Staunton, August 9 – Western information projects directed at Russia have little impact on the residents of the capital or the country as a whole, Yegor Kholmogorov says; but they are often extremely effective in regions where the local media are so poorly developed that people turn to Western “voices” and become infected with separatism as a result.
Western radio stations like Voice of America and Radio Liberty, whose funding the US is now increasing, the Russian commentator says, have always promoted various “separatist” ideas in Russian regions such as Idel-Ural, “a mythological construction” but listed in the Captive Nations Week law, the Russian commentator says (nakanune.ru/articles/113150/).
Now, these outlets promote their ideas “via Facebook and other social networks and in the future there will appear a whole range of similar projects directed already at the Caucasus, the Finno-Ugric regions, Siberia and the Far East,” all of which will seek to promote “separate regional sovereign units” within the borders of the Russian Federation.
“The danger,” Kholmogorov says, “is that [Russia’s] regional media are underdeveloped.” They are tightly controlled by local officials and do not feature the kind of discussions which attract people. Because they are boring, people in many regions are quite ready to turn to “’Western voices’” and are infected by separatist values.
Russia must and can oppose this, first and foremost by developing “independent regional media” that can hold their own against these “voices.” That is already the case at the all-Russian level and as a result, these Western projects have little influence at the center or for the country as a whole. But that isn’t the case in the regions.
In some regions, the media are doing a good job; and where they are developed, the West’s ability to influence the situation is very limited. But in others, the media are weak, people aren’t attracted to it, and many turn to Western outlets, especially online, to get news and information without recognizing the ideology that comes along with these things.
Consequently, Kholmogorov says, Moscow has a vital interest in promoting strong and flourishing regional media; but until that goal is achieved, the center needs to ban and “if necessary block” Western channels directed at particular regions. Where these are effective, they need to be stopped “without ceremony.”