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Frank Seller: What happened to Russia?

Although I don't expect to find a glowing endorsement of an American president (former or otherwise) in any foreign news source, I am disappointed at the regretful tenor in your remark (PRAVDA article on Ronald Reagan) about former Soviet leader "...Mikhail Gorbachev, who practically handed Reagan victory..."

Regardless of anyone's opinion of Ronald Reagan, most people around the world have been under the impression that the majority of people in the former Soviet Union were happy to rid themselves of Communism's suffocating totalitarianism.  How sad it is that you should attempt to subtly malign the man who was so instrumental in your liberation.  Why do you hold Mr. Gorbachev in such disdain?

We in America we are well aware that the tide has returned to the old days of Communist propaganda in Russia, though I personally am disappointed that the American media has not reported on it more aggressively.  Whatever criticism you may have of the media in the United States (and it's doubtful that anyone outside the U.S. could be more critical of them than we are), our media are not under the thumb of government control.  There will always be individual newspaper editors and publishers hungering to have political influence; unfortunately not everyone who puts on the mantle of "journalist" upholds its highest ideals, and that's true in every nation.  However,
whatever individual American journalists' intentions may be, they do not have government officials editing their copy and signing their paychecks. 

Our news editors don't run to President Bush's administration to beg for permission to report any story.  If that were true the prisoner-abuse scandal in Iraq would never have been reported at all.  Can Pravda run a story damaging to President Putin without his administration's blessing?

I was surprised a few weeks ago when I visited Pravda's website for the first time and saw not only that it is a hotbed of anti-American propaganda, but also a cesspool of tabloid nonsense such as a story I read about a hole in time at the South Pole.  I was even more alarmed, however, at a story
about a law your Duma was considering passing which would make it illegal to quote any source in a report on an act of terrorism except a government official.

I find it ironic that President Putin has agreed to boost Democracy in Iraq when, in truth, he has nothing but contempt for a system which could strip him of his power if he were to relinquish his control over the media.  Will he also encourage government ownership and control of all the media in Iraq?

I don't expect Pravda to love or even like the United States.  However, if you expect to become a  respected institution of journalistic integrity, you need to focus your critical eye on yourselves, as well as the outside world.

What happened in Russia?  Where are the brave men and women who helped topple Communism?  How has Putin's regime been able to return the media into the unquestioning servile propagandists of the former Soviet Union?  I don't expect you to become like the United States.  Indeed, Russia has its own long and proud history of overcoming great trials, especially during World War II.  But how can you express your pride if you can't even express your opinion?

Kind regards,

Frank Sellers

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