DATE=5/4/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=RUSSIAN MEDIA (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-262016 BYLINE=BARRY WOOD DATELINE=WASHINGTON INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Two young American journalists who put out an irreverent English language weekly newspaper in Moscow are worried about press freedom in Vladimir Putin's Russia. V-O-A's Barry Wood reports on the visit to Washington of the editors of the Moscow Exile. TEXT: Matt Taibbi and Mark Ames are self-described pranksters and humorists who have been living in Russia for most of the past seven years. Together they edit the Exile, a mostly satirical but occasionally serious weekly with a circulation of 25 thousand. They have many more readers-mostly in America--on their Russian registered internet web-site. Speaking at Washington's respected Center for Strategic and International Studies, the two Americans say flawed aid policies seen as supportive of Russia's new ruling class of oligarchs have fueled rising anti- Western sentiment. The two Americans have a low opinion of incoming President Vladimir Putin, whose allies-they believe- are using intimidation to extend their control over the Russian news media. Mr. Ames say independent journalists in Russia are like rabbits cornered by wolves. //Ames act// As we said, in our opinion, there is only really one hard-hitting opposition press outlet left. And that is Novaya Gazeta. I mean, N-T-B (television) has been defanged, Moscovsky Komsomolets and Sovershenno Secretno have been defanged. //end act// Mr. Taibbi believes his English-language newspaper has escaped intimidation because it is so small it hasn't been noticed in the Kremlin. Mr. Taibbi believes the International Monetary Fund has made the economic situation in Russia worse not better. //Taibbi act// One of our big criticisms has been, that the I- M-F, during the mid-1990s there was a lot of I- M-F money in town and a lot of it went to American and European consultants who were living on exhorbitant salaries and per diems. And meanwhile these same people were giving advice to the Russian government to lay off thousands or even millions of people. This is something that Russians did not miss. I mean this was a very ugly thing. I mean to see westerners coming in and making a lot of money and then being told that they had to fire their own people. //end act// The two Americans describe a new Russia in which cynicism and criminality are rampant. They suggest that because the situation is so dire humor is an essential coping mechanism. (signed) NEB/BDW/PT 04-May-2000 20:14 PM EDT (05-May-2000 0014 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .