CIMUN Chronicle / Article / 2016

Editorial: A lesson on muzzling the media, corruption in Russian Cabinet

IPD Article Image - Editorial: A lesson on muzzling the media, corruption in Russian Cabinet

In a recent encounter with an unnamed official, I was threatened.

This official took the liberty to both insult me by saying he could influence my employment—and my life—if I chose to reveal information he stated as "off the record" after our conversation. However, I did not agree to this.

“The defense minister is corrupt and the foreign and communications ministers as well as Justice and SVR are trying to cover it up,” the official said. 

The official went on to say director of the FSB Alexander Vasilyevich Bortnikov is under investigation and is being penalized for doing his job.

“He has taken action against the cabinet, and the FSB investigated him. The FSB director was sacked. They replaced him with a Putin puppet—all for just investigating corruption,” the official said.

It is perhaps due to his stated fear that he would be killed for revealing this information that he felt the need to threaten me. It is worth noting he prefaced his statement by saying the claims made by an El Universal reporter are correct and the Russian government is now investigating the reporter for libel. El Universal has now been arrested and it seems Russia is going to lengths to make sure nothing can pass to the record except its own propaganda.

As for how the information was obtained, let us revisit what it means to be "on" or "off the record."

First off, whether a discussion is on or off the record is a conversation parties should have before discussing anything of pertinence. Secondly, status needs to be agreed upon by both parties. Once both parties have agreed to go off record, any journalist with integrity will keep the rest othat conversation private. 

I am a servant for public information. I do not advocate for predatory practices in journalism nor the government. I advocate for the smooth transfer of information through a public servant to the public. I hope those who provide information, even under duress, will continue to do so until eventually no dark corners are left to hide the truth in.

Political cartoon: Elizabeth Stalter/RES