/ HOW THE NEWS IS REPORTED IN RUSSIA, JULY 2012
How the News is Reported in Russia July 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.
To receive the free monthly newsletter and obzori by email, simply sign up.
July, Week 5
200th Anniversary of Fort Ross
Russia Channel reported that Fort Ross, originally a Russian settlement in California, is commemorating its 200th anniversary this year.
Fort Ross, which is currently a State Historic Park, was founded by Ivan Kuskov, a native of Russia’s Vologda region. For many years, Fort Ross was used as a base for supplying food to Alaska. Russia Channel reported that the Russian settlers lived peacefully with Indians, and even taught them crafts such as blacksmithing. In 1836, the population of Fort Ross was 260 people. The settlement was transferred to US ownership 160 years ago, after Alaska was sold to the US.
The report continued, saying that, recently, during the economic crisis, California authorities intended to close the historic park, but Russian sponsors supported Fort Ross, and it has remained open.
Deputy Proposes Deregulating Sales of Small Firearms
Duma Deputy Speaker and United Russia member Aleksandr Torshin submitted a report to the Duma, which argues in favor of deregulating sales of small firearms. He proposed allowing law-abiding people, who have no mental problems, and who are not alcoholics or drug addicts, to purchase small firearms. Torshin believes that legalizing small firearms “will make society more polite and generate additional revenue for the budget,” Russia Channel reported. Meanwhile, the deputy admitted that neither law-enforcement authorities nor the President’s administration support his proposal.
Aleksei Obolensky, the chief editor of Hunter’s Yard (Охотничий Двор) magazine and an opponent of the proposal, stated that Russian society is not prepared for legalized small arms. Zurab Kekelidze, the acting director of the Center of Forensic Psychiatry, stated that if people currently fight on roads and highways, they would “go even further” if small firearms were allowed.
On July 19, Ildus Fayzov, the mufti (head cleric) of Russia's Republic of Tatarstan, was wounded by a car bomb and his deputy, Valiluya Yakupov, was fatally shot outside his house an hour earlier. Both events occurred in Kazan, the republic's capital. Russian TV reported that five suspects were detained, including a citizen of Uzbekistan, as well as the head of one of Tatarstan’s religious communities, and the head of a company which organizes Hajj (an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca).
According to First Channel, the investigation has two theories on what motivated these acts: it was prompted by either a confrontation between believers of traditional Islam and radical Islam, or involved competition for the Hajj market.
First Channel also stated that the number of proponents of radical Islam has rapidly increased in Tatarstan in recent years, and added that people with radical beliefs generally won’t accept the peaceful co-existence of Islam and other religions. Deputy mufti Valiluya Yakupov opposed radical Islam, but stated that radical Islam in Tatarstan was able to recruit a part of the republic’s business and political elite to their faith.
At a State Council meeting, Russian president Vladimir Putin stated that “authorities of all levels – federal, regional and local – bear the responsibility for the tragedy in the Krasnodar region, where 171 people died during the flood.” Authorities failed to aid victims efficiently and therefore failed to contain the flood damage, Russia Channel reported.
First Channel added that according to the Investigation Committee, local Krymsk authorities “ignored a warning about a major flood threat,” and “did not call up emergency workers.” It was also found that, later, local officials falsified documents, trying to disguise their failure to act.
There was no efficient warning system in the town of Krymsk, and for this reason only about 50 people out of the 60 thousand town residents heard the alarm signal, First Channel quoted Aleksandr Bastrykin, the Head of the Investigative Committee, as saying. This resulted in the deaths of many elderly who were not aware of the flood hazard.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the equivalent of what would have been the average of four months of precipitation fell in the area around Krymsk within several days. The riverbed near the town was blocked with garbage, which allowed a huge wave to form and fall upon the town.
President Putin stated that authorities would pay 160,000 rubles to every person who was in the flood area, and everyone whose houses were destroyed, would be given new apartments.
First Channel reported that recently-published correspondence between opposition blogger Aleksei Navalny and Nikita Belykh, the governor of Kirov region, “jeopardized their image as those that fight corruption.” The channel emphasizes that the correspondence contained crude language, resembling that of thieves or robbers.
According to the correspondence, Belykh offered to “close some dubious deals.” Navalny, in turn, wrote in one of his letters that an “alcohol plant had been stolen.” According to the governor, the money referred to in the correspondence dates back to 2007, and the debts referred to are his own personal debts to Navalny from that time frame.
After this correspondence was published, several Duma and Federation Council deputies requested that law-enforcement authorities open an investigation. One of them, United Russia member and Duma Deputy Chairman Sergey Zhelezhnyak, even recommended that Nikita Belykh resign as governor during the investigation. Belykh responded that Zhelezhnyak “can resign if he wants, and conduct the investigation in the Kirov region (himself).”
Members of the feminist punk-rock group Pussy Riot were arrested in March of this year after an unauthorized rock performance in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral that offered a "prayer" that the Holy Mother “chase Putin out.” They face charges of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred," for which they could face seven years in prison.
Their arrest has been covered in the national and international press. On June 27 a letter signed by more than 100 actors and singers, requesting that the Supreme Court release the punk-group members, was sent to various media outlets and the Court.
The celebrities wrote that the female singers “have not killed or robbed anybody,” and since Russia is a secular state, "no anti-church action, unless specified in the Criminal Code, can be considered a crime."
Pavel Odintsov, a spokesman for the Supreme Court, stated that the Supreme Court will not interfere with the procedures of the lower courts, which are currently investigating the case.
First Channel stated that the participants of the punk-group have not repented their actions.
Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, abstained from speaking about the Pussy Riot case. In a recent address, however, he emphasized that the church’s role in Russia is extremely important, since the church “ties our nation together spiritually,” and people who want to destroy Russia, always try to destroy the church.