“The public doesn’t care whether I bought data or got it from a source,” said Roman Annen, founder of iStories, a non-profit Russian investigative site with 15 employees. A country where the authorities are killing opposition leaders, let’s forget these rules, because these stories are more important than our moral rules. “
This gateway to Vladimir Putin’s world opened up even as some American journalists who covered the Russian interference in the 2016 elections released frantic articles and threads on Twitter. They portray Mr. Putin, in the American imagination, as a very powerful puppet master and everyone whose name ends with the letter “v” as his proxy. But the actual Russians, who manage their positions on the margins of legitimacy or from the outside, have opened windows on the real Russia of Mr. Putin. What they discovered was incredible personal corruption, mysterious figures behind international political interference and deadly but sometimes incompetent security services.
Here are some examples of this revelation:
Not-for-Profit Investigative Implementer The project has been determined Mr. Putin’s “secret family” found that the woman associated with the president obtained an estimated wealth of $ 100 million from sources linked to the Russian state.
IStories used A batch of hacked emails documenting how Putin’s ex-son-in-law has built an enormous wealth of state relations.
Bellingcat, founded in London, has identified Russia-based InsiderBy name and photo, Russian agents who poisoned dissident Sergey Skripal and his daughter in England in 2018.
Media Group RBC probes in The political mechanism behind the Troll Farm interferes in the US elections.
Presents Medusa Corruption is deep in all corners of the Moscow city government, right down to funerals.
The Navalny Foundation flew drones over Mr. Putin’s mansion, a vast property on the Black Sea that Mr. Navalny described as “the largest bribe in the world” in A scathing and satirical video of about two hours He was released upon his return to Russia last month. The video has been viewed over 100 million times on YouTube.
There is a tendency in parts of the US media at the moment to reflexively denounce the rise of alternative voices and open platforms on social media, viewing them only as vectors of disinformation or tools of Donald J. Trump. Russia is a powerful reminder of the other side of that story, the power of these new platforms to challenge one of the world’s most corrupt governments. That is why, for example, Mr. Navalny has been a vocal critic of Twitter’s decision to ban Mr. Trump, Connection It is an “unacceptable act of censorship.”
The new Russian investigative media is firmly the same on the Internet. And a lot of that began with Mr. Navalny, an attorney and blogger who devised an investigative method on YouTube that draws more from that platform’s light and meme formats than from documentaries or news magazine investigations.
Mr. Navalny does not portray himself as a journalist. “We use investigative reports as a tool to achieve our political ends,” said his assistant, Ms. Bevschich. (One of the norms that they do not follow: obtain comment from the goal of the investigation). In fact, his relationship with freelance journalists can be complicated. Most of them are keen to maintain their identity as independent actors rather than activists. They criticize him, but they also send their stories to him, hoping that he will promote them to his large audience, and openly criticize them, in turn, for being lenient with the Kremlin.
The new media learned from Mr. Navalny as well. Many of them copied his technique on YouTube. And he proved that some lines can be crossed. Moreover, they all undoubtedly benefit from the homogeneity of television networks. Imagine how much YouTube you would watch if the only available news channels were Fox News, Newsmax and OAN.