16 October 2018
Moscow: 02:38
London: 00:38

Consular queries:  
+44 (0) 203 668 7474  



The opinions expressed by the authors of the articles in this section are for discussion purposes only and may not coincide with the position of the Russian Government and the Embassy


Russia and the west are trading places on freedom of speech (by Dmitry Kiselev for The Guardian 10.04.2014)

EU calls me 'Putin's chief propagandist', yet in Russia journalists are free to tackle difficult issues without fear of state sanction

East and west appear to be trading places. In Russia we now take full advantage of freedom of speech, whereas in the west political correctness, or political expediency in the name of security, have become arguments against freedom of speech.

This is not happening in Russia. Why? Just because the Soviet Union and its one-party system are gone. Russia is gradually returning to a state more natural to the Russian soul, which Dostoyevsky describes so well in The Brothers Karamazov as "capable of combining the most incongruous contradictions, and capable of the greatest heights and of the greatest depths".

Great heights and depths characterise not only the Russian character, but also freedom of speech in Russia today. Ksenia Larina, a popular host on the Ekho Moskvy radio station, which is owned by Gazprom Media, once ranted on air that patriotism makes her "throw up worms and cherry pits". The writer Viktor Yerofeyev, speaking on the television channel Dozhd, said that "Leningrad should have been surrendered to the Germans" during the second world war, diminishing the heroic sacrifice of the city's defenders. The editor-in-chief of Moscow-based New Times, Yevgenia Albats, has said Russia should let China take Siberia. All of these people consider themselves liberals. In my opinion, they are "ultra-liberals".

And yet they and other ultra-liberals continue to work in Russia without any government restrictions on their freedom of speech. While some patriotic Russians fiercely oppose the ultra-liberals, there have been no calls for reprisals against them; their names have not been added to sanction lists. However, the same cannot be said about the ultra-liberals, for whom making such lists is a favourite pastime. We tolerate this in Russia and make no complaints.

Russian journalists are free to tackle difficult issues in their reporting without fear of government sanction. To take one such issue, unlike in Great Britain or the US, gay men in Russia are not prohibited from donating blood or organs, a heart, for example. In the US, any man who has had sex with another man after 1977 is banned for life from donating blood. The UK recently relaxed its rules, requiring that at least a year pass after the last contact with another man, but continues to bar homosexuals from being donors. Gay men who die in accidents cannot donate organs, and their bodies are buried or cremated along with their perfectly healthy hearts.

Personally, I believe the US and the UK have the right policy, and I have discussed this at length on the air. My opponents have called me a homophobe and used their freedom of speech to wage a war of words against me. But Russian journalists are free to comment on this or any other issue, from events in Ukraine to problems in Russia and the world. There are no government sanctions restricting freedom of speech or freedom of movement in my country.

Instead, the sanctions have come from the west. On 21 March, the EU barred me and other Russian citizens from travelling, banking or otherwise doing business in the EU. There's just one problem: I don't have any accounts or business in the EU. I am a professional journalist; that is all I've ever been.

As a political commentator, I host the weekly TV news show Vesti Nedeli on Rossiya 1. The show, which recently has stretched to more than two hours, features reporting from correspondents and my personal take on the news. Although we work in a highly competitive market, we usually get anywhere from 15% to 20% of the Sunday primetime audience, which are good ratings for any country.

Furthermore, I have editorial control of Vesti Nedeli, and my point of view does not always coincide with the official position of the Kremlin. Another programme, Vesti v Subbotu, airing on Saturday nights on our channel, is hosted by our former London correspondent Sergey Brilev – a talented reporter whose interpretation of events is often quite different from mine.

EU officials have called me "Putin's chief propagandist". That's their opinion and I respect their right to express it. But why target a journalist with sanctions? Why restrict my freedom of movement, which is enshrined in the 1948 universal declaration of human rights? How are these sanctions compatible with freedom of speech? Is freedom of speech no longer a core value in Europe? If this is the case, we are truly witnessing a revolution in the western world and a betrayal of what were until recently western values.

That's why I say that Russia and the west are trading places. Even in my worst nightmares I can't imagine Russia imposing sanctions on any of my western colleagues. The main charge levelled against me is that I engage in propaganda.

However, propaganda is not a concept addressed by international law, while freedom of speech is. By sanctioning me, the EU has sanctioned freedom of speech. This shameful chapter will go down in European history much like the Dreyfus affair. Nothing personal. Let's assume that I'm an abstract journalist, but I'm also the first and so far the only journalist to be targeted by co-ordinated EU sanctions. Some may point out that I'm also the head of the new state-owned news agency Rossiya Segodnya. But I've only held this position since December.

So far, we have been busy creating this new agency. We have not created a brand yet, and our only new products – news wires in English and Spanish – were released in test mode on 1 April. So the sanctions announced on 21 March cannot be related to my position as director general of Rossiya Segodnya.

