TV News in Russia – The Year Ahead – December, 2017

How the News is Reported in Russia
Special Edition: The Year Ahead, The Year Behind
December, 2017

 

SSI-banner As is common the world over, Russia’s major news channels were focused on summing up passing year and looking to coming year in their reports his month. From the future of rail travel to the place of the Russian Orthodox Church in society, the news covered many issues in December.

According to a 2016 poll by the independent Levada Center, 80% of Russians view television as their primary source of news. The same Levada poll, however, shows that only 41% trust the news as an objective source of information. The broadcasts sampled here are from Russia’s most-watched channels: First Channel and Russia Channel.

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Future of Russian Orthodox Church Was Discussed at Church Council Meeting

First Channel stated that President Putin attended the Church Council meeting. The report focused on quotes from Putin, who said that “we can see today that traditional values are being eroded in many countries, and this causes social degradation and alienation… (and) indifference that leads to an increase of radicalism and xenophobia.” Putin continued, saying that “more and more people are looking at Russia as a role model for traditional values and a life based on common sense.” Putin said that traditional values include “fairness,” “truth,” and “preserving our uniqueness and identity.” First Channel also reported that the Russian Orthodox Church established a working group to conduct negotiations with the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate Patriarch Filaret who had sent a letter to the Church Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, calling to start a dialogue. The Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches have been feuding since they split shortly after the fall of the USSR. Their split has become more pronounced since the conflict in Donbas began.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev Gives General Press Conference

First Channel states that during a traditional annual press briefing of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, First Channel asked him questions about “pressing social issues,” such as expensive prices for medications, fraud in the construction industry, the doping scandal, the economic situation in Russia, and Western sanctions.

First Channel quoted Dmitry Medvedev as saying that in 2017, “the real earnings of people have grown, as well as the take-home pays, by approximately by three percent.” The Prime Minister stated that the state would control the product range in pharmacies so that cheaper Russian medications are offered for sale alongside imported drugs. Medvedev admitted that Russian sport “has certain problems” with doping and that the government will fight it, but that this does not undermine the credibility of “the outstanding performance” of the Russian team in Sochi Olympics, who gained “an honest victory… and no foreign force will be able to dissuade us of this.”

Dmitry Medvedev also expressed his support to the candidacy of Vladimir Putin for President, and said that at least this season, he does not see himself running for the presidency. Some analysts have read this as being an indication that he and Putin may “swap” roles again in 2024

Vladimir Putin Gives a General Press Conference

First Channel quoted President Putin as saying at his annual marathon press conference that “on the whole, the government acts confidently enough, and the outcomes of its work are satisfactory, which is demonstrated by the return to the stable economic growth, solving a number of other issues, and sustainable macroeconomic development, which is the basis for future development of the economy”. The channel also emphasized plans discussed by Putin at the conference to, beginning in 2018, the state will pay a number of new allowances to families with children, such as an allowance to families who have a firstborn child and assisting families expecting a new baby mortgage payment assistance.

Parties Nominated Presidential Candidates for 2018

First Channel reports that the election campaign for presidency has started in Russia, stating that “Vladimir Putin is running not on behalf of a political party, but on behalf of society.” According to First Channel, an initiative group was established for Putin’s campaign, from representatives of the United People’s Front, the Russian Public Chamber (a para-legislative organ) and the United Russia party, with plans to start collecting the needed signatures in the near future. Earlier, the conventions of the United People’s Front and the United Russia party, voted to support the candidacy of Vladimir Putin.

In the meantime, “the Communists made an unexpected decision: Gennady Zyuganov will not run for the presidential election,” instead, they nominated businessman Pavel Grudinin who owns “a big strawberry farm located in Moscow’s outskirts.” First Channel called Grudinin “an energetic Communist gardener.” Also, the channel reports that Yabloko party nominated Grigory Yavlinsky as their presidential candidate, mentioning that “he gained 5-6 percent of the votes at the previous presidential elections.”

First Chanel also commented that “Ksenia Sobchak has moved beyond stating her intention to run for presidency, and secured the nomination of the Civil Initiative Party.” Just Russia party decided not to nominate its presidential candidate, but to support Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of LDPR party, is running for the sixth presidential campaign in a row. Yet another candidate is Boris Titov, currently the Presidential Ombudsman for Entrepreneurs’ Rights, and the leader of the Party of Growth (formerly Right Cause).

In total, the channel said, 34 candidates have notified the Central Election Committee of their intent to run in the elections. Out of those, 16 candidates will run on behalf of political parties, and 18 people intend to be self-nominated candidates.

New Speeds and New Comfort: Russian Railways Continue Growing

Russia Channel reports that Russia has the second longest network of railways in the world after the USA, and the Russian Railways company has ambitious development plans to build high-speed railroads through Eurasia to connect China, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Belarus with the EU. Russian Railways has also started using newly designed double-decker carriages manufactured at a Tver plant and has additionally launched the Moscow Circular Railway, which now functions as part of Moscow’s public transport system. In near future, the company will focus on developing high speed railways, starting with the construction of a high speed railway from Moscow to Kazan. Not only passenger trains, but also freight trains will increasingly use the high speed system, Russia Channel states.

Year of Childhood to be Followed by the Decade of Childhood in Russia

Russia Channel reports that Vladimir Putin has announced the new demographic policy which be known as the Decade of Childhood 2018-2028. The new state demographic program will support the low income families who have a firstborn child by paying monthly allowances of 10,500 rubles (about $200). One-time “maternal allowances” will also continue to be paid to families (currently – 453,000 rubles) who have a second child. These payments can be spent on housing, education for the child or parent, or for nanny expenses.

