TV News in Russia – April, 2016

How the News is Reported in Russia
April, 2016

Policy and Conflict Post SovietAccording 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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Adventures of Foreigners in Russia, or Who Lives Well Farming in Russia?

Foreign farmers have recently been a popular news topic for Russian news. First Channel made a recent report overviewing several foreign farmers. Justin Irwin came from the USA to the Vladimir region where he lives and works with his Russian wife Natalia. They have chickens, two pigs, a calf and two cows, so far, he says, “it is enough just for feeding the family.” Jorg Duss came to Kaluga region from Switzerland almost 20 years ago. According to First Channel, he started his business from five chickens, and currently he is one of the major farmers in the region. He breeds rabbits, cows, pigs, goats, and bees. German Stephan Durr has 20,000 cows in Russia. Frenchman Robert Close makes cheese in Moscow region. Previously, he worked as a chef for several restaurants in Moscow. Danish farmer Molgaard Claus grows crops in Oryol region.

Obama’s Worst Mistake: Libya

First Channel quotes US President Barack Obama as saying to reporters that intervening in Libya was the worst mistake of his presidency. The channel commented on this statement by saying that he had “destroyed the country by mistake, turned it into a terrorist base, made 30 percent of its citizens refugees, triggered the migration crisis in Europe” and added sarcastically that “it took six years for the Nobel Prize-winner” to realize he’d made a mistake. Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on President Obama’s statement by saying that “it proves once again that the incumbent US President is a man of integrity. I am not being ironical in the slightest, because it takes courage to make such confessions. Even when he was a senator, Mr. Obama came down on the then-administration for the campaign in Iraq. Regrettably, when he became President, he made the blunders in Libya he has mentioned now. It is good and correct for my colleague to be brave enough to make such statements. Not everyone can do it. Whatever criticisms might be piled on him from all sides, it takes a real strong man to do so.”


Alexander Prokhorenko Becomes Russian War Hero

First Channel reports that Alexander Prokhorenko, a 25-year old officer, helped save the Syrian town of Palmira. When surrounded by the enemy, Prokhorenko requested air support to bomb the area he was in. First Channel quotes British newspaper Daily Mirror as calling Prokhorenko ‘Russian Rambo’ and states that many Western media expressed their admiration with the heroic deed of the Russian officer.

Russia Channel reports that Alexander Prokhorenko fought for Palmira for an entire week and had drawn fire to himself, “the same way the heroes of the Great Patriotic War did.” He is survived by his pregnant wife. The school in village Gorodki of Orenburg region, where Alexander Prokhorenko studied, will be renamed after him.

Keeper of Ancient Artifacts in Palmira Died Protecting Exhibits from Militants

Russia Channel reports that ISIS militants hanged an 82-year old museum director in Palmira. The director, Khalid al-Assad, had refused to give up the museum treasures, in particular gold, to them. Before the execution, the militants tortured the director for one month.

Aleppo Considered to be Turning Point of Syrian War

First Channel reports that the Syrian army is attacking Aleppo, while militants show fierce resistance. According to First Channel, about eight thousand militants are concentrated in the area. The channel reports that ISIS destroyed all industries in Aleppo, and now, the returning Syrians are bringing machines, such as weaving machines, in order to restore the city’s once thriving commerce.

In Debris of Palmira, ISIS Militants Left Boxes from American Ammo

Russia Channel reports that during the mine clearing in Palmira area, soldiers found empty boxes of US-made ammunition. The channel states “it was supplied to ISIS squads,” but did not specify by whom.


Ceasefire Regime in Nagorno-Karabakh is Observed by Both Sides

First Channel reports that all the neighboring countries and international organizations requested peace in Nagorno-Karabakh, with the exception of Turkish President Erdogan who probably “decided to play his card.” The channel states that political experts consider the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to be “even more complicated than the Arab-Israeli conflict” because both the sides have their truth and their mistakes. Currently, there is a ceasefire in place and it is being observed by both sides, the channel reports.

Armenia Supports Peacekeeping Deployment to Nagorno-Karabakh

Russia Channel reports that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited Armenia and suggested that Russia could play a mediating role in the conflict. After the talks, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said in a Deutsche Welle interview that Armenia is ready to sign a conflict settlement that would include peacekeepers in the disputed area.

Domestic Issues

National Guard Established – Reports Directly to Putin

First Channel reports that the newly established National Guard will “help the President fight terrorism.” Several Interior Ministry Troops will be merged to create the new force including OMON (Special Purpose Mobility Unit), SOBR (Special Rapid Response Unit), and units of the Special Purpose Center. The National Guard will have about 400 thousand soldiers and will fight terrorism, protect the public order, guard important state facilities and special cargo, and assisting FSB in protecting the state border. When it is required for saving people’s lives, soldiers of the National Guard will be allowed to enter private residences. The law allows them to check IDs, search suspects and detain them for up to three hours. The difference with the functions of the police is that the National Guard will focus on destroying big criminal gangs.

