Media attack on International Memorial Society

posted 7 Nov 2016, 07:45 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 7 Nov 2016, 07:46 ]
3 November 2016


According to Russia’s Press Council, “REN TV deliberately sought to damage the reputation of the International Memorial Society”.

The Press Council has issued a decision on the complaint lodged by the International Memorial Society in connection with coverage on the REN TV website and TV channel of the award ceremony for winners of the XVII All-Russia Historical Research Competition “Man and History. Russia – 20th Century”. The competition, which is aimed at senior school pupils, is organised by the NGO on an annual basis.

On the same day as the ceremony – held on 28 April 2016 in the “Dom Kino” Cinema – several videos were published on the REN TV website, with accompanying comments in which the REN TV “journalists” claimed that the organisers of the competition were telling the school pupils involved that European values had been brought to our country by fascists.

The Council came to the conclusion (full text of the decision) that the contentious comments by REN TV “infringed the professional and ethical principle of objectivity”, and were biased, unsubstantiated and made up of “catchphrases” and “hate speech”, to the extent that they could barely be considered journalistic texts.

According to the text of the decision; "After analysing the comments complained of by the complainant, the Council concluded that every single one was nothing more than propaganda,” before going on to say that the authors of the comments had deliberately created an image of the liberal opposition as an enemy, and “used the Historical Research Competition as a news hook for a story popularising the idea that liberal philosophies are synonymous with fascism.”

The Council believed that the information which had been published was a deliberate lie intended to discredit a specific NGO, its work and everyone working together with it, and to erode confidence in their efforts.

According to the decision, "With this clumsy and dangerous falsification of recent history, they [the authors of the comments] have not only misled our fellow countrymen in terms of the goals pursued by Memorial – an organisation which is by its very nature anti-fascist – but also presented them with a deeply misguided worldview.”

Marina Agaltsova, a lawyer from the Human Rights Centre Memorial representing the International Memorial Society, regards the Council’s decision as prudent, well-founded and just, since REN TV’s underlying motive for broadcasting reports of this kind is to play on the fears of television viewers and to encourage them to regard independent NGOs as enemies of the people.

She did not rule out the possibility that International Memorial might apply to the courts in future for a retraction of the contentious comments.

Arseny Borisovich Roginsky, Chairman of the International Memorial Society, also expressed his delight at the Press Council’s decision, emphasising the fact that, “not a single one of the 18 published volumes and not a single one of the almost 40,000 research papers we received as entries for the competition contains any trace of the thoughts, ideas and philosophies ascribed to us by the would-be journalists.”

Documents from the proceedings can be found here.

Translated by Joanne Reynolds