The Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies (WCED) at the University of Michigan is pleased to welcome Elena Milashina, Russian investigative journalist, for a lecture titled “The Rise and Fall of Free Speech in Russia.” Milashina is a journalist for Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s most prominent independent newspaper. She writes about human rights violations in Russia’s North Caucasus Republics and women’s and LGBTQ rights in Russia. She is the inaugural fellow in the WCED Freedoms Under Fire Residency, which brings courageous activists, journalists, and scholars from across the globe to WCED both as a way of evading persecution in their home countries and of sharing their unique personal insights with the U-M community and broader public on how dictatorships and eroding democracies repress vital individual freedoms.

In the lecture, Milashina will talk about the Russian media, from its rapid development following the collapse of the Soviet Union more than 30 years ago to the recent criminalization of free speech in Russia, as well as why Russian society has not recognized freedom of speech as a fundamental social value. She will also analyze how some members of the Russian media still cover the Russian invasion of Ukraine while under threat of serious legal action, and whether freedom of speech in Russia can survive these dark times.

As an investigative journalist, Milashina has received numerous awards, including the Human Rights Watch’s Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, the International Woman of Courage Award, and the Prize for Courage by Reporters Without Borders. She was a 2009-2010 Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023
“The Rise and Fall of Free Speech in Russia”
5-6:30 PM
1010 Weiser Hall or on Zoom at

Contact: Derek Groom | T: 734.764.0351 | E:

The Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies at the University of Michigan’s International Institute promotes scholarship to better understand the conditions and policies fostering transformations from authoritarian rule to democracy. WCED’s mission will evolve as the world changes, but its core commitment to understanding the conditions for democracy and freedom will remain the guiding principle. For more information, visit