Radio VR is looking at how the Western media covers the crisis in Ukraine together with Maria Zakharova, the Deputy Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ilya Fabrichnikov, an expert in political communication.
Before we proceed, let me give you a couple of quotes. On the 8th of August Gabor Steingart, who is the publisher of Germany's leading financial newspaper Handelsblatt, published a story entitled "West on the Wrong Path". First of all, it really makes an interesting analytical reading. But then, he also focused on the role of the media, and German media in particular.
He wrote: "German journalism has switched from level-headed to agitated in a matter of weeks. The spectrum of opinions has been narrowed to the field of vision of a sniper scope. The spectrum of opinions has been narrowed to the field of vision of a sniperscope. Newspapers, we thought to be all about thoughts and ideas, now march in lock-step with politicians in their calls for sanctions against Russia's President Putin."
This sounds similar to another comment, this time by the French ex-Foreign Minister Roland Dumas, who, in his interview to the Rossyiskaya Gazeta said: "Despite all the talk of the freedom of the press, the media [in France] is largely controlled. Balanced and objective reporting is rare. It is painful to say, but that's a reality."
Maria, I'm sure that these days, with the Ukrainian crisis raging, you have a lot of work, dealing with the Western journalists, who are based here in Russia, coming to you with requests to arrange for them some kind of trip to those regions where they can see it all for themselves?
Maria Zakharova:You know, it is funny to say, but we are registering no interest from the Western media in going to the region. Absolutely zero! No interest to go to Rostovskaya oblast - the part of Russia, closest to the Ukrainian border, where all and everything is happening every day. No interest, as we understand, to go to Donetsk and other cities and towns of Ukraine, where the civil war is going on. Just no interest at all!
As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, where foreign correspondents are officially accredited - according to the Russian law all permanent journalists and correspondents of the world media should be accredited in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - we organized our own initiative, not by a request, but because we understand that this is so important to bring journalists there, several trips to the region. The first one was like a couple of months ago. The second one was about a week ago, the very same day when more than 400 Ukrainian soldiers crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border just to be safe, because there was no way for them to stay on the Ukrainian side. And they were on the side of the Russian Federation.
And just to stop all the rumors and speculations on this story, this particular day together with the Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation we organized a special trip for foreign correspondents to the Rostovskaya oblast, just to let them directly talk to these 400 soldiers of the Ukrainian army. We had one or two hours to prepare all the lists of correspondents, to call them, to invite them to come. And of course, that was absolutely free of charge, because the Defense Ministry provided a special plane for these purposes.
So, when my colleagues gave me the final list of correspondents, I was really shocked. And I think that both of you and probably our audience will be shocked, too, because, except for Bloomberg agency, there was no American journalist on board. So, one person from Bloomberg agency and no one else from the US media. This is shocking, especially when you understand that the American media is so much involved in this crisis and the role of the American media is crucial in it.
You don't mean it!
Maria Zakharova: I checked twice. Even more than twice, was this information correct. And my colleagues told me that - yes, they refused to go.
Did they present any explanations?
Maria Zakharova: Only technical, like - we should stay in Moscow, our editors do not want us to go.
Just like that?
Maria Zakharova: Yes, just that. Actually, a week after this, to my mind, incident, I think it would have been more honest of them to say - we don't want to go at all, because of our political bias - but not to cover the situation with technical reasons.
Maria Zakharova: And there was a very funny story with the Reuters correspondent who was on the list, he decided to go and he was already on his way to Chkalovsky Airport, and suddenly he changed his mind and told that he wouldn't go also for technical reasons.
During my conversations with the American correspondents, as we understand, they, as journalists, wanted to go very much, because they are honestly doing their job, but they did receive sort of a call or an instruction from their editors saying not to go.
It actually runs counter to every perception of real journalism, which requires you to use every possibility to get first-hand information...
Ilya Fabrichnikov: Basically, Ukraine these days, especially for the broadcast media, like CNN, like CNBS, is a very good story. It is a frontline story, it is a very good story for them, because they are driving the agenda. And 'spoiling' it with the different points of view may somehow put a doubt into the viewers' minds, like - if we are doing this thing right. If you have a look at the text available on the Internet, if you look at the broadcast by those renowned media channels, like CNN, like BBC, you can see that their media agenda is quite synchronized. I mean, they are demonizing Putin, they have decided whom to blame. Which is the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, the rebels...
