The current paradigm of political science suggests that authoritarian regimes suppress freedoms of speech and press as significant threats to autocratic survival. However, evidence now suggests that autocratic governments can exploit such ostensibly democratic institutions in new and surprising ways. Among the most salient examples are Russia and China where media outlets (even the freest ones) figure in the autocratic toolbox, a phenomenon that lends credence to the idea of self-development of non-democratic regimes. Valerii Nechai is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Applied Political Science at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. His research addresses the interaction of media and politics.