Voices from Russia

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Dmitri Kiselyov: “Western Behaviour Borders on Schizophrenia”

00 Dmitri Kiselyov. 06.04.14

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Dmitri Kiselyov, Director General of the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, host of the popular television show Vesti Nedeli (News of the Week), is the only journalist in the world targeted by political sanctions. The EU included the prominent TV journalist on a list of Russians barred from travelling, owning property, or banking in the EU. The World Press Freedom Committee, one of the leading organisations on the rights of journalists, came to his defence. In an interview with Izvestia, Kiselyov said that the sanctions against him threaten the rights of all journalists in the world. He also explained that Russia and the West have switched roles and now Russia is the main defender of democratic principles and freedom of speech.

Izvestia

You’re the only journalist in the world under sanctions. Does that make you the Yuri Gagarin of modern journalism? Did you expect this?

Dmitri Kiselyov

This affects all journalists. In my memory, this is the first time someone imposed international sanctions on a journalist. I’m just journalist X. It’s telling that Europe initiated the sanctions, which shows how EU officials openly disregard freedom of speech. This sets an unwelcome and dangerous precedent. In effect, it’s a betrayal of European values. If this precedent becomes normal, if the journalistic community in Europe, America or any other country doesn’t respond, it’d mean that journalists consider this legal. This represents a dramatic turning point in Western civilisation… to say that we no longer need freedom of speech or believe it’s a core value. Moreover, the EU isn’t alone; it has the backing of the Norwegian parliament.

Izvestia

Even Norway, a country you have a special affection for since you have a degree in Scandinavian philology, supported these sanctions…

Dmitri Kiselyov

Yes, I studied it at Leningrad State University and broadcasted in Norwegian for ten years at Moscow Radio. So, Norwegian sanctions that seek to restrict freedom of speech target a man who’s 100 percent a friend of Norway. Incredible, isn’t it? While I believe they aren’t fully aware of what they’re doing, it still represents a turning point in Western civilisation. They accuse me of producing propaganda, of being a propagandist. The word “propaganda” in Greek means dissemination of information, ideas, and concepts. For some reason, the West uses this word as an insult… but propaganda isn’t a certified category of international law and the constitutions of all countries, unlike freedom of speech. These are formalised, state, interstate, and supranational bureaucratic sanctions that are legal in the sense that they were passed into law, and not lawful. They target freedom of speech.

Izvestia

It was odd to hear that the EU prohibited your entry as a Russian citizen. Does that mean that as a journalist that you’re free to visit EU countries?

Dmitri Kiselyov

I’m not sure that’s right. They’ve released nothing official. If they allow me to visit Europe on a business trip, it means that the EU is backpedalling because it realised that it’s barbaric to restrict the work of journalists. Europe put itself in an awkward position and had to explain and justify these sanctions. However, if it’s true that I can travel to the EU in a professional capacity, even though EU officials have called what I do propaganda, Europe finds itself in a ridiculous paradoxical position… If  I can work but not take a vacation, does that mean they don’t want a vacation to interrupt my propaganda? Doesn’t that seem schizophrenic to you?

Izvestia

If there’s no logic to it, what’s the point of these sanctions?

Dmitri Kiselyov

I don’t get it. It is ludicrous, completely absurd. These sanctions have no bearing on me personally, and yet they think that they’ll change my behaviour. They threaten to seize my property and bank accounts, but I don’t have any in the West. These sanctions target not only my freedom of speech, but also freedom of speech in general. I’m just a symbol, or rather an example.

Izvestia

Sanctions have become something of trend. The USA and the EU are always imposing sanctions. You’re the only journalist that they’ve gone after. Do you find that confusing?

Dmitri Kiselyov

It’s a strange story. They call me the country’s chief propagandist, which indicates either madness or ignorance on their part.

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01 newspaper

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Izvestia

In fact, if the USA and the EU are ignorant, yet powerful statesmen are on this list, perhaps, someone advised them to blacklist these people, including you?

