New memorandum tackles internet piracy in Russia – Scholar’s Comments from Mariëlle Wijermars

by Janne Suutarinen

In the beginning of November, BBC News announced that three major Russian internet companies, Yandex, and Rambler, have teamed up with leading media production companies  to sign a memorandum combating piracy. The guarantor of the agreement’s execution will be Roskomnadzor, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media.

The memorandum stipulates that the media  will create a register of websites hosting pirated materials. The internet service companies oblige themselves to consult the register every five minutes and remove listed websites from their search engine results within six hours.

According to BBC News, the copyright holders that have signed the memorandum are Gazprom-Media, National Media Group, Channel One, All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK), STS-Media, Association of Film and Television Producers, Internet Video Association (online cinema association), video platform Ruform, as well as Yandex-owned Other copyright holders are welcomed to join the agreement.

Russian Media Lab’s Mariëlle Wijermars (PhD), who conducts research on media and internet governance in Russia, thinks the memorandum is an interesting case because it creates a new mechanism of internet content control that operates outside of existing legal structures.

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Fine lines in Kremlin’s fog – German journalist Thielko Grieß on his experiences of working in Russia

By Olga Dovbysh & Janne Suutarinen

“You have lots of freedom of speech in the internet and in social media, but there exists a fine line somewhere. Nobody knows exactly where it is, or if one has crossed it or not.”

Since February 2017, Thielko Grieß has worked as a correspondent and presenter of Deutschlandradio in Moscow.

Thielko Grieß

Grieß studied Cultural Studies, Political Science and Communication and Media Studies in Leipzig, Jena and Ljubljana and then gained his first journalistic experience as a news editor and reporter at MDR (Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk). In 2009 he was part of the founding team of the newsroom of DRadio Wissen. After the traineeship Grieß worked as a presenter of the program “Morning information” (Informationen am Morgen) on Deutschlandfunk and was one of the station’s external reporters.

Having journalistic experience in two different media systems, in the interview Grieß reflects on peculiarities of journalistic work in Russia.

What are your reflections of working as a journalist in Moscow in comparison to your journalistic experience in other countries?

I have worked as a journalist in various countries but for a longer period of time only in two: Russia and Germany. Because of that, I would like to compare the aforementioned.

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There are challenges in Russian media studies – RML at the Aleksanteri Conference 2018

By Janne Suutarinen

The 18th Aleksanteri Conference “Liberation – Freedom – Democracy? 1918–1968–2018” again brought together hundreds of scholars and enthusiasts of Russian and Eastern-European studies. In the conference, Russian Media Lab hosted one roundtable, one plenary session and six panels. The project’s manager and Aleksanteri Institute’s director, professor Markku Kangaspuro was pleased with Russian Media Lab’s part in the program.

Was the Russian Media Lab stream at the conference successful?

“Definitely successful: the project got more visibility and all of our panels attracted good amount of researchers.”

In your perspective, what were the stream’s main contributions to the conference?

“The project really raised up our research topics for the whole conference – not only in the panels but also in the plenary session. And we can’t forget Mariëlle’s contribution as the coordinator of the whole conference.”

Did there come up new ideas for the project?

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Call for papers “Media control as source of political power in Central and Eastern Europe”


Workshop at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki organized by the Russian Media Lab in collaboration with the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen

Helsinki, 02 – 03 September 2019

We invite proposals for papers to be discussed at an intensive two-day workshop on “Media control as source of political power in Central and Eastern Europe” at the Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki on 02 – 03 September 2019. The workshop will involve around 15 scholars, and early-career researchers are especially encouraged to apply. Travel expenses and accommodation costs of invited participants will be covered by the organisers.

The workshop aims to bring together approaches from political science, media studies and other relevant academic disciplines to get a more comprehensive picture of the role of media control in consolidating and expanding political power in authoritarian regimes and in “backsliding” democracies. The focus of the workshop will equally be on the interplay of media and political actors and on the effect of this relationship on regime dynamics.

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Revolutions and corruption – A glimpse at post-Soviet press freedom in Armenia and Moldova

by Janne Suutarinen

On 12 October the Media Self-Regulatory Organizations Network (MSON) gathered for a meeting at the Aleksanteri Institute, Helsinki. The network brings together the media self-regulatory bodies of seven post-Soviet countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. MSON is supported by Alliance of Independent Press Councils of Europe (AICPE).

The network was created in 2011 as a platform for regional and cross-country cooperation and exchange of experience and best practices. The main output of their work is to influence public and professional opinions through recommendations and statements, for example on how to confront propaganda or political pressuring.

Russian Media Lab interviewed two of the meeting participants: Boris Navasardian, Armenia, and Viorica Zaharia, Moldova. Based on their descriptions, it seems that Armenia is taking a step towards wider press freedom, while Moldovan free journalism still struggles under political pressures.

