Conference abstracts and biographies

Welcome and introduction

Julie Hall is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of London Metropolitan University. Julie leads the University’s academic activities, working closely with Vice-Chancellor Professor Lynn Dobbs to ensure London Met delivers on its strategic plan. A professor of Higher Education, Julie's background is in sociology with a particular interest in inclusive teaching and learning, for which she was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2014. She has worked in the sector for 36 years, starting her career with leading a London Guildhall University programme at partner institutions in London. Julie joined the University from Solent University Southampton in January 2022.

Wendy Sloane studied at Moscow’s Pushkin Institute in 1983-84 and worked as an interpreter in Russia for the Soviet Women’s Committee and others in 1986-1987, as part of her master’s degree studies at the Harriman Institute for Advanced Study of the Soviet Union at Columbia University. She became a reporter-researcher for Soviet-related stories at Time Magazine in 1988 and worked as a journalist in Moscow from 1989 to 1995, writing mainly for Moscow Magazine, the Associated Press, the Daily Telegraph and the Christian Science Monitor. She became a magazine editor in 1996 shortly after moving to the UK before writing regularly for the Sunday Times and others. Currently, she freelances for the London Economic and the British Journalism Review. She is an associate professor, a principal lecturer for Creative Technologies and Digital Media at SCDM and the journalism course leader at London Metropolitan University and is also a University Teaching Fellow and Senior Fellow of the HEA. Follow her on Twitter: @wendyutah

Keynote Address: Dutch courage: Why we moved The Moscow Times to Amsterdam

Derk Sauer, founder of The Moscow Times

After working for 32 years in Russia as a journalist and publisher as the founder of diverse publications such as The Moscow Times (Russia’s first independent English newspaper), Cosmopolitan Russia (with one million circulation the biggest Cosmo outside the US), and Vedomosti business newspaper, Sauer became the CEO of Russia’s largest online media house RBK. He had to flee Moscow two weeks into the war. The reason? RBK decided to continue to use the word ‘war’ to characterise Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, publish the real facts and defy Russian state propaganda. By then this had become punishable with up to 15 years in jail.

Overnight Sauer moved their Russian journalists to Amsterdam and then overcame myriad practical issues (visas, tickets, office, housing, money) to open a Dutch-based newsroom. This became the new home for Moscow Times reporters and also for TV Rain’s new studio. They were joined by colleagues from Meduza, the largest independent Russian news site. Sauer currently has over 50 Russian journalists in Amsterdam, which has become the main hub for Russian independent journalism. His keynote will address the main issues he has faced and how he overcame them, and also will explore the future of journalism in Russia.

Author biography

Derk Sauer started his journalistic career in 1970 as Belfast correspondent for Dutch Broadcasting Company, VPRO. In 1975 he became a co-founder of Tilt Film and produced many documentaries shot in countries such as Vietnam, Iran, Salvador, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Chili, Argentina and Holland. In 1982, he was appointed as the editor of the Dutch magazine Nieuwe Revu, one of the leading weekly publications in Holland, published by VNU, which in 1986 was named Magazine of the Year in the Netherlands. In 1990, Sauer opened a joint venture in the USSR, together with the Soviet Union of Journalists, as editor-in-chief and publisher of Moscow Magazine, the country’s first glossy magazine. He then co-launched in 1992 Independent Media and launched The Moscow Times, followed by magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, Esquire and many others. Sauer also founded Vedomosti – Russia’s leading independent business newspaper in a joint venture with the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal.

In 2004, Sauer and his partners sold Independent Media to Sanoma Magazines but stayed on as chairman of the supervisory board of Sanoma Independent Media in Moscow. In 2010, together with investment fund Egeria, he acquired NRC Media, the quality newspaper group in the Netherlands, which publishes NRC Handelsblad and NRC Next. In 2012, Sauer was invited to join Russia’s leading multimedia company RBK, the leader in business information in Russia, and was appointed chairman and president. But in 2016, the Kremlin forced him and his editorial team out of RBK because of their independent and investigative journalism. In 2017 he bought back The Moscow Times and launched the Russian language VTimes platform. In 2021 VTimes was named a ‘foreign agent’ and in March 2022, Sauer and his team had to move to the Netherlands.


Panel 1: Don’t mention the war!

Chair: Nanette van der Laan, Channel 4 News


Nanette van der Laan is a Senior Producer at Channel 4 News and a former Daily Telegraph and Moscow Times correspondent, based in Moscow. She has also been based in Paris, Washington, DC and Warsaw, where she has worked for a variety of news organisations.


Publish the propaganda – or face prison

James Rodgers, City University

In early March 2022, just days after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin followed its military assault with a war on journalism. The announcement of new legislation making the use of unofficial sources potentially a criminal offence left international news organizations in Moscow facing a major dilemma. For correspondents to stay, and do their job as normal, was to risk imprisonment. Leaving meant also leaving the story, contacts, and especially the sense of daily life in shops and streets that is such a vital part of correspondents’ material. There was another option: staying and trying to produce credible journalism within the new law. None of these options was especially appealing. Each involved significant practical and ethical problems. Senior editors frequently faced with taking such challenging decisions faced by far the biggest problem they had encountered in Russia’s post-Soviet history. This was all made more urgent by rumours that Russia was planning to introduce martial law, a situation that would deprive Russians and foreign residents alike of what remained of their right to express themselves freely.

Most major news organizations seemed to share the interpretation offered by the BBC’s director-general and cited above: namely that independent journalism had been criminalised. In consequence, they suspended reporting from Moscow – and this at a time when the Russian capital had been more newsworthy than at any time since Soviet power had collapsed more than 30 years earlier. This paper will combine interviews with some of the international journalists who left Moscow after the outbreak of war with longer-term historical analysis to argue that – so far at least – with the new legislation the Kremlin has largely succeeded in placing 20th-century controls on 21st-century media.

Author biography

James Rodgers is Reader in International Journalism at City, University of London. He is the author of four books on international affairs, the most recent of which, Assignment Moscow: Reporting on Russia from Lenin to Putin (Bloomsbury, 2020), is coming out in a new and revised edition in May, 2023. His next book, on Russia and the West in the Putin era, is due to be published in 2025 by Yale University Press. In 2020, the International Association of Literary Journalism Studies awarded James the John C. Hartsock prize for his article on the work of Svetlana Alexievich. In May 2021, James was elected fellow of the Royal Historical Society in recognition of his contribution to the discipline of history.