Dmitri Kiselyov

I know who exactly advised them. Sergei Parkhomenko and Aleksei Navalny made these lists. They don’t hide it. However, if Europe were going to rely on the opinion of a vanishing minority in Russia, it’d find it hard to make sensible decisions in this world, especially, when it comes to Russia. There are too many issues in the world that’d be hard to resolve without Russia, including issues of war and peace in different regions. Western behaviour borders on schizophrenia. There’s that word again. Schizophrenia is a split in consciousness. It means living in parallel worlds having secondary things guide you. When we make trivial things important, when we let them guide us, when we follow the opinions of insignificant people, and even cultivate and inflate their opinions, we’re entering a hall of crooked mirrors. I believe that the Great Powers that form the backbone of the EU can’t afford acting like this, because their status demands a certain level of responsibility. Otherwise, they get themselves into stupid situations that eventually harm their own citizens. What does freedom of speech mean in European countries now that they’ve imposed sanctions on a journalist? Will they legalise taboo subjects or put limits on the work of journalists? If they adopt a certain position toward a foreign journalist, why not apply the same standards inside the EU?

Izvestia

A journalist who works for state-owned media is automatically branded a propagandist. Your show’s ratings are high and everybody has an opinion about you, good or bad. Are you the propagandist-in-chief?

Dmitri Kiselyov

President Vladimir Putin appointed me director general of the new Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency in his 9 December executive order. Both the agency and I faced sanctions during a period of reorganisation when Rossiya Segodnya didn’t even have the ability to do any propaganda. We hadn’t introduced any new brands, whilst our main product, the newswire in English, French, and Spanish, appeared only on 1 April, long after they announced the sanctions. Are the sanctions preventive? Do they meant them to discourage me from producing propaganda? The fact is that all Western news agencies impose a point of view. Take Reuters or the Associated Press. Both are propaganda agencies… they shape the dominant narrative and tell their audiences what and how to think. They interpret history, the present, and future, and try to shape a system of values, a worldview, and political agenda.

Izvestia

Your agency would also have an overriding political theme, won’t it?

Dmitri Kiselyov

Of course, but we haven’t yet had time to develop one. All news agencies do this, and each one has a boss, who engages in legal professional activities. Maybe, it’d make sense to sanction them as well? After all, they’re engaged in propaganda… in today’s world, information… how it’s gathered, analysed, interpreted, and processed, its formats ranging from social media to feature films… pushes a value system, certain views on good and evil, and shapes attitudes to different events. It appears that the EU countries can have such agencies, but Moscow may not, by any means. Needless to say, Russia wants to compete in the field of international information because information wars are already become standard practice and have become the main type of warfare. Now, they send in the bombers after the information campaign. For instance, America lost the war in Syria and achieved nothing. They also lost the information war over Crimea and achieved nothing. In the past, artillery fire preceded an attack; now, information flow replaces it.

Izvestia

So, they targeted the sanctions at you specifically; does that mean that they didn’t include the nascent agency that you lead?

Dmitri Kiselyov

I’m certain that Vesti Nedeli was the main irritant. It’s an important news and analysis show, offering my weekly take on events. It’s popular and well-known. People enjoy it (according to a study of news shows on different TV channels done by the Public Opinion Foundation last year, we came in first in a number of categories). Vesti Nedeli is an influential program. It promotes, or rather propagandises… I’m not afraid to use this word… healthy values and patriotism. I’m sure that Vesti Nedeli instigated the sanctions.

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01 woman reading newspaper

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Izvestia

Certainly, other countries have similar news shows, but they don’t impose sanctions on their hosts. Can it be something you said, specifically, to provoke this?

Dmitri Kiselyov

Notable pundits are usually old enough to have extensive experience and impressive backgrounds, and long records in journalism, such as mine, as I’m nearly 60. Media professionals of this calibre are perfectly entitled to express their own opinions and they confidently do so on their shows. The public tend to listen to their opinions after watching them for a long time, following their evolution, and forming a stable opinion of them. People trust them. In this case, public trust is a sociologically measurable characteristic. The higher the public trust, the more freedom these pundits have, and, naturally, the greater responsibility they have to their public. In any case, there are hardly more than a few dozen pundits of this kind in the world’s leading powers. They aren’t mass-produced. All of them engage in the same process of presenting and interpreting news, and they all emphasise national interests whilst doing so. So, some countries can do this, but others can’t? Is that what the EU thinks?

