NewsSergei Novikov: Putin's libertarian censor who silenced dissent

Sergei Novikov: Putin's libertarian censor who silenced dissent

Who is the main Russian censor? He has been stifling culture and art for years.
Who is the main Russian censor? He has been stifling culture and art for years.
Images source: © Telegram | Meduza, Telegram
Kamil Różycki

9 July 2024 08:59

Russian high culture has been one of the main pillars of Russia's European identity for years. Much has changed since 2022 when the war in Ukraine began and Sergei Novikov started overseeing artists. This close associate of Vladimir Putin went from being a libertarian to Russia's chief censor.

The war in Ukraine has almost completely changed the perception of Russia on the international stage. Many changes have also occurred within Putin's state, which experienced powerful opposition to the war among Russian artists such as Marina Aleksandrova (actress), Yuri Shevchuk (singer), and Alla Pugacheva (music icon), particularly in the first few days.

However, it turned out that the initial resistance quickly died down, mainly due to Sergey Novikov. The 47-year-old official from the Presidential Administration for Public Relations has been considered the Kremlin's chief censor since the beginning of the war. It was partly his initiative to create a blacklist of artists in Russia who later lost their jobs in theatres, on television, or stage.

At the same time, from the first days, he controlled texts published by the most prominent newspapers to "sell" the propaganda produced daily. With his work, he thus connects to the worst censors from the Stalinist era, as well noted by his colleagues, whose alignment with the party ideology he systematically checks.

Russia's chief censor fought for free media

Novikov, like Sharikov from Bulgakov's story ‘Heart of a Dog,’ senses the 'smell' of ideological enemies of contemporary culture and effectively fights them – says a friend. The authors' music industry source calls the official a "hunter" - reports Meduza portal.

At the same time, journalists point out that such great devotion to the values espoused by Putin's power in Novikov was not apparent. At the beginning of his career, he was actively involved in the fight for free media. It was he who, while working at one of the first independent radio stations, interviewed Boris Nemtsov.

As a student, he went on an exchange trip to the United States – recalls his friend. Novikov returned from the trip with knowledge of the English language and "a certain European attitude." "At that time, such exchanges were generally cool" – says the interlocutor. — "It was interesting to talk to him, he had seen many things. I think everyone felt it" - we read.

As indicated by the sources, Novikov’s immense ability to pursue maximum comfort may have hinted at his development direction. Initially, this was provided by the state-run Rosatom, where he was a spokesperson. However, it seems that Novikov has come to believe in Putin's propaganda.

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