Publ.: Russ. media instrumentalizes Merkel, 'Kyiv Post', Aug. 20, 09
andreumland at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 22 04:36:00 EDT 2009
Kremlin-loyal media make Merkel sing to Medvedev’s tune
By Yuriy Lukanov
Kyiv Post, 20 August 2009
Kremlin-backed media will do anything to promote anti-Ukrainian sentiment, even twist another country’s leader’s statements, writes Yuriy Lukanov.
Russian media are prepared to make anyone the mouthpiece of Kremlin ideas, even leaders of other nations. Here’s the freshest example. Just the other week, the post-Soviet countries’ media reported sensational news that German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a statement about Nazism in Ukraine.
This supposedly happened during her joint press conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. ITAR-TASS news agency ran a news item with a characteristic headline: “Merkel promised Medvedev to fight heroization of Nazism in Ukraine.”
The purpose of Merkel’s visit to Russia was energy. But that particular news item sounded as if she had forgotten the main purpose of her meeting, realized that Nazism is on the rise in Ukraine and she would rather wage a war against it than solve Germany’s gas problems. Moreover, the leader of the German state looked like a background vocalist for Medvedev, who devoted his indignant speech to condemn Ukraine’s President Victor Yushchenko and his policies.
I made an attempt to find a similar news item in English-language mass media, and found no mention of it. So, do they fail to realize in the West that the renewal of Nazism can cause a lot of harm to their civilization? Or, perhaps, Merkel said nothing at all? It turned out that she had said something, but not on her own initiative, but responding to a Russian journalist’s question. The Russian media, by the way, failed to report this detail.
The word “Ukraine” she only mentioned when she reminded the journalist about his question: “As far as your question goes about heroization of Nazism in Ukraine…” Her answer was very generic. Here is a quote from the Voice of Russia: “Germany has denounced National Socialism and remembers it. Wherever counter-trends may emerge, wherever attempts could be made to picture [Nazism] as an (important) phenomenon, Germany would counter this with resolve.”
So where is the basis for the conclusion that this phrase is applied to Ukraine and worthy of a separate news item?
Obviously, it would be naive to expect that Merkel, during her visit to Russia, would stand up for Ukraine. She came there not to whiten Kyiv’s image, but to solve her own problems. But there was no reason to expect that her generic phrase would be used as a weapon in the ongoing information war between Ukraine and Russia. Any leader of any European state, being in her shoes, would answer in the same way. Moreover, even Ukrainian leaders would say they do not allow heroization of Nazism.
To be fair, Ukrainian journalists recently tried to spin Merkel’s words to make it seem she said something that she had not. Last year, after the Georgian-Russian war, the Ukrainian media reported that Merkel wanted Ukraine accepted into NATO soon. In reality, she said nothing of the kind.
Then “dollgate” happened to Ukraine. Some very respectable media, like the British BBC and German Deutsche Welle, as well as British newspapers Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail, published reports that pro-Hitler moods are on the rise in Ukraine.
They reported plans of mass production of Hitler dolls and future mass production of models of concentration camps. The basis for this was a report by Kremlin’s mouthpiece, the First Channel in Russia, which said the Hitler doll was a top seller. It turned out the Russian reporter lied a bit.. He found an odd shop where a big Hitler doll made in Taiwan was on sale for $200, and reported it was the top of sales.
But a price tag like that would be impossible for most Ukrainian consumers. Only rich and eccentric collectors of historical figures can pay a price like that, but not regular parents of regular kids. Moreover, artifacts of this kind can be bought in many countries. And nobody will suggest that Nazi moods are on the rise in them. As far as concentration camp models go, these must have been products of a sick imagination.
Nevertheless, these ravings made it to the Western media. A Ukrainian lawyer from the Kharkiv rights protection group, Halya Koinash, and journalists started protesting, demanding disclaimers. Both BBC and Deutsche Welle apologized. The latter even published information that the news item about the Hitler doll had unverified facts.
In Ukraine, worrisome tendencies exist. But the Russian media tend to exaggerate them and present them as dominant in society. Reports like that prompt Russians to call their relatives living in Ukraine and suggest that they move back to Russia. They are not alone in Russia in thinking that Ukraine has bloody nationalists running loose, hunting down innocent Russian victims.
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