Izvestia

Meaning that they hold other countries to a different standard. Can it be that your statement about burning or burying the hearts of gay people killed in traffic accidents annoyed them?

Dmitri Kiselyov

However, this is a total betrayal of freedom of speech. As for gays, my position on the issue is very clear. Certainly, gay culture has the right to exist in Russia, and it does, de facto. Yet, it’s a minority culture, and this is all that it’ll ever be. You shouldn’t impose a minority culture on the majority, especially, not through aggressive propaganda. I don’t believe that unconventional sexual orientation is an illness. I’m not even saying that it’s outside physiological norms. However, it is certainly outside accepted social practises, and, for me, this is a strongly held belief. Each country has the right to define its own social norms. In Russia, the norm is a traditional family. The Russian government is responsible for encouraging what we accept as social norms, because it is crucial for society. A family means children. Russia is experiencing a demographic crisis. To support the spread of gay culture in Russia amounts to self-elimination. Is this what they propose? Do we have to agree to that?

Izvestia

Do you believe this is what they wish to impose on us?

Dmitri Kiselyov

Yes. It’s something that’s absolutely alien to us. There are many examples of this. For example, they now use my line about burning gay people’s hearts as a hostile meme. Alright, let the critics keep it up. I won’t take back what I said, but let me clarify what I meant. You shouldn’t take my statement out of context. I was trying to be provocative, it was a deliberate flame used to ignite a discussion. A dramatic conflict of opinions was what I was after; it was part of the script. The discussion focused on plans to introduce fines for propagandising unconventional sexual relations among teenagers… in effect, for molestation. Since gay people can’t reproduce naturally, they have to recruit new members of the community. Gay parades aim at attracting new members… everyone marching in bright feathers and laughing to show how fun it is to be gay. However, the reality of being gay is very different. There is research showing that gay people have a shorter lifespan and face more abuse and violence in their relationships. They apply for psychological assistance more often and have a higher suicide rate. Gay communities are well-known risk groups for AIDS and hepatitis. Since even the most advanced medical technology can’t confirm with 100 percent accuracy that donated blood or organs are HIV free, American, Canadian, and EU law prohibits gays from donating. In the USA, it’s a lifetime ban. It applies to anyone who’s had sex with a gay man since 1977. In other countries, they impose a moratorium on donating for people who have had homosexual intercourse. The rationale is on the FDA’s website. This is a highly respected health authority, the American equivalent of Rospotrebnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare).

At this point, Kiselyov opened a book by Sigmund Freud to a bookmarked page and read out a highlighted line… “A person’s final sexual attitude isn’t decided until after puberty…”

This statement here is the grounds for banning homosexual propaganda among minors, as their identity is still under formation. I don’t deny that some of them may be predisposed to homosexuality. We’re trying to save the others.

Izvestia

Do you think Russia should also ban gay people from donating blood and organs?

Dmitri Kiselyov

Today, we don’t ban it in Russia. Nevertheless, why shouldn’t we borrow from American policy in this case? We bury or cremate the bodies of gay people who die in car accidents, including their presumably healthy hearts. We don’t even consider them as a source to prolong someone else’s life. Different countries require different quarantine periods since the last homosexual encounter. However, homosexuals may have upwards of 1,500 partners throughout their lives, so 500 wouldn’t surprise anyone, by comparison. This data comes from respected American and European studies. Homosexuals have a different lifestyle, a different pace. So, de facto, we ban them from donating. In Russia, the state is responsible for ensuring that donor blood doesn’t transmit HIV. The risk is as high as dying in a plane crash. I don’t think its right. I’d rather that Russia would look to other countries that studied this problem in greater depth than we have. In those countries, they turn gay hearts to ash because we can’t use them to save lives. I support this policy. Nevertheless, I never suggested cutting the hearts out of living people and burning them, as they claim.

Izvestia

You know gay people. How would you characterise your relationship with them?