Maria Zakharova: I have a very strong feeling that the Western media is very well conducted. I absolutely agree with Ilya, they have so much in common in their prejudging of the situation. They are like doing the same music all the time.
Probably, they are getting instructions or, as I understand, they very often have closed briefings from different official governmental structures... I have a feeling that they are really conducted. They are like musicians in a big orchestra.
An orchestrated campaign?
Ilya Fabrichnikov: Yes! I would say that it pretty much works like - you, as a media representative, is sitting on the daily US Department briefings with Jen Psaki taking the lead. The State Department delivers its point of view and journalists come to these briefings to receive the official statement. The statement goes frontline in the piece they are preparing.
So, you have an official statement and, according to different media standards, you need to have at least three confirmations from different nonaligned sources. Basically, when you have this official conclusion of who is to blame, regardless of any proof, you go searching for the sources which can confirm this kind of statement. So, when we say that the media is driven - it is driven by the official policy.
Maria Zakharova: And what we are facing right now is a situation when the American official governmental structures, not only the State Department, but the White House and others, are making a statement about something, judging Russia or Russia's position on something - without any sort of evidence. It is like making a political statement without any proof. The journalist should simply trust these governmental structures.
But we, on the Russian side, during our negotiations with the American partners, each time we are asking them - please, provide us something to prove the point you're making. If you tell the world community that Russia is supplying troops, Russia is doing this or that, please, show us any sort of evidence. It could be photos, it could be videos, it could be tapes. They say - no, go and look through the social networks, it is all presented there.
Come on! If the social networks are a reliable source, then from this day I start my new life!
Ilya Fabrichnikov: I should say that the world of media is in a very bad shape.
But when we are talking about the Western media, do you feel any difference between the American media and the European media?
Maria Zakharova: Yes, I do. I do feel it, because I used to work in the US. I lived in the New York City for three years, because I was the spokesperson for the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the UN. So, I have not even nice or good experience, but one of the best experiences I've ever had in my life. I mean, professional, and also personal.
First of all, I've met, I think, the best representatives of the world media, one of the most experienced, the most skillful and educated. Because, when you are covering the UN's issues, when you are a correspondent of the world media accredited in the UN, you should know and be informed of everything - Sudan, Russia, Ukraine, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the ME issues, everything.
So, those correspondents I met and had an honour to work with, they were brilliant. They were Americans, Europeans, coming from Asia, from different parts of the world. At those times I understood what the word 'journalism' is and who journalists are. Those people, as I've mentioned, were so skillful and professional, that they got information on any matter even before the diplomats did. This is very important, when you are accumulating information and your questions are not even questions, but pre-questions, even before the issue came about. To my mind, that was a brilliant experience.
On the other hand, I also saw such things as double standards, prejudgment, covering only bad sides of stories, paying no attention to good things or to the position of another country. And that was obvious too. So, these two things were really contradicting each other. But this is the reality. On the one hand, great people, journalists who are doing their job very well. On the other hand, the result we have on the screens, in the newspapers, is that you can find all the bad news, for example, about Russia - what is happening in Chechnya, what is going on with the bureaucracy, with corruption - and zero information on the good things we also have.
That's what the bias is all about.
Maria Zakharova: Yes, these are the two things which contradict each other. But this is the reality we have to work with.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: Yes, definitely. This is the reality, but you have to understand that the media goes for the story which sells itself best. And what sells itself best? Scandals, bad news, money.
Maria Zakharova: But there is something I'd like to stress: if you open the Russian media: newspapers, TV channels, political channels or channels which are focused on culture - you can find any sort of information about the US, starting from Mr. Obama, Jen Psaki, the State Department and also about the MoMa museum, National Gallery and their exhibitions, the progress in science, in space etc. If you take a look at the American media, you will find no good news about Russia.
You know, the audience is like blocked or even blinded, because they don't see any positive news from Russia. And this is not good at all not only for Russia, it is not good for those audiences, too.
For the consumers of the media.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: For the consumers of the media, yes. And you have to have one thing in mind that the people of the Soviet Union, which we have derived form, they were far more internationalized in terms of understanding, trying to reach out to have information about what is happening abroad, than the people which are very localized inside their...
The US people are notoriously localized. I mean, they don't take much interest in the rest of the world.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: The same goes for the UK. The same goes for Germany. Local problems first.
Maria, if I remember it correctly, you were also present in the US during the Iraqi campaign?
Maria Zakharova: I started my work there in August 2005. So, the decisions on the campaign were already taken.
