Media transformations in the post-communist world: Eastern Europe's tortured path to change pages:133-148
After nearly twenty years of post-communism, a sense of disillusionment prevails the thinking about both Russian media and democracy. Russia is described as stuck halfway between authoritarianism and democracy, or even worse, going backwards, sliding back into authoritarianism. The press is considered only ‘partly free’, and also this freedom seems to slink. Freedom House lowered the status of Russian media in 2003 after some years of ‘partly free’ to ‘not free’ at all. Since then, reports on the state of Russian media freedom have not been optimistic at all. The negative sounds contrast with the euphoric sense of the late 1980s and early 1990s wherein Russia’s potential for freedom and democracy were stressed. What does all this tell us about Russia and what does it tell about the mainly Western observers looking at Russia from the outside? What does it tell about Western thinking on Russian media and democracy and, in extension, on media and democracy in general? We give an overview of Russian media evolution during the last twenty years, paralleled to Western thinking about Russian media - interwoven with the never ending discussion about the uniqueness of Russia.