TV News in Russia – October, 2018

Screenshot from a broadcast from First Channel's Vermya news program. See below for full video.

This month, we take a look at a cross section of reports. This month, the news focused most (in terms of number of reports) on governors from the regions. In light of the recent elections in which Kremlin-supported candidates struggled, any newly appointed regional chief is getting national coverage to support their positions. These have mostly short reports, however, and have not been included below.

According 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 from the Sunday news reports.

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45 Airports May Be Given Names of Great Russians

Russia Channel reports that the head of The Patriarch’s Council on Culture, Tikhon Shevkunov put forward an initiative to rename Russian airports to honor prominent Russians. This idea was immediately supported by a number of organizations and ministries, such as the Russian Historic Society, the Public Chamber, and the Ministry of Culture. A nationwide contest is to be held in Russia in autumn to decide which names will be used to rename 45 airports. For example, Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow may be named after writer Fyodor Dostoevsky. Sheremetyevo will keep its name, with Dostoevsky’s name added after.

Germans Are Disappointed Not Only About Merkel, But Also About the Results of German Reunification

In its report, Russia Channel quoted German Chancellor Angela Merkel as saying that the unification of Germany is not completed yet, and currently, 28 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany is facing new challenges. Commenting on the statement, the channel called the unification of Germany an “annexation,” stating that East Germans are treated as second-class citizens and have a worse economic situation and career prospects than West Germans. The report concluded that the last leader of the former Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, “betrayed” East Germany in what is, for Russia, “a dark page of our history.”


Old Believers Return to the Motherland

Russia Channel reports that the World Old Believers’ Forum was held in Moscow. Currently, there are about two million Old Believers in Russia, and their number might increase as Old Believers from Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina may move back to Russia. The channel quotes Metropolitan Kornily, Head of Russian Orthodox Old Believers’ Church, as saying that the current events regarding the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine is “the beginning of the split within the ecumenical church” which can lead to deaths as it was after the church split in Russia in 17th century.


In Kerch, Investigators Revealed New Circumstances of Case on Tragedy in Polytechnic College

First Channel reports that investigators revealed new circumstances of the “shooting case” at the Kerch Polytechnic College, after interrogating the shooter’s grandmother. According to her, Vladislav Roslyakov stole 20,000 rubles from her. The channel quotes investigators as saying that he may have spent this money on buying the arms he used to killed 20 people, including students and teachers of the college.

GeoHistory Commentary: These types of events tend to get relatively small amounts of coverage in Russia. While most in the west would expect most TV coverage to turn to 24-hour coverage of a single event in the case of such a tragedy, Russian news tends to give extensive coverage shortly after the incident and regular, short updates as they come in. This was once the case in the West as well, before the arrival of the 24-hour news cycle there.

Moscow Prepared In Advance for US Withdrawal from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

Commenting on the statement made by US President Trump that the USA will withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Russia Channel states that this statement sounds as blackmailing as it was made shortly before the meeting of US National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev. Also, Russia Channel states that it is strange that the USA intends to terminate the treaty without even trying to offer any amendments to it, which can be done, according to the treaty provisions. The channel reminds that the treaty has been the cornerstone for security in Europe for the recent 30 years, “but the USA does not care.” As an illustration of violation of the treaty by the USA, Russia Channel points to deployment of missile systems in Romania and Poland.


Comedy about Siege of Leningrad to be Released by 75th Anniversary of Withdrawal of Siege

Russia Channel describes the comedy about siege of Leningrad as a shocking film. The comedy is about a privileged family which has chicken and champagne on the table for their New Year celebration, when they are suddenly disrupted by the appearance of two hungry guests. The channel quotes historians as saying that Leningrad on December 31, 1941, did not have even central heating and electricity, not mentioning food on people’s tables. Also, the report cited the diaries of the siege period witnesses, refuting the claims that the party leaders and other bosses had plenty of food in the sieged city, and could enjoy celebrations while other people were dying of hunger.


Authorities of Saudi Arabia Acknowledged that Jamal Khashoggi Died in Territory of Saudi Consulate in Turkey

First Channel reports that Saudi authorities “admitted the obvious” – the fact that reporter Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Commenting the absence of penalty measures on the part of the USA towards Saudi authorities, First Channel reporter stated that the US’ forthcoming 110 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia is one reason for the lack of action. In the future, a bigger deal, at 450 billion dollars may be completed. In conclusion, First Channel quoted political scientist Richard Bekker as saying that “the USA completely covers Saudi Arabia” on many occasions, including concerning “the murder of thousands of people on the Saudi’s side of the conflict in Yemen.”

GeoHistory commentary: Saudi Arabia, although now working with Russia as part of OPEC and on various oil and gas projects, is a historical rival for Russia in competing for regional influence in Central Asia and the Middle East.


Elders Approved Agreement Between Chechnya and Ingushetia

Russia Channel reports that the elders of Chechnya and Ingushetia approved the agreement on delimitation of borders between the two republics. The process of coming to the agreement was not easy, with Ingush people coming to the streets to protest, but the final outcome is good, the channel states, as the territory of Ingushetia Republic even became larger.

GeoHistory commentary: It appears that the assertion that Ingushetia became larger comes from a calculation of surface area. Ingushetia gained mostly severely mountainous regions at the expense of a much larger area of more habitable land. The only way that the calculation might work out is if one were to count not total space taken on a map, but the actual land surface area.

About the Author

Alex Sitnikov
Alex holds a BA in Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language (RFL) and is currently on his way to get an MA in Translation. He came to Moscow from Tolyatti to study at Lomonosov Moscow State University in 2013 and has been in love with the city ever since. In March 2018 Alex joined SRAS to help coordinate student activities in Moscow. When he’s not occupied with that, Alex likes to play guitar and read.