The Endless lies of Russian “Journalists”

Reader and frequent commenter “Andrew” points us to the following piece by Echo of Moscow radio’s Matviy Hanapolsky on Radio Free Europe exposing the fraud that is modern Russian “journalism”:

The television screen shows an elderly woman of around 80, badly dressed. She is an Ossetian, lives in Tskhinvali, and witnessed the tragic events of last year’s Russian-Georgian war.These investigative reports always follow the same scenario: the villains are at bottom, the mid-level boss is good, but all hopes lie with Putin, and because Putin exists, a bright future awaits us.

She was recalling how Georgian troops forced their way into her home. “They were wearing American military uniforms and had American weapons,” she says. “There was a chief instructor with them, he gave them orders in English.”

The camera continues to focus on the woman as she speaks. The journalist doesn’t interrupt. He doesn’t ask how someone who has never in her life seen anything except her own cow knows what kind of weapons and uniforms the soldiers wore, or how she could be sure the commands were in English.

The journalist knows, which is why he doesn’t interrupt. He and his group are the authors of this disinformation series that will be triumphantly screened by Russian state TV channels.

The woman was told what to say, and she is saying what she was told to. The journalist doesn’t conceal his face: state TV and radio pay handsomely, and the Russian media operate on the principle “five minutes of ignominy and you can live comfortably for the rest of your life.”

The days when Vladimir Gusinsky’s NTV was a byword for independent and honest investigative reporting and Russia still had a free press are gone forever. These days NTV functions as the electronic equivalent of the yellow press, and its journalists “have scattered among the population like mice” — some have left journalism altogether, some fastidiously avoid politics, and some have pledged themselves to lying.

After Russian President Dmitry Medvedev forced through amendments to the election law that mean that from now on the new Russian president will be elected/appointed for six years not four, everything has become cynically clear. Medvedev will remain in office until 2012, then Vladimir Putin for 12 more years, which means that from now until 2024 there will be the same government, the same criteria, and the same scale of values, without any real changes.

I would add that there are barely any opposition media, and if you happen to work for one of them you risk getting killed.


Such is the reality of life in the Russian media. The journalists who broadcast yesterday’s honest political reporting still work for the same TV channels, but those channels are now exclusively propagandistic, and the journalists simply collect their paychecks twice a month.

No, they have not visibly lost their journalistic ability, and you can watch investigative reporting every week. For example, about how a small businessman is treated badly in a small town.

The TV channel will show a detailed report of how and why he is victimized. Then the regional governor, who is invariably a member of United Russia, appears on the screen and assures us that those responsible have already been fired, that he personally will raise the issue of corruption with the government, and that the law needs to be changed.

No generalizations, no questions “why do we still live like this?” In the context of problems, the top leadership does not exist. There is only “Vladimir Putin visited…,” “Dmitry Medvedev affirmed sharply….”

Programs that contain discussion have vanished from the TV screen completely. Savik Shuster’s program on the TRK Ukrayina channel is perceived in Russia as something romantic, improbable, a fairy tale, which elicits the comment, “Yes, things are different there in Kyiv.”

Pessimism among journalists is total and irreversible.

The Word Is A Weapon

There is one sphere, however, which is the exclusive preserve of propagandists: political statements and political decisions by Putin and Medvedev. There not only discussions, but even simple questions are impossible.

There is a basic Kremlin decision: Russia has embarked on an information war. From now on, lies on television are no longer lies, but a weapon against the enemy.

In the case of Georgia, they lied day in, day out, at the slightest pretext. The more absurd the lie, the better.

When the first case of swine flu was diagnosed in Krasnodar Krai, an “expert” appeared on the screen and told an improbable story. He said there “are reports” that swine flu came from Georgia and that “there was a secret biological laboratory where experiments were conducted on pigs.” Then some of the pigs escaped, mated with wild boar, crossed the frontier into the Russian Federation — and there you are!

They lied from the very first minutes of the war in Georgia. They showed Russian Hurricane rockets and said they were Georgian Grad rockets. They lied constantly about the number of casualties: first they said 2,000, then 160, then 59, then 71.

They lied when they said Georgia planned to poison the Tskhinvali water supply, which was ridiculous because the small river that supplies drinking water to Tskhinvali flows into Georgia.

The film “8/8/8” was devoted to the anniversary of last year’s war, which began on that date. It was in that film that the old Ossetian woman told how the “Georgian-Americans” forced their way into her home.

No Relations, No Questions

The most important media strategy is “no questions.”

Medvedev visits German Chancellor Angela Merkel and tells her that Russia will have “no dealings” with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko. And no one has the right to ask what that statement means.

Breaking off diplomatic relations? Annulling some agreement or other? Closing the borders and cancelling flights to Ukraine? There was a similar statement with regard to Georgia, and flights there were cancelled.

And the main thing: will there be a war?

That’s not a joke, after all, the president did say “no relations.”

And the most important question: if Yushchenko is reelected president, does that mean there will be “no relations” for five, or 10, or 15 years?

But there are no answers, just as there is not a single program where the top leadership would have to answer questions and provide explanations about the most vital issues of war and peace and about their own statements, which could give rise to a new war with Russia’s closest neighbor.

Russian journalists joke that: “When I watch the first channel of Russian TV, I have the impression that Ernst is looking at me from the screen as though I were trash.”

Konstantin Ernst is that channel’s director-general.

5 responses to “The Endless lies of Russian “Journalists”

  1. The kremlin’s PSYWAR against Ukraine, the USA, etc. continues!

    The 70th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the beginning of the WW II, its causes and culprits, and also a PACE resolution equating Nazism and Stalinism, are being widely discussed in the Russian media.

    Under the guidance of various western political circles operating in Russia, this discussion has turned into a real campaign involving some politicians, journalists and also the most vulnerable groups: women, young people, national and religious minorities.

    The question is whether this campaign was plotted deliberately overseas? I believe it was. Remember who and why attempts to rewrite the history of the bloodiest war ever. Not to let Russia strengthen its position on the international scene, the West is using all means to diminish the role of the Soviet Union in the WW II.

    The US seems to be playing the leading role here. The State Department provides unspoken support to the states which governments are pursuing Russia for “the crimes of the totalitarian Communist regime”.

    These sentiments are especially strong in the countries formerly comprising the Warsaw Pact and in the post-Soviet area, first of all in Georgia and Ukraine.

  2. “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.”……George Orwell

    God bless the diminished handful of journalists, and add opposition bloggers, still willing to stand up to Putin’s regime. They are Russia’s true heros.

    “The days when Vladimir Gusinsky’s NTV was a byword for independent and honest investigative reporting and Russia still had a free press are gone forever. “

    But, in the universe of the civil society challenged Russian masses Gusinsky is vilified because he is rich. Putin, even richer, who hijacked the airwaves for himself is widely loved.

  3. So true and so sad that so many people want to have an opinion, yet they don’t understand a thing. When I speak with Russians online, it’s like speaking to a zombie.

  4. AntiPukiN , are you sure it’s not you that “doesn’t understand a thing”?

    • The average Russian is a brainwashed scumbag.

      They revel in the crimes their state commits.

      They are racist, imperialist genetic throwbacks to the dark ages.

      Seems to me you are one of those zombies Chris.

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