And the campaign was launched, yes. But that was just the time when those revelations started that, perhaps, the pretext was false and, perhaps, that tube with the white powder, which Mr. Powell showed the UN, did not contain exactly the chemical weapons.
Maria Zakharova: Yes.
What was the reaction of the journalist community, both in the US and in the UN corps? Could you compare the Iraqi war coverage, perhaps, in its post 9\11 coverage and the coverage of the Ukrainian crisis. Has it been more homogenous now than it used to be? I mean, the number of different voices, is it being reduced?
Ilya Fabrichnikov: You mean, is the media flow becoming more synchronized now than it used to be?
Ilya Fabrichnikov: I can say that it is becoming more and more petrified in its stance, because you will hardly see a news message which jumps out of the picture. The whole news flow is very structured and the sources are all pretty much the same, whether these are the US officials, or the Ukrainian officials.
And during the first years of Iraqi crisis - was the variety of opinions greater?
Maria Zakharova: On Iraq it was definitely greater. The number of opinions was greater, absolutely. Probably, because the US were involved, there were those who actually led that movement, I mean, the Iraqi campaign. The whole society was involved.
So, different people have different opinions and all this campaign was not only an international campaign, but a part of the domestic life, of the domestic policy, which could influence each person's life. It could be your son who would be sent to Iraq. It could be a financial crisis as a reason for the Iraqi campaign. It could be another wave of terrorist attacks on the US. People had a feeling and understanding that they were domestically involved in this international crisis.
What we are facing with Ukraine? The American society (I'm not talking about those who came to the US from Ukraine and live there, I'm talking about the American society in general), they are not involved in that. They have no idea about where Donetsk is, where Lugansk is, what is the common history of Russia-Ukraine...
Ilya Fabrichnikov: What this whole conflict is about.
Maria Zakharova: Yes! It is true not only about common people in Texas, in Alabama or in Alaska. It is also true about the American officials who are making statements on the crisis and have no idea that we actually had Kievan Rus as the mother of the whole Russian and Ukrainian culture. That we have millions of people, who have relatives on both sides of the border, not only close to the border, but across the whole of the country.
Take my family, my grandfather was Ukrainian and my mother's last name is originally Ukrainian. And how can I divide myself and decide whom I will support - the Ukrainian side or the Russian side? I understand that this is a tragedy. I mean, the US people don't have an idea about this. And even John Kerry, that was at our negotiations probably in Paris or somewhere else, and mind you - it was not the beginning, it wasn't December or January, it was probably February or even March, he told Mr. Lavrov in the middle of the crisis (!) - 'I read a lot about Russia-Ukraine common history, now I understand this better'.
This wording, this statement, he should... I'm sorry for saying "he should do", of course, I'm not in a position to advise him, but it was better if he could have said this in November or even in October, before sending Mrs. Nuland to Kiev. Just to understand the whole idea of this situation. But not in the middle of it.
But that actually has not resulted in the revise of his stance on the Ukrainian crisis, quite unfortunately.
Maria Zakharova: Actually, what about my own opinion - I don't have any strong understanding who is leading this Ukrainian campaign in the US. Whose these ideas are?
Mr. Kerry does not look convinced enough?
Maria Zakharova: I think he looks pretty much convinced, but I don't think that he is the first person to come to the major decisions on Ukraine.
And definitely it is not Barack Obama, is it?
Maria Zakharova: I have no idea. I would be happy to understand who the producer of this campaign is. The person, the structure or who are these people, who are creating all this nightmare not only for Ukraine, but for Russia as well.
And for Europe too.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: And for Europe too. And the thing is, to my understanding, this whole Ukrainian affair is driven - we can agree or not - but it is driven by the US national interests and they act within this logic. They say that the US national interests span globally. Basically, whenever you can have an input, you should do that.
With the outcome still unknown?
Ilya Fabrichnikov: Their national interest, in the end, is having Ukraine as an ally. And if that means breaking it off from the Russian Federation culturally, politically, economically, then let's go on with it, because they act within their own national interests. And we have to understand that. The American media has a very good understanding of the American national interests and they act within this agenda. To my understanding that is why their general position is very biased for people who are trying to have a bigger picture in their head.
Let me have your expert opinion on how the US managed to secure its own national interests in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Libya?
Ilya Fabrichnikov: As Mrs. Clinton put it, that was a mistake.
How do you know that Ukraine is not a mistake?