Ultimately, it's somewhat quaint to believe that sanctions can restrict freedom of speech in this day and age, even if you call it propaganda. If you have read this far, I have another propaganda victim under my belt.

Dmitry Kiselev is a Russian journalist



The current round phase of Russia’s pivot to the East was conceived in the second half of the 2000s as a largely belated economic response to the rise of Asia, which opened up a plethora of opportunities for the development of the country and primarily its eastern regions. This rise offered a chance to turn the territory beyond the Urals and the Russian Far East from predominantly an imperial burden or rear in the confrontation with the West, and sometimes the forefront in the rivalry with Japan or China, into a springboard for the development of the whole country.


Oleg Barabanov, Timofey Bordachev, Fyodor Lukyanov, Andrey Sushentsov, Dmitry Suslov, Ivan Timofeev, Moscow, February 2017

18.02.2017 - Global riot and global order. Revolutionary situation in the world and what to do about it - report by Valdai discussion club

(Report in Russian, English version to be published shortly) Спустя много лет после студенческих волнений, которые охватили практически весь мир в 1968 году, активист тогдашнего движения Даниэль Кон-Бендит так вспоминал суть происходившего: «Это было восстание поколения, родившегося после Второй мировой войны, против общества, которое военное поколение построило после 1945 года». Бунт проявлялся по-разному– в зависимости от места действия. В Варшаве и Праге люди протестовали против коммунистического режима, в Париже и Франкфурте клеймил и буржуазно-консервативное засилье, в Сан-Франциско и Нью-Йорке возмущались милитаризмом и неравноправием, а в Исламабаде и Стамбуле отвергали власть военных. Всех объединяло нежелание житьпо-старому.«Мы были первым медиапоколением. СМИ играли большую роль, потому что они передавали искру жгучего неприятия, и она воспламеняла одну страну за другой», – вспоминал Кон-Бендит.

03.02.2017 - Sergei Karaganov, Dean of the School of International Economics and Foreign Affairs of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, "A view from Moscow"

The victory of Donald Trump reinforced international tendencies, which had been obvious for Russians and which had been guiding Russian behavior for last few years. Among them – deglobalization led by forces, which previously created it, but started to retreat from it, when they saw that it benefits others equally or more. The change in correlation of forces against the old world and towards Asia will continue, though at somewhat slower pace than in previous decades. China will continue to become in the very foreseeable future an equal to the U.S. in cumulative power. Europe of the EU will continue to muddle down. (Hopefully, not towards a collapse, but something leaner, more stable and healthier like a Common market, Schengen minus, two Eurozones or a Eurozone minus). The rivalry between the U.S. and China will continue to exacerbate. The confrontation between Russia and the West will continue, but will gradually dampen.

20.08.2015 - The Interview: Henry Kissinger

The National Interest’s editor, Jacob Heilbrunn, spoke with Henry Kissinger in early July in New York.

10.08.2015 - "Shame on UK for Sham Litvinenko Trial", by William Dunkerley for "Eurasia review"

What started off as a massive fabrication in 2006 just received a great boost from a complicit British government. The mysterious polonium death of reputed former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko is the focus. An inexplicably long series of official UK hearings on this nearly 9 year old case has just concluded. That’s prompted a new flurry of sensational media reports.

02.06.2015 - Eurasian Way Out of the European Crisis (Article by Sergei Karaganov, to be published in late June in "Russian in Global Affairs")

I have already written before that having emerged victorious from the Cold War, Europe lost the post-war peace. The continent is on the verge of strategic degradation that may either become a caricature of military-political division into opposing blocs or a time of disquieting uncertainty. The military-political conflict over Ukraine can escalate as well.

13.03.2015 - NEW RULES OR NO RULES? XI Annual Valdai Discussion Club Meeting Participants' Report

In Search of an Order For those who believe in the magic of numbers, the year 2014 was further proof in its existence. The World War I centenary had been anticipated in awe and History, by taking another dramatic twist, confirmed the worst of expectations. It pronounced that centuries-old conflicts are still with us and that such concepts as the balance of powers, borders, and sovereignty are still relevant even in the era of a global interdependence.

15.09.2014 - Western delusions triggered this conflict and Russians will not yield (by Professor Sergey Karaganov for FT)

The west is without direction and losing sight of moral convictions, writes Sergey Karaganov

29.05.2014 - It’s not just about gas: why China needs Russia (by Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor in chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs, Chairman of Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy)

In a pre-election article published a little over two years ago, Vladimir Putin wrote that Russia wanted to harness the Chinese wind for its sails of development. Every sailor knows that in stormy weather, and the world is a stormy place today, controlling a sailing ship is incredibly difficult. But by working skilfully there is a chance of inching one's goal much faster.

all messages