Every country lives in a bubble. Countries differ perhaps only in the strength of the pull of their respective domestic universes. In Russia, it requires considerable effort to tear oneself away from the majority view. The domestic information bubble is powerful not because the Kremlin’s message is particularly strong, but because all other messages are relatively weak. ‘By discrediting Western politics, undermining democratic procedures, and attacking independent media, the Russian authorities have fuelled the kind of general cynicism that says: everybody is corrupt, all media lie,’ according Lev Gudkov, director of the Levada Center, speaking to Vedomosti.


If you order a cable TV from any of the dozen of providers, you can get up to 200 channels. None of them has anything bad to say about the Russian government — aside from the rare "We got one!" corrupt man-of-office arrest. The protests that are happening all over the country do not exist on the news. Putin is a strong, capable leader, and Navalny keeps getting arrested. The West keeps being evil, and life keeps going.

There's no alternative TV service that I'm aware of. I only started to get a whiff of things after watching independent, Western documentaries, and even then I remained sceptical for some time. Why?

When you are raised with the idea that something is unequivocally bad, it takes a while for contradictory evidence to gain traction in your mind. I pride myself in being a fairly rational and intellectual person; not many can boast the same here. Much like in the US, there grows a strong momentum behind the anti-intellectual movement. Children aren't raised to be curious and independently-minded: they're raised to comply, to not stand out. In such a climate, is there any wonder the Russian society would not grow restless at the sight of corruption?

Why do Russians watch state TV? For the same reason people around the world watch the worse varieties of it: it's white noise to drown out the screeches of problems the country is facing. "To stay informed"; "to remain educated in the international matters"; "to be able to uphold the conversation". The usual excuses to not let oneself off an addicting substance.

posted by johan: 396 days ago