The idea of the Anatomy of Freedom of Speech
project was first conceived in 1998. Throughout that year
journalists were fighting for the survival of the Law on State
Support of the Mass Media, which provided independent media
at least some chance of survival.
There was confrontation between those who believed that
the state should support "good" media, expressing the "correct"
official point of view, and those who considered freedom
of speech to be an indivisible principle and any attempt
to draw a line between "good" and "bad" media to portend
the introduction of censorship and the end of freedom of
speech. In the end, the journalistic community succeeded
in defending its law.
The editor-in-chief of the newspaper Soviet Kalmykia Today,
Larisa Yudina, was killed in May 1988. The newspaper was
the only organ in the republic to oppose violations of human
rights in Kalmykia.
Her murder demonstrated the weakness of Russian democracy
and highlighted three relatively straightforward points:
1: Russia has more or less respectable legislation proclaiming
human rights on the federal level, and yet almost cannibalistic
conditions on the regional level. Real life is based not
on federal laws but on these conditions. Each Russian region
applies the law at its own will. This is not the case, for
example, in the USA or Poland.
2: Freedom of speech, like all human freedoms, is a very
fragile flower. Society needs to nurture it constantly.
This fragile flower cannot grow on its own. If left to do
so, democratic freedoms will gradually slide into an authoritarian
regime and dictatorship. Society must continually strive
to strengthen freedom and democracy.
3: In standing up for our rights and freedoms, each of
us is forced to deal with the bureaucratic system on an
individual basis. In this confrontation, we are clearly
not on equal footing. We need a complete and cohesive system
of human rights in order to defend ourselves against that
How should it be organized?
Firstly, it must be able to expose any factors which facilitate
violations of human rights.
Secondly, it must identify and expose those individuals
who facilitate violations of human rights.
Thirdly, the system must rely on facts, documents and
figures and not on opinions and estimates.
Fourthly, it must be able to measure the extent to which
human rights and civil liberties in each region are upheld.
If we accept that this level varies across different regions,
then it can be measured.
This was the thinking behind the establishment of the
Map of Human Rights in Russia. The first step on this road
was the creation of a map of freedom of speech, or to be
more precise, a map of freedom of the press. This was chosen
as our starting point because freedom of speech plays such
a vital role in the system of human rights and civil liberties
- without it, violations of other rights can not be exposed.
Now that the research is complete, Russian society is
equipped with a nationwide map of press freedom.
It was originally planned that the map would be made up
of three colors: sky-blue for regions with favorable conditions
for development of press freedom; navy blue for regions
with both favorable and unfavorable conditions; and dark
purple for "informational black holes", i.e. regions with
unfavorable conditions for press freedom.
Surprisingly, it was discovered that there were no favorable
regions in Russia, so sky-blue does not appear on the map.
The project researchers believed that the analysis of the
initial results would enable them to achieve several interrelated
objectives. First of all, the authors wish to shape public
opinion regarding obstacles to press freedom. Secondly,
using that public opinion, they intend to urge those in
power to change the conditions which threaten press freedom.
Thirdly, it is essential to bring the results of this research
to journalists to teach them how best to use the rights
granted them by federal legislation.
It goes without saying that in drawing up the freedom
of speech map, evaluating human rights and assessing the
work of local authorities, the authors are aware that the
study's quantitative results and final evaluations are conditional.
It is important at this stage to make a distinction between
those facts which may be considered indisputable and those
which are only relative.
Indisputable facts are those facts and information about
violations of freedom of speech which arise directly from
research activities (there may be some inaccuracy, but this
should be regarded as a fault in the research and not in
Equally, a general tendency in a region can be regarded
as indisputable. A region where the level of freedom of
speech is rated at 10% undoubtedly has more problems than
one with a rating of 35%. This can be borne out by facts.
