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Friday 27 July 2012

Chechen champions PC regulation of Russian mass media

Russia is often regarded as a country in which concerns relating to political correctness are generally held not to hinder reporting, although naturally, practical apprehensions relating to widespread corruption and the immense power of the country's oligarchs, and those within and allied to Putin's circle, exert a certain chilling effect upon the freedom of the mass media. Nobody, after all, is keen to experience a fatal 'accident' or some other form of unanticipated personal misadventure. Now however, it looks as if these informal restrictions upon reporting are to be supplemented by a new law muzzling writers and broadcasters in their handling of information relating to people's ethnic and racial origins, as well as to their religious affiliations.

As in the UK, where such legislation has been born largely of a slavish apeing of an inappropriate US example combined with reference to the putative welfare and interests of an increasingly influential Muslim minority, Russia seems set to follow a path where the systematic distortion of reporting is held to be both a necessary and desirable tool of ensuring interethnic amity and concord.

According to an article run by Izvestia on 26th July, a former Chechen minister and current Deputy of the Russian Duma Shamsail Saraliev,  is pushing for the introduction of a bill this autumn that will seek to tackle what he believes to be the negative reporting and portrayal of ethnic and national minorities. He states:
In the mass media on a daily basis you will encounter : two Chechens killed a Russian, an Armenian attacked a Russian. Why place the accent upon nationality/ethnicity? This only makes people angry and provokes national/ethnic conflict. There are no bad nationalities/ethnicities.
Saraliev reveals that this proposed approach has been revealed to the resident population of the North Caucacus Federal District using social media and local broadcasters:
We are asking people whether or not it is necessary to place a prohibition on the indication of nationality/ethnicity in articles and reporting.
It is claimed that 82% of the inhabitants of the Caucasus republics support this proposal.

Aleksandr Sokolov Head of Club Multinational Russia thinks that such an approach should be broadened to include regional origin. However, he does think it valid to include reference to ethnicity or religion if conflict has arisen upon either grounds in the case concerned. Then again, in a example familiar to British readers, he had voiced his approval of positive stereotyping of ethnic and tacial minorities, citing the case of American blacks.

A third influential individual - Gadzhimet Safaraliev, Head of the Duma Committee on Nationality Affairs - is working on similar proposals and thinks that a presidential decree will be ready by late in the year. He also thinks that its remit should include cinematography. Safaraliev is a Dagestani.

During the Soviet period, Russia was of course the fountainhead of political correctness, with what could and could not be said or portrayed being tightly controlled. This began to change thanks to Gorbachev's policy of glasnost, and in post-Soviet Russia a significant liberalisation of freedom of speech and expression took place. Now, unfortunately, it would seem that this relatively brief era is coming to an end, with Russia seemingly intent upon adopting some of the misplaced press restrictions adopted in the West.


  1. I believe the Arabic root name of Shamsail, is Shams al Din. Which probably meant Shams of somewhere/something. It will have been abbreviated.

    I would be able to make a very good guess at what religion he follows, which most Chechens follow. Strange how they always won't to silence the press. Is it because they're always in it for committing Jihad?

    1. Yes, I'm pretty certain that he follows the religion traditionally adhered to by his co-ethnics. Russia has a very significant jihadi problem which appears to be spreading its violence to new areas of the country, as demonstrated by the recent attacks in Tatarstan. How much will we get to hear about such things next year?


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