Knoxville — The Russian government recently released a radio journalist who was arrested while reporting in Chechnya.
Andrei Babitsky, a reporter for the U.S.-funded Radio Liberty, told of several beatings by Russian security forces.
A University of Tennessee broadcasting professor says journalism in post-Soviet Russia remains difficult.
“Russia is still struggling with this idea of a free press,” said Dr. Sam Swan. “Radio and television stations run the risk of losing their license if they report true and factual information.”
Babitsky was arrested in Chechnya in mid-January after filing radio news reports contradicting the official Russian accounts of the progress of the war.
Swan said other Eastern European countries have more press freedoms, but legacies of the Soviet Union remain.
“Poland, the Czech Republic and Latvia are countries which have moved rapidly toward a free press, although there still can be some interference from those governments from time to time,” Swan said.
“You have to remember, these countries were under Soviet domination for 50 years, where there was no free press,” Swan said. “It’s taking people a long time to get used to that idea.”