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Monday, August 08, 2005


New Russian networks seek to counter West

From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

Russians have been corrupted by western-style entertainment, from rock videos to "reality" shows, and have lost the unconditional conviction that once led them to triumphs in war, culture and science, say officials at a new state-run TV channel to promote patriotism.

Zvezda, or Star, is the channel that aims to revive that old-fashioned love of Motherland with a 24-hour lineup of upbeat "pro-Russian" programming, including Soviet movies, military documentaries and interviews with war veterans.

In addition to launching Zvezda, the government will subsidize artists, journalists and educators who agree to introduce themes of national pride into their work. Software experts will be hired to develop patriotic computer games and, for the first time since the Soviet era, schoolchildren will be required to take rudimentary military and civil defence training.

The Kremlin has also sponsored a nationwide movement of patriotic youth, Nashi - or Ours - which increasingly looks like the former Soviet Young Communist League.

Zvezda, which kicked off in March and currently reaches about 50 million Russian households, mainly shows old Soviet movies that depict a nation united behind its leaders and determined to overcome any challenge - such as to industrialize the economy, win the Second World War or beat the Americans in the space race.

The powerful Russian Orthodox Church, which often takes its cue from the Kremlin, launched its own national TV network, Spas - or Saviour - which will feature religious, historical and "patriotic" programming. It will have no beer ads or sexual titillation.

The outside world, which Kremlin officials often accuse of misunderstanding Russia, is not to be left out.

A $30-million US English-language, 24-hour satellite news channel called Russia Today is set for launch later this year by the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency. It aims to bring the "positive news" about Russia to the world.

"I frequently watch the foreign television channels, and almost everywhere they are saying the same things (about Russia)," President Vladimir Putin told a meeting Nashi youth leaders last month.

"All they can talk about is crisis and breakdown."

Meanwhile, foreign journalists covering Russia increasingly run into obstacles.

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