Maria Zakharova: It is a mistake. I think that we should keep in mind that foreign policy for the US is a very big part of their domestic policy. And it is a very important card during the game between the two parties. And you should look through the schedule of political elections in the US, you should always keep them in mind when you are analyzing the international crises where the US is playing a great role. This is something which differs our country, and probably most of other countries, from the US, that foreign policy is like a playing card in their domestic games.
Since we've been trying to compare the handling of various crises, the State Department is now making a rather unique effort on briefing the world on the US foreign policy. I'm now referring to that strangest press briefings by the two ladies...
Maria Zakharova: It could sound very strange, but I want to protect those two ladies. First of all, I know them personally and I have to say that I'm saying this with pleasure. We had great cooperation before the Ukrainian crisis with Jen Psaki. And I know Mary Harf. They were so reliable partners. We communicated with them very often, because our ministers had negotiations and meetings in Moscow, in the US and in other world places very often. They were the easiest and very pleasant partners to communicate with. Personally, I like them. But I don't like what they say. We should differentiate that. And another thing I want to stress is that, of course, what they are saying, it is not their personal understanding of the situation.
I really regret they are saying these things. I do understand that sometimes, when you are a spokesperson or a person who is charge, sometimes you have to say things that you really as a person, cannot fully understand or support, or share. This is life.
Of course, it should not contradict your personality and your core principles. But I really regret that what they are saying during these press briefings, they do not support that with any sort of evidence. This is the problem - is the State Department a reliable partner for journalists to communicate with? What about their materials? Where they are taking them from? Or probably they are inventing them?
Take a look, for example, at the press releases, statements and comments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. The main idea or the basic message, of course, is political, because we are a political structure. We should make political statements. But each and every time, from press release to press release they are based on facts. You should check the facts. Please, do. But all what we are saying politically, is based on figures, facts, names etc.
We are not perfect. Nobody is perfect, as we understand. But we are trying to present our audience and journalists with the information not like a brainwashing, not only our political preview of the situation, but the facts. We are taking these facts from the UN, from the humanitarian organizations, from the civil society, from the media, witnesses, from citizens, from refugees,from different sources. But we are presenting facts. And this is the way we are dealing with not only the media people, but also during our negotiations with our partners.
For example, with the American delegation, when we were sitting in front of each other changing points of views and different understandings of the situation, we were always presenting the facts. Several times we prepared for Mr. Kerry special CDs, disks with information from the witnesses, the materials from the TV channels, from the media, telling him that these are the people, who were in the middle of this crisis. If you don't trust us, please, this is the evidence.
When the Americans are blaming Russia, they have never provided us with any sort of evidence. If you are saying that, for example, the Russian tanks are somewhere in Donetsk, please, show us these tanks. Please, do. We are in 2014 and not in 1915.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: What we have seen so far, are the screenshots from some video games. They were presented by certain bodies of the Ukrainian Government and the State Department was making their statement bearing in mind those screenshots.
Maria Zakharova: And this brings us to a very interesting point, a very interesting situation. This is something I analyzed myself. This is a long term thing. I was analyzing this information campaign against Russia. First, all these things that we were discussing with regards to Ukraine - information, double standards, prejudgments - it started not six months ago, but much earlier. The coverage of the Olympic Games was another evidence of this information campaign, information war, whatever you call it. This is the first thing.
Secondly, one of the techniques they use in this information - I don't like the wording ‘information war’, but sometimes you have to use it - one of the techniques is to make official statements on something with the political pretext, judging somebody, some country or some side of the conflict - with no evidence.
And after that, have a pause just to let the media and experts discuss it. You have already presented your official position saying that - no, we are trying to find evidence, but we have our sources and we can confirm that our sources are very reliable, and they are saying that this side is bad. We accuse them. Give us some time, we will present you the evidence.
And this period should last for as long as it could, from their point of view. And its main goal is to shape the opinion of common people, of the media. Just to leave them there – for a month, two months, three months - with this sense that that side is bad. And after some months' time nobody cares, I can assure you that nobody would care about the evidence. Everybody would have a strong feeling that that side is bad. Why? Because! I've heard about this. I've read about this. That guy said so.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: 'According to reliable sources'...
Maria Zakharova: Did you see the evidence? Come on, everybody knows this. And what happens next? In this period of two or three months, or it could be a year or something that everybody is blaming that particular side. Then, they will do another round of blaming, just to bring the world audience’s attention to something new. It could be absolutely out of this story, it could be another story. The focus would be changed.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: And nobody will ever remember how the things started in the first place.
