Vladmir Putin said this when he addressed Russian journalists.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who has been widely criticised for curbing media freedom, on Thursday praised journalists as a driving force behind democracy.
“An active, responsible, independent and brave journalism practice are more in demand now more than ever before. Today – robust journalism practice is necessary for Russia’s democratic development and for strengthening civil society,’’ Mr. Putin said.
He made the comments in a welcome message at a congress of the Russian Journalists’ Union published on his website.
Mr. Putin said “a journalist’s honest word has enormous weight’’ and that journalism plays a key role in “strengthening citizens in the fight against corruption and injustice.’’
Media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, ranks Russia 148th out of 179 countries on its 2013 Press Freedom Index.
The country has seen a string of unsolved murders of journalists in the past years.
Many critics blame Mr. Putin for creating conditions in which reporters fear for their safety while those behind attacks on journalists can rely on impunity.
Since Mr. Putin returned to the presidency in May 2012 legislators have passed a series of laws, which critics say restrict press freedom and civil rights.
In 2010, he was labelled a “predator of the press’’ by Reporters Without Borders.