Censorship by the Russian Government: What It Is Not Sharing


Russian caricature by Sergey Elkin of Putin cutting the wires to the internet

Marni Schwarz, Staff Writer

As a society, we are told from the moment we are born to tell the truth and be honest. Integrity is intertwined within our lives and is the foundation of our government. What would happen if we weren’t able to speak our minds and share what we believe in? How would that change the people around us? Our society? 

To answer this question, we can look at a current example. Citizens of Russia are experiencing a ban of freedom and liberty in their everyday lives. Amidst their invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin (which literally means fortress inside a city and is the term used to refer to the government of the Federation of Russia) has been attempting to control the narrative. To accomplish this, Vladimir Putin signed a law criminalizing public opposition to the war with Ukraine. This law states that spreading what the government considers to be false information would result in a punishment of up to 15 years in prison. Individuals would be known as traitors if they call the crisis “a war” or “an invasion” since, according to the Kremlin, they are undermining national interest. However, with inevitable opposition to this policy, the government resorts to justifying it as a military operation necessary to the cause.

Many independent Russian media outlets naturally shut down following the implementation of the law. Companies that had been running nonstop for years, such as the radio news station Echo of Moscow, shut their doors after consecutive decades of broadcasts. Additionally, foreign news companies struggled to shut down quickly in an attempt to protect their reporters. CNN, ABC News, and CBS News, all with reporters placed in Russia, were forced to stop their live broadcasts. Russia has even blocked access to many social media platforms, isolating its citizens even further from the truth. 

Marina Ovsyannikova holds up a sign that reads “NO WAR” on the set of a Russian state television channel (Photo: Channel One)

In spite of all this scrambling and rearranging to the Kremlin’s advantage, very few people have spoken out against the government for fear of getting arrested. Nevertheless, a Russian state-run television station editor Marina Ovsyannikova decided to protest these policies. In the midst of a live broadcast, Ovsyannikova appeared behind an anchor with a sign that stated “NO WAR.” Following this supposed crime, she was tried by a district court in Moscow, found guilty of hooliganism, and fined 30,000 rubles (equivalent to $280). In an interview with CNN, she explained how it was “impossible to stay silent,” as there was an enormous difference between reality and what was being broadcasted. Even Ovsyannikova’s mother was brainwashed by this news, believing that what their country was doing was just. She described what was happening in Ukraine as a “crime, and Russia is the aggressor country, and the responsibility for this aggression lies on the conscience of only one person. This man is Vladimir Putin.” Although Marina was ashamed of promoting the propaganda of the Kremlin for such a long time, she was still worried about the people of Russia. In the interview, she explained how she feared that Russian soldiers were not quite sure what they were fighting for, and many lives were being lost as a result. 

With the enforcement of these laws, the Russian government is pushing its people farther and farther from the Western world, embracing a sort of isolation from modern society. As the Kremlin continues to go forward with its plans, more lives are being lost and more innocent Russian citizens are being propagandized. If this doesn’t stop soon, there is no guarantee how far the government will take it.