Tilting at windmills? : the European response to violations of media freedom in Russia

Thumbnail Image
Gotze, Dorothea
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This study addresses the measures European organisations take in response to violations of media freedom in Russia. Despite vigorous efforts, the situation of the media has not improved considerably. What are the reasons for the apparent inefficiency of European enforcement mechanisms? To overcome the tangle of sometimes contradictory historical, sociological, philosophical and mere pragmatic explanations, one has to distinguish obstacles at the conceptual level from obstacles at the level of implementation. I will argue that the insistence on a specific Russian mentality and another idea of freedom of expression in the Russian context is a mere rhetorical trick of the ruling political forces to hide the lack of democratic commitment in Russia and to avoid criticism from the West. These ‘ideological’ reasons – or at least their historic necessity – can be rejected, whereas the ‘practical’ reasons for the small impact of European measures cannot be denied. By consulting only the Russian authorities rather than media representatives and other social actors, European organisations underestimate the complexity of the whole situation. Without a change of journalist behaviour and some institutions closely connected with the work of journalists, most notably a comprehensive alteration of public opinion, it is improbable that the situation of the media will change in the future.
Second semester University: Tartu University, Estonia.
censorship, Russia, Council of Europe, European Commission of Human Rights, foreign relations, freedom of information, European Union, international politics, media