Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Putin's Propaganda Partner

The global news network RT is the Russian government's main weapon in an intensifying information war with the West—and its top editor has a direct phone line to the Kremlin

By Simon Shuster, TIME
March 5, 2015

It was just past midnight on Feb. 28 in the Moscow studios of RT, Russia’s state-funded international tele­vision news network, when word of the assassination reached the staff: Boris Nemtsov, a leading figure in the fractious opposition to President Vladimir Putin, had been shot dead a short walk from Red Square. Later that morning, Putin’s spokesman set the tone for RT’s coverage. “What goes without saying,” said Dmitri Peskov, “is that this is a 100% provocation.” His implication was clear: the Nemtsov shooting was staged by Russia’s enemies, not to silence the victim but to discredit the regime he opposed.

Thus began the latest marathon of spin from the Kremlin’s most sophisticated propaganda machine, beamed out in a variety of languages—including English, Spanish and Arabic—to the potential audience of 700 million people that RT (formerly Russia Today) claims to reach in more than 100 countries. In the hours after the shooting, RT anchors and pundits cast the killing variously as a “huge gift to Putin haters”; possibly the work of “foreign assassins” to provide a “beautiful propaganda shot” for Western officials and media; and, repeating Peskov’s line, “a provocation against the Russian government.”

The coverage did not mention the fears Nemtsov, 55, had expressed in an interview less than three weeks before his murder that Putin could have him killed. It ignored the fact that Nemtsov was preparing to publish an investigation into Russia’s support for separatist rebels waging war in eastern Ukraine. It sidestepped the pattern of more than a dozen murders and violent attacks against Kremlin critics in the 15 years since Putin came to power. And on March 1, when a massive march began in Moscow to protest Nemtsov’s murder—with ­many carrying signs that read propaganda kills—RT was showing a documentary about American racism and xenophobia.

(More here.)

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