TV News in Russia – January, 2016

How the News is Reported in Russia
January, 2016

SSI-bannerAccording 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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The Economic Crisis

First Channel reports that the collapse of the global oil exchanges resulted in the collapse of stock exchanges and a drastic weakening of the exchange rates for “oil currencies, including the ruble, which fell to 77 rubles per US dollar.” Regarding the economy, President Putin told his Ministers that “their approach has been balanced and professional” and pointed to a lower-than-expected budget deficit to show that the government’s course has been correct, First Channel reports. The channel also quotes Prime Minister Medvedev as saying that budget cuts are inevitable as “the base principle of our policy should remain the same: one should live within his/her means.”

Economists and Investors Weather the Global Economic Crisis

First Channel states that most economists predict a further decrease of oil prices in the global markets. One of the recent developments has been the slowdown of the Chinese economy. Economist Mikhail Khazin names two options to solve the economic crisis: to rescue the global economy at the expense of the US economy or to save the US economy at the expense of the global economy; the USA opted to save itself by increasing interest rates and thus strengthening the US dollar, First Channel reports.

Tough Year for Russia: Government is Brainstorming

Russia Channel reports that the beginning of the year has been tough for Russia, with oil plummeting below 30 dollars per barrel and the ruble further devaluating. At the first meeting of the Russian government in 2016, which was held on January 13, President Putin warned the government that it should be ready for anything.

The government Ministers actively participated at the Gaidar Forum in Moscow on January 13, where Finance Minister Anton Siluanov called for the state budget cuts, Economic Minister Aleksei Ulyukaev predicted that ruble has equal chances to keep weakening or start growing, and the head of the Duma Committee on Budget and Taxation Andrei Makarov stated that the unprecedented scale of the Russian people’s trust in the President is probably one of the most important assets in the current economy.

The President of Sberbank, former Economic Minister German Gref, stated that “Russia has lost its competitiveness and is now among the world’s “declining countries.”

Minister of Energy Aleksandr Novak Speaks about Advantages of Cheap Oil

Russia Channel quoted Minister of Energy Alexander Novak as saying that Russian companies feel confident even with current oil prices as the cost price of oil production in Russia is at the range of 5-15 dollars per barrel. The Minister says that the current low oil prices give Russia a chance to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on hydrocarbons.

“Slow” China Drops Oil Prices

Russia Channel states that one of the reasons of the oil prices’ decrease is the slowdown of China’s economic growth. In China, such sectors as real estate and the steel and coal industries, have been especially badly affected, the channel reports.

Oil Price is Decreases on Iran Sanctions News; Ruble Declines

First Channel quotes analysts as saying that the recent drastic decrease of oil prices was caused by declines in Chinese exchanges which coincided with the announcement that sanctions will be lifted from Iran.

This week, the Russian government had meetings every other day, preparing budget cuts. Another task for the government is to establish a single fiscal administration, which will encompass the Taxation Service, Customs, the Pension Fund, and even the Federal Service on Regulating Market of Alcohol.

50 Billion Rubles Set Aside for Russian Car Manufacturers

First Channel reports that Prime Minister Medvedev visited AvtoVAZ to see the latest models of Russian-made cars. According to the channel, despite the recent significant reduction of car sales in Russia, the authorities have managed to prevent the closure of manufacturing companies and large-scale layoffs. Prime Minister Medvedev ordered that there be developed a 10-year plan for the automotive industry in Russia, with an emphasis on import replacement and developing “promising” new car models. Russia, he says, should export up to 25% of the cars it produces by 2025. Medvedev also pledged 50 billion rubles to support the industry in 2016.

Government’s Brainstorming and Putin’s Principle

Russia Channel reports that the government is seeking input on economic proposals from many sources. First, many proposals for improving the economy via state support for small businesses were given to the government by businessmen at the OPORA of Russia Forum. President Putin was present at the forum as well. OPORA is a Russian business organization. In addition, on January 20, Prime Minister Medvedev had a meeting with the members of the Expert Council affiliated with the government. Four of the experts are scholars from Higher School of Economics, including rector Yaroslav Kuzminov; others include the head of Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Aleksandr Shokhin, banker Oleg Vyugin, rector of the Academy of National Economy Vladimir Mau and rector of Academy of Foreign Trade Sergey Sinelnikov-Murylev. Medvedev reportedly suggested that the Russia’s economic policies would be changed in accordance with the findings of the meeting. Meanwhile, President Putin told a separate meeting with scientists that the authorities intend to support only successful research centers, in order to create conditions for economic growth.

Russian Regions Faced Inability of Utility Services to Cope with Snowfall Implications

First Channel stated that unprecedented snowfalls occurred all over Russia and caused tragedies in many places. Ninety people got stuck on a road blocked with snow in Orenburg region, while in Tatarstan, a family with children died of cold after the local utility company cut off power to their home. In many cities, such as Ryazan, Petrozavodsk, Omsk and Chelyabinsk, utility companies failed to remove snow quickly enough because of lack of equipment or being not prepared, First Channel states.

Outbreak of Flu in 14 Russian Regions

First Channel states that 14 Russian regions are at epidemic levels for flu, and that 28 people died in January, 2016 due to complications related to flu. Moscow doctors state that half of those showing acute respiratory infection have H1N1 – so called “pig flu.” The epidemic is expected to last for 4-6 more weeks.

Russia Channel reports that those people who died of flu this year had not been vaccinated. They all went or were taken to the doctor too late. Meanwhile, there is no chance that a large-scale, deadly pandemic similar to 1918 influenza pandemic, might occur, as a proper vaccine for the disease is in place.

Serov Exhibition Breaks Records

Russia Channel reports that 440 thousand people visited the Serov exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery since October, 2015. No exhibition in the Soviet Union or contemporary Russia has had so many visitors.

First Channel reports that the organizers of the Serov exhibition had not expected so many visitors. People stood in line outside, in cold, in some cases for five hours. Visiting the exhibition became fashionable among Muscovites. The Emergency Ministry even had to deploy field kitchens outside the gallery in order to help people waiting.

Litvinenko Report

First Channel reports that the commission conducting public investigation of the murder of Aleksandr Litvinenko, has made a statement about the investigation outcome. The channel stated that the judge accused former FSB officers Lugovoi and Kovtun of the murder and that the judge produced no evidence for this.

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.