Russia Channel reports that before the National Guard was established, the Internal Troops had 170 thousand soldiers. From now on, newly appointed head of the National Guard, former commander of the Internal Troops five-star general Victor Zolotov will have OMON and SOBR under his command as well. The scope of the authorities of the National Guard is broader – its soldiers are allowed to detain criminals in their own apartments and start shooting to kill without warning. In addition to those points reported by First Channel, Russian Channel reported that the guard will work to enforce state policies on the “circulation of weapons and operation of guard agencies.”

Ella Pamfilova Became Head of Central Election Committee

First Channel states that the election of Ella Pamfilova to the head of the Central Election Commission is a step to increase trust in elections and to engage human rights activists in the control over the election process. Duma elections are scheduled for September 18. First Channel quotes Ella Pamfilova as saying that the Central Election Commission will oversee the elections fairly, in line with “sense of duty.”

Russia Channel quoted the new head of the Central Election Commission as saying in an interview that “we should conduct elections honestly, openly, transparently” as “it is just necessary to respect the people and trust them.” The channel states that all the major political forces in Russia like the composition of the Central Election Commission and express hope that it will cope with the task of conducting fair elections.

Russia Has New Commissioner for Human Rights

First Channel reports that Tatiana Moskalkova, an activist of the Just Russia party, has been appointed Russia’s new Commissioner for Human Rights. According to First Channel, one of the most acute problems to deal with for the Commissioner for Human Rights is supporting people with disabilities. There are cases when people are deprived of disability status by arbitrary decisions of medical commissions, and, consequently, they lose access to free medications, health care services, and disability allowances.

The Panama Papers

Vladimir Putin Comments on the “Panama Papers”

First Channel responded to the disclosure of the Panama files by stating that “offshore is not absolute evil, but a legal form of economic activity,” what matters is the way offshores are used. The channel was sarcastic about Drew Sullivan, who heads the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, saying that he is “a former stand-up comedian who suddenly became an investigative journalist.” Regarding reports that well-known musician, cellist Sergey Roldugin, owns offshore companies which had transactions with Russian banks, the channel stated that the the publications were “clearly too thin,” and the President had “a humorous attitude” to all this. The channel quoted President Putin as saying that “There are attempts to shake us from within, to make us more appeasable and to brush us as they want. Now, they’ve touched upon the offshores. Your obedient servant isn’t there. There is nothing to speak about. But there was an order and it is necessary to do the job. What was done? They made an information product. They have found some of my acquaintances and friends, messed something around and stuck it together. I saw these pictures. In the background, there are plenty of unknown people. And the picture, the photo of your obedient servant is in the foreground, in a big format. And this is publicized. And what is behind it, let’s say, officials and official bodies of the United States — now WikiLeaks has shown us. And what is the problem about? When officials, let’s say, of the Department of State or the US administration, state some boorish things like this, it means that they designate themselves as interested persons. And this is, of course, from the point of view of achieving the final result, bad for them. But it is good for us because we understand who ordered this.”

Obama’s Friends Are Engaged in Embezzlement

Russia Channel reports that the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project which released the “Panama Papers” is funded by the Soros Foundation and USAID. The channel states that the outcome of all ordered investigations has always been in the interests of the USA, and “this time, the USA counts on having a bonus of dozens of trillions of dollars.” The USA creates internal offshore zones and invites capital owners there while intimidating participants of other offshores with sudden information disclosure, the channel states. The channel also states that “Obama’s friends” actively take advantage of offshore zones, among such friends and sponsors of President Obama’s election race are US companies like Microsoft, Google, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs which have hundreds of millions of dollars in offshores.

Cellist Roldugin: I Begged for Money for Musical Instruments

Russia Channel reports that after the publication of the “Panama Papers,” the artistic director of the St. Petersburg House of Music, People’s Artist of Russia, Sergey Roldugin “learned that he is a billionaire” while, in fact, “he said that, for most of his life, he has begged billionaires for money to support culture and the House of Music.”


Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk Resigned

First Channel reports that Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk resigned. The channel states that Yatsenyuk was bargaining for a new post for himself, as he has high ambitions, but it is unclear, for which post exactly.

First Channel also quotes former Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov as saying that Arseny Yatsenyuk poorly performed in the post of Prime Minister. As evidence, he sited Yatsenyuk’s purchase of natural gas in Slovakia at 200 dollars per cubic meter while Russia offered it at 170 dollars. At the same time, under Yatsenyuk, half of the industries consuming gas came to a halt. Ukrainian GDP decreased by 100 billion dollars, while the country was given only three loan tranches while needed twenty.

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,, 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.