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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

A list of liars

State awards put journalists in Russia on a par with special agents
13 May, 2014 - 11:14
JOURNALIST LUSTRATION LISTS SIGNED BY PUTIN / REUTERS photo

Russian government has awarded 300 mass media workers “For high professionalism and objectiveness in highlighting the events in the Republic of the Crimea.” None of the recipients represents an opposi-tion newspaper, television or radio company.

It is reported that a corresponding decree was signed back on April 22, but it was not made known. The document is not mentioned on the website of the president of Russia. What are the reasons of this confidentiality? Was not it the fact that the mere awarding of the nominees will be raising eyebrows in the healthy part of Russian society? And Ukrainian society will make sure for another time that current events are of criminal nature.

Newspaper Vedomosti with a reference to sources writes that the services of the General Director of NTV Vladimir Kulistikov, who received the Order for Merits before the Fatherland of the 2nd degree, were appreciated the highest. This TV channel edited news about Maidan events, manipulated facts, and even descended to falsehood.

The head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) Aleksandr Zharov received the same Order, but of the 4th degree. Roskomnadzor is an organization that practically forbids mass media if the Kremlin considers them undesirable. In particular, in March this year Zharov’s organization forbid three opposition websites, Yezhednevnyi zhurnal (Everyday Journal), Grani.ru, Kasparov.ru, and Aleksei Navalny’s blog. Navalny wrote the following in this concern on his Facebook page: “The most confounding in awarding of 300 ‘journalists’… is not the fact that the Kremlin decided to make up a formal list of the top political prostitutes and liars. And not even the fact that both sides (both the ones who awarded, and the recipients of the awards) are somewhat ashamed of this, because this is a secret decree and it has not been published. It is the fact that the head of Roskomnadzor is among the awarded journalists… The ‘journalistic work’ of Mr. Zharov has a clear quality – he is involved in blocking of websites, even when it is totally illegal. He impedes spreading of information. So [he was awarded] namely for censoring…”

There have never been such awards of mass media in Russia. Even after the Georgian-Russian war the then President Dmitry Medvedev awarded only 11 propaganda journalists in 2008.

“The Kremlin mass media have already dubbed this list ‘300 Spartans,’ the rest in Russia call it ‘300 assholes,’” member of the Political Council of the Party of December 5, Roman Dobrokhotov, told The Day. “This list mainly consists of state officials and the employees of the propaganda department who actively created alternative reality, as they were presenting the events that were taking place in Ukraine.”

Dobrokhotov says that censorship has existed in Russia since 2001, but “such aggressive propaganda, news invented from scratch, and inciting groups of population against one another – nothing of this kind has ever happened.” He says that the Euromaidan became the reason. So, it is no surprise that the regime decided to thank these “300 men and women who worked hard to achieve these results,” Dobrokhotov adds. “These people have reasons to be ashamed of being mentioned in this list. It is not clear for how long Putin will be in power. But as we know from Rwanda example, journalists who were involved in calling to civil war were prosecuted in court. I am not surprised that some of the so-called journalists are unhappy with the fact that their names have become known,” the interlocutor of The Day considers.

COMMENTARIES

Semen NOVOPRUDSKY, independent journalist, Moscow:

“For the majority of the population this news, unlike what our television tells about Ukraine, does not evoke any stormy reaction. Russians don’t know many of the journalists who were awarded. They know only several prominent propagandists. As for the journalist circles, it is remarkable that everything was done with the help of a secret decree – with the same secret degree the head of the Central Election Committee of Russia Vladimir Churov was awarded after the elections to the State Duma in 2011. For a while he was a symbol of lies and falsification for the Russian opposition.

“This award for the journalists indicates that the Kremlin has a kind of a pool of sidekick special propagandists, who take part in the information war, and have received a kind of a military award. Since Russia is moving to totalitarian state, this is a list of the journalists that are close to power.

“Journalism as a profession is of little interest to Russian government, which is doing everything possible to fully eradicate this profession in the country.

“I have been witness to Soviet journalism, but even then the propaganda was more subtle (although there were many lies and distortions) than now. It is very demonstrative that these awards were made secret, because this decree was signed practically on the wave of euphoria, which is fading now, regarding the annexation of the Crimea. This is also a form of special propaganda.”

Igor YAKOVENKO, a Russian journalist:

“This is a secret degree, because it has the number 269, and there is no document with such number on the website of the president. Decree no. 270 follows Decree no. 268. Such decrees are issued to award heroes of reconnaissance and developers of secret kinds of weapons. And now journalists. According to the data of Vedomosti the holding VDTRK, which has received 100 awards, is the leader, the First Channel is on the second place with 60 awards. It is followed by NTV, Russia Today, and LifeNews. Vladimir Kulistikov received the highest personal award in this list, the Order for Merits before the Fatherland of the 2nd degree. Margarita Simonian and Vladimir Sungorkin received orders of one degree lower. Aram Gabrelianov received the Order of Honor, Ernest Matskyavichus and Andrey Kondrashov – Order of Friendship each, and Ashot Gabrelianov, Irada Zeynalova, Arkadiy Mamontov, and Boris Korchevnikov – only medals.

“Vladimir Solovyev takes a special place in the media space of Russia; he has received a special award, the Alexander Nevsky Order. Among other signs by which one can judge a state are people who receive awards from this state. The Alexander Nevsky Order is the only state award which existed in the Russian Empire, the USSR, and now is given in post-Soviet Russia. Its statute has changed, but the name, i.e., a kind of semantic reference, a semantic nucleus, remains. From awards for generalship talents and heroism to awards for lies and dirt.

“In this story with 300 ‘journalists’ who received the awards everything is wonderful. Like the confidentiality of the decree which puts journalists on a par with special agents. And quite distinct ‘table of ranks’ can be seen from the number of awards received by specific mass media and personal awards. And the role of Putin’s television forces which has incredibly grown – proof of this is the scale of award. To compare, eleven ‘journalists’ were awarded for ‘seizing Georgia.’” (ej.ru)

By Ihor SAMOKYSH, The Day
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