But as a wave of antigovernment protests swept the country following the disputed December 4 parliamentary elections, outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev promised to change all that. And this week, he claimed to deliver on that promise by announcing the formation of Russia's first public television channel -- something the Kremlin is billing as similar to the BBC in Great Britain or PBS in the United States.
But as always is the case in Russia, the devil is in the details. And the details suggest that Russia's new public television station will be far from independent and far from free of state influence.
For this week's edition of The Power Vertical Podcast, I sat down with my regular co-host, Kirill Kobrin, managing editor of RFE/RL's Russian Service, to discuss the politics of television and Russia's changing media landscape.
Kirill and I also discuss the increasingly interesting election campaign for mayor of Omsk and address the question: Can a 28-year-old blogger with a wild afro become mayor of Russia's seventh-largest city?
Listen to or download the podcast below or subscribe to The Power Vertical Podcast on iTunes.