Norms: The forgotten factor in Russian-Western rapprochement - a case study of freedom of the press under Putin
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The report analyses freedom of the press in Russia as a litmus test of the development of liberal democratic norms under Putin. It addresses both the question of why freedom of the press has deteriorated and what kind of impact the international society has had on this development. It is found that restricting freedom of the press has been a rational tool employed by a Russian president aiming to secure his own position, strengthen state power and win a war in Chechnya. However, the deterioration of freedom of the press is also attributed to Russian political culture and the growing influence and assertiveness of the security structures under Putin. Further, the report concludes that the Western states' response to this development has been muted and has only to a limited degree contributed to promote freedom of the press in Russia. The report is part of an FFI project that analyses the prospects of a Russian-Western "security community". A prerequisite for such a community is the development of common norms. The report reveals a mismatch between closer cooperation and institutional integration between Russia and the West on the one hand and the weak and even deteriorating standing of liberal democratic norms under Putin.