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Russia's islands of media freedom are under attack

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Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

(Read caption) Alexey Venediktov, editor-in-chief of Ekho Moskvy radio station speaks to The Associated Press Television in his office in Moscow, Tuesday, Feb. 14. Ekho Moskvi, was forced to change its board of directors after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused Venediktov of 'slinging mud at me from dawn to dusk.'

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One of Russia's few independent radio stations, Ekho Moskvi, was forced to change its board of directors after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused its controversial news editor, Alexei Venediktov, of "slinging mud at me from dawn to dusk." 

A new and very highly-rated talk show on the Russian MTV youth channel was abruptly pulled off the air after its celebrity host, socialite Ksenia Sobchak, invited anti-corruption blogger and opposition activist Alexei Navalny to participate on the program this Friday. 

The last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned in an interview that the Kremlin ordered the management changes at Ekho Moskvi and worries that the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, of which he is part owner, could be next. 

Are these events – all of which have occurred in the past day – just routine media upsets? Or do they herald a coming crackdown on the few little islands of relative free speech that have flourished during the Putin-era amid a sea of huge media outlets dominated by the state and Kremlin-friendly oligarchs? 

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