Why it is hard to do investigations in Russia

Financial problems, governmental pressure and very restrictive officials are some of the problems.


INVESTIGATING NETWORKS: Roman Shleynov in Novaya Gazeta has investigated how family ties are important in the organizations and the government. He was one of the Russian journalists who shared their experiences on investigative reporting in Russia.

Journalists from central and regional Russian media discussed how it is possible to do investigative reporting in the country.

The situation for investigative journalists in Russia is not very easy. During the seminar on the subject, a couple of journalists elaborated on why the situation is so difficult.
Financial problems, governmental pressure and very restrictive officials are some of the problems that an investigative reporter will encounter, according to the journalists of both central and regional media.
Roman Shleynov of Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta has investigated how family ties play a role in business and government. In one investigation, he experienced how eight out of nine high ranking officials did not respond to his enquiries about their family member’s connection with different companies, he tells the GIJC Magazine.
- No public officials are eager to comment, and often they give no answer at all, just ignores the requests. Sometimes we have to wait for them to respond within the time they have to give an answer, he said in his presentation.
Many huge projects of national interests are coming up in Russia. Both Evgeny Titov from Novaya Gazeta, who is looking into the preparations for the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014, and Jelena Larionova from the Barents Press International, who is interested in the Russian Stockman oil project, have experienced that it is hard to get information on these projects.
- They say that they have a time when they are planning to open the project, but it is hard to believe them. Real data on these projects are not available. We have to rely on press releases from Gazprom, she says.
Jevgenij Kirillov from the Kola Sami Radio expressed that he felt that no one would listen to their investigations, and that it often didn’t have an effect in Russia at all. Maria Eismont from Eurasia.org gave this as one of several examples of why it is done very little investigative journalism in the regional areas of Russia.
As well as dealing with financial difficulties if they start an investigation project, the journalists will get little feedback from both public and government, she says.
- I think some people don’t see the sense of doing this. The point of investigative journalism seems to reveal something that functions badly, and then try to repair it. But most people might think that everything is corrupt anyway, and that it is a utopy to think that there can be no corruption.