Boris Navasardian is the president of Yerevan Press Club and member of Media Ethics Observatory, the Armenian media self-regulatory body founded in 2007. Navasardian thinks that the recent Armenian Velvet Revolution of 2018 has opened positive sights for Armenian press freedom. However, the battle against corruption has brought also a new economic challenge for media.

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Russian Media Lab at the Aleksanteri Conference – 24-26 October 2018, University of Helsinki

The Russian Media Lab is well-represented at the 18th Annual Aleksanteri Conference “Liberation – Freedom – Democracy? 1918–1968–2018”. The project is hosting one round table, six panels and one plenary session! Further details on Russian Media Lab’s stream can be found below. Please consult the Conference website for the latest version of the programme. We look forward to seeing you there!

Russian Media Lab I: Roundtable “Researching Russian Media – Challenges and Future Perspectives”
Venue: Hall 10, University of Helsinki Main Building, 3rd floor, Fabianinkatu 33

24 October 15:30-17:00

Participants: project members Mariëlle Wijermars, Katja Lehtisaari, Olga Dovbysh, Saara Ratilainen, Jussi Lassila

There will be opportunity for informal talk with project members during and after the roundtable. We are open to new ideas, projects and cooperation!

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Shouts from shadows: peculiar play in the Russian blogosphere – Interview with Dmitry Yagodin

by Janne Suutarinen

“To me, it is not clear what would be more important for the society: to feel satisfied with these narrow streams of alternative information, or to forget about them and strive for more open opposition; to fight the propaganda and to protect the rights of journalists.”

Dmitry Yagodin is a postdoctoral researcher in Aleksanteri Institute, Helsinki. His PhD The Blogization of Journalism (2014) dealt with how blogs politicized media and social space in Russia. Yagodin has broadly studied Russian media and journalism, as well as gathered experience as a journalist in Russia.

Currently Yagodin is working in the Russian Environment research group headed by Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen.

In the early 2000’s the Russian blogosphere appeared as an alternative and less constrained space for people to express themselves. This sparked Yagodin’s interest to study the topic.

What is the current state of blogosphere in Russia?

First of all, it is hard to define ‘blogosphere’ nowadays. Ten years ago that was much easier, since it was centered around LiveJournal – the most used platform back then. Now the term is difficult, because there is Instagram, Telegram, Facebook, Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki… An explosion of blogosphere has occurred. The single platform was abandoned, and the blogosphere has spread to all kinds of different platforms.

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Russian Media Lab at #AoIR2018 conference

This week, Russian Media Lab will take part in the annual of conference of the Association of Internet Researchers in Montreal. RML is organising a panel on ‘Politics, Activism and Trolling on the Russian internet’, with papers by Galina Miazhevich (University of Cardiff), Mariëlle Wijermars (University of Helsinki) and Elena Gapova (Western Michigan University). In addition, RML researcher Mariëlle will present a separate paper on mass media and the legitimation of internet control in Russia.

Panel-02: Politics, Activism and Trolling on the Russian internet

‘Is a woman’s place in the kitchen? Internet memes and Ksenia Sobchak’s presidential campaign’ Galina Miazhevich

YouTube and political activism in Russia                                                                                                  Mariëlle Wijermars

What Nations Do on the Internet: The Case of Two Belarusian Wikipedia Pages                        Elena Gapova

PaperSession-12: Infrastructures: Theory and Comparative Historical Materialities

Mass Media and the Legitimation of Internet Control in Russia: the Case of Telegram             Mariëlle Wijermars

“The situation is very difficult” – Finnish correspondent in Russia, Kerstin Kronvall, on Russia’s press freedom

by Janne Suutarinen
Photo: Grigori Vorobjov

Kerstin Kronvall is a journalist of Yle, Finland’s national public broadcasting company. Kronvall has worked as a foreign correspondent in Kiev, Ukraine and in Moscow, Russia. She has also worked as a Culture Councillor in Finland’s embassy in Moscow.

Currently Kronvall is based in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she writes news stories for Yle in Finnish and in Swedish. The journalist’s views on Russia’s press freedom and freedom of speech are bleak.

In your work, how do you encounter the problems relating to Russia’s freedom of press and freedom of speech?

A concrete example of this is the politicians’ and officials’ reluctance to give interviews. Getting an interview might also take a very long time, and often there is no possibility for follow-up questions.

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Olga Dovbysh will participate at public event “How is Europe Changing by Informational Technologies?” organized by the German-Russian Exchange in St. Petersburg

On 29 September, Russian Media Lab researcher Olga Dovbysh will participate as a speaker in open podium discussion “How Is European Media Changing: traditional and social media, post-truth and fake news, virtual public sphere, new transparency and right for information” at the public event The Fall Meetings “How is Europe Changing by Informational Technologies?”

The Fall Meetings – 2018 is the second annual public event of the German-Russian Exchange in St. Petersburg dedicated to the current European problems, similar to the regular public Fall Conversations in Berlin, organized by the German-Russian Exchange since the recent 20 years (

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