Dmitri Kiselyov

I do have gay colleagues. Most of them are very calm and quiet people who keep to themselves. They don’t flaunt their sexuality. They’ve never been unfriendly to me personally. I’m not a homophobe. Simply put, the West isn’t happy about Russia being on the upswing. This is the core of the problem. There’s a clear upward trajectory, even though the Russian economy isn’t as surefooted as we’d like it be. However, its progress is cyclical. A peak follows every valley. Nevertheless, when a TV show supports Russia’s progress and helps it recover from its 20th-century injuries, the West is quick to sanction the host. Moreover, they were quick to label me a homophobe and an anti-Semite who wants to see America burn. This doesn’t sound like a good style.

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01 Faux Fox News

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Izvestia

So, who do you think it trying to draw the iron curtain now? Which side?

Dmitri Kiselyov

I think that we swapped roles. Russia is the one promoting freedom of speech, not the West. A great tectonic civilisational shift occurred. In Russia, you can say whatever you want… there’s a range of TV channels, the internet isn’t blocked, and there are newspapers and radio stations to suit every taste. We never ban books… you can publish everything that isn’t explicitly forbidden by the Constitution. There are all kinds of Russians with all kinds of views. Some even use the word patriotism as an insult. Ksenia Larina from the Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio station said the term made her “throw up worms and cherry pits”. However, no one’s questioning her right to say these things. Keep it up, Ksenia. The EU’s selective sanctions starkly show what Europe supports and what it doesn’t. For example, the European Parliament received Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina; they called for them to expand the sanctions list. Some see their sacrilegious dancing in a major Russian cathedral as good and productive behaviour, whilst they consider journalist Dmitri Kiselyov’s personal freedom of speech… and that of his highly popular news show… a bad thing that they should discourage. “Vomiting worms” is good, but it’s bad to tell people what our reporters saw in Kiev and examples of fascism in Ukraine. This is quite a surprising value system, isn’t it? Yet, it’s done Russia good… it helped us see more clearly who supports what.

Izvestia

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it isn’t planning to limit the entry of Western journalists. Therefore, we aren’t mirroring their policies.

Dmitri Kiselyov

Of course not, for Russia is above that. We went through periods when the USSR violated freedom of speech, under Stalin, for example. We lived through the iron curtain. Strange as it might seem, we’ve now switched roles. Russia turned into a beacon of freedom. Anyone can choose to ridicule everything like Ksenia Larina, and do so freely on the radio, without fearing sanctions from the government or from the EU, for that matter. In Russia, one can fully exercise and even abuse freedom of speech in a way that hurts the government and the country. Therefore, Europe’s sanctions really didn’t’ harm me or anyone else in Russia; they’ve harmed Europe’s own values. The EU declared that freedom of speech is no longer valued there. That’s what has happened.

Izvestia

Are you planning to visit Europe in the near future?

Dmitri Kiselyov

After Europe imposed sanctions against me, I got a call from Japan, and an invitation to visit. I was flattered. Actually, I had planned to travel to northern Norway, driving from Murmansk with my kids. We booked a fishing cottage in Gjesvaer, the northernmost Viking village in Norway, home to just 150 people. I wanted to show them the never-setting sun, bird colonies, northern fishing, and seals. We even paid in advance. However, the sanctions also hit our good landlord Bjorn Jensen and his wonderful family. They may have trouble renting out the place now, as people usually make reservations up to a year in advance. Maybe, they’d still find new tenants, but it’d be an unnecessary headache in any case. The whole story is really absurd. It’s a pity that my children won’t get to see Norway, but they can still see Japan.

Izvestia

The USA hasn’t sanctioned you. What do you think this means?

Dmitri Kiselyov

No, the Americans haven’t. They’d rather let the Europeans do the dirty work. It’s all part of their policy to destroy Europe, same as tapping Angela Merkel’s phone and industrial espionage. Europe is America’s rival; everyone knows that.

Izvestia

What is journalism in your view? Is it propaganda? Some claim that journalism is dead.

