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The 28th episode of IPI’s podcast series IPI Freedom Dialogues: Turkey is out now!
In the 28th episode of the IPI Freedom Dialogues podcast, journalist Cansu Çamlıbel and her guest Elizaveta Osetinskaya, Russian media entrepreneur and founder of news outlet The Bell who is currently working from Turkey, discussed the Russian government’s crackdown on media freedom, the challenges and responsibilities of exiled Russian journalists, and lessons for journalists working under increasingly autocratic conditions.
Previous episodes of IPI’s Freedom Dialogues: Turkey podcasts are available here.
Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Osetinskaya hosted “Russians are okay!”, a series of talk programmes which shed light on the stories of successful Russian-speaking entrepreneurs. Speaking to Çamlıbel, Osetinskaya said that she found it to be utterly immoral to continue the programme with its original narrative focusing on positive stories about entrepreneurs in Russia. As a result, both “Russians are okay!” and The Bell have turned their attention to covering the consequences of the aggression against Ukraine for their Russian audience.
On the challenges of doing journalistic work in Russia, Osetinskaya said that she was declared a foreign agent by the Russian authorities and forced into exile, much like others who stand against the war. Contextualizing the Russian government’s crackdown on freedom of expression and of the press, Osetinskaya spoke of the government having gradually transformed the legal system into an instrument of oppression against dissenting opinions and actions. What began as a slow, yet steady, process of silencing social activists and journalists towards the end of 2000s gradually progressed to co-opt public and private media throughout the ensuing years, finally culminating in the total crackdown on anything and anyone having a semblance of dissent.
Asked by Çamlıbel what advice she has for activists and journalists trying to do their work in exile, Osetinskaya emphasized the importance of prioritizing and engaging with their audience at home. She said that exiled journalists and intellectuals tend to live in a bubble which precludes communication with their audience. “Rather than focusing on our own understanding of the situation, we need to think about the needs and circumstances of our audience [at home] and to find the proper language to address this audience”, said Osetinskaya.
Topics covered in the podcast include:
- The Russian government’s crackdown on freedom of expression and of the press
- The “foreign agent” law and (un)sustainability of journalism in Russia
- Journalistic work and dissent after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
- Challenges and responsibilities of exiled journalists
- Lessons to be learned for journalists in regions with autocratic governments