Vladimir Putin had this to say in denying a Moskovsky Korrespondent report last week that he’d divorced his wife in order to marry champion gymnast and current Russian legislator Alina Kabayeva:
I have always reacted negatively to those who, with their snotty noses and erotic fantasies, prowl into others’ lives.
Just how negatively? Well, let’s just say that the paper was closed down by its publisher today, who denied any political motivation behind the decision. To be fair, according to the Moscow Times, the coverage of politicians’ personal lives is considered something of a taboo in Russia, and the Korrespondent article had the added misfortune of being false.
Still, the current situation of the press in Russia reminds me of an old high school history teacher’s description of civil liberties in (what was then) the Soviet Union: Everyone’s got freedom of speech. Once.
Of course, more than a dozen vocal press critics of the Putin government have ended up mysteriously dead over the past few years, so all things considered, the Korrespondent got off easy.
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