/ HOW THE NEWS IS REPORTED IN RUSSIA, OCTOBER 2012
How the News is Reported in Russia October 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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October, Week 4
Elections in Ukraine
First Channel stated that the Ukrainian opposition was trying to emphasize the need for Ukraine to be tougher with Russia as a way to attract more votes. The competition, the report continued, is fierce, with 12 candidates competing per parliament seat. Candidates are also trying to bribe voters by handing out food and medicine, or treating them to free ice-cream with the candidate’s portrait on the wrapping, or even giving village residents free piglets.
According to First Channel, opinion polls show that the Party of Regions, the ruling party, is supported by a majority of voters, while the opposition party, Fatherland, is in a difficult situation because “its voters are tired of political clashes, and now they can turn to a new player in the political arena: boxer Vitaly Klichko’s party Udar (Hit).”
The Party of Regions draws support from a number of social programs implemented by President Victor Yanukovich, such as compensation payments for the Soviet era debts, a program to make home mortgages more accessible, and “serious economic transformations.” Meanwhile, Fatherland, while criticizing the authorities, has failed to find a new leader while its current leader, Yulia Timoshenko, is serving a 7-year prison term. The political party Hit supports neither the opposition nor the authorities, First Channel reports. It also stated that this election cycle has been the most expensive in Ukraine, with political parties spending over 250 million dollars on campaigning.
Russia Channel reported that five girls at Arkadii Gaidar School in Kara-Tyube (Stavropol region) recently came to class in hijabs. The report stated that about a third of all adult women in this region wear hijabs, but that, according to school representatives, this September was the first time children wore hijabs to school. The principal attempted to prevent the girls from entering the school because of the hijabs, and as a result, the girls’ parents sued the school.
Afterward the event, village Muslims collected signatures under a letter of protest against the school principal’s behavior. The girls’ parents agreed to use headscarves instead of hijabs as a compromise, but they then bought incredibly large headscarves. According to the report, this was another attempt provoke conflict. A Muslim clergyman came from the regional Islamic Center to reconcile the parties, but was driven away by the parents.
First Channel concluded that the only solution in this situation is for the state to take a tough stand against attempts to instigate religious values at school.
President Putin reacted to this conflict by saying that authorities should think about introducing mandatory uniforms for schoolchildren.
First Channel reported that elections took place in 77 Russian regions on October 14, including elections for governor in five regions. Governor elections were resumed this year after authorities lifted an 8-year ban for direct elections in Russia.
In elections where results were reported first, incumbent candidates for city mayor or candidates from the ruling party United Russia won. United Russia obtained 51.3 seats in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky’s city parliament, compared to 14 percent of the vote for Communists. United Russia received 78 percent of the vote at the elections for Sakhalin’s regional parliament. The incumbent mayor, a Uniter Russia member, of Khimki in the Moscow region was reelected, and United Russia candidates won governor elections in Bryanskaya and Amurskaya.
TV channels also reported that Katerina Samutsevich, one of participants of the punk rock collective Pussy Riot, which staged an illegal performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, was released from prison. Her new lawyers proved to the court that Samutsevich was arrested before she reached the church altar, so did not participate in the performance. First Channel suggested that the participants of Pussy Riot are puppets of powerful men who instigate opposition activities in Russia.
In another separate report, Russia channel stated that after the documentary “Anatomy of Protest” was broadcast by NTV, police investigated ties between opposition leader Sergey Udaltsov and Georgia’s special services. Allegedly, Udaltsov was searching for ways to fund the opposition movement in Russia and was discussing accepting funds from Georgia to instigate riots in Russia.
Russia Channel, in still another report on politics this week, stated that the Russian opposition sets low standards for itself because it becomes engaged in events such as illegal performances in cathedrals, which do not have any productive goals; rather, they are aimed simply being negative about everything.
In its report on Georgia’s parliamentary elections, First Channel stated that the opposition will now take power after receiving 55% of the vote at the parliamentary elections, versus 40% received by the President’s party. “Saakashvili’s party most likely lost ground after opposition TV channels aired reports about torture in Georgian prisons, Georgian politicians taking bribes, and Georgian policemen arranging murders outside Georgia,” reported First Channel.
First Channel was very sarcastic in its comments, stating that “Saakashvili used to be worshipped in Georgia, then many people hated him, and now people just laugh at him.” The channel quoted Georgian political analyst Petre Mamradze as saying that Western partners had always called Saakashvili a “headache,” and now they are glad to get rid of him.
Russia Channel was tougher in its remarks, saying that Mikhail Saakashvili “has a sad choice to make – impeachment, or resignation. In any case, his loss of power was humiliating, and he is a big fat zero in politics now.”
Russia Channel listed a few of the problems in Georgia, such as corruption among the elite and a high unemployment rate. Low standards of living is also a common problem, especially in rural areas. In these locations, pensions only give 40 dollars a month, and almost all of this money is used to pay utilities, which are among the most expensive in Eastern Europe.