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It’s all smiles, moderation and good news in sunny Russia, now that the Putin regime is forcing radio stations to make sure that at least 50 percent of the news about the country is positive.

Russian News Service employees tell the New York Times that under the new guidelines, “opposition leaders could not be mentioned on the air and the United States was to be portrayed as an enemy.” Only “moderate” political views may be aired.

“Now, the implementation of the ’50 percent positive’ rule at the Russian News Service leaves an increasingly small number of news outlets that are not managed by the Kremlin, directly or through the state national gas company, Gazprom, a major owner of media assets,” the New York Times reports.

The regime is also cracking down on the Internet.

Rather than apply official censorship as the Soviets did, the Putin regime is simply taking direct or indirect control or ownership of media organizations, firing the editors, and installing yes-men who offer bland fare.

This is an opportunity for the United States. Russia’s free media days – when people were so saturated with independent and interesting content that few had a desire to turn to US-backed surrogate radios – are over. US-backed Radio Liberty and other stations are vital now. It’s time to return them to their origins as surrogates for a free media inside Russia – on the radio waves and online.

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