Russian Elections: Information War

In one of the paradoxes of Russian politics, Boris Yeltsin had to end his war in Chechnya to return as President in 1996. This time, Vladimir Putin has vigorously pursued conflict with the same enemy, apparently enhancing his chance of presidential office. In Yeltsin’s case, media coverage of the battles influenced public opinion, while the current conflict has become part of a worrying information war that has enveloped Russian political life.

The World Today
Published 1 February 2000 Updated 27 October 2020 6 minute READ

Margot Light

London School of Economics and Political Science

Diametrically opposite judgements have been made about the December elections to the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament. International monitors declared the vote free and fair. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), for example, called them ‘an important step in the country’s democratic development’.

Long-term specialists were far more negative. Michael McFaul of the Carnegie Foundation, who has studied every Russian election since 1989, termed this campaign ‘the worst from the point of view of obvious violations of the rules’. Nowhere were the violations more obvious than in the media. Monitors were appalled at how freedom of speech was used and abused.

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