The relationship between the mass media and organised crime in post-Soviet Russia : a sociological perspective
The topic of organised crime in relation to mass media is rather marginal in academic studies and this research is one of the first attempts to fill the gap. This thesis is based on Russian media coverage and many interviews with leading Russian experts, entrepreneurs and journalists. It analyses the relationship between the mass media and organised crime in post-Communist Russia. It aims to identify the place of these social institutions in the complex reality of this transitional country, to grasp some important features of their relationship, and to provide a framework for a further analysis. This thesis emphasises that the Russian news media have been increasingly involved in politics. It examines the media's role in relation to Russian power elites through the prism of the "symbolic method". The symbolic method is defined as a means of exercising symbolic power that aims to impact the symbolic capital of parties involved. This research shows that organised crime reporting comprises significant part of the symbolic method and, as such, is an effective instrument of political confrontation. This makes the media attractive to organised crime groups, which are deeply embedded in Russian power networks, and results in the establishment of numerous ties between the mass media and the Mafia. This thesis consists of seven chapters. Chapter I introduces the main features of the Russian media; Chapter 2 identifies the main types of Russian organised crime. Chapter 3 analyses weakness of the news media in the face of numerous methods of pressure from the power elites. This may explain the presence of ties between the Russian mass media and organised crime, which is illustrated in detail in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 outlines numerous difficulties of organised crime reporting, and Chapter 6 offers an explanation of why these problems do not prevent the media from publishing investigative stories. The final chapter reviews the history of Russian investigative journalism and assessed its role as a watchdog of the public sphere.