As Den reported before, a Russian presidential decree abolished news agency RIA Novosti and radio company Voice of Russia, replacing them with a new international agency Russia Today, headed by prominent Russian journalist Dmitry Kiselev, repeatedly accused of giving false and distorted coverage of the Euromaidan events.
The notorious TV anchor attacked Ukrainian students, too. He called them in one of his programs “barbaric-minded and empty-eyed ralliers.” Protesters see such statements, as well as Kiselev’s appointment as the head of Russia’s main news agency, as the first steps to create a center of anti-Ukrainian propaganda.
“This agency distorts information when telling its subscribers that riot police’s attack on students was in fact a student riot where rioters beat police. We sympathize with Russian citizens, because they suffer from a lack of truthful information,” a protest organizer Mladena Kachurets told us. “We hope that our protest will help journalists realize that telling lies is a disgrace.”
The students long chanted “Our Christmas tree is the best, because it is a tree of liberty” and “Enough lying, Kiselev,” waiting for a representative of the agency to come and meet with them, because students did not come empty-handed, bringing a CD containing Ukrainian and international TV channels’ coverage of what really happened in Euromaidan. However, the agency’s employees were just looking out the windows, some even photographing the protesters, but still following the course of events from the safety of their offices.
Meanwhile, political scientist Mykhailo Pohrebynsky left the building as the somewhat symbolic videoconference “Kyiv – Moscow. Ukraine between East and West: Expert Opinions” concluded, and the students asked him to serve as a messenger and present the CD to the agency.
The protesters were already preparing to switch on a mock TV set showing how Ukrainian and Russian channels differ in their presentation of the same information, when the agency’s employee finally came to meet them. He asked to call him Dmitry and called on the youths to take a closer look of their work: “Not all Russian channels are the same, we try to give impartial information, and we worked in Euromaidan at night, as well as in Anti-Maidan. Do not tar everybody with the same brush. I will not comment on Kiselev’s remarks, because I am not authorized to do so. I ask you to rely on facts and not to be guided by emotions.”
As political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko, who also left the agency after the videoconference, told Den, “it was an agency with a human face, it was very advanced as a media, but now the authorities may really make it into a propaganda machine. Its Ukrainian office’s employees are concerned about it as much as they are about the entire Russian information policy regarding this country,” Fesenko commented.
The analyst and the agency employee advised students to hold another such protest in Moscow. Young people thanked for the idea, but decided to stay in Ukraine for the time being.