Reading our papers, watching our TV I have more and more the feeling that materials published or shown on Russia are not just biased, but these materials can be classified as disinformation. People -- and this is true of most of our younger generation -- who are unable or not accustomed to read Russian press or Russian websites can have the impression that Russia is a dismal corrupt dictatorship where there is no freedom of expression, where dissidents are jailed or even killed, where common people are poor, etc. One of the latest news I could read on our national broadcasting company's website was a prediction that Russia has no other way than falling into precipice.
I have little personal experience of modern Russia, but returning from St. Petersburg on coach I could see with my own eyes that the area between St. Petersburg and the Estonian border that in Soviet times was partly abandoned, where there were only destitute villages with miserable huts, is now quite similar to what we see on the Estonian side of the border: a lot of new buildings, new roads, a lot of construction work, old houses refurbished, painted, small townships looking much better and cleaner, people better clad. As to the freedom of expression, I can every day read critical articles about developments in Russia on RIAN, Lenta, NG and other websites. I read a long review of a book written by the former Guardian correspondent in Moscow on a Russian website. And there is a lot of talk about the recent events, especially the sacking of the finance minister Kudrin and Putin and Medvedev changing their roles. And regularly we can read about Khodorkovsky, his opinions are quoted and retold. We can make an experiment, taking for example the titles of articles from the semi-official website RIAN.ru and calculate which ones of them could have been published in a Soviet paper. The result is niggardly, maybe 10%-20%. This could be a measure of the situation with freedom of expression in Russia.