TV News in Russia – March, 2017

How the News is Reported in Russia
March, 2017

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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The Great Russian Revolution: Its Beginning, Outcomes and Its Spirit in Today’s Russia

Russia Channel stated that the 100th anniversary of the fall of monarchy in Russia is the theme which “cannot be neglected.” The channel quoted Patriarch Kirill extensively. Kirill emphasized that those who took the power from the czar, handed over the power to more radical forces, “caused a tragedy.” The report repeatedly called the revolution a “tragedy” and emphasized that it occurred at a time when Russia was consumed with its war with Germany and was in “complete chaos.” The democracy established by the February Revolution, the documentary states, was then unable to protect itself from “terrorism” and the October Revolution soon plunged the country again into chaos and civil war. Russia Channel reported that many movies and documentaries on the Revolution are currently in production, including one that will soon appear on Russia Channel.

150 Years Ago the Russian Empire and the United States Signed an Agreement on the Sale of Alaska

First Channel also addressed another historical anniversary, one that is also a source of major debate in Russia. Many nationalists argue that the sale of Alaska to the US should not have occurred, was not legal, and many believe that Russia should take steps to reclaim Alaska. First Channel marked the anniversary of the sale by arguing that the sale of Alaska to the USA was justified for the Russian Empire. The channel’s report stated that Alaska was not profitable, and if Canada, then a British colony, had invaded Alaska, Russia would not have been able to defend it. In addition, the Russian Empire was in a need of money to pay a major debt to the Rothschild family. Further, nobody at the time had any idea that Alaska had oil, nor did they know that oil would later become the major strategic resource of the 20th century. At the same time, the larger report focused on Alaska’s Russian population and heritage and particularly on the fact that many of those Russians have today forgotten Russian, largely because of policies by American institutions that forbade the use of Russian in, for example, Alaskan schools. The same policy was applied to the native population as well, the report stated, in addition to other other mistreatment by the Americans. This is a common theme for nationalists to complain about the treatment and conditions of Russians abroad. The report also focused on historical arguments that Russia legally only sold rights to trade with the natives of Alaska and not the actual land. Despite being largely negative, the report ends by saying that Alaska “unites” American and Russian histories.

President Putin Toured Central Asia

Russia Channel reported that President Putin, marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and other newly independent states of the region, visited Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan in Central Asia. Russia Channel quoted Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev as saying at the meeting with President Putin that Kyrgyzstan would not have any more revolutions. Vladimir Putin responded to that by saying that “in the whole post-Soviet space, we should value stability.” Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev was quoted at his meeting as saying that “Russia remains Kazakhstan’s number one partner in both politics and in economics.” Tajik President Emomali Rahmon was quoted as saying that “Russia is our key strategic partner, and all the areas of cooperation with Russia are important for us.” According to the report, state-owned Russian Railways will apply a discount for transporting fruit and vegetables from Tajikistan to Russia. In addition, Russia and Tajikistan are starting cooperation in nuclear power and will jointly work on strengthening Tajikistan’s borders with Afghanistan.

A Large-Scale Project to Demolish Old Residential Buildings to be Launched in Moscow

First Channel reports that a major project of demolishing old five-storey apartment buildings, is being launched in Moscow. The buildings are commonly known in Russia as “Khrushchevki,” after the Soviet leader who oversaw their construction. The channel emphasized that most have been in use several decades past their intended lifespans and many are now considered substandard if not dangerous housing. Under the program, Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin was quoted as saying, Moscovites will receive a new apartment in same area of Moscow. The apartments are to have an equal number of rooms and to be of equal or greater size. Residents are not to be charged for these apartments. The old buildings are then to be torn down and the land sold for redevelopment. The report gave no indication of when the program might be completed but did say that a new law will have to be written and passed and, in most cases, the new housing is yet to be built. The project may affect 1,600,000 people who are to be relocated. In total, 1,700 buildings are to be demolished.

Russian Businesses Return to Russia

Russia Channel quotes Prime Minister Medvedev as saying at the economic forum in Sochi that the government is preparing plans for Russia’s economic development to 2025. The plans will “ensure higher economic growth than the average worldwide,” and create an “economy of opportunities,” boosting social programs and the “smart economy.” According to Russia Channel, the plan will be based on two pillars – a “new industrialization” of Russia and encouraging Russian businesses abroad to return home. For example, Rostselmash tractor plant has recently moved more production back to Russia (mostly from Ukraine) after the Russian government introduced subsidies for the production of Russian agricultural equipment. Currently, any farmer is entitled to a 20 percent government refund on equipment produced in Russia. The channel also mentioned that a dashboard camera company is moving production from Taiwan to the Moscow region and Russian producer of solar batteries will move from Germany to a facility near Saransk, Russia.

“CIA Breaks into Every House, Making Even Household Appliances Spy on their Owners”

First Channel reports that Wikileaks has published new secret files of the CIA which prove that the latest models of household appliances such as “smart” TVs, and computers, and record and videotape everything which happens in people’s homes, and the CIA is able to connect to them any moment. Even one’s vehicle, the channel asserted, can be controlled through its stereo system. According to First Channel, the main problem is that all these tools might end up in terrorists’ hands.

Three Years Ago, “Crimea Returned to Russia.” What Has Changed in Crimea Since Then?

First Chanel states that in the three years after “Crimea returned to Russia,” the real income of the Crimean people has risen by one-third, substantial investments have been made in the economy of the peninsula, the issues of power supply have been solved, and a beautiful airport has been constructed. A number of tourists coming to Crimea is growing, according to the channel, and health care facilities are being renovated. “Crimea will be prospering,” First Channel predicts. The Kerch Strait Bridge, which is now under construction, has become the main symbol of the reunification of Crimea with Russia, First Channel states.

Russian Arms Dealers Sign Contracts to Supply Arms to 52 Countries

First Channel quotes President Putin as saying at the government meeting that the Russian defense industry has a portfolio of export orders for 50 billion dollars, and the government intends to increase Russia’s presence in the global market of arms and military equipment, expand the geography of selling arms and the list of products for export sales. President Putin was quoted as stating that the capabilities of Russian arms, their reliability and effectiveness, have been proved in Syria.

Prime Minister Medvedev Discussed Platon Toll System with Truck Drivers

The large-scale protests from Russian truckers were only mentioned in passing by reports from First Channel. The channel focused on facts and figures concerning Platon. The fee for trucks was to be increased twofold beginning April 15. The report said that truck drivers had “asked for a discount for long distances,” and Prime Minister Medvedev agreed with the idea, reducing the planned price rise to 25 percent.

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.