Maria Zakharova: Exactly! As we now understand, regarding Iraq, the only thing people around the world did remember, is Colin Powell with white powder, because that was too strong to forget. And you know why? I think because that was their biggest mistake to bring him to the Security Council.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: With this sort of evidence.
Maria Zakharova: He was a brilliant man, he was an outstanding person. This is the first thing why everybody did remember. The Security Council is not a local, domestic place where you can do whatever you want. It is an internationally recognized stage for very serious statements. So, these were the two things which did not let people forget about this. But I understand them, because at those times they had to do something to push this Iraqi crisis on. And they did. They found a solution. They had no idea that people will remember. But people did.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: Yes, they were just driving the message and Colin Powell was the key driver.
By the way, do you remember the incident with Colin Powell giving an interview to one of the leading information agencies. And he started saying something which was not exactly the official line and they interrupted this interview.
Maria Zakharova: Probably, for you it is something outstanding. In my practice it is a normal case.
Maria Zakharova: Yes, when we are doing interviews with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, his deputies, ambassadors, spokespersons, and the Western media people, not only the Americans but Europeans and others, are hearing something form the Russian side that contradicts the official position of their country, they refuse to move on with this. They interrupt and ask another question. When we are asking - why are you doing this? Why do you ask questions and you don't let a person to answer? They are saying - because we did get your position and we just want to switch over to the next one. This is something we are faced quite often.
Another problem we are facing is that they are cutting out those blocks of the interviews of the Russian officials, which also contradict their position, from the interviews. Just cut it out.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: Because it just doesn't fit the picture.
Maria Zakharova: And we've met this situation 10-15 years ago, when we had 40 or 50 minutes interview of, for example, the CNN people with the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and they've put like 1 or 2 minutes on air after 45 or 50 minutes' interview. When we asked - why are you doing this? Why wasting our time and your time as well? They said - no, we did not waste your time, what you said was nice but it wasn't important for us.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: 'It was irrelevant for our public' - that's the usual story.
By the way, you have also reminded me of another incident with - was it Foreign Affairs magazine?
Ilya Fabrichnikov: Yes, that was Foreign Affairs. That was just on the top of my mind.
When Mr. Lavrov sent them an article and they changed the headline...
Ilya Fabrichnikov: And they had all the thing rewritten.
Maria Zakharova: Yes, they did.
The whole thing, not just the headline?
Maria Zakharova: Not only the headline, no. I do understand the media, because they have no possibility to put on air or to publish all we want to present. And this is why we have to communicate with each other, to see what we can do, how can we fit our interviews or articles with their possibilities. It is a normal thing. But sometimes we are facing the situations when they are just not eager and don't want to talk about this. They are saying like - we want it like this, and this is the only option for you. It is not for a discussion.
Just take it or leave it.
Maria Zakharova: Yes, exactly! And now, what we are doing - we actually found a way out. For the TV interviews, we prefer to do it live or for the special programs, when you have a fixed time. For example, 20 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes and you understand that all what you are saying within these 30 minutes will be on the air. Even the major programs of the American TV channels used to cut even Lavrov's saying out of the air. One of the most recent examples is with Mr. Churkin and Mrs. Amanpour on CNN. That was a huge scandal.
Oh, yes! But that was a scandal, fortunately.
Maria Zakharova: You know why?..It was a scandal, because it was a rare situation when we did put it on public. When we went publically saying that this is something we cannot live with. But we are dealing with such situations each week, each month. You know, lots of people used to criticize the Russian officials, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying, you are not active and that is why your voice is not heard abroad. I cannot take it.
Probably, ten years ago we were not that active. But now we have all the techniques, technologies, sources, everything to bring our position to the Western audience. We talk, we make interviews, we make comments, press conferences, briefings.
And it was like two weeks ago or maybe a little bit more, when Mr. Lavrov made a special press conference on Ukraine for all the correspondents, but focusing on the Western media. Of course, Russian journalists and other countries were also allowed, but it was mostly for the Western ones, because the things they were writing and reporting were crazy.
He made a special one-hour press conference just to bring up Russia's latest position on different topics and aspects of the Ukrainian crisis. Of course, after his press conference, his press service is following the feedback, trying to understand who presented what and in what way. We took one of the major world agencies and discovered that this agency reported nothing from this conference, just nothing. Can you imagine? Lavrov is the key speaker on the foreign policy, on the Ukrainian crisis and they did report nothing from one hour press conference of the Russian ministry.
