This article seeks a nuanced understanding of the troubled state that Russian journalism finds itself in today. As much as the Kremlin may be blamed as the source of these woes, it cannot be responsible for low ethical standards and lack of solidarity among journalists. This article explores what has hindered the journalistic community from developing stronger ethical standards over the past twenty-five years. Three significant events in the first post-Soviet decade serve as case studies: first, an early ethical code of conduct, the Moscow Charter of Journalists, produced in 1994; second, the 1996 presidential election campaign, which led to president Yeltsin's victory over the Communist Gennadii Zuiganov; and third, the so called “information wars” between oligarchs, culminating in the 2001 demise of the television channel NTV. In unique interviews, conducted by the authors, thirty-five Russian elite journalists and media managers assessed the role they played in major political events and how these events impacted the freedom of media in Russia today.