Results considered relative are those derived from the a
priori assumptions used in the development of the research
Those a priori assumptions are as follows: Firstly, all
violations of freedom of speech found in legislation have
equal weight in the research. For example, censorship in
local laws is given the same weight as the unlawful restriction
of accreditation. Obviously, these items cannot be compared
from the point of view of the threat they pose to freedom
of speech, but "weight coefficients" are very complex and
vulnerable. They are subjective and could complicate the
research, rendering it opaque and difficult to read. The
authors of the project believe that every deviation from
federal law that leads to discrimination against the media
could lead to seri-ous consequences. For this reason, the
policy of giving equal weight to all violations is, in general,
well-founded. Secondly, federal legislation on mass media
is taken to be infallible. This is of course a somewhat
formal statement, but it does prevent subjectivity, provides
a solid basis upon which to develop methodology and prevents
the project from being turned into a discus-sion club.
There is one final important assumption. Freedom of speech
has three guardians: those in power, the mass media and
civil society. The government creates the legal conditions
to establish an environment in which freedom of speech can
exist. Mass media and the civilian population fill this
environment with the free flow of information. They are
also responsible for the quality of information created
and consumed. In its first stage the study did not dwell
upon the analysis of the second and third guardians of freedom
of speech but focused only on policy and legislation affecting
mass media. So, to be more precise in terminology, we should
term the results of the first stage of the project "a map
of the state of press freedom." During the second stage
we analyzed how these conditions changed over the course
of one year; particularly after the results of the study
had been published.
The main revelations of the second stage were significant
changes in research methodology. While the first stage of
the project was devoted to measuring press freedom, in the
second stage, along with quantitative methods, we also made
wide use of qualitative ones.
The first stage established a measurement of the freedom
of mass media in each region.
During the second stage it was important to find out what
those different levels of freedom depended upon. For this
reason we researched various aspects of the mass media environment:
the media density of each region; media conflict rate; and
the structure of regional mass media budgets.
The project analyzed regional media markets, the extent
of their development, media participation in economic life
and the marketability of media products in the various regions.
However, the freedom of the media remained the main subject
of research in the second stage of the project. The difference
was that, in contrast to the first stage, we scrutinized
all its aspects, whether legal, economic, financial or professional.
We recognized the urgent need to get an integrated, multi-level
picture of the different mass media models operating in
the various regions. A classification of mass media models
was worked out based on the analysis of regional mass media
and the extent of their development.
This analysis produced seven mass media models. Three
of these were Soviet models (authoritarian, paternalistic
and modernized), with the others being the market, transitional,
confrontational and depressive media models.
Each of these models helps us to understand the nature
and functions of mass media in every region. These parameters
differ from region to region, as does the degree of media
freedom engendered by each of the seven models.
Hundreds of people from each region and republic helped
in conducting the research.
The project was completed thanks to the coordinated activities
of the Union of Journalists of Russia, The Glasnost Defense
Foundation, ANO Internews, an independent nonprofit organization,
The Mass Media Law and Policy Center (MMLPC), The National
Institute of Socio-psychological Studies (NISPI), the Data
Access Commission, The Union of Print Materials Distributors,
and The National Association of TV Broadcasters (NAB).
Alexei Simonov, Manana Aslamazyan, Andrei Milekhin, Joseph
Dzyaloshinsky, Andrei Richter, and Olga Nikulina developed
the concepts and methodology of the project.
Vera Efremova and Alexander Ratinov, experts from the
Glasnost Defense Foundation, analyzed local regulations
on accreditation during the first stage of the project and
Maria Varfolomeeva, an expert from the Public Expertise
Institute, carried out the second stage of the research.
Fyodor Kravchenko and Marina Savintseva of the MMLPC did
comparative research on local legislation in the first stage
of the project under the guidance of Joseph Dzyaloshinsky.
Fieldwork (on-site data collection) was carried out by
a regional network coordinated by NISPI with staff from
the Glasnost Defense Foundation, the Russian Union of Journalists
and ANO Internews.
Marina Kapelkina, a specialist from the Public Expertise
Institute, carried out mathematical analyses and statistical
data processing. Natalya Belmas analyzed responses to information
requests. Julia Voskresenskaya was responsible for the chapter
entitled "Project Development."
The National Circulation Service conducted analysis on
regional mass media markets. We would like to thank GfK-VTsIOM
and ANO Internews, who carried out groundbreaking research
on the regional advertising markets and made the results
available to us.