Dmitri Kiselyov

Journalism is more than just a profession. It’s an entire environment within society. It’s an environment for circulating information, ideas, values, perceptions of good and evil, and it can’t die, especially not professional journalism. Don’t confuse bloggers who tap at their keyboards in the comfort of their own homes with professional journalists. Professional journalists operate within accepted ethical norms. They never lie and always check the facts. Mistakes? There may be mistakes. How you feel about them is what matters. For example, on Vesti Nedeli, on the 8 December show, I mixed up the Ukrainian presidential administration building with the Ukrainian government building. Therefore, I mistakenly gave the impression that the first act of violence perpetrated by the militants involving broken helmets and bloodshed was during the assault on the administration, because in fact it was during the assault on the Government House on 26 November. Now, in hindsight, we know this was the work of Right Sector (Kiselyov holds up a damaged Berkut helmet). In the next show, aired on 15 December, I voluntarily apologised for the confusion, correctly laid out the course of events, and arrived at the same conclusion that the Berkut unit didn’t start the violence. Anyone can make a mistake. Last week, speaking at a USA-EU summit in Brussels, Barack Obama said that Kosovo became an independent nation after holding a referendum. In reality, Kosovo never held a referendum on independence. I haven’t heard Obama ever apologise for this. It’s about how you deal with your mistakes… you either recognise them or not. That’s why professional editorial offices and professional media are more trusted. Their role will only grow. After all the injuries Russia suffered in the 20th century… reprisals, war, terror, the destruction of the Church, the collapse of our county, and the catastrophic annihilation of our nation… there’s an atmosphere of mistrust and an absence of values in the country. We must restore them. We call a vacuüm of values an anomie. For a human being, we consider this condition pre-suicidal. We’re living in a social anomie, out of which we’re just beginning to emerge. However, they’re telling us to stay put.

Izvestia

To use your words, is the Ukraine now living in an anomie?

Dmitri Kiselyov

Yes. Rather, something poisonous fills the vacuüm. The mission of a journalist is to promote healthy values. The Church, the family, and education can also do this, but professional journalism bears enormous responsibility as well. After all, a professional editorial office always has a goal. State-owned media is bound to have a constructive and not a destructive goal. That’s why journalism as a profession is in demand. I’m talking about normal journalism, the creative and meaningful kind of journalism where we don’t undermine society.

Izvestia

Can I infer from what you said that, for example, the television channel Dozhd (Rain) is a case of unprofessional journalism?

Dmitri Kiselyov

It shows. They don’t even really position themselves as journalists. What journalism? What are you talking about? It’s not a hospital, but a make-believe game of hospital. Their work is openly biased; it destroys values. I’m not in favour of shutting Dozhd down. There must be niches for different people. Everyone is entitled to have one. However, we aren’t losing on the information field, because 88 percent of the people still get their news from the central TV channels. They’re generally associated with the state. Take Izvestia, an independent newspaper, which is still associated with the state in the people’s minds, with the normal values supported by the state and society, thus, people regard it as more trustworthy. We aren’t losing. If we were losing the information war, we wouldn’t be a nation. There’d be no social peace. We’d go down the same path as the Ukraine is now. We can’t afford to lose. We’re winning this competition fairly.

Izvestia

Have you already devised a strategy for Rossiya Segodnya? The Kremlin has collaborated with the American PR firm Ketchum in the past. In your opinion, is it proper for Western experts to be in charge of promoting Russia’s image?

Dmitri Kiselyov

I’m not sure if the contract is continuing. Suppose it is. First, I can’t evaluate the effectiveness of the contract, but let’s assume that it’s effective. We live in a global world, and Russia shouldn’t isolate itself. We’re not in favour of autarky, are we? Many foreign journalists work for Russian channels. They realise that the dominance of the so-called Anglo-Saxon perspective in media is harmful to their countries as well. Openly totalitarian states will emerge unless there is a counterweight, like Russia, to represent an alternative viewpoint. I have colleagues who worked for the BBC for 25 years and now want to come to work with us because they can no longer take all the anti-Russian nonsense, hatred, and censorship. I get calls from Paris telling me that there are stop lists for people banned from French TV… people who used to be frequent guests in the past and were prominent cultural figures in France.

Izvestia

Can you put them on the air?

Dmitri Kiselyov

Yes, of course. Western journalists often tell me that they work under real censorship. Therefore, it’s quite normal when people want to work in Russia, which they see as an alternative and a source of balance and parity… not just nuclear, but also information parity. That’s their way to defend their freedom. Total self-reliance and isolation is not an effective strategy for a country. Russia doesn’t want this. We’re an open country. For example, Russia says that it’s ready to switch to visa-free travel with the EU overnight, but the EU isn’t willing to reciprocate. We’ve switched roles. In the past, the Soviet people required exit visas. That was how the USSR protected itself. Now, we realise that we live in the best country in the world.