Vladimir Putin Signed a Decree, Declaring 2018 the Year of the Volunteer in Russia

First Channel reports that 15,000 people participated in the All-Russian Forum of Volunteers held in Moscow. Volunteers have contributed to a number of important projects for Russia, for example, they cleared the shores of Baikal Lake from 900 tons of garbage. President Putin has signed a decree, declaring 2018 as the year of volunteer to encourage a continuation of such efforts.

Conductors of Good: Volunteering in Russia Gaining Momentum

Russia Channel reports that in today’s Russia, volunteers help to care for the sick, offer express HIV tests at railway stations, spend time with orphans, as well as help at major events. These events have included the World Student Games in Kazan, the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Victory Day, and the World Festival of Youth in Sochi in 2017. According to official statistics, currently, there are 125,000 volunteers registered with volunteer organizations in Russia.

Russian Athletes to Compete at Pyeongchang Olympics under Neutral Flag

First Channel quotes President Putin as saying that the doping scandal “is being inflated” in the “run-up to domestic political events” (implying the forthcoming presidential elections). At the same time, the President admits that “it is our own fault because real cases of doping have taken place.” Vladimir Putin says that he hopes for constructive relations between Russian and WADA and IOC, but at the same time, Russian authorities intend to protect the interests of Russian athletes through civil courts. First Channel states that it is a right decision for Russian athletes to compete at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang as this is for the best interests of this and future generations of Russian athletes and for Russian sport in general. Athletes interviewed by First Channel said that they will compete on behalf of Russia despite the inability to compete under their own flag and will dedicate their achievements to Russia.

What is True Value of Dollar? Why is its Collapse Inevitable?

First Channel quoted a famous social scientist Immanuel Wallerstein as saying that most likely, the world will stop using the US dollar as a reserve currency, and will start using many currencies. Another option is a collapse of the US dollar, which will be followed by a US default on its debt.

Currently, the US balance-of-payments deficit, the channel stated, is overcome by means of substantial investments from Japan, China and South Korea, but these countries might stop purchasing the US bonds, which would result in a collapse of the US dollar and economy. First Channel stated that Russia does not need shocks to the global financial system, and would prefer the first scenario – a steady transition to the system of many currencies.

The factors contributing to a weakening of the US dollar include weaker positions of US products in competition with the goods from other countries such as China, South Korea, Japan. Further, US economic growth in 2017 was only two percent, while the US stocks grew by 15 percent, and this imbalance can be seen as a sign of an economic crisis which might occur in 2019 or 2020.

BRICS countries have already started mutual settlements in national currencies. Some other states, such as Egypt, Mexico, Tajikistan, Thailand, are ready to join this system of settlements.

The US dollar will not disappear; it will remain the American currency and will be used globally, but will no longer be the most important currency, First Channel states.

Russia Expanding its Presence in Global Oil Market

First Channel reports that Rosneft started exploratory drilling in the Black Sea, 100 kilometers away from the shore. Rosneft is drilling the well with a strategic partner – Italian company Eni, after ExxonMobil withdrew from the project “under the pressure of the US authorities”. According to First Channel, Rosneft is currently the world’s biggest producer of hydrocarbons, having overtaken the second biggest producer ExxonMobile twofold (831 million barrels vs. 416 million barrels per year). Further, it is the biggest taxpayer in Russia. Rosneft operates in 24 countries on four continents, and continues expanding. In 2017, it signed an agreement with the biggest Chinese private oil company – CEFC China Energy, to jointly explore, produce, and sell oil. In partnership with Eni, Rosneft is also developing a field on the shelf of Egypt. In addition, Rosneft has concluded “breakthrough” agreements on oil production in Venezuela.

Russia Building Its Defense with Consideration of New Political Realities

Speaking of the new US National Security Strategy, Russia Channel states that “as for US encroachments on the world, they are incompatible with the aspirations of the absolute majority of people on the planet. And they are surely glad that there is a counterbalance to the USA on this planet.” Russia Channel reports that after seven new generation Voronezh radar stations were recently deployed, a closed radar field was created along the perimeter of Russia’s border for the first time. The current antimissile А-235 will be able to destroy an enemy’s ballistic missiles at heights of up to two thousand kilometers, and new anti-aircraft complex S-500 will be deployed soon. At a Defense Ministry meeting chaired by President Putin, more plans for further development of Russian military forces were adopted, the channel reports. Russia is transferring its nuclear forces from Topol missiles to more advanced Yars missiles. Further, six new submarines will be launched in 2018, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu stated at the meeting. Also, the state armament program is focused on hypersonic and precision weapons.

A Conversation between Today’s People and Their Ancestors: Project “Russia – My History” is Spreading across Russia

Russia Channel reports that exhibitions of the “Russia – My History” project are operating in 16 cities and have been highly popular among the public. In 2018, five more exhibitions will be opened. The exhibitions tell about the history of Russia and the regions where they are displayed. For example, the exhibition in the city of Makhachkala shows the history of Caucasus region, while the exhibition in St. Petersburg tells about the 872-day siege of the city during the World War II.

About the Author

Andrei Nesterov

Andrei Nesterov has reported on political and social issues for the Russian press as well as American outlets such as Russian Life, Worldpress.org, and Triangle Free Press. He has travelled Russia extensively and penned many stories on the “real Russia” which lies beyond the capital and major cities. Andrei graduated from Ural State University (journalism) and Irkutsk State Linguistic University (English). He studied public policy and journalism at Duke University on a Muskie Fellowship and went on to study TESOL and teach Russian at West Virginia University. He is currently working on an MA from St. Petersburg State in International Relations. Andrei contributes news, feature stories, and language resources to the SRAS site, and is an overall linguistics and research resource. He additionally helps coordinate activities for our students in Moscow.