Zubkov Bars Press From Cabinet Meetings

Nezavisimaya Gazeta has reported that starting on October 18th, journalists will be forbidden from attending sessions of the Russian Cabinet. Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov has decided to institute this policy because the press apparently “prevents the businesslike conduct of the sessions.”

On the face, it appears that Zubkov is merely pushing through measures that were started by the former prime-minister, Mikhail Fradkov, who never built up the courage to go through with them.

The Nezavisimaya Gazeta tells a different story. The paper reports that Zubkov’s ministers have been publicly burned by his firm announcements and public criticism. They feel that by televising the Prime Minister’s reproaches, the mass media is undermining their authority in the regions.

This step, undoubtedly, looks like a worsening of the situation, but it’s actually formality,” announced Igor Yakovenko, the General Secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists.

In his opinion, the only effect of the decision is that the press will no longer be able to bring some happiness to their readers, in the form of statements and aphorisms made by politicians. Yakovenko noted that no decisions of consequence are ever made in Cabinet meetings. It follows that the public won’t become uninformed, as the serious media outlets receive their news from sources in the presidential administration, where all matters of importance are decided.

“The Government has publicly emphasized that it lives its own life, and that it doesn’t plan on letting anyone in,” Yakovenko concluded.