/ HOW THE NEWS IS REPORTED IN RUSSIA, JANUARY 2012
How the News is Reported in Russia January 2012 by Andrei Nesterov editorial support by Margaret Godwin-Jones
The two largest state-run television stations in Russia are First Channel and Russia Channel. Most Russians get their news from one of these two stations. SRAS's Andrei Nesterov compiled the following synopsis of how major events were covered by news reports on these two stations. This news review is part of SRAS's monthly "obzor" publications. For more reviews, see the newsletter for this corresponding month. If you would like to request that a story be covered here, inform our editor.
We are now providing weblinks to the related stories from the Russian broadcasters when available online! If no link is available, the material was covered in broadcasts, but not posted (or at least not found by us) online.
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January, Week 5
Presidential Campaign Underway
Russian TV reported that only five candidates have been officially registered for the presidential elections, while two other candidates – leader of Yabloko party Grigory Yavlinsky and Irkutsk governor Dmitry Mezentsev, were turned down because many signatures on their supporters’ lists were rejected as inadmissable.
Meanwhile, other candidates, such as Mikhail Prokhorov and Gennady Zyuganov, called on the authorities to permit Yavlinsky to participate in the elections. Zyuganov stated that banning Yavlinsky from the election is “unlawful.”
The five registered candidates are Vladimir Putin, Gennady Zyuganov, Sergey Mironov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and Mikhail Prokhorov.
Gennady Zyuganov, the candidate from the Communist party, made a "harsh" statement denouncing the current election system in Russia as a “mafia-like system, with established distribution of posts,” but, the channel emphasized, he still opted to campaign for president.
President Medvedev Meets with Journalism Students
In its report about President Medvedev’s meeting with students of the Department of Journalism of Moscow State University, First Channel stated that some of the students’ questions to the President were “rather boorish, which is not common when addressing the head of state in any country.” The question labeled as “boorish” came from student Volodya Kulikov, who said, “There is a very serious revolutionary situation in our country,” and asked if president Medvedev is ready to accept a “death penalty” in case of revolution. President Medvedev replied that he is "ready to die for his ideals."
According to First Channel, the most important statement the Russian President made at the meeting was that he intends to stay in politics even if he does not head the new Russian government after the presidential elections.
The channel also stated that not all students who wanted to attend were able to because of the auditorium’s small capacity and therefore each student group sent a representative to the meeting. In total, over 200 students and professors attended.
In answering another question, Dmitry Medvedev called the last parliamentary elections “the most honest over the entire course of history.”
The channel did not report that Medvedev's previous visit to the Department of Journalism, just several weeks earlier, had been severely criticized. The students of the department had not been told of the event and had been surprised to find themselves without access to much of the campus that day. The event was actually attended by pro-Kremlin youth groups, apparently posing as journalism students. The more recent event reported on was seen by many to have been an apology of sorts by Medvedev, who asserted that he did not know he wasn't meeting with journalism students the first time.
First Channel reported that the candidates for president in Russia, who were not nominated by a political party with Duma representation, had recently submitted their required signature lists to the Central Election Committee.
These candidates included Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the Yabloko party, Dmitry Mezentsev, governor of the Irkutsk region, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, and Svetlana Peunova, leader of the unregistered party Will. According to First Channel, every candidate who managed to collect the requested two million signatures complained that it was a difficult process. Peunova, for instance, was only able to collect 243 thousand signatures, instead of the required two million.
The channel also quoted other politicians representing the so-called “non-systemic opposition” as saying that it is impossible to collect the required signatures in time. Garry Kasparov said that in order to collect two million signatures in the required five weeks (which includes two weeks of New Year’s vacation), 90 per cent of the signatures would have to be falsified.
First Channel also mentioned the latest news about the candidates from Duma-represented parties, which do not need the signatures to run. Sergey Mironov, leader of A Just Russia stated at a meeting with his election staff that the first thing he would do once elected the President would be to dismiss the State Duma and schedule new parliamentary elections for December, 2012. Then, Mironov would resign from the presidency, no later than December 2013, and would schedule new presidential elections for March 2014.
Another presidential candidate, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of LDPR, stated that only small businesses should be left in private hands, while big companies should be returned to the state as a measure of fighting corruption.
Russian TV reported on an article published by Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin in Izvestia newspaper, “Russia Muscles Up – The challenges We Must Rise to Face.” In the article, Putin stated that Russia’s main challenge is “learning to exploit the ‘educational drive’ of this younger generation, to mobilize the middle class in terms of their demands and their readiness to assume responsibility for their own welfare in order to guarantee economic growth and the country’s continued stable development.” The channel also stated that Vladimir Putin intends to publish a series of articles which will cover essential issues in Russian politics and economics.
Commenting on the success of Mitt Romney at the start of the US presidential campaign, Russia Channel stated that “rich, Mormon Romney, who came to politics from big business, does not speak much about himself. His strategy is tough criticism of President Obama.” The channel reported that Romney denounced Obama for “accumulating more debt than all three previous presidents combined,” which will turn the USA into Greece or Italy, but “nobody is going to come to the rescue.”
Russia Channel labeled Romney as a “hawk,” stating that he is campaigning for welfare cuts, and that in business he practiced “aggressive acquisitions and large-scale lay-offs.” The channel also reproached Romney for “hostility to Russia,” because he intends “to cancel the ‘reset’ in US-Russia relations, and to reconsider the implementation of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. In addition, he would restrain Russia’s ambitions in the South by providing military assistance and training to the armies of Central Asian countries.”
According to Russia Channel, Americans are concerned primarily about “the sad state of their economy, the 14-trillion dollar state debt, and unemployment.”
First Channel reported that during Christmas festivities in the city of Bryansk, a mother and her 1.5 year old son, who was in a baby carriage, fell into a sinkhole in the downtown area when the sidewalk collapsed into a sewage line below the street. The child was overtaken by sewage waters and died, while the mother was rescued.
According to First Channel, an investigation of the incident is underway; law-enforcement authorities are interrogating the managers of the administrative bodies which are responsible for the sewage system. A criminal case has been filed, and the first theory of the investigation is that the incident was caused by violations by construction workers during the construction of the sewer. The second theory blames incorrect maintenance of the underground sewerage system.
Russia Channel reported that the sewage pipeline had burst and eroded the soil from under the pedestrian path, which was paved with tile last year. A criminal case was filed in accordance with the clause "Manslaughter due to negligence, by means of not executing professional obligations."
National Public Television May Be Established in Russia in 2012
Russia Channel reported that currently “an active discussion is taking place in society about establishing public television, but there is no specific information about how this channel will be established, and what type of programming it will have.”
According to Russia Channel, at the end of December, President Medvedev instructed Prime Minister Putin and Sergei Ivanov, the Head of the Presidential Administration, to prepare proposals within two months about establishing public television in Russia.
Neither the state nor any private owner would have full control over the new channel, and the President believes that a channel in this format would make Russian mass media more interesting. The channel quoted experts who believe that creating a public television channel could enhance the formation of civil society in Russia, but it might be difficult to organize funding for such a channel.