Russian independent media’s tactics during the war in Ukraine

Tatiana Chervyakova, Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland

This paper will investigate the strategies used by independent Russian journalists and media to cover the ongoing agenda after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. After this date, the second stage of the history of Russian journalism began. Journalists had to emigrate in order not to be prosecuted by Russian courts, and all independent media outlets were blocked without trial by Roskomnadzor, the Russian federal executive agency responsible for monitoring, controlling, and censoring Russian mass media. Independent media lost a huge amount of advertising revenue due to their leaving the Russian market, and Russian brands have avoided any sponsoring of opposition political content. In addition, the most globally used payment systems such as MasterCard and Visa suspended all Russian card support. But surprisingly, media professionals admit that Russian media has demonstrated its resilience and ability to adapt to these harsh times. They have continued their work, looking for new formats for audience interaction, expanding through the channels they use and even founding new, important, independent media outlets.

Using semi-structured interviews and following discourse analysis, this paper will formulate the most important tactics Russian independent media outlets have employed to allow them to survive and, perhaps, to strive in challenging circumstances, tactics that are now an integral part of the anti-war journalistic movement in Russia that did not exist before.

Author biography

Tatiana Chervyakova was born in Siberia in 1997 and graduated from Moscow State University in the faculty of Journalism and Political Journalism. She has worked for Open Russia and the Anti-Corruption Foundation, and is now an MSc student in Media Management at the Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland.

Did the western media misjudge Putin?

Peter Conradi

Articles published by British and other Western media outlets in the run-up to the war on Ukraine make fascinating, if contradictory, reading: warnings by US intelligence of an imminent invasion are juxtaposed with comment pieces suggesting Russia’s mass troop build-up was a colossal bluff intended merely to intimidate Ukraine. Why did so many Kremlin watchers misread Putin’s intentions? Was it just down to a lack of information or were too many naïve enough to give the Russian leader the benefit of the doubt, ignoring the lessons of 2008, when he invaded Georgia, and 2014, when he seized Crimea?

Author biography

Peter Conradi is the Sunday Times Europe Editor, author of Who Lost Russia? From the Collapse of the USSR to Putin’s War on Ukraine, and a former Moscow correspondent who has also been based in London, Brussels, and Zurich. He is also the author of The Red Ripper: Inside the Mind of Russia’s Most Brutal Serial Killer, Mad Vlad: Vladimir Zhirinovsky and the New Russian Nationalism and Hitler’s Piano Player. He co-wrote The King’s Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy.


Panel 2: Disinformation, misinformation and fake news

Chair: Professor Andrew Moran, London Metropolitan University


Professor Moran has a PhD in American Political History (London Guildhall University), a BA (Hons) in American Studies and Politics (Keele University) and has taught at London Metropolitan University for almost thirty years. He is the Head of Criminology, Sociology, Politics and International Relations. He is also a Professor of Politics and International Relations, a Senior Fellow of the HEA and a University Teaching Fellow.

Prof Moran has contributed to scholarly journals, such as Presidential Studies Quarterly, White House Studies, Diplomacy and Statecraft, Political Studies, Party Politics, and Democratization (for which he was Book Reviews Editor for five years) and has appeared on BBC News 24, Sky News, CNN, the Voice of Russia, Bloomberg TV, and Faculti, as well as contributing to a variety of newspapers. He has published book chapters on US politics, is co-author of the popular textbook International Security Studies (Routledge), and has also co-authored educational books, such as Help Your Kids with Study Skills (Dorling Kindersley).


God, Tsar and the Fatherland - the ‘editorial standards’ driving Russia’s new-generation propagandists

Kate de Pury, European Broadcasting Union’s Moscow Bureau

In the current news cycle, as Moscow’s military forces struggle to advance on the battlefield, it seems the only thing that’s going well for the Kremlin is its propaganda machine. The patriotic narrative pushed by state TV, supported by censorship laws crushing opposition media, regularly produces polls (even independent) supporting Putin’s war in Ukraine. Reports of huge Russian casualties are kept out of the news and families of soldiers killed in the conflict appear on social media calling for revenge against Ukraine, rather than questioning the Kremlin’s war.

There is little vocal opposition to the patriotic narrative inside the state propaganda machine, though privately, seasoned journalists voice doubts and some have resigned. But serving Putin’s imperial ambitions is a priority in Russia where a new generation of young students is being trained in journalism based on the ‘editorial standards’ of God, Tsar and the Fatherland, to promote the idea that Putin has unleashed a sacred war. With profound historical and emotional resonance, this channels the huge sacrifices ordinary Russians made in World War II and could be called upon to make again as the war grinds on.

Journalism courses are opening across Russia; it’s an increasingly popular degree subject and seen as a career path with prospects. Many graduates will go to work for state media, some in the local TV stations in Russian-occupied territories in east Ukraine. I gained rare access inside a Moscow journalism school, attending lectures and speaking to students, to see how Russia’s young journalists are being trained. From year one, lessons in orthodox Christianity and reworked Russian history teach students the rhetoric they will need to play their part in an ‘information war.’ For most students, the most important lesson they will learn at journalism school is that this is a ‘profession’ where their talent will be used to ensure power is never held to account.

Author biography

An award-winning news editor and multi-format journalist with extensive international experience, de Pury currently heads the European Broadcasting Union’s Moscow Bureau and was Moscow Bureau Chief of the Associated Press 2014-2019. She manages the daily news file from Russia and ensures staff can report safely in an environment that is openly hostile to public service journalism. She launched an MA in Journalism for Falmouth University. She is a member of the advisory boards for Rory Peck Trust and media literacy charity The Charlotte Project.


Public expression in Russian academic institutions: what censorship in Russian universities looks like

Dr Iliya Kiriya, University Grenoble Alpes

When speaking about censorship in the field of public expression, which is strongly affected by the ongoing war (“military operation” in Russia), we can also refer to the huge impact of current para-military censorship on the university milieu. Russian authorities rely a lot on the ideological mobilisation of the academic field in order to legitimize their military intervention. At the beginning of the military activities in March 2022, all the quasi rectors of Russian universities signed a collective letter supporting the military policy of the authorities (Russian Union of Rectors, 2022). There were also numerous cases where university scholars were fired following public expressions against the invasion in social media (KP, 09.12.23) or during their lectures (SM News, 28.03.23), not supporting the military operation in Ukraine. But at the same time, the Russian academic field is considered relatively autonomous with a high degree of academic freedom (Altbach, 2001; Smolentseva, 2003).

