The role of free, independent media is to inform the public. Russia’s state media distort and seek to mislead.
RT and Sputnik are state-controlled media that present pro-Kremlin views to audiences outside Russia. Neither outlet will criticize Russia’s leaders or state policy.
Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of RT and Rossiya Segodnya, Sputnik’s parent company, is the protégé of a senior aide to President Vladimir Putin.
When international media coverage of Russia or its leaders is unfavorable, the two networks engage in disinformation to influence opinion. Both outlets promote stories posted on proxy sites that are linked to Russia’s intelligence services.
The Kremlin is shutting down or blocking access to respected Russian independent media outlets while foreign media outlets are suspending operations or leaving Russia in response to recent legislation that severely restricts freedom of expression, including for the press.
For other examples and more details on Kremlin-funded disinformation, see:
- Fact vs. Fiction: Russian Disinformation on Ukraine.
- Russia’s Top Five Persistent Disinformation Narratives.
- A new report (PDF, 4.1MB) from the State Department’s Global Engagement Center on RT’s and Sputnik‘s role in Russia’s disinformation and propaganda.
- This 2020 report on the pillars of Russia’s disinformation.