Russia is in the news more and more these days as, under Vladimir Putin’s (and now Dmitry Medvedev’s) leadership, Russia is slowly recovering from the fall of the Soviet Union, and the basket case days of Yeltsin’s leadership in the 1990s.
Although Russia may not be heading in the democratic direction that many in the West would like (in fact, it seems to be heading towards a semi-autocratic state, in which business interests are paramount) Russia is one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Although not all sectors of its economy are firing on all cylinders, it’s vast oil and mineral resources have brought a great deal of wealth into the country, giving the Russian leadership and people new vigor. This in turn has led to confidence on the international stage, and a realization that they no longer need to back down in international disputes – even when they turn violent. Witness the August 2008 war in Georgia, for example.
If you follow international affairs, or are involved in international business or investing, it is becoming more important than ever to make sure that you keep on top of the latest Russian news. And happily, as the web matures, it is becoming easier and easier to do that, even if you don’t speak a word of Russian.
There are plenty of great English-language Russian news sites out there, in several different categories.
State backed Russsian news agencies like Interfax and RIA Novosti act as one of the best sources of real time news coming out of Russia. They publish many stories per day, on a similar model to Western news agencies like the Press Agency or Reuters. Being state backed they are open to accusations of bias, however, in my experience they’ve usually proved quite reliable.
Also based in Russia are newspapers like Pravda and the Moscow Times, both of which have English language internet news sites. Pravda tends towards the sensationalist, and pro-Russian, whereas the Moscow Times is aimed at expats. It tends to be more sober in its coverage and places more emphasis on business news, but has a clear pro-Western bias.
The big US and European newspapers also cover Russia, as you’d expect. The New York Times and the Guardian, for example, both have a page on their websites dedicated to news stories from Russia. Each, as you’d imagine has its own biases, and the coverage of Russia is often critical.
An emerging trend is the growth in specialist news sites covering Russia – often focusing specifically on the lucrative business market. Two good examples of this kind of site are Business News Europe (which also covers emerging markets in Eastern Europe) and Marchmont News, which covers regional business news.
Nicholas Jensen is an expert on Russian politics. He recently launched a Russian News aggregator which also gives the latest Russian Blog headlines.