TV News in Russia – January, 2017

How the News is Reported in Russia
January, 2017

Internship in RussiaAccording to a 2016 poll by the independent Levada Center, 80% of Russians view television as thier 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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Russian Historical Blockbuster Viking Breaks Box Office Records

First Channel reports that Viking, a Russian movie released at the end of 2016, has already earned some $22 million at the box office, making it one of the most profitable Russian movies in modern times. The channel mentioned that American movies can earn a billion dollars or more, but are released worldwide. Russian movies, however, are released mainly in Russia with only some two percent of the world population. Further, according to First Channel, in 2004-2007 major Russian movies came to earn some 20% of the total box office revenues in Russia, but this has since fallen and Hollywood movies currently take up 90% of Russia’s market. Viking will soon be released in more than 60 countries – one of the most ambitious releases ever for a Russian movie – including China, Germany, Switzerland and Spain.

New Ally: Libyan Army Commander Visited Russian Aircraft Carrier

Russia Channel reports that Libyan military commander, marshal Khalifa Haftar visited the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft when the vessel visited Libyan waters. Libya currently has three major power centers. Russia is one of Haftar’s first major supporters, with most Western backers favoring one of the other two. Russia Channel said that Khalifa Haftar advocates for building a secular state in Libya and controls 70 percent of Libyan territory and that this area is expanding.

Arguments over St. Isaac’s: a Museum for Believers and a Cathedral for Tourists

Russia Channel reports that the decision of the St. Petersburg government to transfer the ownership of the St. Isaac’s Cathedral, which is currently a museum, to the Russian Orthodox Church, caused heated debates. Russia Channel in its report expressed support for the Russian Orthodox Church, comparing the ownership transfer with expelling the merchants from the Temple.

Law Relaxing Punishment for Domestic Violence Passes First Reading in Duma

First Channel reports that, according to the new bill on domestic violence passed by the Duma in the first reading, non-severe battery, if committed for the first time, will not be persecuted as a criminal offence. It has become an “administrative infraction” and will be met with fines or a 15-day detention. The channel stated that overall crime statistics in Russia have improved, with the murder rate returning to near-Soviet-times with 8-9 murders a year per 100,000 people. In 1993, the murder rate soared to more than 30 per 100,000 people. At the same time, First Channel quoted anti-violence activist Anna Rivina as saying that in the Russian society, hitting a child, a woman is considered normal, and 70-80 percent of the cases of domestic violence are not reported. An average Russian woman is ready to tolerate up to seven cases of being battered until she calls the police, and every year about 12 thousand women get killed after being beaten by their family members.

Russia to Build Full Naval Base in Tartus, Syria

Russia Channel reports that Russia and Syria signed an agreement on expanding the Tartus maintenance station for the Russian Navy. The agreement duration is 49 years, with subsequent prolongation every 25 years. Russia will use the Tartus infrastructure free of charge, and is entitled to bring any weapons to this port.

Renewal of United Russia

Russia Channel gave gushing report on ruling party United Russia’s 16th convention, which was reportedly attended by more than 3,000 party activists. Its High Council was renewed, with regional governors, the heads of the Duma and the Federation Council, scientists and people prominent in culture included in the council. Russia Channel named such many accomplishments made by the government together with the United Russia, such as reducing the budget deficit, adjusting the taxation system, restricting settlements in cash, improving health care for newborns, constructing new schools, and renovating theaters in the provinces.

Conflict over Head Covering in School Classes in Mordovia Village

First Channel reports that in the Mordovia Republic, at a school in the Tatar-majority Belozerie village, female students wore hijabs, and Moslem students prayed in classrooms, together with teachers. The newly appointed school principal is trying to reinstate a more secular atmosphere by issuing a ban on Muslim headwear. This has been ignored by most teachers and students. Russia’s Supreme Court has ruled that regions have the right to regulate the hijab in schools. Thus, they are permitted in Tatarstan, obligatory in Chechnya, but banned in Stavropol and Mordovia. Russian Minister of Education Olga Vasilieva publicly expressed support for Mordovia’s ban, stating that Russia has a secular education system.

Holocaust Remembrance Day Observed in Russia

First Channel opened its report by reminding viewers that on January 27, 1945, the Soviet Army liberated the prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp. It is in honor of that event that January 27 is observed as Holocaust Remembrance Day. In Moscow, Prime Minister Medvedev visited the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center and made a statement condemning Holocaust and warned that “ethnic and religious xenophobia is taking a new ugly shape of terrorism” today. Medvedev also stated that anti-Semitic and nationalistic sentiments should be stamped out at an early stage wherever they appear.

Putin and Trump Hold Phone Conversation

First Channel quoted President Putin’s long-time Press Secretary Dmity Peskov as saying that President Trump’s team has not discussed the possibility of Syrian safe zones with Moscow. Trump has proposed these as an alternative for relocating refugees. Pskov said that “it is important to avoid aggravating the refugee situation and thus, Moscow recommends that the White House take into account all possible consequences of implementing this initiative. First Channel also reported that the phone conversation between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump on January 28 was dedicated to fighting terrorism. The Russian leader congratulated Donald Trump on his taking office and wished him every success. The two leaders then spoke about coordinating actions to defeat ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria, as well as about the importance of reinstating mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation and bilateral relations.

Russia Channel emphasized that the “positive and business-like” call lasted 45 minutes and accomplished its “principal importance” which was “to agree on meeting in person.” The time and place of the summit will be specified later. Russia Channel quoted Putin as saying that our peoples were allies in the two world wars, and they currently have the common enemy – international terrorism. Putin and Trump agreed to partner in fighting terrorism. The Presidents also briefly discussed partnership in such areas as strategic stability, non-proliferation, the crisis in Ukraine, the Iranian nuclear program and the situation in Korean Peninsula. The press services of both the Presidents released statements about positive results of the first conversation between the two leaders. Neither Russia Channel nor First Channel empasised that

Trump Immediately Abolishes All Key Obama Actions, Fights with Mexico, and Bans Muslims

First Channel states that some President Trump’s first actions were “radical,” quoting Trump as saying that he is immediately starting his border wall and referring to his withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, “liquidation” of Obamacare, renewal of construction of two pipelines, and three-month ban on entrance to the US for citizens of Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Sudan, and Somalia. The channel also stated that he will likely withdraw from NAFTA. The report also mentioned that this has caused widespread protests.

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.