Disinfo: West falsely claims Russian media not free


In 2020 Russia ranks 149 on the World Press Freedom Index, annually published by Reporters Without Borders.

Many in the West will take this for a fact, because for decades their media have been hammering into their heads the Kremlin kills journalists. However, the numbers given by New York based Committee To Protect Journalists clearly indicate that under Putin’s predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, things were much worse.

The same press freedom index ranks The Netherlands 5th globally, but this certainly does not mean that a Dutch journalist is better off than a Russian one. In Russia, it’s possible for the media to depict president Vladimir Putin as a dog, like The Moscow Times did. In the Netherlands, offending the king carries a prison sentence of up to 5 years and a 20,500 euro fine. 


The article combines cherry-picking and outright falsehoods to support its central claim. 

The RSF Press Freedom Index is based on a detailed methodology which evaluates a given country’s media freedom based on 87 questions posed to “media professionals, lawyers, and sociologists” based within that country. Answers to these questions are then converted into six qualitative indicators, such as “pluralism,” “media independence,” self-censorship,” and “transparency,” which in turn form the basis of the country’s press freedom ranking.

The author attempts to deflect this by focusing exclusively on the numbers of murdered journalists, which were supposedly “much worse” under Yeltsin. However, even this claim is problematic.

The seventh, quantitative indicator (“abuses”) featured in the Press Freedom Index is determined by a separate team of RSF experts and used to calculate a separate score. RSF explains that “[a] country’s final score is the greater of these two scores. This method prevents an inappropriately low score (high ranking) being given to a country where few or no acts of violence against journalists take place because the provision of news and information is tightly controlled.” Nonetheless, Russia’s “abuse” score in 2020 (53.38) still exceeded its “underlying situation” score (47.20). The press kit accompanying RSF’s 2020 index also states that “[a]t least 37 Russian professional journalists have been killed in connection with their work since 2000,” compared with 40 reporters killed in 1992-9. This gives the lie to the author’s claim that the situation of Russian journalists has seen a marked improvement under Putin.

The author then dismisses The Netherlands’ 144-place lead over Russia in the RSF ranking by citing the extremely specific issue of Dutch lese-majeste laws on the one hand, and the supposedly progressive way the Russian state treats depictions of Putin on the other. 

Moreover, the argument itself is riddled with inaccuracies and relies on outdated sources. Since 2018, deliberately offending the monarch has carried a maximum sentence of four months (not 5 years). Even before the law was relaxed, the highest prison term issued under it was 5 months and concerned an individual charged with property damage and violent speech in the course of the same proceedings. The law is also more difficult to apply in cases where freedom speech is directly concerned including comedy, public debate, and journalism. 

Conversely, the Russian parliament passed a law in 2019 criminalizing “public insult of a representative of power” and stipulating up to one year of “corrective labour” (i.e. penal colony) upon conviction (Art. 319). Although the law does not exclusively criminalize insults directed at the Russian president, half of all cases (51 out of 100) and three-quarters of all convictions (38 out of 51) between March 2019 and March 2020 concerned individuals who criticized Putin (pp. 5-6), including at least two journalists (see here and here).


  • Reported in: Issue 200
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 03/06/2020
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: Russia, The Netherlands
  • Keywords: Human rights, Russian superiority, Freedom of speech, Media


Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

see more

Western women told to become similar to over-aggressive men to survive and thrive in capitalist-imperialist societies

In the West women are told that they must renounce their feminine power and become similar to over-aggressive men in order to survive and thrive in capitalist-imperialist culture, and this leads to failure for their women, children, men and society. Today the West needs typically masculine virtues such as the acceptance of risk.


The article is  consistent with gender stereotypes and with the recurring  pro-Kremlin narrative portraying Western societies as decadent and morally weak, having lost their traditional values and breaking down under the weight of feminism and LGBT culture.

This narrative claims in Western societies women are losing their real nature, while men are being emasculated and are disappearing and that the cultures and governments of non-Western countries based on traditional partriarchal values are superior to those of the West.

The law on non-profit organisations in Moldova can lead to the loss of state sovereignty

The fact that the adoption of the law on NGOs may lead to the loss of state sovereignty and to the free financing of parties by various third-party organisations bothers neither Sandu, nor Nastase, nor even Muresan.


This claim is in line with the disinformation narrative about NGOs sponsored from abroad as ”foreign agents” aiming to undermine the political order in the country.

The statement is made in the context in which a number of non-governmental organisations, usually pro-Western, have made three calls in the last three months (March 3, April 30 and June 3) for Parliament to adopt in final reading the draft law on non-profit organisations. In the first reading, the project was adopted in 2018.

America has a choice between racism and anarchy. NY governor did nothing to stop the crime

America has a choice between racism and anarchy. It is interesting that the protests caused by the death of George Floyd covered most American states but the centres of unrest with violence and looting are mainly in the states under the Democratic Party. These are the lands where Trump has not the slightest chance of winning.The most striking example is New York where Governor Andrew Cuomo does nothing to stop the crimes because, according to him, the looters have mingled with protesters.


Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative that the protests in the US caused by the death of George Floyd are in the interests of some in the US.

The claim that Democrat leaders did nothing to prevent crime from being committed, is not true. Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York and a member of the Democratic Party, has criticised attorneys for not charging crimes appropriately as well as criticising Mayor Bill de Blasio for not deploying enough police officers to stop looting.