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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 37, Number 2. 13th March 1974

Censorship in the Soviet Press

page 7

Censorship in the Soviet Press

Recently a list of topics forbidden in Soviet news media became available in the West. The list was released to the Washington Post through the Soviet Embassy in Washington. Included in the list would be an article like this since the official censor forbids publication of "information about the organs of Soviet censorship which discloses the character, organisation and method of their work."

The censor also forbids reports on prisons, on low morale in the Army, or the activity of the secret police, or the amount of crime in Soviet society, or accusations made by foreign states or statesmen against the Soviet Union."

It is also against the rules to report on "the number of fires and their victims", or "the correlation between the cost of services for foreign tourists in the USSR and the selling price of toursits' trips to the USSR."

The list goes from issues of State—no reporting is allowed on the movements or stopovers of members of the Politburo—to issues of entertainment and sport. For instance there can be no stories "about the rates of pay for sportsmen, about the money prizes for sportsmen for good results in sport, or "about the financing upkeep and staff of teams". In the Soviet Union, all athletes are officially considered as amateurs.

Airplane crashes are not reported, unless foreigners are among the victims. Floods, eathquakes and other natural disasters also pass unnoticed in the press.

The censor also forbids stories on "the number of uncared for children", and "the number of people engaged in vagrancy or begging". Stories on "the number of drug addicts" are proscribed as are reports on "illness in the population". No news either, please, about occupational injuries".

Not surprisingly, the censor regards military topics as sensitive. There are to be no stories about "the export to foriegn countires of arms, ammunition and military technology".

There can be no information printed about foreigners receiving military training in the Soviet Union, or about Soviet military missions abroad. No stories are allowed about "bad morale in the ranks, bad relations between officers and men, or large scale disturbance among military personnel due to material conditions and the feeding of the men."

Most Soviet journalists seem to accept restrictions of this kind without evident discomfort. As in China they seem to regard their job as being to support and sometimes to improve the status quo. Which are sentiments that a local apparatchik like Patricia Bartlett would readily agree with. After Watergate however it must seem strange to a Western public that the general welfare can best be served by suppressing such signs of official error and incompetence. Write Pravda and complain.