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Russian TV Channels Caught Out on Ukraine Story

The same individual appears as both a "pro-federalisation activist" and a "Ukrainian mercenary".

Despite the vast amounts Russia is spending on anti-Ukrainian propaganda, the TV channels Rossiya 1 and NTV skimped on actors – and got caught.

Rossiya 1 shows a person it calls Andrei Petkov and call him a supporter of federalism who was beaten up by “radicals” from Right Sector supposedly brought into Mykolayiv by the military.

NTV shows the same man and even adds a caption with the same name, yet it has a quite different story,  Petkov, they claim, was certainly injured, but is himself a “mercenary” who has made a “sensational confession” – that he, a resident of Germany brought 50 people, “all residents of Western Europe” to Ukraine to carry out violent acts. He himself was the financial go-between who supposedly brought in 500,000 euro. According to the NTV story, he refuses to say who’s behind the “complicated financial deal”.

The newsreader then goes on to claim that: “The man who is now in hospital under guard took part in actions on the side of Right Sector. The basic aim of his group was to injure as many peaceful protesters as possible so that they couldn’t continue their protests”.

The above would be comical if the lies were not so toxic and never-ending. For a large number of Russian viewers, as well as residents of Crimea, this is all they are hearing, and there is no reason for them to understand that they are being conned.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned Ukraine’s authorities for banning entry to certain journalists and insisted that all journalists must be “able to report freely and without obstruction on the unfolding events in Ukraine". The committee may well be raising legitimate concerns about journalistic freedom, but it is ignoring certain other fundamental issues at play in a situation where the West is largely looking on while Russia engages in open and covert aggression.

After a day or two spent following most Russian TV channels, Western media watchdogs might well reconsider their assessment of the role the Russian media is playing with respect to the “unfolding events in Ukraine”.

Halya Coynash is a journalist and a member of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group.

The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of IWPR.

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