Izvestia

The other countries are jealous of us?

Dmitri Kiselyov

That may well be the case. Yes, we do have issues and problems; we don’t hide them. However, our country is trending upward despite the economic downturn.

Izvestia

Are you going to hire employees for your agency based on certain criteria or will just about anyone be able to work for you?

Dmitri Kiselyov

Everyone who was unwilling to work with me has already quit. I already said that if someone’s going to engage in subversive activities, that doesn’t suit my plans.

Izvestia

Some believe that Svetlana Myronyuk, the former editor-in-chief of RIA-Novosti, paid for her excessive liberalism.

Dmitri Kiselyov

The issue isn’t Svetlana Myronyuk, but our liberalism in general. There’s liberalism and then there’s subversion. Western liberals don’t condemn their country or their people. However, I may read in a newspaper (I think it was Moskovskiye Novosti) the headline “They Knew Not What They Fought For” about the Russian soldiers who fought in the First Chechen war. That’s what I call a subversive activity. Even if a soldier said that he didn’t know what he fought for, that only reveals his psychological trauma, what they call post-traumatic stress disorder. It makes it seem like our society (particularly, Moskovskiye Novosti) abandoned him. Instead of giving his life meaning, it takes away the last thing that he may have. They could have given it a different headline, such as “Hard Times for Heroes”, and then explained in the article why the soldier says that he doesn’t know what he fought for. I’m not in favour of covering up facts, but I’m also against the “brave” people who take to the internet to rub salt in wounds, speculate, and devalue a soldier’s real accomplishments on the battlefield. These soldiers need our support. The newspaper should have explained that post-traumatic stress disorder is common, that soldiers often need psychological help, and that their families and friends should be more attentive and think about what they could do for them.

Izvestia

Do you believe that Ksenia Larina isn’t a liberal either?

Dmitri Kiselyov

She doesn’t tolerate other people’s points of view, particularly mine. I put up with her views and I don’t think that one should sanction her for them. They… Parkhomenko, Navalny, and the like… don’t tolerate other points of view and make lists. What kind of liberals are they? They’re absolutely totalitarian creatures. Absolutely. That makes me a liberal, because I tolerate them. I say let’s hear them out, let’s take a look at what they have to say. We shouldn’t shut anyone down. However, there’s no need to turn everything on its head, especially when the government funds a media outlet.

Izvestia

In 2003, you organised the Jazz Koktebel festival. Will it continue in the future?

Dmitri Kiselyov

Yes, we’re going to hold the 12th festival this year.

Izvestia

As far as I know, your partners in the festival are from the Ukraine. How are arrangements for the festival going?

Dmitri Kiselyov

The Ministry of Culture announced its support of the festival. The situation with the organisers from Kiev is difficult, because the Verkhovnaya Rada introduced a bill that makes visiting Crimea a criminal offense punishable by three to five years in prison, and if done by prior agreement and in a group of people the prison term is even longer. Just doing business in Crimea, even from a desk in Kiev, is also subject to criminal prosecution. There’s only been a first reading of the bill. I’m not sure whether it’d pass in the second reading, but in that case my friends won’t be able to organise festival in Koktebel. I organised the first three of them when I lived in Kiev, but then I stepped back from running things and only retained the title of founder. This festival became the largest jazz festival in the former USSR. People come all the way from Japan, Canada, Hungary, and Norway to attend. A traditional throat singer from Tuva in Russia came once, because this kind of singing is popular among jazz musicians. Someone asked him what he thinks about when he sings like that. He said he remembers his father who burned to death in a tank in the Second World War.

Izvestia

Since Russians and Ukrainians, and people of other ethnicities, fought Nazism in World War II together, it’s painful to see what’s happening in Kiev today…

Dmitri Kiselyov

We won. We’re proud of it. People who deprive themselves of this heroic past live in negativity. They turn into a nation of losers. They only remember the famine and the fact that their land was once occupied.

