/ HOW THE NEWS IS REPORTED IN RUSSIA, MAY 2011
How the News is Reported in Russia May 2011 by Andrei Nesterov
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.
May, Weeks 3-4
Russian Political Shifts on Eve of Elections
As Russia nears the parliamentary elections in December, 2011 and presidential elections in March, 2012, several shifts are occurring in the Russian political landscape. Here, we present three of those shifts which have been emphasized by major Russian television news providers.
1. Federation Council Loses Chairman
Both major Russian TV channels reported on the dismissal of Sergey Mironov from his position as Chairman of Russia's upper parliamentary chamber, The Federation Council. However, each took a slightly different take, with Russia Channel reporting more favorably towards Mironov and First Channel more negatively.
Russia Channel reported than within one day Sergey Mironov had “turned into almost the main opposition figure in Russia” after being recalled from the Federation Council by a vote from the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly. The move was initiated against Mironov, the leader of the small A Just Russia Party, by the ruling United Russia Party, which holds the majority of the seats in the city’s legislature.
First Channel stated that the city authorities of St. Petersburg “took offence” at Mironov after he criticized and called for replacing them in his speech at the rally in St. Petersburg on May 1.
First Channel was sarcastic in its coverage of Mironov’s dismissal, emphasizing the fact that about half of the St. Petersburg legislators from Just Russia party voted for his recall (while Mironov was the long-standing head of Just Russia until recently, when he stepped down in favor of a "tandem" leadership role with another member of the party). “Mironov is entering the new stage of struggle against his political opponents with little luggage, with neither posts no special means of transportation,” a reference to the fact that, without a federal position, he would be no longer entitled to personal aircraft or a car with a special flashing blue light to get him places quickly. The channel also extensively quoted Mironov’s opponents, the leader of LDPR, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov as saying that the decision of the St. Petersburg legislators was right, since Mironov’s performance as the Federation Council speaker was not satisfactory.
The channel also quoted Mironov extensively, featuring him saying that he had long tried to keep party politics out of the Federation Council.
Russia Channel quoted Sergey Mironov as saying that he is going to generate ideas 24 hours a day on how to oppose United Russia. Mironov also stated that his party intends to replace the government and the governor in St. Petersburg.
Later, on May 31, Russia Channel reported that deputy of the State Duma Elena Vtorygina intends to give up her seat in favor of Sergey Mironov, so that he would be able to continue his political career in the Russian legislature.
2. Putin's People's Front
The major Russian TV channels have provided regular positive coverage of the establishment of the "People’s Front," initiated by Vladimir Putin.
Russia Channel quoted Vladimir Putin as saying that he would like to see in the new organization such forces as "United Russia, other political parties, youth and veteran organizations, that is, those people who share the idea of strengthening Russia." Putin was also quoted as saying that organizations that do not join the movement early may lose the chance to help form its "cardinal movement."
The Prime Minister stated that United Russia needs an influx of new ideas and proposed that United Russia include candidates chosen by the People’s Front on its party lists for the coming parliamentary elections. Chairman of United Russia Boris Gryzlov said that the party is ready to allocate 25% of its nominations, up to 150 out of 600, to such candidates.
First Channel stated in its report that the People’ Front gives a chance for people not affiliated with political parties, to become legislators, and quoted political expert Dmitry Orlov as saying that People’s Front, headed by Putin, can add United Russia 15% more votes at the coming elections in the State Duma.
Both First Channel and Russia Channel stated that a broad range of movements and organizations are ready to join the People’s Front, such as organizations of war veterans, environmentalists, trade unions and many others.
First Channel also reported on the first meeting of the groups ready to form the front – which happened just days after the first announcement was made – emphasizing the diversity of the groups joining.
3. Russia to Have Party President?
President Medvedev met with young legislators of regional parliaments and spoke about possible future changes in the political system of Russia, saying that in the future, the President may belong to some political party (currently, Dmitry Medvedev has no party affiliation and neither has, officially, Vladimir Putin). In addition, the President spoke about the need to avoid power concentration in the hands of few, the situation which Russia experienced many times and which led either to stagnation or civil war, First Channel reported.
