May 22, 2022

PEN America Report: “Discourse in Danger: Attacks on Free Expression in Putin’s Russia”

From PEN America:

russia_report_2016_coverRussian President Vladimir Putin has seized upon information as a key weapon in his fight to promote Russia’s resurgence in the world. With the mainstream press increasingly toeing the Kremlin line, government restrictions have expanded to encroach upon other cultural spaces and modes of expression, including social activism, scholarship, art, and theater.

Discourse in Danger: Attacks on Free Expression in Putin’s Russia documents the Russian government’s campaign to constrain free expression by limiting public access to information, closing avenues of civic engagement, populating discourse with approved ideas, and raising the stakes on dissent.

Government tactics have included banning or blocking independent news sites, ensuring Kremlin-compliant leadership at a major social network, waging a propaganda war to promote its version of events regarding Ukraine, and empowering the Russian Orthodox Church to censor theater and art, as well as tarnishing independent civic groups as “foreign agents” and imposing near-complete restrictions on LGBT-activism or public expressions or discussions of homosexuality. These efforts have created a climate of fear and self-censorship in the media, publishing industry, and other creative endeavors in an attempt to subordinate universal norms such as the right to freedom of expression under newly constructed and state-imposed “Russian values.”

Direct to Full Text Report (44 pages; PDF)

See Also: How Censorship Works in Vladimir Putin’s Russia (via Washington Post; October 9, 2016)

See Also: Censorship: Russian Minister Vows Investigation After ‘Book Burning’ at College Libraries (January 14, 2016)

See Also: Russia: “Employees of Raided Ukrainian Library in Moscow Say They Were Framed” (October 30, 2015)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.