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“Crimea is ours,” but where is professional ethics?

22 December, 12:21

May 2017 will see a three-year anniversary of the project “Two Countries, One Profession.” It is a series of meetings between representatives of Ukraine’s and Russia’s journalist organizations under the aegis of OSCE. There have been nine roundtables at which leaders of the National Union of Ukrainian Journalists, the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine, and the Union of Russian Journalists passed all kinds of resolutions on how important it is to resist propaganda, not to involve journalists into informational wars, and, what is more, to carefully maintain professional standards and show loyalty to the profession.

The chief project manager, Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, is very happy about the way her brainchild develops. All she is worried about is, in her own words, the media freedom situation in Ukraine in the past few years.

Representatives of the Union of Russian Journalists are also concerned about the situation in Ukraine. What particularly worries them is that filming crews of NTV, Russia 1, Life News, and other Russian media are being constantly expelled from this country. For this reason, on this union’s initiative, joint resolutions include, for example, this kind of demands: “It is inadmissible to suppress the activities of journalists irrespective of the position of the media they represent.”

The studios of Russian TV channels have heard for almost three years such statements as “Ukraine is a parody of a country,” “there is no such a state as Ukraine,” and “there is no such a nation as Ukrainians.” In the studios of Russian TV channels, Ukrainian experts, who God knows why come there, are always humiliated on the basis of their ethnicity and nationality, and sometimes even beaten up. Moreover, manhandling foreign experts on Russian TV has been on the rise lately. In fact none of the political talk shows goes without saying that Ukraine will only be united when “DNR troops seize Kyiv and throw the Banderaite junta out of there.”

The Russians have been watching and listening to this for almost three years now – about crucified boys, shot-down bullfinches, raped old women, the orgy of Nazism in Ukraine, about those killed for speaking Russian. This television was the main factor that unleashed and keeps up Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Here is a question to those who represent Ukraine in the project “Two Countries, One Profession” – Serhii Tomilenko, acting chairman of the National Union of Ukrainian Journalists, and Yurii Lukanov, ex-chairman of the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine. Do you really want Ukrainians to watch and listen to all this? Do you really oppose your country’s efforts to cut short the acts of informational occupation which the Russian “informational troops” constantly commit on the territory of Ukraine?

Gentlemen, are you aware of who you conduct roundtable dialogs with in Vienna? The Union of Russian Journalists, a party to these talks, happily approved of the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol and immediately began to “develop” the stolen territories by establishing its branches in Crimea and Sevastopol.

The rhetoric of this union’s top executives differs very little from the parlance of, for example, the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova. When the European Parliament was drawing up a resolution on countering Russian propaganda, Timur Shafir, secretary of the Union of Russian Journalists, reacted menacingly to this draft: “Naturally, we will not be standing aside. We will react.” And he immediately concretized this threat, saying that this resolution “will sooner or later hit yourselves.”

The very name of the project – “Two Countries, One Profession” – is wrong. Indeed, there are two countries, but the professions are different. There is journalism in Russia, but it is not at all in the media which the Union of Russian Journalists represents. There is no journalism on the federal TV channels, in Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Life News, Komsomolskaya Pravda, and in the vast majority of local newspapers and TV channels. We erroneously, by inertia, refer to all these offices as media and to the people who work as journalists. Taking advantage of this misplaced idea, the URJ and “useful idiots,” such as OSCE’s Dunja Mijatovic, demand that the norms the international community has established to protect freedom of the media and journalism be applied to these pseudo-media and pseudo-journalists. In reality, all these media organizations only serve the authorities and zombiefy the population of Russia as well as attempt, sometimes rather successfully, to fool citizens of other countries.

The Union of Russian Journalists, which Ukrainian journalist organizations conduct dialogs with, is an organization that has firmly sided with a fascist-type state in the past few years. The URJ may periodically pass resolutions in defense of some unjustly dismissed journalists or angrily condemn a new NTV film that denounces the Russian opposition. This allows it to look like an organization that has something to do with journalism. But, what is more, all these statements are totally safe because they have no impact on the addressees – journalists continue to be harassed and NTV goes on telling on the opposition.

The Union of Russian Journalists upholds the traditions of the Union of USSR Journalists established in the 1950s for the only purpose of representing the Cold-War-time USSR in the International Organization of Journalists, an entity that was supposed to counter the International Federation of Journalists that comprised the free world’s media people. All the rest – contests, beer parties at the House of the Journalist, and other pleasures of the so-called “Party’s helpers” – was a spin-off of the main goal of that-time union of journalists – to use the media for spreading communist propaganda worldwide.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Union of Russian Journalists, which rose on the ruins of the Union of USSR Journalists, was trying for some time to protect the interests of journalists. It would organize thousands-strong rallies in defense of the NTV, with the elimination of which Putin began his first presidential term. Then, when it became clear that Putin had come to stay, the URJ regained its genetic memory, and its leadership reached out to the government with hugs and kisses. The government did not allow being hugged but let the union kiss just the sole of a boot. But URJ bosses were not too much proud – even this made them exult. Now they are doing a customary and favorite job of serving the authorities. Commenting recently on the intention of the BBC World Service to intensify its activities, URJ chairman Vsevolod Bogdanov expressed a hope that they would not fight with the Russian-language media and hastened to tell what wonderful foreign-language broadcasting we have.

“Our foreign-language broadcasting has always been competent and democratic,” Bogdanov explained and added that he “could always be proud of the way our media worked in foreign languages.” He meant the mendacious propagandistic machine – Russia Today and Sputnik – which has grossed out the whole world with its lies and which the world has at last begun to resist.

It does not befit me, a citizen of the country that annexed Crimea and occupied a part of eastern Ukraine, to give advice to citizens of this country. So I will confine myself to making a request to the leaders of Ukrainian journalist associations. If you need these meetings with URJ leaders in Vienna so much, if you need to discuss the problems of professional ethics with no other than them, please change at least the project’s name. For when you read “two countries, one profession” and know who participates on the Russian side, you find it difficult to understand what profession is meant.

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