The Moscow-based newspapers Novaya Gazeta, Rossiyskaya
Gazeta, Nezavisimaya Gazeta and the magazines V Mire Zhivotnykh
(World of Animals) and Spros assisted in requesting information
ANO Internews and NISPI checked the authenticity of information
on electronic media using their databases. The Union of
Print Materials Distributors made similar checks on data
on the distribution of printed information.
Herein is the second complete edition of the research
report with a description of methodology, summary tables,
maps and profiles of regions where mass media exists. One
of the appendices demonstrates how very effective the project
is and what its future is.
Other appendices include: a draft model law on Russian
regional mass media pre-pared by Mikhail Fedotov and Victor
Monakhov; a draft federal law on amendments and additions
to the Russian Federal Law on Mass Media drawn up by Mikhail
Fedotov. Ap-pendices also contain standardized regulations
on accreditation compiled by Vera Efremova.
We hope that the analysis conducted by the project will
help us all in navigating the difficult conditions of the
Russian media wilderness and that the draft documents mentioned
above, once implemented, will allow that wilderness to be
Public EXAMINATION: MONITORING OF HUMAN
Public Examination is a global project
whose goal is to evaluate the level of human rights in the
89 regions of the Russian Federation.
Main hypothesis of the global project
In Russia, the individual's opportunities to exercise his
rights are only negligibly related to what federal laws
the country passes or what international agreements or conventions
it joins. Russia is a large country comprised of smaller
countries. The rights of people living in Moscow and, for
example, Kalmykia, which has its own laws, differ enormously,
and this gap is wider in Russia than in other countries.
For easy reference, we have placed the results of each piece
of target-area research conducted within the global project
in the Map of Human Rights. This is based on a system of
indicators demonstrating the anatomy of human rights in
each of the 89 regions, territories and republics of the
Objective of the global project
The main objective of the project was to shape public opinion
on human rights issues in Russia and, with the help of this
democratic leverage, to encourage authorities to change
the situation for the better.
The project was headed by the general secretary of the
Russian Union of Journalists, Igor Yakovenko.
of freedom of speech in Russia
The Public Examination global project
started in May 1999. The first stage of the research
- evaluation of freedom of speech in Russia - was conducted
by the Russian Union of Journalists, the Glasnost Defense
Foundation, the National Institute for Socio-psychological
Studies, The Mass Media Law and Policy Center and ANO
I. Main hypothesis of the global
There are 89 political regimes in Russia, each of which
has a different degree of freedom of speech and in each
of which the media plays a different role in civil society.
Local "rules of play" often have nothing in common with
federal legislation. Thus, the role of the media in
any particular region often does not correspond to the
niche defined by or the autonomy protected by federal
II. Context of the project
In Russia, people are again facing challenges from the
government in the area of free speech as defined by
the European Convention on Human Rights: "The right
to free expression, the right to receive and disseminate
information and ideas." Regional authorities are exerting
pressure on independent media companies, turning them
into compliant, self-censoring state-run companies.
This has led to a situation in which we are given information
that is either unreliable or difficult to evaluate,
or we are left facing a lack of strict criteria. As
a result, the public is more and more coming to see
mass media as a tool for settling scores in the battles
between those in power, who do not care about the everyday
needs of ordinary readers. The press is losing its role
as a mediator between society and the authorities and
a catalyst for change in society. Its role as a medium
for dialogue among public groups has been visibly weakened.
This is a major problem, particularly in the run-up
to elections. The press shapes public opinion and can
often determine a candidate's fate and, consequently,
our fate as well.
There is a second, no less important issue. Local
authorities are trying to adapt liberal federal legislation
to their own needs, issuing repressive local orders
that not only restrict press freedom, but also infringe
upon our right to freedom of speech. This is leading
to the disintegration of the integrated environment
for production and dissemination of information. One
morning we could wake up and find ourselves no longer
citizens of Russia - a country with unified legislation
- but the subjects of separate principalities with
separate rules of play.
PROCEDURE (methodology, tools, data collection and
We need to deconstruct the mass media in order to
evaluate its level of freedom. According to international
standards, freedom of speech is the right "to seek,
receive, deliver, produce and disseminate information
freely by any legal means." So, the notion of freedom
of speech has three constituent parts.
