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Censorship in Russia leading up to Sochi winter games

Journalists in Russia have been increasingly pressured by a hostile media climate in the run up to the Sochi Olympic games in February.

Russia has been the subject of much controversy lately as the country prepares for the Olympic Games. The government has already taken an intolerant policy toward members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community, while threats of terrorism have only grown in the country. The press should play an instrumental role in covering these controversies and others like them, however, numerous journalist advocacy groups are reporting that writers in the country are coming under greater scrutiny.

Restrictive policies
There have been a number of abuses of power in the Russia, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. This includes unpaid wages, potential corruption and other human rights violations, but the majority of these issues have gone uncovered in the country. This is because of poor media policies in the country, that are leading to limited news exposure.

For instance, all of the local media operating in Sochi, a resort city near the Georgian border, can only report on topics that have been approved by the government. On top of this, those who wish to bring these issues to the government's attention are widely ignored.

CPJ noted that part of the problem is that it is the state-run media that is largely covering the games. Rather than reporting on the issues that many people wish to bring attention to, these outlets are only covering the games in a way that produces the games in a positive light.

Controlling the internet
Another problem that has come up is internet surveillance. At the end of last year, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev allowed authorities to scan through phone and Internet communications for those who were attending and covering the games, according to Christian Mihr, the CEO of Reporters Without Borders.

Mihr spoke with Deutsche Welle about the state of press freedom leading up to the games. He explained that these Internet surveillance policies could have detrimental effects on the reporters who seek to cover the more controversial topics for the games.

"If activists inform journalists of planned protest actions linked to the games, these journalists can be marked as supporters of the protests and experience difficulty with future visa applications," he told the news source. "We advise foreign journalists to systematically encrypt their information and communication and be extremely careful with their sources."

These circumstances are making it difficult for reporters to cover the games, but their work is essential to providing a true and accurate portrayal of the games.

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