Eastern Europe is a region that encompasses many different countries, cultures, languages and histories. The largest country is Russia. The rest of eastern Europe is made up of: Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Moldova, Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Belarus, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. These countries were once known as the U.S.S.R.-the United Soviet Socialist Republic-which was formed soon after Vladimir Lenin seized power in 1917.
The U.S.S.R. split under General Mikhail Gorbachev in December of 1991. Many of the countries are independent republics and Russia has moved away from democracy towards a centralized semi-authoritarian state under the chief of state President Dmitriy Anatolyevich Medvedev and head of government Premier Valdimir Vladimirovich Putin.
President Dmitry Medvedev
Russian media is heavily controlled by the government. Many of its television stations, newspapers and radio outlets are either government owned or owned by private companies that are linked to the Kremlin. According to BBC News the internet is not as highly controlled as the traditional media.
"The web is less tightly controlled than traditional media, and opposition forces have found a home online. The most popular online sources are portals, blogging platforms and social networks."
The main source of news for most Russians is through television. Three of the major televison stations in Russia are either state run or owned by companies that have strong ties with the Kremlin. Russia One and Channel One are both state run television stations and NTV is owned by state-run Gazprom.
Freedom of speech is not a right that is practiced by Russian government. BBC News writes:
"Russian journalists run the risk of attack and even murder if they delve too deeply into sensitive subjects such as corruption, organised crime or rights abuses. Russia is a regular target for criticism and condemnation from media freedom watchdogs."
An example of the lack of freedom of speech is what has happen to British Moscow correspondent Luke Harding of The Guardian who was originally not allowed back into Russia after his reporting on WikiLeaks and how the Russian government was portrayed in those cables.