In this paper I will elaborate on the model of the progressive takeover of public expression in Russian academia, and explore the current state of academic freedom in Russia in general. Through an analysis of development programmes and strategies of Russian universities, I will show the diverse nature of disciplinary practices at Russian universities, based both on the neo-managerialism of the academic field (Abramov, 2011), the orientation of the state building of “excellent” universities (Readings, 1997), and on a mix of different policies of controlling public expression online (such as laws on ‘feiks’ about the Russian army, and on foreign agents) which encourages academic employees to self-censor. Thus, the academic field and its state takeover correspond to the same policy in the field of public self-expression in general, which Gabdulhakov calls “the surveillance assemblage” (Gabdulhakov, 2020).

Author biography

Dr Ilya Kiriya has a PhD in information and communication and is a researcher at the GRESEC Laboratory at University Grenoble Alpes in France. During the last 15 years, he served as a professor at the Institute of Media (formerly the School of Media) at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and was Chair of the School for six years. His academic interests are the structuring of the Russian public sphere, the political economy of Russia’s mass media, and the internet. He has published papers in the journals Media and Communication, Journalism Studies and the International Journal of Communication.


A comparison of two disinformation campaigns: Stalin during the Great Patriotic War and Putin’s special operations’

Alan Philps, former Moscow correspondent and author

On January 1st, 1940, while the Red Army was waging its ‘Winter War’ against Finland, the New York Times correspondent in Moscow was told not to refer to the new press regime as ‘wartime censorship’. Why not?  he asked. ‘There is no war,’ a Soviet official replied, ‘only an operation to liberate the revolutionary masses of Finland from the grip of the White Guards in power in Helsinki’. Substitute Ukraine for Finland and ‘drug-crazed fascists’ for ‘White Guards’, and it is easy to see how the language of Putin’s ‘special operation’ in Ukraine matches Stalin’s justification for his own war of territorial expansion. Drawing on research conducted for The Red Hotel: The Untold Story of Stain’s Disinformation Campaign, to be published by Headline in April 2023, the presentation will analyse the factors that enabled Stalin to tame the Anglo-American press corps in Moscow into following the Kremlin’s narrative of the war on the Eastern Front, and ask to what extent Stalin’s playbook has enabled Putin to exert control over the narrative, both at home and abroad, during the war against Ukraine. Today’s digital media environment it totally different from the 1940s when news was delivered largely via newspapers and radio was the disruptive technology. Nevertheless, Putin has managed to restore state control of the Russian media in stages since the 2004 ‘Orange Revolution’ in Ukraine, a necessary preparation for his attempt to match Stalin’s success in reclaiming the ‘lost’ territories of the Russian Empire.

Author biography

Alan Philps joined Reuters as a trainee in 1978, and worked in Moscow 1979-80, returning in 1985 at the start of the Gorbachev era. After his expulsion from Moscow, he joined the foreign staff of The Daily Telegraph, returning to Russia as Moscow correspondent 1994-98, then moving to Jerusalem to cover the Second Intifada, the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the US invasion of Iraq. He returned to London to be the Telegraph’s foreign editor in 2003. In 2006 he helped to start The National, an English language newspaper in Abu Dhabi, and in 2011 he was hired by Chatham House to re-launch its bi-monthly magazine, The World Today. He has written two books on Russian themes: The Boy from Baby House 10, about abandoned children and international adoption, and The Red Hotel, published in April 2023 which tells the story of Stalin’s wartime disinformation campaign.


Panel 3: Fit in or flee: Against Russia’s further crackdown on minoritised communities

Chair: Emily Couch, Freelance journalist specialising in Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Biography: Emily Couch is a British freelance writer specialising in Eastern Europe and Eurasia with bylines in publications such as Foreign Policy, The Moscow Times, and the Index on Censorship magazine. An alumnus of UCL’s School of Slavonic & East European Studies, she is an advocate for anti-racism and inclusion in the field and has spoken on the topic at multiple conferences and on podcasts. She currently lives in Washington, D.C, where she works in the field of civil society development and human rights.


Reporting on Russia’s LGBTQIA+ community in a climate of censorship, propaganda and fear

Wendy Sloane, London Metropolitan University

State-sanctioned homophobia is making reporting on LGBTQIA+ issues in Russia now virtually impossible, unless carried out from abroad. In 2013, Russia’s “gay propaganda ban” came into effect, claiming to “protect” children from seeing any positive or neutral description of non-heterosexual relations in the public sphere. Now the Kremlin is cracking down even further, as it tightens up on society following its invasion of Ukraine.

In December, the Russian State Duma introduced a new law banning the dissemination of any information on non-traditional gender identity and introducing hefty fines for anyone breaking the ban. According to OpenDemocracy, this puts providing information about homosexuality “legally on a par with pornography or promoting suicide, violence and criminal or extremist behaviour”. The Russian media regulator, Roskomnadzor, was eventually given the authority to block all websites, films and TV programmes containing what it deemed to be “LGBT propaganda”. This means that popular Western films such as Brokeback Mountain and Call Me by Your Name are starting to disappear from Russia’s streaming services. The Kremlin’s further crackdown on LGBTQIA+ rights is part of its strategy to “maintain power and influence at the expense of its own citizens’ fundamental rights”, says Freedom House.

This paper will combine interviews with members of Russia’s LGBTQIA+ community who have fled abroad, along with reporters who are either still in the country or have left, to see whether reporting on issues that affect the community can continue – and how. It will also explore what will happen to the community if free, uncensored reporting on LGBTQ issues in Russia is censored, or stopped completely.

Author biography: See above


The invisible ethnocide: what Russia's colonial war in Ukraine means for its indigenous peoples

Leyla Latypova, Reporter, Moscow Times and indigenous rights activist

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brought into sharper focus the colonial undertones of Moscow’s rhetoric and actions abroad and at home where the Kremlin has been working tirelessly to suppress Russia’s ethnic diversity for decades. Russia’s indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities comprise a disproportionate number of Russia’s battlefield casualties in Ukraine. One explanation for these phenomena is tied to issues of institutional discrimination of non-Slavic peoples and cultures in Russia and ethnically-based economic inequalities within the country.

But the overwhelming number of non-Russians dying for Putin’s “russkiy mir” in Ukraine also gave way to a political and cultural reawakening of indigenous and ethnic minority communities in Russia. Since the start of the war, numerous indigenous movements have been reinvented and new ones created, while activists speak of growing interest in learning of native languages and re-adaptation of ancestral cultural practices among the indigenous people.