4. Right Cause Gets Oligarch Head
The small, new right-wing, pro-business opposition party Right Cause has announced that it will be lead by billionaire oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov. While First Channel did not emphasize the story Russia Chanel did give it some coverage, mostly concentrating on praising Prokhorov's personal characteristics and experience in business. The channel also emphasized that Prokhorov intend to carry out a "total reconstruction" of the party and that the party "really needs that."
Russian TV reported that May 9 Victory Day celebrations took place not only in Russia, but also in many other countries.
First Channel reported that a celebration took place in Paris, France, where French president Nicolas Sarkozy laid flowers at the monument to the first president of current French republic, Charles de Gaulle, a symbol of the WWII French Resistance. In Great Britain, First Channel continued, there is no public holiday specifically dedicated to the victory in World War II, but May 9th was still marked by veteran and military organizations.
Russia Channel reported that in the Austrian capital of Vienna, a monument was opened to the Soviet soldiers who crossed the Danube and liberated Vienna in April, 1945.
Russia Channel also stated that the British Queen, Elizabeth II, and White House Spokesman Jay Carney sent Victory Day congratulations to the Russian people.
In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, thousands of people came to honor monuments of Soviet soldiers, Russia Channel said.
It also reported that in “almost 20 cities of the South-Western Germany, ceremonies of laying flowers at the memorials of Soviet soldiers took place. Diplomats from Russia and other countries of the former USSR, activists from organizations of Russian expatriate communities, representatives of the local authorities, Russian WWII veterans living in Germany and clergymen, participated in the ceremonies.
In Russia, the celebration included military parades in major cities and fireworks almost everywhere. The parade was especially spectacular in Moscow where, unlike other cities, only guests with special invitations, mainly veterans, state officials and reporters were allowed to come to Red Square and see the parade. The public could watch the parade as it approached Red Square from the central Tverskaya Street.
Prior to the parade, aircraft from the Russian Air Force dispersed chemicals over the clouds to ensure make clear skies on the day of celebration, Russia Channel reported.
Russia Channel reported that this year, there was a record number of participants at the Red Square parade – 20 thousand people, and the latest military equipment was demonstrated such as T-90S tanks, anti-aircraft system S-400 and anti-aircraft missile complexes Pantsir-1. According to Russia Channel, the veterans were greatly impressed by both the military equipment and the training of the soldiers participating in the parade.
First Channel reported that about two million people took participated in street rallies in Russia on May 1, which is known as "The Day of Labor and Spring" in a Russia, a national holiday. The most active participation was seen in Moscow where trade unions and political parties organized politically-charged rallies.
First Channel in its report focused on rallies held by pro-government groups such as The Young Guard, the youth group of the United Russia ruling party which, according to First Channel, saw 30,000 people attend. United Russia helped organize the rally jointly with the trade unions. First Channel quoted party official Sergey Neverov as saying that United Russia's program “For Work with Dignity” is against extending the working week or raising the retirement age. First Channel emphasized that the number of participants at United Russia’s rally in Moscow was greater than the number of all of all participants at all other rallies held that day in Moscow.
First Channel did not conceal irony when covering the rally held by the Communist Party, saying the party leader Gennady Zyuganov “first was holding up to shame the tycoons” and then “was reflecting on the meaning of the (May 1st) celebration as if it arises out of the course of the Russian history.” Also, First Channel reported that A Just Russia wore miners’ hats at their labor in effort to attract more attention to the need to appreciate “honest labor.”
Russia Channel mentioned that the tough rhetoric of the rally participants could be attributed the upcoming parliament elections in December, 2011. The channel gave more quotes of the speakers such as the call of Gennady Zyuganov “to stop the criminal privatization” of the country's resources and that they “should serve to every person” and not to “15 clans of oligarchs” who “grabbed the property and continue to strangle the country.” Meanwhile, the leader of A Just Russia Nikolai Levichev complained that people in Russia lack good working and living conditions, while LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky denounced NATO for attacking Libya. Russia Channel also reported that large rallies also took place in Khabarovsk, Yakutsk, Blagoveshensk, Vladimir, and some other Russian cities.