In recent years, Twitter has forced the evolution of a brand of communication that is totally at odds with traditional media in Russia—it is public, off-the-cuff, and usually contains a sort of honesty and transparency that has rarely been seen in mainstream Russian media or politics. So, while the very best journalists to tell the story of contemporary Russian politics would be native Russians living in the capitol, very few of them seem to be active on Twitter. However, I have managed to find quite a few journalists from around the world who know Russian, have lived in Russia, and also have a valuable Twitter presence. Of course, Twitter is definitely not the best first place to learn about headline news from Russia, but the following journalists often Tweet insights and hard-to-find stories that are essential to developing an informed and critical view of Russian current events and politics.
Russian Police Watch is an anonymous English-language Twitter feed published from inside Russia that, in its own words, “follows and reports police and security news from Russia.” Though it was ostensibly founded to watch Russian police, it is a general relevant news feed, focusing heavily on injustice and corruption at high levels of government. Recently, it posted extensive coverage of the unbelievable “gay propaganda” bill being passed by the Duma.
In addition to coverage of these big stories, Russian Police Watch also occasionally posts slight commentary Tweets about Russian affairs. This one, for example, points out the incongruity of the Russian Orthodox Church taking a position against the closing of a children’s hospital and not the recent ban on the adoption of Russian children by American parents.
Tom Parfitt is a Moscow correspondent for England’s The Daily Telegraph, and he is also a prolific, whimsical Tweeter, posting updates about the stories he is currently working on or just ridiculous, more minor injustices from Russia, such as this story about a Russian judge who actually slept and messed with his cell phone during a trial.
Brian Whitmore is a big name in critical Russian news reporting, broadcasting a show and writing about it every week for Radio Free Europe. A very prominent theme in his work is the malicious incompetency of Putin, as seen in these Tweets.
Infamous Russian journalist for The New York Times Masha Gessen, who I discussed in my last blog post, is not too active on Twitter. But considering that see does post semi-regularly these days, and she is also probably the most knowledgeable journalist that I follow, it is doubtlessly valuable to follow her account. Many of her recent Tweets have focused on a story that many journalists have stopped covering—the continued trials of the members of Pussy Riot. Here she focuses on a particularly interesting quote from lawyer Oxana Darova.
Michael Schwirtz is a fiery Russian news correspondent for The New York Times as well. His recent Twitter activity is very lively and personal, and has often revolved around the struggle for gay rights in Russia.