This is (not?) Russia today
Alexei Navalny is a strong and stubborn critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has also been working to expose corruption in state-owned enterprises such as Transneft. To no significant effect. Not much happened in follow-up to his revealing of documents concerning possible corruption related to Transneft except he eventually came under accusations of embezzling money from two companies himself. He was accused of having done so together with his brother, Oleg Navalny, who was sentenced by a Russian court related to this on December 30, just a couple of days ago (Alexei was handed a suspended sentence). Oleg will now be sent for three and a half years to a penal labor camp. There was a protest against this in freezing conditions by some people in Moscow yesterday. Never the most frightening thing from any regime’s prespective, given the unfriendly weather. Yet Russian police intervened to arrest about a hundred of the protesters.
Not a nice story.
The amount of coverage it received under the “Russian politics” section on “RT”, i.e. formerly “Russia Today,” the international news television channel sponsored by the Russian state? You can check that yourself. Don’t try too hard. I’ll include here a selection of RT’s headlines I found there myself:
1) Attempts to isolate Russia have been thwarted – senator. The head of Russia’s Upper House Foreign Relations Committee has said that coordinated efforts of all branches of power prevented attempts to isolate the country and exercise “political and economic blackmail” over Moscow.
2) ‘US military hardware will cause more bloodshed in Ukraine’ – Russian official. The possible relocation of US hardware from Afghanistan to Ukraine suggested by President Obama will only lead to more casualties, a senior Russian lawmaker has stated.
3) State Duma chief suggests trying US for WWII nuke attacks. The Russian Lower House speaker wants to instigate an international investigation into the 1945 nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US military – a possible crime against humanity with no statute of limitation.
4) ‘Stop blaming everything on Russia’: Heirs to 1917 revolutionary-era emigrants appeal to EU. Over 100 descendants of the Russian nobility residing outside the country have addressed European nations with a call to stop irrationally alienating Russia and give an unbiased appraisal to the current Ukrainian crisis.
5) France shows its weakness by scrapping Mistral deal – Rogozin. France’s refusal to deliver the Mistral amphibious ships to Russia, can’t be considered force-majeure, but confirms its geopolitical weakness, says he Russian Deputy PM in charge of the defense industry.
The above are 5 out of 12 of the regular news stories RT was running today in its Russian Politics section. Representatives of the Russian state are the chief source for four of those stories (with the exception of the pro-Russia lobby group) and for all seven of the rest. For 11 out of 12 in total. The chief messages transmitted from those chief (state) sources behind the 4 selected reports highlighted are: “don’t give weapons to Ukraine” (message to the US), “give weapons to Russia” (message to France), “the US killed people” (in Hiroshima and Nagasaki), “stop blaming/start liking Russia” (message to everyone). These are not really reports about domestic Russian politics – this is Russian foreign policy rather, including public diplomacy.
Besides this, RT also has a sub-section under “Russian politics” called “Official word.” Apparently this focuses even more on what Russian state leaders say, with headlines such as “Putin: ‘Supporting Russophobia in Ukraine will result in catastrophe’”; “Russia overestimated EU’s independence from US – Lavrov to French media”; and “‘Landmark in Russian history’: President Vladimir Putin’s New Year address.”
No news story on the Navalny case. No mention of it even as, say, a triumph of the Russian state over corruption.
From the site that uses the following two words as its main slogan: “QUESTION MORE.”