TV News in Russia – July, 2016

How the News is Reported in Russia
July, 2016

Internship in RussiaAccording 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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Parties Prepare for Duma Elections

First Channel quotes the Central Electoral Commission as saying that 20 political parties (out of 77 registered in Russia) intend to participate in the Duma elections scheduled for September. In addition to the traditional frontrunners Gennady Zyganov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Sergey Mironov, some celebrities intend to run for the election, such as film director Alexander Sokurov, famous intellectual Anatoly Vasserman, and the actor Alexander Mikhailov.

United Russia party approved both the list of candidates and the party program titled “Success of Everyone – Success for Russia.” President Putin attended the United Russia convention for the first time in four years, First Channel reports. United Russia has the biggest list of celebrities among its candidates, including politicians, actors, singers, and athletes.

The Just Russia party built its election program on the criticism of the government, claiming that there is a need of adopting new laws on taxation, residential building renovation, and to resolve issues surrounding pensions.

Russia Channel states that Putin’s attendance of the United Russia convention is “a sign of support for this party on the eve of the parliamentary election.” The channel quotes President Putin as saying that “I myself initiated and created this party, the need for it was essential. You remember well what the country was like back then, it was on the verge of disintegration. …We had to change, to improve the situation. United Russia became such a rallying point for the country.”

The president added that “the most hazardous thing today is to profiteer in the current difficulties.” This would include “lying and distorting the facts, outright betrayal of the country’s interests, empty promises based on the aspiration to destabilize the situation, split the society, gain power at any cost, and then, as our people say, as God will allow it to turn out. This is the most dangerous. It can’t be allowed to happen.”

Russia Channel states that the United Russia engaged scholars in drafting the election program which accommodated numerous requests and became a 5-year development plan for Russia. The program focuses on social policy and, in particular, on the indexation of pensions and other benefits. Maternity capital is to be increased and the minimum wage is to be raised to the living wage level.

Russia Channel reports that the leader of LDPR, Vladimir Zhirinovsky is leading his party’s candidate list, as usual. The channel quotes Zhirinovsky as saying that the LDPR needs big support on the September 18 election. Zhirinovsky stated that he hopes to see support LDPR at the September election similar to that he received in 1993. Back in 1993, LDPR gained 13 million votes, and currently, it needs at least 20 million, Zhirinovsky says, hoping that it is feasible.

Russia Channel quotes leader of Communist Party Gennady Zyuganov as saying at the youth educational forum that the Communist Party is advocating for a bill that with “destroy the EGE exam system.” The EGE are Russia’s SATs and have proven controversial as a high-stakes exam.

The leader of Just Russia party Sergey Mironov is of the same opinion, stating at the forum that “The bill of the Communist Party is of high quality. We will support it. The EGE should be voluntary. A teacher should teach, not write reports.”

The Olympics and Russia

First Channel reports that the International Olympic Committee permitted the Russian national team to participate in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, but some Russian athletes will be banned from the Olympics – those with history of doping in their tests, in particular, track and field athletes.

First Channel states that the decision to let the Russian team take part in the Olympics was unexpected for some Western media which expected that the entire Russian team would be banned from the Rio Olympics.

First Channel reports that the decision of the International Olympic Committee to allow “clean” athletes from the Russian team to participate in the Rio Olympics, was expected, although any decision was possible.

Soviet era figure-skating champion Irina Rodnina said that if the Russian athletes had been banned from the Olympics, the Olympic movement would have started to fade.

The doping scandal added stress to the Russian athletes who had to prepare for the Olympics without any idea whether they would be allowed to compete at the Olympics or not. For this reason, some athletes are departing for Rio in low spirits, First Channel reports.

First Channel quoted President Putin as saying that the current atmosphere around Russia’s bid to compete in the Rio Olympics resembles the situation of the beginning of the 1980s when the West boycotted the Moscow Olympics and four years later the Soviet Union boycotted the Olympics in Los Angeles. President Putin also stated that sport should be pure, with no doping at all, and offered the Olympic Committee of Russia to establish an independent public commission for developing a national anti-doping plan and to help implement this plan. Putin suggested this commission be headed by Vitaly Smirnov, a respectable figure in sports administration, with a history of work at the International Olympic Committee dating from 1971. The commission would be composed of famous athletes and Russian public figures.

Russia Channel states that the International Association of Athletics Federations amended the rules on doping control procedures in June 2016, which made it impossible for the Russian team to comply. In addition, a biased film by a German reporter and the report of Richard McLaren helped create a negative perception of the Russian team’s doping situation. Even the Russian Paralympics’ team could be denied from participation in the Olympics in the midst of the doping scandal.

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.