This paper will explore the effects of the war in Ukraine on Russia’s indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities: from ethnocidal policies adopted by the Kremlin to the unprecedented political and cultural reawakening of ethnic minorities.

Author biography:

Leyla Latypova is a reporter for The Moscow Times covering regional and indigenous politics, human rights and society in Russia. Separate from her main line of work, Latypova engages in academic research and advocacy dedicated to bringing the world’s attention to the issues of systemic rights violations against Russia’s indigenous non-Slavic communities. Leyla is a Volga Tatar hailing from the republic of Bashkortostan.


How gender roles are being reinforced in the brave new Russian patriarchy

Samantha Berkhead, Senior Editor, Moscow Times

"Whether you like it or don't like it, bear with it, my beauty," President Vladimir Putin quipped in the days before he sent troops into Ukraine — a statement steeped in echoes of rape culture.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has accelerated the country's years-long crackdown on freedoms and rights. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Kremlin's wartime push for "traditional values," which has seen both men and women increasingly expected to conform to patriarchal gender roles — with grim consequences.

Many feminist activists have been silenced or fled the country; organisations providing aid to victims of domestic violence have been sidelined as “foreign agents”; and thousands of women are making ends meet after losing their husbands and sons who have been called up to fight or fled the country to avoid mobilisation. Mothers and wives of killed soldiers meanwhile are offered condolences like free makeup classes and told that their slain loved ones managed to have a “significant” life thanks to their death in battle.

Russian men are equally at the receiving end of the war’s toxic masculinity, with expectations to conform to patriarchal roles intertwined with a warped vision of patriotism — the measure of one’s virility intertwined with notions of heroism.
This article aims to explore the many facets of Russia's backslide in gender equality and women's rights — and to chronicle what activists and NGOs are doing to stem the tide. It does not seek to diminish the brutal, gendered violence experienced by Ukrainian civilians over the past year, its main focus is on developments inside Russia. It will rely on testimonials from Russian citizens and activists, as well as news reports.

Author biography:

Samantha Berkhead is an American journalist and editor based in the Netherlands. She joined The Moscow Times in 2019 and lived in Russia from that year until the invasion of Ukraine. At MT, she has reported on everything from Russian women's issues to the pandemic to the Orthodox Church to the resurgent popularity of esoterics. She has also worked as a freelance Russia correspondent for The Times and The Sunday Times since 2021. In 2018, she first visited Russia as a participant of Meeting Russia, a programme bringing young leaders from Western countries to Moscow for seminars with Russian lawmakers, officials and experts from think tanks such as the Carnegie Moscow Center. She previously worked at the International Center for Journalists in Washington and holds a degree in journalism from St. Bonaventure University in Upstate New York, where she is from. In her spare time, she's writing a fantasy novel based on Slavic folklore.


Panel 4: Russia’s info-wars: winners and losers

Chair: Dr Karen McNally, Reader in American Film, Television and Cultural History, London Metropolitan University

Biography: Karen McNally is Reader in American Film, Television and Cultural History at London Metropolitan University. She is the author of The Stardom Film: Creating the Hollywood Fairy Tale (Columbia University Press, 2020) and When Frankie Went to Hollywood: Frank Sinatra and American Male Identity (University of Illinois Press, 2008), editor of American Television during a Television Presidency (Wayne State University Press, 2022) and Billy Wilder, Movie-Maker: Critical Essays on the Films (McFarland, 2011), and co-editor of The Legacy of Mad Men: Cultural History, Intermediality and American Television (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). Karen's work has also appeared widely in a variety of volumes and journals including the European Journal of American Culture, Journal of American Studies and Film & History. Her current research focuses on the female experience in the US entertainment industries in her forthcoming volume on abuse and inequality and historical biography of Lana Turner.

Finding common ground: a mapping of Putin's speeches and Tucker Carlson’s Fox News narratives

Ecaterina Miscisina, Media Content Analyst at watchdog.MD (Moldova)

Russia’s information warfare against the West has been carried out for years. But in February 2022, it became a part of an actual war, when Vladimir Putin employed techniques to convince the world of the necessity of “a special operation”, as Russia likes to call its invasion of Ukraine. Russia has put all its efforts since the very beginning of the war to convince public opinion about the necessity of a new world order. The main message Putin is pushing is that the West – mainly the US – should lose its leading role in international affairs. On the one hand, according to Putin, the US controls other countries and NATO, disregarding powerful and developing countries alike while exploiting Ukraine and threatening Russia’s existence as a state. On the other, Putin constructs Russia’s image as a peaceful nation that has tried its best through diplomacy.

Ukraine is presented by Putin as a wicked country dominated on all levels by foreign agents, mainly American ones, and used by the US for NATO expansion; politically compromised and weaponised by the West. He questions all of Ukraine’s auto-determination as a separate state, saying that historically it is a Russian land and a part of Russian culture. Therefore, he creates the perception that Russia is going to bring Ukraine back to the right side, and at the same time secure itself from Western threat.

These narratives were mapped and analysed based on five Putin’s speeches, carried out from February to June 2022. Some of the basic arguments and narratives were later identified in “Tucker Carlson Tonight” between February – November 2022, with an emphasis on the mid-term election campaigns. While Putin has been trying to undermine US positions from the outside, Carlson did it from within. Putin’s messages and Carlson’s are shaping the same perceptions of a weak west, a strong Russia, a Ukraine that isn’t worth saving and a demonised US, whether referring to its hegemony as Putin does, or its leadership as Tucker Carlson does.

Author biography: Ecaterina Miscisina worked for 10 years as a journalist. She began as a news reporter back in 2010, at Moldova’s top TV station, Prime TV, covering economic and social issues. In 2016 she began producing a political TV show at Prime TV before becoming a news producer. Knowing how the media can influence political choices and behavioural patterns, she decided to use her knowledge to build resilience to disinformation and propaganda.

Since 2019, Miscisina has been working at the think tank WatchDog.MD Community, coordinating the production of different types of video content, exposing disinformation and Kremlin propaganda, and giving insight into all sorts of manipulation the Kremlin and its agents in Moldova are pushing. In 2022, she was a visiting fellow at the Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting at Stony Brook University, where she analysed five of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s speeches since the Ukraine invasion began for overarching narrative trends. She also tracked how Russian propaganda spreads throughout the United States, mostly through Fox News personalities like Tucker Carlson and Republicans who support former president Donald Trump.

