In remarks Monday at the World Association of Newspapers meeting, Putin said the press played an "irreplaceable role in forming the new Russia," and he called freedom of press here "our valued achievement."
The president said that state control of the media was actually decreasing, which in a technical sense is correct: Many influential television stations and newspapers are not controlled directly by the Kremlin but by companies with close ties to it.
In an essay in yesterday's Moscow Times, Vladimir Ryzhkov, an independent member of the Duma, the lower house of parliament, said that holding the annual press congress in Russia was like "holding a pork producers' convention in a Muslim country."
"Ninety percent of information Russians receive is controlled by the state," he told journalists at the forum yesterday. "The TV is under the full control of the ruling groups. There is a list of politicians not allowed to be on TV - including myself.
"If we have no free speech we can never develop a modern economy."
As for Rakhmankov, he said he would write every single word again. "I don't see myself as a hero," he said. "We cannot retreat. I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing."