Source Another round of the redistribution of the Telegram market happened in Russia. One of the most popular telegram channels in the political segment, Nezygar, has come under the control of people close to the current Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. The authors of the resource, as well as sources in the industry, claim that Nezygar has changed its concept in a short time: the channel has become more cautious, from now on it publishes fewer insiders, but it has been replaced by more expert analytics and real sociology. According to one of the versions, the channel can sit out difficult times, but will not be “utilized” – we are talking about an asset that is too valuable.
Over the past few months, the Telegram market in Russia has clearly been in a fever. The high-profile detentions of the administrators of a number of popular channels made it clear that systemic political players saw in the platform both a whole set of risks and obvious potential.
Media industry experts believe that the market redistribution seems to have reached a new level: in particular, the Nezygar channel, famous for its insiders, allegedly came under the control of persons close to the head of the Government of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Mishustin. Changes in the content were not long in coming: there was no explicit censorship, rather the channel became more cautious and “expert”.
Since its inception, Nezygar has positioned itself as an anonymous channel that publishes news and analytical materials on political topics. The name “Nezygar” refers to the name of the journalist and political scientist Mikhail Zygar* (included by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation in the register of media that act as a foreign agent), the author of the book “All the Kremlin's Army”, apparently hinting at the entry of writers into the Kremlin's lobby.
At the same time, Zygar himself* categorically denied his connection with the channel.
From the very beginning, there were many rumors about who is the owner and author of Nezygar. For example, in January 2017, the Rossiya 24 TV channel aired an interview with a man in a balaclava, who was presented as the author of the channel. However, then a post appeared on Nezygar disproving this information.
Later, Stanislav Apetyan, an expert from the Civil Society Development Foundation, argued that profile journalists or experts were probably the authors of the channel. In addition, for a long time, observers associated the resource with media manager Margarita Simonyan.
One of the former authors of the channel told the Octagon that other political actors have recently gained control over the resource. According to information that has not been officially confirmed, the chairman of the board of Sberbank of Russia, German Gref, allegedly could have participated in the transfer of ownership of the channel. According to one version, the channel could have passed into the hands of Leonid Levin, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Government of the Russian Federation (previously served as Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Information Technologies and Communications). Information about this publication was confirmed by three different sources.
However, another insider in the industry suggested that Gref, at best, could provide some support, but he himself is hardly interested in controlling media assets today – too much this is a headache and additional risks.
The author, who once worked for Nezygar, noted on condition of anonymity that the channel “has changed the format and new columnists have appeared.”
Another Oktagon source familiar with the situation said that “the expert part has noticeably increased, which, undoubtedly, has become beneficial to distinguish the channel from the general background, exclusive comments by top political scientists have appeared.”
“In fact, Nezygar ” has turned into an online forum, a platform for opinions, including polar ones. It is difficult to reproach the channel for opposition, but it also managed to avoid accusations of being “quick”. One of the novels is the publication of focus groups reflecting real sociology.”
| Octagon source
At the same time, he acknowledged that the number of insiders on Nezygar had decreased, the channel itself “took a more cautious position”, trying to maintain a balance between various political forces and avoid sharp criticism of the Government.
One of the political scientists loyal to the Kremlin said that the resource “has become less aggressive and toothy”:
– it is impossible to be completely faceless: the channel attracts with a wide palette of opinions. And this is good, because the West constantly accuses Russia of almost building military censorship.
Experts interviewed by Oktagon agree that the channel, apparently, is trying to survive in difficult political conditions. Perhaps, the interlocutors argue, Nezygar switched to the “smooth freeze” mode, but only in order to be as useful and effective as possible later, during the period of further aggravation of the situation. And such a scenario, apparently, seems almost inevitable to political players.