“Russian military censorship, like the Russian warship, can go f*** itself” - an analysis of Russian anti-government media response to wartime media freedom

Dr Aleksandra Raspopina, London Metropolitan University

As the Russian troops invaded Ukraine on the 24th February 2022, the crackdown on the media followed closely. Five days after the invasion, Russian media and internet watchdog Roskomnadzor blocked the websites of an independent TV station Dozhd and a liberal radio station Ekho Moskvi "for spreading deliberately false information about Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine" (The Moscow Times 2022). Three days later, President Putin signed a law introducing jail terms for ‘fake news’ on the army (The Moscow Times 2022), which has since been used to prosecute journalists, celebrities, politicians and regular people speaking out against the war, and several media outlets were forced to suspend coverage of the war, or their operations altogether (Meduza 2022, 2022a; Novaya Gazeta 2022).

This paper explores the reactions to this and other military censorship efforts in Russia in the year since the invasion of Ukraine. It particularly focuses on the public-facing reactions and statements from Russian media and journalists and editors, published both on as editorial statements and columns, and as professional statements on social media. Using a qualitative textual analysis method, the paper finds that journalists use this opportunity to reflect on this as an attack on their profession and the civil society in Russia, to reflect on the value of journalism in the times of war, to reinstate the professional values and norms of journalism, and to offer solutions for their own future work.

Author biography: Dr Aleksandra Raspopina is a researcher and lecturer interested in Russian post-Soviet journalism, political communication, alternative media, propaganda, post-truth and ‘fake news’; her PhD thesis was on RT (Russia Today). She is currently a lecturer in journalism and digital media at London Metropolitan University, and she has taught on undergraduate and postgraduate journalism programmes at Middlesex University and City, University of London, and worked as a journalist and producer at CBS News, Viceland, the Guardian, the Calvert Journal and others. You can follow her on Twitter: @sasharaspopina.

The history of Russian media regulation: crisis-led governance and the rise of the “disconnective society”

Dr Gregory Asmolov, Kings College

The history of the Russian media system is a history of an open system that has transformed into one of the most restricted information spaces. The trajectory of development of the Runet can be viewed as a change in the dominant Internet imaginaries (Mansell, 2012) and a change in the type of elites that shape the implementation of the imaginaries of media system governance (Asmolov & Kolozaridi, 2017). The case of Russia highlights that to understand how regulation works requires more than an account of the various restrictive measures. This case suggests that the legitimacy of each regulation package can be linked to a crisis. Crisis situations play an ambivalent role. On the one hand, a crisis can challenge the control of an authoritarian state. On the other hand, a crisis can be used to justify the need for stricter measures (Agamben, 2005). As such, a crisis can also be a point of transformation towards what can be considered as the new normal.

The paper proposes to consider regulation as a form of crisis-led governance that uses crises as opportunities to transform an open system into a closed one. To illustrate the concept of crisis-led regulation it analyses the link between new forms of censorship and crises including sinking of a submarine Kursk (2000), the seizure of the Dubrovka Theater (2002), a hostage crisis in Beslan (2004), major wildfires in 2010, electoral protests during 2011-2012 and Covid-19. The paper suggests that the new phase of Russian aggression against Ukraine (2022) was used to create a “state of exception” that allowed Russia complete the transition from an open system to a closed one, and transformed Russia into a “disconnective society” (Asmolov, 2022).

Author biography: Dr Gregory Asmolov is a Lecturer in Digital Entrepreneurship at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London. His research interests include crisis-related digital innovation, digital disconnection, digital sovereignty and participatory warfare. His recent publications include “The disconnective power of disinformation campaigns” in the Journal of International Affairs (2018), “From Sofa to Frontline: The Digital Mediation and Domestication of Warfare” in Media, War & Conflict (2021), “The transformation of participatory warfare: The role of narratives in connective mobilization in the Russia–Ukraine war” in the Digital War Journal (2022) and “Internet regulation and crisis-related resilience: from Covid-19 to existential risks” in The Communication Review (2022). Gregory holds a PhD from the Media and Communications Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Panel 5:  Adapting to the New Normal: This is how we do it

Chair: Karen Dukess, author of The Last Book Party, former Moscow Magazine and Moscow Times reporter; Publisher of Playboy Russia

Biography: Karen Dukess has a work history as eclectic as her taste in books. She has been a tour guide in the former Soviet Union, a newspaper reporter in Florida, a magazine publisher in Russia and, for nearly a decade, a speechwriter on gender equality for the United Nations Development Programme. She has blogged on raising boys for The Huffington Post and written book reviews for USA Today. She has a degree in Russian Studies from Brown University and a master’s in Journalism from Columbia University. She lives with her family near New York City and spends as much time as possible in Truro on Cape Cod.

Media and the Kremlin: censorship, temniki (theme guides) and control

Anastasia Stepanova, London Metropolitan University

Today’s geopolitical events call for a new paradigm of looking at the Russian state system and its media. It can be argued that now there are at least two distinct periods of post-Soviet Russia:

  1. a transitional stage from the Soviet system to a  ‘managed’ democracy (from the collapse of the USSR in 1991 to the early presidency of Putin in 2000, including the period of partnership with oligarchs, to 2014, the annexation of Crimea)
  2. an authoritarian rule with popular support (from 2014 to the present day) or “electoral authoritarianism”, a regime with authoritarian power distribution and reproduction, co-existing with democratic institutions, struggling to survive (BTI Report, 2022).

The modern Russian media system reflects these continuous changes, and has been shaped by them, demonstrating the process of a rapid transition from a totalitarian, state-controlled media system, based on the propaganda of Communism, to a mixed media system of Kremlin-controlled and commercial media, and back to the state-controlled media. Presently, Russian media operates as a state-controlled system with a combination of imposed censorship from the state and voluntary self-censorship from journalists and editors. It is characterised by closures of independent media with no room for alternative views and by the state channels using “temniki” (“theme guides”) sent from the Kremlin (Gildeeva, 2022).

In its fight to control the narrative in information warfare, the Kremlin has also closed some international online platforms, actively encouraging Russians to swap to Russian providers such as Odnoklassniki and VK (V Kontakte) and start using Russian browsers and search engines (Rumbler, Yandex) instead of Google. As a result of all the above measures, Russian online users have turned to using VPNs to bypass the current imposed restrictions and are using end-to-end encrypted messaging apps like Telegram, WhatsApp and Signal. Other examples of the Kremlin’s attempts to control the narrative include the reinforcement of “foreign agent” legislation and a new law that introduces imprisonment of up to 15 years for “disseminating the false information” about the Russian armed forces in Ukraine, which applies to news media, journalists, private bloggers and ordinary citizens. It is important to notice that today’s state-controlled media system differs greatly from its Soviet predecessor: the Kremlin’s control is not total and it is challenged by online news, risk-taking journalists, citizen journalists and vloggers (a modern version of Soviet ‘samizdat’- self-published censored materials).

