The 1+1 Ukrainian TV channel’s correspondent in Germany Natalia Fiebrig and freelance Bonn-based journalist Lesia Yurchenko sent an angry letter to the ARD Das Erste channel demanding it to stop distorting facts in news stories from Ukraine, as reported by Argument’s correspondent in Germany.
Fiebrig explained her actions on Facebook:
“As Ukrainian journalists who live and work in Germany, we are outraged by invitation of Russian lobbyist Alexander Rahr as a guest of the Hot Spot (Brennpunkt) program. We take an issue with Germany’s most important channel allowing prime time comments on historical events in Ukraine from an expert whose worldview does not match reality. News coverage of Ukraine cannot be determined by the Russian factor. Ukrainian-Russian relations is just one of the many strokes of the picture but cannot be its base. Remember, please, that the direct distance between Kyiv and Berlin is much shorter than the bypass path via Moscow! Nobody has to follow this workaround. Please, remove clearly pro-Russian experts, such as Alexander Rahr and Ingo Manteufel (head of the Deutsche Welle’s Eastern European department) from the list of your contacts on Ukraine.”
According to Argument, Das Erste misinformed its viewers not only through its invited speakers, but also through its own journalists reporting that the Euromaidan was a Yulia Tymoshenko support rally. They tried to portray freed “first lady” of Batkivshchyna as the leader of Ukrainian protest movement. In addition, the German TV reporters completely ignored the information about mourning for the fallen.
The two journalists were angered by the Kremlin rhetoric of so-called expert who has combined everything in his presentation, from the myths of the “Banderite nationalists” to the subtle hints at federalization. “Russia will take the side of ethnic Russians should they suffer persecution. It is Russia who gives Ukraine loans, not the EU. We will see whether Tymoshenko will be able to keep at bay nationalists who control Kyiv and West. By the way, they are armed. National split is in the cards, because eastern Ukraine would never accept government composed of nationalists from western Ukraine.” Pro-Russian political analysts get to explain Europeans the situation in Ukraine!
To have a better understanding of which interests Rahr represents and who works for those interests in Ukraine, it is worth mentioning an episode covered by Den in “‘Black Thursday’: What and How Ukrainian TV Showed Its Audience.” Rahr was in the ICTV studio on February 20 as a guest of the special broadcast of Freedom of Speech, presented by Andrii Kulykov. Once again, he promoted, this time on Ukrainian TV, pro-government Russian position on the “settlement” of the situation in Ukraine. However, it turns out that some Ukrainians, too, were interested in such coverage. For example, Kostiantyn Matviienko, who tried to explain to the ICTV’s audience the German-Russian “expert’s” stance, had been cut off by the presenter who threatened to consider never inviting Matviienko again, not to mention the presenter engaging in personal analysis of his words. While we may allow that German journalists not quite understand the Ukrainian reality, their Kyiv counterparts ought to immediately understand where manipulating the facts starts. They failed, despite Ukrainian experts stressing quite a few times Rahr’s pro-Kremlin stance and his status as a Russian lobbyist in Germany. Evidently, the revolutionary and reformist sentiment has not affected media environment, as TV channels continue to operate under the old rules.