Izvestia

Many say they defend freedom, but aren’t people supposed to defend their families and countries first?

Dmitri Kiselyov

Of course. When they ask us to abandon the family by accepting untraditional values, essentially, they’re asking us to allow our country to be destroyed.

5 May 2014

RIA-Novosti

http://en.ria.ru/analysis/20140405/189054528/Dmitry-Kiselev-Western-behavior-borders-on-schizophrenia.html

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Thursday, 16 January 2014

Kalashnikov Asked for Absolution in Regards to Deaths Caused by the AK Rifle in Letter to Patriarch Kirill

00 Mikhail Kalashnikov. Russian,Soviet inventor. 16.12.13

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On Monday, Izvestia reported that Mikhail Kalashnikov, the late designer of the AK-47 assault rifle, said in a letter to Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev that he felt sorry that the weapon that he created killed millions of people, saying, “My spiritual pain is unbearable. There’s one insoluble matter… since my rifle killed people, am I… an Orthodox Christian… responsible for these deaths, even if they were enemies?”

The AK-47, designed in 1947, became the world’s most popular assault rifle, used by governments, rebels, terrorists, and civilians. According to the World Bank, out of the 500 million total firearms available worldwide, 100 million are from the Kalashnikov family, and 75 million are AK-47s. Another question that deeply troubled Kalashnikov was the USSR’s military failure in 1941, during the VOV, when he was a tank commander. He said, “My spiritual wound of 1941 haunts me day and night. Why, living in such a great power with a massive defence industry and a strong gun design school, couldn’t I and my fellow soldiers defend ourselves?” Commenting on the Cold War, Kalashnikov, who died in December, said that he’d considered Americans “friends”, despite tense relations between the two countries.

Some commentators questioned the letter’s authenticity, drawing parallels with a message allegedly written by exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky to President Vladimir Putin before his death last March, which some believe a fake. However, Kirill’s spokesman Aleksandr Volkov confirmed that Patriarch Kirill received the letter, where the gun designer praised him, and wrote a reply, thanking Kalashnikov for his “patriotism”. He added that the letter was “very relevant amidst attacks against the Church“. In recent years, the Church and Patriarch Kirill came under fire for alleged corruption and close ties with the Kremlin.

14 January 2014

Oleg Sukhov

St Petersburg Times

http://www.sptimesrussia.com/index.php?action_id=2&story_id=38862

 

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Monday, 9 December 2013

BREAKING NEWS… Leaked: Amnesty to Free Pussy Riot and Greenpeace Activists

get out of jail free community chest

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Editor’s Note:

Many thanks to the Cabineteer (you know who you are) who got to this to me tout suite. I can’t find everything on my own… I don’t deserve such good friends…

BMD

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Media sources say that an amnesty dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution would free members of the Pussy Riot punk band, Greenpeace activists, and Bolotnaya Square demonstration protesters. The amnesty initialled by President Putin would free some 25,000 people. Interfax quoted Vladimir Vasilyev, deputy speaker of the RF Gosduma, “We’ll release around 1,300 people from prison, and relieve 17,500 people of non-custodial sentences. In addition, we’re terminating criminal proceedings against nearly 6,000 people”.

Several Russian media outlets, including Izvestiya and Vedomosti, obtained a copy of the draft amnesty, submitted to the Federal Assembly by President Vladimir Putin on Monday. They said that the participants in such high-profile cases as the Pussy Riot Cathedral protest, Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise boarding of an oil rig, and the Bolotnaya Square riots would all get amnesty. Vasilyev pointed up that the upcoming amnesty wouldn’t apply to those who committed crimes that posed a serious danger to society, adding that the amnesty would give preference to convicts in vulnerable social categories and people who’d served the country. Preference would go to all minors, mothers with small children, pregnant women, women over 55, men over 60, the disabled, Chernobyl cleanup workers, and military veterans.