When our people called these journalists asking - 'excuse us, of course it is not that we are trying to push you or something, we are just curious about this situation why that happened?' And the bureau answered - you know, we made a picture of Mr. Lavrov and this is enough.
So gratifying! Which means that you can keep talking, but you cannot make them listen?
Maria Zakharova: I have two answers for that. The first one is that they are not listening. The second is that they are not allowed to listen. You know, I'm not an investigator, but I'm facing facts.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: To my belief these days, you will never see an unbiased analysis. As you've put it, the key task for the modern media, especially those who are operating globally, is to create a reality, a picture. And if something does not fit into this picture, it just goes sidelines. As it is happening with Ukraine.
Take the Malaysia Airlines affair. Did you hear the latest statement by the Australian Foreign Ministry that Russia has to take the responsibility for the downed plane?
That's not exactly new.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: It has to take the responsibility. They are not saying that it has to confess...
Maria Zakharova: That is just what I've meant. When some sort of news and political prejudgment is created, the audience is given some time just to live with it, to get used to this idea with no evidence.
I suppose that this statement actually followed another statement by the Malaysian newspaper, which said that the plane was downed by an aircraft.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: It wasn't actually a statement, but it was piece in the paper.
Right! This was the bit of information which they presented. So, the Australians, as the good US' friends had to counter it with their own statement.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: It didn't fit the picture. And the picture demanded for Russia to be blamed.
But is my understanding correct that people, the public, are getting increasingly frustrated with the one-sided coverage?
Ilya Fabrichnikov: Definitely!
Maria Zakharova: They are brainwashed.
Are they realizing that they are being brainwashed?
Maria Zakharova: I think it is impossible to understand that you are brainwashed, when you are brainwashed.
Ilya Fabrichnikov: That's what brainwashing is all about. People do demand a different point of view.
What is actually now in the demand on the international media landscape?
Ilya Fabrichnikov: What Russia had been doing for the past 5 years, I think it pretty much fits into the picture of what should be done. We now have RT, we have the Voice of Russia, which is now part of Russia Today holding. It is creating a sort of coverage to reach to the international audience. And basically, what we are doing is quite sufficient. Definitely, we are going online, we are going social media. And as we know, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Facebook account is now one of the most popular exclusively on the interests of the people to receive a different point of view.
I have travelled a lot and I've been asking people if they watch RT. And they do. In the UK, in South Africa, in Africa, in Southeast Asia, they do receive a second opinion. And they do try to have information on the Russian politics, on the Russian stance in the world from the social media.
Maria Zakharova: I think that all of us, not only the governmental structures, but all the media and the civil society - we shouldn't be lazy. We shouldn't give up after repeating even hundreds of times. We shouldn't be afraid of being insistent. Of course, not rude, not aggressive but insistent.
We should double check the facts before we present them on public. Our position should be based on facts. We shouldn't brainwash. This is the most important thing. Even if it seems to be the easiest, no, never. We should present facts. We should be consistent. We should be brave.
You know, this is the critical point. We should tell the world that even if you brainwash now, in some time the truth will emerge. Exactly as it was in 2008. And I remember it very clear, because at that time I was in the UN. We had these late evening and all night Security Council meetings and I was shocked by how it was presented as Russia's aggression against Georgia. A small country defeated by a huge aggressor etc.
But now, take a look at what is going on now between Russia and Georgia. Of course, we don't have a reconstruction of Russia-Georgia relationship in general, but we have a normalization of economic bilateral relationship, culture dialog etc. And the most important thing, that the truth about that period, about this crazy man Saakashvili, about his absolutely nightmare behavior has been presented by the civil society and for the civil society, by the international structures and organizations.
And now each and every person knows that it was not Russian aggression against Georgia, absolutely not. That was the aggression of the Georgia Government, which was led by a crazy person Saakashvili against his own people, the people who were part of the country. And after that aggression which lasted for quite some time, Russia started an operation not to prevent, unfortunately, but to stop the bloodshed.
And of course, that was the worst time for us, because we were blamed by every country, by every leader. I do remember this time very well. We were absolutely...
Ilya Fabrichnikov: We were under the steamroller.
Maria Zakharova: Exactly! But in some years the truth appeared. And I do believe in this, religiously, that in this Ukrainian situation the truth will appear. It should be like this and it will be like this.
So, before we end this program, I'd like to ask our listeners: whenever you hear the media talking in one voice, just give yourself a benefit of doubt.
- Localisation : Russie
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