Author biography: Anastasia Stepanova is currently finishing her PhD in Media Studies and Political Communications at London Metropolitan University, with a focus on post-Soviet Media and the Kremlin: Russia Today’s discursive legitimation practices. Since 2020 she has been an Associate Lecturer, teaching the Globalisation and Media Module to the final year of undergraduate students at the School of Computing and Digital Media.

Born in Nizhny Novgorod, formerly Gor’ky, she graduated from the Linguistics University of Nizhny Novgorod. In 2000 she was invited to work as a feature columnist and an editor of the People Making a Difference spread in For A Change international magazine in London, published by the Initiatives of Change charity. As part of her work, she organised and facilitated a series of international conferences – Foundation for Freedom and Political Round Table – for university students from the former Soviet Union and the West. It inspired her to pursue an MA in Media and Communications Studies on a Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship at London Metropolitan University, graduating with Distinction in 2004. Whilst completing her MA, Anastasia was working as a researcher and freelance journalist for the BBC World Service, Russian Service, London.

Guilty without the guilt: How the liberal Russian media lost 40 million viewers

Svetlana Kunitsyna, former director of broadcast content for

The Russian opposition media now face a much more serious problem than censorship. The problem is a loss of viewers. Now voices of support for dissent in Russia are beginning to be heard from where they were not expected – from the parliamentarians of the ex-Warsaw Pact countries who, by definition, cannot have sympathies for the Russian Federation. But there is only one snag – an absence of audience. The audience that the liberal Russian media, forced out of Russia by the regime, is now appealing to, and that the European parliamentarians rely on, seems to be irretrievably lost.

In the early 90s, a media revolution took place in Russia and the Independent Broadcasting System – a union of 150 regional stations, with an audience of over 40 million viewers – was created. The NGO Internews launched the News Factory computer programme, which allowed TV companies not only to conduct an editorial policy independently from the state TV, but also to exchange the news. New Local TV broadcasting differed from state television even stylistically: on the screen and behind the scenes, journalists spoke to the audience in a language the audience completely understood.

However, in 1997 President Boris Yeltsin significantly reduced local TV independence. As a result, the decline of independent local television media began. The possibility of launching local news bureaus networks all over Russia was never even considered by outlets such as TV-Rain, nor was it considered by Navalny and his associates. These crucial mistakes have cost Russian independent media its audience.

Will Russian opposition media be able to win back an audience poisoned by propaganda after the war? And how is Radio Free Russia going to appeal to Russians, cut off by a firewall from the rest of the world?

Author biography: Svetlana Kunitsyna graduated from Moscow State University with a master’s degree in Art History and started her journalistic career as creator and author of the first Russian television style and fashion magazine format, a post-Soviet key ‘departure’ project for the new Yeltsin-era All Russian State Television channel.

She spent a year in London at BBC Radio Russia (COI– Foreign Language Service) as a scriptwriter and studio broadcaster for the weekly transmitted British cultural news magazine BIG Ben IZ LONDONA (broadcast direct from London via World Service). From 1994 to 2001 she worked at NTV' (‘Independent Television’ – 4th National TV Channel) as a correspondent for the Cultural News Dept, responsible for all historical and contemporary cultural and artistic news and special features.

After NTV changed its ownership and became the mouthpiece of state propaganda, Kunitsyna worked on the KANAL KULTURA as an Editor-in-Chief of a weekly primetime flagship cultural review forum Tem Vremenem (‘Meantime’) before working as editor of several magazines, including TimeOut and SNOB. She was a director of Broadcast Content in DAILYONLINE.RU – multimedia business and general news internet portal and in the International Discussion Club DIALOGI (based on the Oxford Union model). As a freelancer, she has contributed reports and comments for BBC World Radio and Radio 4.

Novaya Gazeta’s wartime transformation

Dr Dmitry Kuznetsov, School of Journalism and Communication, Chinese University of Hong Kong

The Russo-Ukrainian war has had a transformative effect both globally and within Russia. The Russian media landscape has undergone rapid transformation since the beginning of the conflict in February 2022. The crackdown on war reporting is best exemplified by the hastily constructed legislation prohibiting the spread of “misinformation” about the armed forces of the Russian Federation. Not only did the development and implementation of this legislation result in the disappearance of media organisations such as RainTV, Echo of Moscow, or Novaya Gazeta, it further signalled a major shift in the state’s approach to control over the nation’s media: from one based primarily on self-censorship to that of explicit coercion.

Building on the previous studies of censorship (eg, Bodrunova et al, 2021; Schimpfössl & Yablokov, 2020) and war reporting (eg, Nygren et al, 2018) within the Russian media environment, this study seeks to explore how content of a particular media institution – Novaya Gazeta – changed throughout the early stages of the war. The objective is to establish through qualitative content analysis (Altheide, 1996) how the newspaper’s reporting developed in the early months of the war, focusing on three periods:

  1. January 01 – March 04: Beginning of the War.
  2. March 05 – March 28: Attempts at reporting under new legislation.
  3. The Post-Legislation, Novaya Gazeta Europe period.

The article proposes that due to its inability to develop and impose a suitable (for its purposes) doxa or a commonly held set of beliefs on society (Zeveleva, 2020), the state’s actions led to a disruption of a Russian media self-censorship regime that was based on diffuse, decentred forms of power (Schimpfössl & Yablokov, 2014). Furthermore, while successful in removing offending media from the country, the law potentially resulted in a complete loss of power and control over the behaviour of undesirable (for the state) media.

Author biography: Dr Dmitry Kuznetsov is a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Journalism and Communication of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Born in Estonia, he spent his early life in Russia, leaving the country in 2012 to pursue a BA in Media and Communications at the University of Sussex. He went on to attain his MA in Global Communication and PhD in Communications at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Dmitry’s research focuses on the qualitative assessment of internet governance, uses of digital platforms for political mobilisation, and quantitative evaluations of cross-national uses of digital media.

