A visual timeline of the deliberate
destruction of independent media in Russia.

Project by Alina Spatz, RISD class of 2024.


January 1, 2000

President Boris Yeltsin resigns and gives the presidency to Prime Minister, and former KGB officer, Vladimir Putin. Months later Putin wins the 2000 presidential election.

May 11, 2000

Media Most, the parent company of Russia's
largest independent TV network, is raided.

June, 2000

Vladimir Gusinsky, the owner of Media Most, is arrested. To get out, he gives control of the NTV independent channel to state-dominated gas monopoly Gazprom.


June 23, 2003

TVS, Russia's only remaining independent
TV station, is taken off air


March, 2004

Vladimir Putin is re-elected for a second term.


August, 2005

Moscow bans journalists of the ABC from working in Russia after the network aired an interview with a leader of the Chechen independence movement.

October, 2006


Journalist Anna Politikovskaya, known for her opposition to Russia's invasion in Chechnya, is shot dead in a contract killing.


Since 2006, there are 63 violent attacks and 20 killings of Russian journalists on record.


March 2, 2008

As he was then constitutionally limited to two consecutive presidential terms, Putin is elected as prime minister under president Dmitry Medvedev.


December, 2009

Independent, international, and Islamic Chechen internet agency kavzaccenter.ru is blocked.


July, 2012

Libel, or written defamation, is re-criminalised.

November, 2012

The foreign agent law, which applies to non-government organizations that receive international funds or donations, takes effect. It demonizes public advocacy groups, especially those that challenge the government.

November, 2012

The internet blacklist law takes effect. It is abused to block criticism of the federal government and local administrations.

March, 2012

Vladimir Putin is re-elected. Evidence of manipulated elections, erasable ballot pens, and ballot stuffing is filmed and uploaded to the internet.

The government quickly cracks
down on election protesters
and dissidents, launching persecutions against mass media
and individual Russians.

March, 2013

The websites of Grani and Ezhednevny
Zhurnal are blocked.


June, 2013

The Gay propaganda law is passed. It bans the distribution of information about LGBT people to minors.

November, 2013

The Euromaidan protests, known as “the revolution of dignity” against the Putin-backed government, begin in Ukraine. In February 2014, president Viktor Yanukovych flees the country.

May, 2014

The bloggers law is passed. It gives blogs the restrictions of major publications, including a ban on anonymity and legal responsibility for comments.

March, 2014

Alexei Navalny's blog, Kasparov.ru is blocked by the government for "making calls for unlawful activity and participation in mass events"

March, 2014

Putin takes advantage of Ukraine's destabalized government and invades and annexes Crimea.


October, 2014

The Internet Archive's Wayback
Machine website is blocked.

September, 2015

Russia begins its military intervention in the Syrian civil war, contributing to the untold suffering of millions of Syrians.


August 4, 2016

LinkedIn is blocked in Russia.


April, 2017

An envelope with the return
address "Grozny" and white powder
inside is sent to Novaya Gazeta.

November, 2018

The New Times magazine is fined 22 million rubles, the largest fine in the history of Russian media.


October, 2018

Novaya Gazeta is sent a severed ram’s head, funeral wreath, and threatening notes.

March, 2018

Vladimir Putin is re-elected. More evidence of
ballot stuffing and election fraud is filmed.

December, 2019

The foreign agent law is updated to apply to any private individual.

October, 2019

The “sovereign internet” law is passed. It gives the government power to automatically block content and reroute internet traffic.

March, 2019

Bill fining those who spread "fake news" and "show disprespect to the state authorities" is passed.



August, 2020

Alexey Navalny, Russian opposition leader, is evacuated to Germany after being poisoned with Novichok nerve agent, a Soviet-era chemical weapon.

December, 2020

Navalny ally Lyubov Sobol's apartment is raided after she allegedly visits the spy accused of poisoning him.


January, 2021

Navalny returns to Russia and is immediately arrested for alledgedly violation parole. In 2022 he will be sentenced to at least 9 more years in prison.

March 15, 2021

A masked biker strikes Novaya Gazeta's building entrance with an unknown chemical substance.

April, 2021

Putin changes the constitution to allow him to run for reelection twice more, potentially extending his presidency to 2036.

August 5, 2021

Open Media and MBKh Media close due to fears of criminal prosecution after being blocked.

December, 2021

Memorial International and Memorial human rights groups are banned.


February 24, 2022

Russia launches a full-scale assault on Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy orders a general mobilisation.

March, 2022

Echo of Moscow, Dozhd, BBC News, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Deutsche Welle, The New Times Magazine, Meduza, 200RF, Current Time, Google News, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bellingcat, and countless other media outlets and websites are blocked.

Television is the only news source for most Russians. It is controlled by the Kremlin and pumps out misinformation and war propaganda.

March, 2022

Russia's justice ministry cancels the registration of amnesty international and Human Rights Watch.

March, 2022

Infromation that goes against the government’s narrative about what they call a “special military operation” in Ukraine is criminalized. "War" and "invasion" are words that can result in a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

April 7, 2022

Russia is suspended from the United antions Human Rights Council.