Note: I was planning this post for today before I realized that it’s the eleventh anniversary of journalist Paul Klebnikov’s death. He was shot in Moscow in the evening of July 9, 2004. The publication he worked for, Forbes Russia, is on the list of anti-Kremlin news sources in Russian. Mr. Klebnikov produced some fantastic work during his life and I would highly recommend reading it.
I’m a big advocate of reading the news in the foreign language you’re learning. It’s okay if you don’t like political stuff. Pretty much any topic you can think of has news related to it. A lot of people like sports and entertainment-related stuff and Google News has sections for both of these in many foreign languages. Believe me, I’ve read my fair share of political news, and it does get old after a while, if you ask me.
Reading native media will also help you see what issues speakers of your target language deem important. For example, if you’re into sports, you can tell from reading the sports-related news in Russian that Russian people are REALLY into soccer (or football, for you European readers out there).
So anyway, I found this interesting link with the twenty most anti-Kremlin sites in Russian. For the record, many, many Russian-language news sites and pretty in favor of the current Russian government. At least, the more popular and well-known ones are.
Before I post the list, let me say this: if you’re learning Russian, I think you should read pro-Kremlin websites. If you’re pro-Kremlin, you’ll enjoy it, and if you’re anti-Kremlin—well, you know what they say about knowing your enemy.
That being said, I think it’s useful to know whether a site leans pro-Kremlin or anti-Kremlin. Based on an analysis conducted in March 2014 (which was a very politically contentious month), here are the twenty most anti-Kremlin websites.
1. Ekho Moskvy
2. Dozhd TV
3. Novaya gazeta
4. The New Times
6. Radio Svoboda
7. RIA "New Region"
9. RBK and RBK daily
14. Yezhednevny zhurnal
17. Russky Zhurnal
18. Russian Forbes
20. Moskovskiye novosti
I’m pleased to say that I read Radio Svoboda (#6), RBK (#9), Rosbalt (#12), Kommersant (#16), and Forbes Russia (#18) on a regular basis. I read Vedomosti (#10) and Lenta.ru (#15) when I remember to, which varies from “often” to “not very much”. I listen to Ekho Moskvy (#1) podcasts and radio on a regular basis. Personally, I’ve never been much of a fan of Novaya Gazeta (#3) or The New Times (#4), as they’re a bit left-leaning for my tastes. As for the other sites on the list, I hadn’t heard of a lot of them before finding this list, so perhaps I will have to integrate them into my reading soon.
Needless to say, I read a ton of pro-Kremlin media as well. So don’t read too much (no pun intended!) into my choices. Mainly, I just want to learn as much Russian vocabulary as possible.