Russian authorities investigate famed expat tabloid

It looks like the climate for Russian media may not be improving so much after all in the Medvedev era. The eXile, Moscow’s venerable English-language alt-weekly, is under investigation by the Federal Service for Mass Media, Telecommunications and the Protection of Cultural Heritage and may be shut down. After 11 years of proudly mocking government ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
594726_080605_exile22.gif
594726_080605_exile22.gif

It looks like the climate for Russian media may not be improving so much after all in the Medvedev era.

The eXile, Moscow's venerable English-language alt-weekly, is under investigation by the Federal Service for Mass Media, Telecommunications and the Protection of Cultural Heritage and may be shut down. After 11 years of proudly mocking government authorities, it's not clear what finally brought the hammer down. It could have something to do with Eduard Limonov, novelist and leader of the banned National Bolshevik Party, who is friends with editor Mark Ames and a frequent contributor. 

Though I sometimes found its descriptions of ordinary Russians condescending, bordering on racist, the eXile was undoubtedly one of the great guilty pleasures of living in Moscow -- a rare breath of politically incorrect air in an otherwise muzzled media climate. Its cultural coverage sometimes felt like the last vestige of the wilder, pre-Putin Moscow scene of the early '90s. It's also had some international influence, with Gary Brecher's War Nerd column gaining an loyal Internet readership and former editor Matt Taibbi going on to cover U.S. politics for Rolling Stone.

It looks like the climate for Russian media may not be improving so much after all in the Medvedev era.

The eXile, Moscow’s venerable English-language alt-weekly, is under investigation by the Federal Service for Mass Media, Telecommunications and the Protection of Cultural Heritage and may be shut down. After 11 years of proudly mocking government authorities, it’s not clear what finally brought the hammer down. It could have something to do with Eduard Limonov, novelist and leader of the banned National Bolshevik Party, who is friends with editor Mark Ames and a frequent contributor. 

Though I sometimes found its descriptions of ordinary Russians condescending, bordering on racist, the eXile was undoubtedly one of the great guilty pleasures of living in Moscow — a rare breath of politically incorrect air in an otherwise muzzled media climate. Its cultural coverage sometimes felt like the last vestige of the wilder, pre-Putin Moscow scene of the early ’90s. It’s also had some international influence, with Gary Brecher’s War Nerd column gaining an loyal Internet readership and former editor Matt Taibbi going on to cover U.S. politics for Rolling Stone.

In what may be a farewell editorial, Ames recounts the eXile‘s history of abuse in a tone of proudly obscene defiance:

From its very inception, The eXile has been under constant siege, always pushed to the brink of collapse by a nefarious alliance of Russian bureaucrats, aggrieved small-business owners, thick-ankled American women, thin-skinned Russian celebrities, seething Western journalists and politicians, and even members of our own staff, people whom we thought we could trust. Everyone, it seems, learns to hate us at one time or another, leaving only a small rump core to keep the flame of hatred burning. Is there a lesson to be learned in that? Yes there is: everyone but us is a worthless piece of [expletive].”

Moscow won’t be the same without them.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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