Russia’s Media Elite

In this book, we will tell the history of post-Soviet media and politics from perestroika to that of Putin’s post-Crimean Russia. It will be structured around the stories of Russia’s most prominent media managers and editors-in-chief and the outlets they either set up or ran for many years. Dissecting today’s media elites in Russia, we will scrutinise their entanglement with the Kremlin and assess their potential to play a significant role in re-democratising Russian politics.

Co-editor: Ilya Yablokov (University of Leeds)

While analysing the development of and major changes in Russia’s political, economic and social life since the late 1980s, we explore the following questions:

  1. What has triggered the rise of new groups within Russia’s media elite and what has precipitated the fall of others?
  2. What were the factors that led these individuals to establish new media outlets and how do they govern them?
  3. What strategies have post-Soviet media managers and journalists employed to become, and remain, successful? What strategies have regime-critical media managers developed to survive professionally (and, in some cases, physically)?

Our aim is to elucidate the political, economic and social dynamics at play in the formation of Russia’s media landscape and the marks individual players leave.

We challenge the widespread idea that Putin is the puppet master of public and political life, that all journalists in Russia are part of his information war machinery and that media managers have no agency. In contrast, we claim that many know exactly how to play the power game with the Kremlin, without necessarily scarifying their conscience in the process. We flesh out these media managers. They act as the hub between politics, business and society, and they make politics themselves by shaping public opinion. Most crucially, they influence the extent to which the process of democratisation stands a chance of becoming reality.

The data for this book includes interviews with these individuals, their journalists and business partners.


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Elisabeth Schimpfössl

About Elisabeth Schimpfössl

My research focuses on elites, philanthropy and social inequality as well as questions around post-Socialist media and self-censorship. I did my PhD at the University of Manchester and taught at Liverpool University, Brunel and UCL before taking up my current post as Lecturer in Sociology and Policy at Aston University, Birmingham, UK. I live in London.