A pro-Kremlin political news site says it has developed a computer algorithm to determine which media outlets are the most anti-Russian.
The politonline.ru website, part of the Pravda.ru media holding, says it has created a special system that vets media content for suggestive words and phrasing that cast the Russian state and its actions in Ukraine in a negative light.
The system, among other things, is programmed to red-flag terms like "annexation," "Anschluss," and "little green men" -- a reference to the insignia-free "self-defense" troops that suddenly appeared in Crimea during Russia's militarized takeover.
The result is Russia's first top-20 list of the most "anti-Russian" news outlets, based on a qualitative analysis of the politically heated month of March, and published on politonline.ru
on March 31.
1. Ekho Moskvy
2. Dozhd TV
3. Novaya gazeta
4. The New Times
6. Radio Svoboda
7. RIA "New Region"
and RBK daily
14. Yezhednevny zhurnal
17. Russky Zhurnal
18. Russian Forbes
20. Moskovskiye novosti
The publications, in addition to favoring so-called "negative" rhetoric, may have also contributed to their ranking by doing any of the following: comparing the actions of Russian politicians to those of Nazis; using the word "aggression" to describe Russia's behavior in Ukraine, appeals for Russia to be isolated or subject to sanctions, or favorable references to Ukraine's Euromaidan protests or the Right Sector nationalist movement.
Positive references to pro-Russian forces as "polite people" and "support for Crimea" were also found lacking in the top-20 outlets, whose texts were also evaluated for emotional shading and tone.
The list, which begins with the Ekho Moskvy radio station, Dozhd TV, and the "Novaya gazeta" investigative newspaper, predictably reads like a Who's Who in Russia's rapidly dwindling pool of editorially independent media. (RFE/RL's Russian Service, Radio Svoboda, ranks 6th on the list.)
More worryingly, the list is also being interpreted by some Kremlin supporters as a ready-made kill list.
Aleksandr Dugin, the conservative political adviser described in this week's "Foreign Affairs" as "Putin's Brain,"
reposted the politonline.ru list on his Facebook page
, saying, "This is the order in which Russia's most contemptible media outlets will be closed or blocked (in the cases of those located outside Russia's borders)."
The list -- and Dugin's injunction -- is certain to send a chill through Russia's free-press advocates.
The country's open media has come under punishing scrutiny as Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to eliminate alternatives to the Kremlin narrative.
Popular Dozhd TV -- which provided some of the most gripping live coverage of Russia's massive election-season protests in 2012 -- was forced to launch a fundraiser
last week after it was dropped by cable operators protesting an online poll deemed unpatriotic.
The Lenta.ru news site, widely regarded as one of the most objective and professional information sites in Russia, was dealt a massive blow in mid-March, when its longtime editor and several senior staff members were fired
for the publication of a Right Sector profile that linked to "extremist" content.
"Vedomosti" newspaper came under fire for publishing an opinion piece
by respected scholar Andrei Zubov comparing Putin's actions in Crimea to the Nazi Anschluss. Even RIA-Novosti, Russia's largest state-owned news agency, was abolished as too outspoken and is due to be revamped under the watch of Kremlin spin doctor Dmitry Kiselyov.