According to Vedomosti, the draft amnesty covers three articles of the criminal code “as an exception”, which means that those convicted under them would be freed or relived from punishment regardless of age, sex, or social status. The first such is Article 213 “Hooliganism”, which means that two Pussy Riot members… Mariya Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova… as well as the Greenpeace activists awaiting trial in Russia, would walk free. Three members of the Pussy Riot punk band each received a sentenced of two years in prison after staging a protest in Moscow‘s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in February 2012, although one member of the band later gained release on appeal. Currently, the 30 Greenpeace activists are on bail and awaiting trial after trying to board a Russian oil platform in the Prirazlomnaya oil field in the Barents Sea this September.

The second exception was for Article 2012 Part 2 and 3, “Participation in Riots and Incitement of Same”. This would allow nine participants of the Bolotnaya trial not accused of using force against police officers to avoid prosecution. The authorities detained the so-called Bolotnaya prisoners following riots on Bolotnaya Square in central Moscow in May 2012. The third exception deals with those convicted of violating traffic regulations with severe consequences to people’s health. Meanwhile, Izvestiya said that those who committed economic crimes wouldn’t receive pardons, as there’s already been an amnesty for this category of prisoners earlier this year, with 1,431 people released. This means that former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his business partner, Platon Lebedev, would stay behind bars.

A high-ranking source in the Gosduma told Izvestiya that the government would adopt the amnesty before the end of the year and carry it out within the next six months. Russia celebrates the 20th anniversary of its Constitution on 12 December. Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the RF Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, expressed his satisfaction with the draft amnesty bill, expressing hope that it wouldn’t suffer excessive revision by the Gosduma. He told RIA-Novosti, “I’m sure that there’ll be some Deputies who’d try to widen the amnesty bill and those who’d push to narrow it. In the end, I hope that it’d remain as it was when the President submitted it”.

However, Oleg Orlov, one of the heads of Memorial human rights centre, called the draft amnesty bill a disappointment. He told Interfax, “Even in its current form, I welcome the document. At least, it’d release some people. However, the part of Russian society that advocated an amnesty understood it in a broader sense, so, of course, we’re disappointed”. President Putin tasked human rights activists with putting together a draft bill for an amnesty dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Russia’s current Constitution in late September. In mid-October, the Presidential Council for Human Rights approved a draft bill proposing to pardon around 100,000 prisoners.

 9 December 2013

RT

http://rt.com/news/amnesty-bill-putin-parliament-951/

Russia to Consider iPhone Ban for Government Officials

00 Yota Phone. RUSSIA. 09.12.13

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On Monday, Izvestia reported that Russian lawmakers would consider requiring Russian government officials to ditch foreign-made smartphones like the iPhone and use the Russian-made Yotaphone instead, due to concerns about the lack of security of foreign-made communication gadgets. Izvestia stated that a Federation Council commission would analyse how vulnerable some contemporary communication devices are, which may lead to proposals that officials get rid of mobiles manufactured abroad as they’re anxious over potential government security breaches from the use of smartphones. Lawmakers interviewed by Izvestia raised questions about foreign-made telephones’ security, implying that outsiders could more easily hack them or spy on them than they could a Russian-made device. RF Gosduma Deputy Vadim Dengin told Izvestia, “There’d always be distrust towards smartphone manufacturers. Whoever makes the technology can also eavesdrop on it. I’d easily give up [my] smartphone in favour of a domestic smartphone designed specifically for us and by us. In this regard, I have high hopes for Yotaphone”.

Last week, the mobile broadband services provider  Yota launched the twin-screened Yotaphone, which features a full-colour LCD screen on one side and a black-and-white electronic paper display on the other. Already, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, a well-known Apple fan, has begun using the Yotaphone, the country’s first domestically-produced smartphone. Last week, he told reporters that he hoped it’d have better protection from spying than the iPhone. Recently, technology security came to the forefront of global government attention amidst media revelations that American security agencies monitored the telephone conversations of dozens of world leaders, leading to distrust by some Russian officials of American technology. Besides that, US President Barack Obama said that he couldn’t use an iPhone for security reasons. In September, Vitaly Milonov, a member of the St Petersburg Legislative Assembly, warned Russian officials against using Apple’s new iPhone 5, saying that the device’s fingerprint-recognition security measure could store the prints in American intelligence agency databases.

 9 December 2013

RIA-Novosti

http://en.ria.ru/russia/20131209/185388905/Russia-to-Consider-iPhone-Ban-for-Officials-.html

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