Panel 6: Putin, pride and public shaming

Chair: Dr Beth Knobel, former CBS Bureau Chief and Associate Professor Journalism, Fordham University

Biography: Dr Knobel had a 20-year long career as a journalist before joining Fordham University in 2007. She brings experience in all major areas of journalism – newspapers, magazines, television, radio and Internet – to her classes. From 1999 to 2006, she was the Moscow Bureau Chief for CBS News. In nine years at CBS, she worked as both an on-air correspondent as well as a producer. She is a recipient of an Emmy award for coverage of the 2002 Moscow theatre siege, and Edward R. Murrow and Sigma Delta Chi awards for coverage of the 2004 Beslan school siege. She still works as a freelance producer for CBS News.

Dr. Knobel spent 14 years total living in Moscow, where she worked for The Los Angeles Times, the television news agency Worldwide Television News, and the production company Feature Story before joining CBS News. Earlier in her career, she worked for The New York Times and Ladies‘ Home Journal magazine, and during her student days edited The Columbia Daily Spectator and Governance: The Harvard Journal of Public Policy. Dr. Knobel received master’s and doctoral degrees in public policy from Harvard University, and her bachelor’s in political science from Barnard College, Columbia University.

The banning of Meduza and the nature of proxy reporting

Galina Timchenko, Co-founder, CEO and publisher of Meduza

Meduza is an independent international Russian- and English-language publication that still reaches millions of people inside the country. The newsroom has been operating successfully in exile for eight years already, with headquarters in Riga, Latvia. In April 2021, the Russian authorities catergorised Meduza as a “foreign agent”, and weeks after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the government began blocking Meduza’s website outright. Finally, in January 2023, the Kremlin banned Meduza completely, declaring the outlet an illegal “undesirable organization”, which puts anyone in Russia who writes for Meduza or shares its materials at risk of criminal prosecution. However, Meduza keeps resisting and delivering information to its readers due to its diverse and technologically advanced infrastructure.

Author biography: Meduza's co-founder, CEO and publisher Galina Timchenko will talk about what is happening in Russia’s media landscape, how Meduza covered the last year of brutal warfare in Ukraine and the invasion’s tragic consequences, how readers in Russia have responded to the war, the nature of “proxy reporting,” and the challenges in maintaining journalistic objectivity when you’re treated like an outlaw. Timchenko will also discuss how the outlet delivers content to people inside Russia, and why being a multi-platform media organisation producing unique content for each platform has always been the newsroom’s core principle.

Public shaming of celebrity emigration from Russia during the war against Ukraine

Dr Svetlana Stephenson, Professor in Sociology, London Metropolitan University

The paper analyses the public shaming campaigns that followed celebrity emigration from Russia since the start of the war against Ukraine. The special status of celebrities in modern society as figures that provide the public with a focus of common identification and attention makes celebrity emigration during the war particularly challenging both for the state authorities and for the public and the fans. The paper analyses how the state and pro-state media and patriotic commentators on social media have been conducting symbolic destruction of these celebrities’ social statuses and reputations. It shows how celebrities have been recast as people whose “true”, unauthentic and alien natures have been unmasked, whose malicious motives in leaving Russia have been revealed, and who now have to be prevented from returning to Russia and getting back their high-status positions. The paper also discusses the similarities and differences between the Soviet-era public shaming of dissenting public figures and the public shaming campaigns under Putin.

Author biography: Svetlana Stephenson is Professor of Sociology at London Metropolitan University. She has written extensively about social transformation and social control in Russia. Her books include Gangs of Russia. From the Streets to the Corridors of Power and Crossing the Line. Vagrancy, Homelessness and Social Displacement in Russia. Svetlana is a winner of the Alexander Nove Prize, awarded by the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies. In recent years, she had Fellowships at New York University, the University of Helsinki and Indiana University. She is a member of editorial boards of Europe Asia Studies and the European Journal of Homelessness. Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Svetlana has published extensively on different aspects of the war.  She is currently a columnist for Novaya Gazeta Europe.

Understanding Russian leadership by analysing current trends in Russian opposition media

Denis Bilunov, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague, founding member of Prague Russian Antiwar committee and journalist at The Insider

The aim of this paper is to overview the current circumstances of those Russian media which can be qualified, in a broader sense, as the opposition. This extended understanding of opposition with regards to years of Putin’s rule is helpful for understanding the evolution of narratives and leadership in Russian society in the recent two decades. With the development of online media and social networks, the difference between professional journalists and popular bloggers/media activists became less important by the mid 2010s (if compared to previous years) and, as suggested below, is virtually imperceptible now. My interpretation is based on my practitioner experience and also supported by a set of expert interviews featuring key staff persons of several opposition media (The Insider, Kholod, Popular Politics and others).

With the start of the full-scale war, the regime defiantly removed the bigger part of its quasi-democratic facade, including the most important independent or semi-independent media like TV Rain, Echo of Moscow and Novaya Gazeta. Hence, virtually all media opinion-makers emigrated, and many of them relaunched their activities in new locations (Riga, Vilnius etc) At this point, they found themselves in a very competitive environment, with several important media which had already relocated earlier (Meduza, The Insider etc), activist media (mostly by the Navalny group) and popular solo projects (Ekaterina Shulman, Maxim Katz, Mikhail Svetov etc). Further observation of and research into these phenomena would provide material for conceptualization in line with the «Information Age» theory by Castells and, more specifically, with the “informational autocracy” model by Guriev & Treisman.

Author biography: Originally from Moscow, Bilunov is the current and founding member of the Prague Russian Antiwar committee. From 2019-2021 he worked as a journalist at The Insider and was editor of its Central Asia special project. From 2012-2014 he was a founding member of 5 December Party, which was not recognised by the Kremlin and suspended its activities. From 2008-2010 he was executive director of the All-Russian democratic movement “Solidarnost” and before that was the creator and first editor-in-chief of Kasparov.Ru webzine (coverage of opposition news in Russia). Previously he was the manager of world chess champion Garry Kasparov's Internet projects. In 2017 Bilunov was nominated for the Andrei Sakharov Award “Journalism as an Act of Conscience”.

Roundtable discussion: Why do Russians support the war in Ukraine?

Moderator: Dr Jonathan Sanders, Associate Professor, School of Communications and Journalism, Stony Brook University

Biography: Jonathan Sanders, an Emmy, Edward R. Murrow Award-winning veteran international reporter and Fulbright scholar, is a noted telecommunication innovator and devoted classroom teacher. He joined Stony Brook's School of Communication and Journalism in January 2012. Dr. Sanders spent many years as the CBS News Moscow correspondent. He has worked for The Discovery Channel, PBS and Link TV.

