To a hundred-year-anniversary since the cancel of censorship

The administration arrested circulations, imposed penalties, transferred materials to courts but those were pity attempts to stop the cleared up Russian liberal and socialist press. The languid, forced reprisals only added oil to fire, raised interest of the society, held journalists in a tone, surrounded them with auras of fighters and even martyrs. The writing intelligence had both sense and pleasure in life, i.e. to distribute ideas of freedom, to struggle with “reactionaries” and “satraps”, to be exposed to different “prosecutions” and, thus not to be at hard labors in Nerchinsk but in a restaurant at Donon’s, to receive large fees and to rest in Nice.
Those were the times! Even the started war did not prevent living a sanguineous live. And during the Temporary government there came such a freedom:
And now all these pleasures at once were quit by Bolsheviks. Already on October 27, 1917 they established a decree on press which empowered the bodies of a new authority with the right to stop activities of “bourgeois” editions, and according to the decree from December 23, 1918, the Revolutionary-military committee received all the rights of a preliminary censorship and total control over mass media.
Soon after the Central administrative board on literature and publishing houses was separated from the People’s Committee on enlightening which pressed the Soviet journalism down till the end of the 80s when, at last, the censorship was canceled by the law again.
It was very terrible for writing intellectuals at Lenin-Stalin’s times: a step to the right, a step to the left and they were at Lubyanka, then a bullet or Vorkuta. It became freer at Brezhnev-Khrushchev though they could still be arrested without ceremony, were not allowed to go abroad, and cutlets in the House of writers were rigid and tasteless. But it was possible to become a hero almost instantly; the truth is the consequences of heroism could be rather serious. Not everyone could risk it.
But while Gorbachev-Yeltsin publicity came and following it a democracy arrived with the Atlantic winds and everyone inhaled an air of long-awaited freedom. It just seemed that intelligent journalists would be heroes, leaders, and masters of thoughts of New Russia.
But as it was soon found out there were no more our martyrs, neither heroes of a feather, nor intelligent masters of thoughts but everything was boring, grey, a routine and usual. “Bird flu in Vietnam, explosion in Iraq, a typhoon in Miami, corruption in Tver”. And not the terrible Central administrative board on literature and publishing houses but only Tefal thinks of us.
At times we are as if hearing suppressed groans from the thickness of the writing masses: we want to be prosecuted a little, well, at least such as in 1905, and it is better “for fun” in general. That it would be possible to battle “satraps”, to declare suffocation of freedom of speech at a meeting of legal experts, to go to a restaurant, then to a cottage: And again there are heroes, and again on a horse!
But no, those times will not return. In fact we cancelled censorship by the constitution. We can not dispute over this.
It is also necessary nowadays to earn a journalist’s difficult bread “in sweat”, to try to increase hard circulations of not readable editions by different “branchy cranberries”, to fawn upon sponsors, to search for advertisers, to amuse a yawning public. There’s nothing to be done – here is freedom of speech.
But this freedom, in spite of everything, is much more important, a large price was paid for it and I congratulate with pleasure all the writing fraternity and all our intelligence on a centenary of cancel of censorship. Cheers!
Mikhail Moskvin – Tarkhanov
MP of the Moscow State Duma

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