The Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law is pleased to welcome Russian journalist and researcher Roman Badanin as a CDDRL-JSK Visiting Fellow.
Badanin is the founder and editor-in-chief of Proekt (The Project, in English) and Agentstvo (The Agency, in English), media organizations that have been targeted by the Russian government for their investigative reporting into the most powerful forces in their country.
He started Agentstvo in the summer of 2021 after Russian authorities outlawed Proekt, the nonprofit investigative news organization he founded in 2018 during his 2018 JSK Fellowship that was modeled after the U.S. nonprofit investigative news outlet, ProPublica. It was Russia’s first nonprofit news organization.
The Kremlin declared Proekt an “undesirable” organization, which meant that Badanin, his colleagues, and anyone who had dealings with Proekt, including sources, could face criminal prosecution. Over the previous three years, Badanin had led his team in publishing a series of investigations into secret financial ties between major business interests and top Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin and his family. Proekt has been recognized with several Russian and international journalism awards.
"Roman brings two decades of experience as a working journalist in Russia and has seen firsthand how disinformation, censorship, and propaganda threaten democracy," said Kathryn Stoner, Mosbacher Director of CDDRL. "It is an honor to welcome him to our academic community and support his research on this important subject.”
As a 2022 JSK Senior International Fellow, Badanin focused on finding alternative ways to produce and distribute deep investigative reporting on Russia’s ruling elite that gets around government censorship and intimidation efforts. Agentstvo is his first effort and he envisions it as a collaborative home for Russian investigative journalists, many of whom have over the last year been declared “foreign agents” by the government. While that is a less severe action than the “undesirable” organization designation, it has led multiple journalists to quietly move their base of operations outside of the country.
In this new role, Badanin will focus his research on Russian media and propaganda. “For more than 20 years, the Putin regime has deployed a massive propaganda and censorship machine to gain, then reinforce, its hold on power. These efforts are much more extensive than the now well-known Russian propaganda campaigns aimed at U.S. residents since 2016, but have not been sufficiently studied by Western researchers,” he said in a statement.
“I believe this is rich research territory that would yield globally important insights and practical recommendations for policymakers and others who shape the West’s response to the regime’s increasing aggression. And I believe Stanford is the ideal place to do this work, because of the opportunities to collaborate with brilliant scholars, faculty, and researchers who have deep knowledge about Russia and about the role of the internet in effectively deploying propaganda.”
Badanin has been working as a journalist in leading independent Russian news organizations for 20 years. He previously was deputy editor-in-chief at Gazeta.Ru, editor-in-chief at Forbes Digital (Russia), RBC News Agency, and editor-in-chief of Dozhd (TV Rain), an independent Russian TV channel. He has also been affiliated with the Gorbachev Foundation and the Russian Academy of Sciences as a researcher and studied history at Moscow State University.