The Impact of International Sanctions on Russia’s Media Economy

In: Russian Politics
Ilya KiriyaProfessor, Department of media, Faculty of communications, media and design, National Research University, Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia,

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To punish Russia for the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, the United States and the European Union introduced a set of economic sanctions against Russian state companies and individuals closely affiliated with the Kremlin. The goal of this article is to look at the sanctions in relation to the process of the current consolidation of media assets and revenues in the hands of Russia’s biggest media empires, most of whom are close to the Kremlin. It questions whether the sanctions achieved the intended goal of undermining economic stability inside Russia or if, rather, they benefitted major state-aligned media corporations.

The main conclusion drawn from the study is that the international sanctions have radically changed the structure of Russia’s media in a manner contrary to their intention. The sanctions unwittingly favored the biggest players to the detriment of the smaller, protecting state-aligned media and their financial incomes. In the climate of sanctions, media tycoons close to the Kremlin used their lobbying capacity in parliament to acquire advantages, primarily in terms of advertisement. Thus, smaller competitors were pushed out of the market and their shares were redistributed among a few major stakeholders.

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