The first is the ability to seek and receive information
freely. This right is dependent on such indicators
as: unrestricted access to information; transparency
of executive, representative and judicial authorities;
the response of officials to journalists' requests;
and the fairness of accreditation requirements. We
are able to create an index of the level of free access
to information in each region of the Russian Federation
by analyzing the local laws which regulate these issues
and by studying the practices involved in facilitating
access to information.
The second component of freedom of speech is the
ability to produce information freely. This freedom
depends upon the regional registration regulations
(broadcast licenses), local tax and other codes which
affect the media's economic activities, and the government's
role in regulating access to the means of production,
both print and electronic.
The third part is the freedom to disseminate information.
Indicators here are the specific conditions created
by local administrations to maintain or dismantle
their monopoly on media distribution.
The Public Examination project made use of four research
tools. The first was an
analysis of regional laws regulating media activities.
Federal legislation - the RF Constitution and laws
on mass media, and the RF Law on State Support to
Print and Broadcast Media - served as the starting
point in this analysis. The second tool was an analysis
of regional accreditation rules for journalists.
Here, federal legislation again served as the basis
for the research.
The third tool was field research in regional media
markets. Experts in print and electronic media collected
data on specific media markets: number, circulation
and ownership structures of print media; number, capacity
and ownership structures of publishing houses; number,
signal capacity, coverage area and ownership structures
of TV and radio broadcasting companies; and information
on the terms and conditions for granting state support
to mass media in each market.
The profiles of regional
media markets are of course not shaped entirely
by the government. Each media market is the product
of the cultural traditions of a region, its
economy, the unique local relationship between
the state and society, the tendency of a region towards
a traditional/modernized or agrarian/urban society.
We can determine how free non-official information
in a region is by evaluating the balance between private
and public media compa-nies, as well as between distribution
and broadcast companies.
The project team also provided data on the environment
established by local administrations for distributors
of printed matter, including tax and other privileges
for distribution and the number of permits needed
to open press outlets.
The fourth research tool used was an information
request test. Central and regional mass media
sent requests for information to various regional
authorities: to the head of the region, territory
or republic's administration; to the chairman of the
Legislative Assembly; to the regional prosecutor;
to the head of the Department or Ministry of Internal
Affairs, as well as to the head of the Education or
Health Department. The aim of these requests was to
determine to what extent local authorities comply
with the RF Law on Mass Media in different regions
(art. 38, 39, 40). According to this law, heads or
other representatives of state bodies must provide
editorial boards with any information they request.
3. Data collection and systematization
The project staff then processed the data collected
with the tools described above into three indices:
freedom of access
to information; freedom
of production of information; and freedom
of distribution of information in a given region.
By combining these three factors, we can calculate
the index of press
freedom in a region. We shall now review in more
detail the basic principles of data collection and
their use in calculating each of the three indices
of press freedom.
a) Index of freedom
of access to information
The index of freedom
of access is calculated as the sum of two indicators:
the analysis of official response to requests for
information and the evaluation of violations of press
freedom in local accreditation regulations.
The RF Law on Mass
Media (articles 38, 39, 40) confirms the principle
of the transparency of authority and its accountability
to society. The law states that mass media companies
have the right to request information from state bodies
and officials, and that the latter must respond to
the requested information within a certain timeframe.
Moreover, the Law on
State Secrets and the Law on Information, Its Dissemination
and Protection contain a list of information which
may not be deemed privileged or withheld from the
"Officials who classify
such information or file it together with state secrets
for the purpose of hiding it, shall be subject to
criminal, administrative and disciplinary liability
depending on the material and punitive damage caused
to society, the state and citizens." (art. 7, RF Official
Secrets Act , art.73-74 -RF Law on Mass Media, M.,
1996). These laws were our legal basis for testing
requests for information.
1871 requests were
sent to various officials from different regions.
Half of these requests were sent from Moscow on behalf
of central mass media organizations, and the rest
were sent from local mass media organizations (newspapers,
TV and radio companies). All the requests were for
information of high public interest which did not
fall within the list of classifiable information.
to requests were analyzed for the ratio of response
to evasion and formalized replies, thus yielding the
first component of the index of freedom of access
The second component
is the analysis of local accreditation regulations
for journalists in the regional government.
