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Dissenting voices: Ekho Moskvy and Yulia Latynina

 
Yulia Latynina. Photo: Ogoniok – Journalist Nikolay Svanidze (left) on the Osoboe Mnenie
(Special Opinion) program on Ekho Moskvy. Photo: Ekho Moskvy

Ekho Moskvy (The Echo of Moscow) has an established reputation as an independent radio channel characterized by open debate and quality journalism. Valeria Novodvorskaya, a well-known Russian dissident, advised her readers in September 2008: "Listen to Ekho, there is nothing else in this country to listen to or watch."[34] Founded in 1990, Ekho Moskvy boasts an audience of 900,000 listeners per day. According to data provided by Medialogy, a market research company, it was the most frequently cited Russian national media outlet in February 2009.

Some of the most popular programs on Ekho Moskvy include Osoboe mnenie (Special Opinion) and Yulia Latynina's Kod Dostupa (Access Code). Yulia Latynina is an award-winning fantasy writer and journalist born. Aside from hosting Kod Dostupa, she writes for opposition papers Novaya Gazeta and Ezhednevnyy Zhurnal. Her extensive coverage of the August 2008 war in Georgia generated a great deal of controversy in Russia, with Latynina voicing very critical views of the official Russian position. This did not go unnoticed. In late August 2008, Ekho Moskvy Editor-in-Chief Alexey Venediktov was publicly berated – if not threatened – by Vladimir Putin for the station's coverage of the war. "You are responsible for everything that goes on at the radio station," the Prime Minister reportedly told Venediktov. "I don't know who they are, but I know who you are."[35]

Yulia Latynina's writings on South Ossetia are scathing in their treatment of the local elites. In her view, the government of breakaway South Ossetia is an example of a siloviki-steered structure (siloviki are the representatives of the Russian security apparatus):

"I cannot even describe the regime in South Ossetia as 'separatist'. If you think about it, who would you identify as the separatists there? The head of South Ossetian KGB, Anatoliy Baranov, used to head the Federal Security Service of the Mordovian Republic in Russia; the head of the Interior Ministry, Mikhail Mindzayev, served in the Interior Ministry of North Ossetia; Defense Minister Vasiliy Lunev was a military commissar in Perm; and Security Council Secretary Anatoliy Barankevich used to be the Vice Deputy of the commissar of Stavropol Krai. So who exactly is the Ossetian separatist in this government? Prime Minister Yuri Morozov, perhaps?" [36]

Latynina summarizes her impressions:

"South Ossetia, just like the Palestinian Liberation Organization, is neither a state, nor an ethnos, nor a territory; it is a special form of para-state where residents are turned into militarized refugees. It's a quasi-army whose leader cannot allow subjects to get involved in anything other than war, a war that makes his power absolute and the money in his control unaccountable. It is where the hysteria of the deprived population becomes the main means of settling personal accounts."[37]

 


[34] Valeria Novodvorskaya, "Ekho Responded" (in Russian), Grani.ru, 9 September 2008.

[36] Yulia Latynina, "On the Forced Bankruptcy of the Joint Enterprise Called South Ossetia" (in Russian), EJ.ru, 8 August 2008.

[37] Yulia Latynina, "On the Forced Bankruptcy of the Joint Enterprise Called South Ossetia" (in Russian), EJ.ru, 8 August 2008.

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