Dr Sanders has covered five wars in the Caucuses, urban insurrection in Vilnius, Riga, Moscow, Grozny, Warsaw and Paris. His reporting on the Beslan school siege, although effectively banned in Russia, won him the MediaSoiuz "Golden Verb" award for outstanding foreign reporting in 2005. His broadcast, "Hostage," a 48 Hours Special for CBS, won the Edward R. Murrow Award of the Overseas Press Club and he received a 2006 Emmy Award for coverage and reporting on Beslan. His film documentary, "Three Days in September" narrated by Julia Roberts, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, was nominated for a Prime Time Emmy Award, and still airs on Showtime. A film he directed with Carole Newhouse, his partners in New Sand House Productions, on the New Amsterdam Musical Association, the oldest African-American musical organization in North America, premiered at the 2007 Harlem Screen on Stage Festival.

Combining practical experience and academic training, Dr. Sanders has served as a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University and he has taught at Columbia College, the School of International Affairs at Columbia University, SUNY Purchase, and Fordham University. Dr. Sanders was the founding assistant director of the Harriman Institute. He is the author of two books: Russia 1917: The Unpublished Revolution (New York, Abbeville Press, 1989) and, with Heidi Hollinger, The Russians Emerge (New York, Abbeville Press, 2002), as well as numerous articles on a diverse range of subjects.

Dr Stephen Jones, Director, Program in Georgian Studies, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University

Biography: Professor Stephen Jones received his PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1984. He has taught at the universities of California, London and Oxford.  He was a Research Fellow at Harvard University and a Senior Associate Member at St Anthony’s College, Oxford. Since 1989 he has taught at Mount Holyoke College (USA).

His books include Socialism in Georgian Colors: The European Road to Social Democracy, 1883-1917 (Harvard University, 2005), War and Revolution in the Caucasus: Georgia Ablaze, (ed., Routledge, 2010), Georgia: A Political History Since Independence (I.B. Tauris, 20012), and The Birth of Modern Georgia: The First Georgian Republic and Its Successors, 1918-2010, (ed., Routledge, 2013).  He was the English Language Editor-in-Chief of kartlis tskhovreba (The History of Georgia), (Georgian Academy of Sciences and Artanuji Publishers, 2014), and principal editor for a three-volume set in Georgian of Noe Jordania’s speeches and writing.

Professor Jones is a Foreign Member of the Georgian Academy of Sciences and received an honorary doctorate from Tbilisi State University in 2012, and Ilia State University in 2018.  He is currently Director of the Program on Georgian Studies at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard.

Stephanie Baker, Senior Writer, Bloomberg and oligarchy specialist, former Moscow correspondent

Biography: Stephanie is a senior writer at Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Businessweek on the projects and investigations team. She writes about science, politics and business, delving into everything from Covid-19 vaccines to Donald Trump’s finances, art market fraud and Russian oligarchs. A dual US-UK citizen, Stephanie has reported from Russia, Ukraine, Indonesia, Egypt, Jordan and throughout the European Union.

She has appeared as a commentator on politics and business on the BBC, ITV, PBS Newshour, National Public Radio, Times Radio and is a regular guest on BBC Dateline, a weekly half hour news show featuring foreign correspondents based in London. She is a regular contributor to Bloomberg Television and Radio. 

She shared a Gerald Loeb award for explanatory journalism for a series on antibiotic resistance. In 2020, she was shortlisted for Science Journalist of the Year by the UK Society of Editors. She’s won awards from the UK Foreign Press Association and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Her work appeared in Columbia University Press’ Best Business Writing anthology in 2015.

Before joining Bloomberg, she worked as a reporter for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague and The Moscow Times in Moscow. She holds an undergraduate degree from Oberlin College and an MA from the London School of Economics in comparative government focusing on Eastern Europe and Russia. She lives in London.

Dr Sam Greene, Professor of Russian Politics at King’s College London

Professor Greene’s research focuses on protest, contestation, political behaviour and media consumption in Russia and other authoritarian contexts. He is the author of Moscow in Movement: Power and Opposition in Putin’s Russia (Stanford UP, 2014) and Putin v the People: The Perilous Politics of a Divided Russia (Yale UP, 2019, co-authored with Graeme Robertson). He is also Director of the Democratic Resilience Program at the Center for European Policy Analysis.

Dr Robert Parsons, International Affairs Editor, France 24 and former BBC Moscow correspondent

Biography: Dr Robert Parsons is international affairs editor at France’s 24 hour news and current affairs English-language channel, France24. He presents his own daily current affairs programme, Top Story, and frequently presents other chat shows like FaceOff, The Interview and The Debate. Among those he has interviewed include Kofi Annan, John Boulton, Mary Robinson, novelist Orhan Pamuk, Yuliya Timoshenko, Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and France’s celebrity philosophe, Bernard Henri-Levy.

Robert worked for many years with the BBC, first as a senior features producer with the BBC Russian Service, then as a TV producer with the new World Service TV in the early nineties and then as Moscow correspondent from 1993-2002, covering the news for television, radio and the internet. He subsequently joined Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as director of the Georgian Service. Before leaving RFE/RL he had just begun working on a multi-media project, with the aim of encouraging journalists to broaden their skills into video packaging for the internet and TV. Robert is an experienced TV and radio trainer, who has taught journalists in Russia, Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. He has an MA in Political Science and a PhD on the origins of Georgian nationalism. 

Dr Gergely Gosztonyi, Hungarian lawyer and media researcher.

Biography: Dr Gergely Gosztonyi is a Hungarian lawyer and media researcher. He graduated from the Faculty of Law, Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) Budapest, and now teaches various undergraduate and postgraduate courses there in media law, constitutional law, and legal history. One of his research fields is censorship, alternative media and the liability of intermediaries. 

Between 2010-2017 Dr Gosztonyi was the Head of the Rector's Cabinet of Eötvös Loránd University. He is a member of the European Communication Research and Education Association and Community Media Forum Europe. Since 2015 he has been the coach of the Hungarian Team for the yearly Monroe E. Price Media Law Moot Court Competition. Dr Gosztonyi was also an expert for the Council of Europe on the report on the draft law "On principles of broadcasting of territorial communities in Ukraine” and the implementation of community media into the Ukrainian media legislation in 2017 and 2020, and also an expert for the Hungarian Institute for Educational Research and Development Centre, the National Talent Center and the Hungarian National Radio and Television Commission. He is an editor of different legal journals and has been awarded the Pro Iurisprudentia Practica, Maria Theresa Medallion, Master Teacher Gold Medal and Senate Medal.


Closing of conferenceWendy Sloane


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