The concept of accreditation
was introduced into Russian legislation to assist
the press in getting information from the government.
However, article 48 (Accreditation) defines accreditation
very generally, thus giving regional authorities the
opportunity to establish their own rules without violating
the Law on Mass Media and to infringe upon the rights
The analysis of local
accreditation rules showed their architects to have
used their power not only to establish detailed accreditation
procedures, but also to turn this phenomenon into
a device to assist local authorities in selecting
journalists who were loyal to them. The second component
of the index of freedom of access to information was
calculated based on the analysis of violations on
federal legislation in the area of local accreditation
b) Index of freedom
of production of information
The components of freedom
of production of information are:
These last four indicators evaluate the rights of
citizens stipulated by article 10 of the European Convention
on Human Rights to "obtain, produce and disseminate
information irrespective of country." The ratio of government
officials to independent experts on regional TV and
Radio Licensing Commissions shows the degree of dependence
of local TV and Radio companies on the local administration
and the extent to which local authorities perceive them
as falling within their jurisdictions. In 2000, the
Licensing Commissions lost their significance, but we
have given their composition as an indicator of government
By analyzing local laws on mass media and local
statutes on state media support, it is possible to
determine the parameters of the environment in which
media production is carried out: on-site registration,
tax privileges for the press as a whole or in parts
and the procedure by which the state budget allocates
money to mass media: whether it favors competition
or leads to a monopoly in media production. The index
of media production comprises all these indicators.
c) Index of freedom of dissemination of information
Two groups of indicators determine the level
of freedom of dissemination of information. The first
group comprises various kinds of privileges (or lack
thereof) for distributors of printed matter. This
is one of the problems Russia is faced with, having
inherited highly monopolized structures for the distribution
of printed materials from the Soviet Union. This monopoly
poses a threat to the freedom and independence of
the press. The introduction of privileges and benefits
facilitates the raising of funds and boosts competitiveness
in this field.
The second group of indicators of freedom of
dissemination of information concerns the number of
permits needed to set up a newspaper sales outlet.
The research showed that there were regions with extremely
high bureaucratic pyramids - several dozen permits.
This without doubt affects competition and, consequently,
diminishes freedom of distribution of information.
We established groups of three experts in each
region, territory and republic to collect the necessary
data from the 88 regions of the Russian Federation
(excluding Chechnya). Each group had one expert on
each branch of the media - the electronic and print
media - as well as a sociologist responsible for the
collection and delivery of information to the headquarters
of the Public Examination project.
At the headquarters, staff verified the authenticity
and reliability of this data, processed and standardized
it and transformed it into indices, tables and maps.
They used independent information channels to further
check the authenticity of indicators.
For example, three independent sources contributed
data on the free dissemination of printed matter.
These sources were a Public Examination regional expert
and the two sources used by the Union of Printed Matter
Distributors, the regional divisions of the Rospechat
agency and the regional Department of the Federal
Mail Service. An additional request for information
was made from the headquarters to minimize discrepancies
in data provided by different sources.
IV. Analysis and Conclusions
Color information maps of Russia were compiled
on the basis of the research which was converted into
the indices discussed above (see the press freedom
table). These maps are Freedom of Access to Information,
Freedom of Production of Information, Freedom of Dissemination
of Information, and a composite map of Press Freedom.
The composite map caused a sensation. We discovered
that Russia today has no region with a climate favorable
to all the stages in the creation of information product.
While two regions have favorable conditions for access
to information for the press (Yaroslavl and Murmansk
Regions) and one region has a favorable profile for
both the production and dissemination of information
(Moscow), in not one region do these positive factors
coincide to produce a comfortable legislative and
political mass media sub-climate.
The composite map of Press Freedom uses two colors,
while the maps Freedom of Access to Information, Freedom
of Production of Information and Freedom of Dissemination
of Information have three colors meaning that there
are regions with good, bad and medium indicators.
In other words, Russia today has no regions where
the first estate provides the fourth with an environment
in which its independence is protected by law. This
is the most alarming conclusion drawn by the Public
Examination project during its research. Let us take
a look at the situation with each of the basic components
of freedom of speech.