Russian journalists in the Saratov region sent an open letter to President Putin urging him to protect freedom of the press which is under assault by the president’s political party, United Russia. A local paper reported that State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin accidentally had shot a woman with a speargun and was immediately charged with libel by state prosecutors. This incident comes after a paper printed a satirical cartoon of Putin and faces the prospect of not being able to publish any longer. The reporters believe United Russia is engaged in a full scale effort to crush freedom of the press in Russia and will not allow any criticism, however minor, to be printed in newspapers.
Russia is facing a crisis regarding freedom of speech and the press. Continued economic progress had made the average Russian less interested in their basic right of free speech. Putin employs subtle methods of silencing opposition to his rule.