While people talk about government censorship of Russian media and the Internet all the time, it is actually more common for censorship to be self-imposed by news agencies on a lower, corporate level. Case in point — a journalist in Perm was fired recently for re-posting a relatively innocent, albeit somewhat snarky, blog post on his Facebook page.
The original post was written by Roman Romanenko of Vologodsk, on March 4, 2014. In it Romanenko, who also works in the media, wrote an ironic address calling on Putin to “occupy” Vologodsk Region, in order to protect the rights of “Russian-speaking” people living there. Romanenko was, of course, referring to Russia's alleged occupation of the Crimean Peninsula (Russian officials still deny Russian troops are present there). Specifically he wrote [ru]:
Мы тут все сплошь русскоязычные и наши права очень ущемляются. Наши больные не могут получить нужных им лекарств и лечения, уровень нашего образования падает с каждым годом […] А еще мы узнали, что вы собираетесь потратить много денег, чтобы нормализовать жизнь в Крыму. Стесняемся спросить: можно ли потратить эти деньги на нормализацию жизни в Вологодской области. А то наша область в такой долговой яме, что ни на что денег не хватает. А нам очень нужны мосты, дороги, спортивные сооружения, промышленные объекты, новые рабочие места…
We are all Russian-speaking here, and our rights are being infringed upon. Our sick can't get the medicine and medical attention they need, our education gets worse every year […] Also, we've heard that you are planing to spend a lot of money to improve the lives of Crimeans. We hesitate to ask: can this money we spent to improve life in Vologodsk Region. Because our region is in major debt, we've got no money for anything. And we need bridges, roads, sports, industrial development, new work places…
Alexander Erenko, a journalist from Perm, re-posted [ru] this message on his wall, changing the Vologodsk Region to his own home town. Although it was shared only 44 times, in contrast to the 3,323 times Romanenko's original was shared, the post apparently ran afoul of one of Erenko's managers. Erenko was fired within the hour, reports Echo of Perm [ru] (a local office of Echo Moskvy).
In the meantime, Romanenko wasn't the only one to bring up an incongruity in how Moscow seems to treat potential citizens in Crimea, and how it treats its own citizens at home. This tweet from blogger Irina Petrova was retweeted almost one thousand times, opposition leader Alexey Navalny among them (even though he is currently under house arrest and technically incommunicado):
Губернатор МО выделяет 40млн руб. из областного бюджета для реконструкции больницы в Крыму. Офигеть!! Он был в подмосковных больницах???
— Ирина Петрова (@iPetrowa) March 7, 2014
The governor of Moscow Region will set aside 40 million rubles from the regional budget to repair a hospital in Crimea. Madness!! Has he been to Moscow Region hospitals???
That’s pretty extreme. Shouldn’t have been fired over that.