bykov, singer Andrey Makarevich and rapper Noize MC. On other programs, NTV has smeared opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov and Ilya Ponomaryov and accused Golos election monitoring NGO of working for the CIA.
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Alexander Morozov, head of Moscow Center for Media Studies, says “There is currently no opposition. It has been dispersed or destroyed. What opposition was before is now looking for a new identity and sense of direction. At the same time, there are cultural figures, writers and artists, who believe the Kremlin’s Ukraine policy is too chaotic and could damage the country. Their voices are being heard, and this invites government criticism.”