Media Blog

Vladimir Putin Unleashes his Judo Master on the Foreign Press

Russian President Vladimir Putin has received much deserved criticism from foreign journalists over Russia’s human rights record and over last month’s rigged parliamentary elections.
Now, in what looks like a bid to further intimidate foreign journalists stationed in Moscow, Putin has recruited his old judo master to deal with them.
Putin has asked his long-time friend and judo guru Vasily Shestakov to head the National Information Center, a new press and information center in Moscow.
The center opens next month, in time for Russia’s presidential election on March 2, and judging from a photo in Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper showing Shestakov’s burly neck, he is not someone to mess with.
A government spokesman, Ivan Makushok, told the agency Interfax news agency that the center will serve as a liaison between foreign journalists and Kremlin officials.
Russia’s media is now almost entirely controlled by the Kremlin, and critics are blacklisted from state TV.
Last week Russia forcibly closed the British Council’s two regional offices. This follows the beating-up of several Russian journalists working for the BBC’s Russian service. Russian journalists working for domestic media have been killed.

Tom GrossTom Gross is a former Middle East correspondent for the London Sunday Telegraph and the New York Daily News.

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