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Grigory Pasko: Russia’s Surreal Television Coverage of the War

ntv-1.jpgTruth – the first victim of war Grigory Pasko, journalist Who is right in the war that has begun, and who is at fault – God willing, the tribunal in The Hague will figure this out. I hope that it will be able to assess the contribution to this crime both of current president of Georgia Saakashvili and of former president of Russia comrade Putin. And western politicians, I hope, will reach conclusions. For example, about why they did not stop the provocative acts of Russia, when she was giving out her passports to Ossetians and Abkhazians, making people, in essence, its hostages? Why did they allow the presence on an explosive territory of only Russian troops, calling themselves peacekeepers? Saakashvili is no angel – this is understood. But when people tell me about this, citing as evidence only lies, well, like it or not I start to wonder. Lies began to pour in a torrent from the screens of Russian TV already on 8 August. At first they said that the peacekeepers had lost ten people dead. About the dead among the civilian population for half a day nothing was reported, besides the phrase: there are victims of Georgian bombardments. Towards evening they said that there were – several hundred civilians killed. In another couple of hours – that there were already 2000 of them. (It is this roundedness of the number in the quantity of those killed that to me, a military person, eloquently says: this – is a lie!). About those killed by Russian troops on the territory of Georgia was said nothing at all. Although it is known that Russian planes had bombed Gori and Poti, as well as objectives near Tbilisi. To understand from Russian TV where the Georgian troops are located and where the hurriedly deployed 58th army of Russia was absolutely impossible. Some kind of informational chaos. I understand that such chaos is inherent to the Russian army in general, and all the more so when it starts to wage war. But still, there is the Informburo, paramilitary in structure, specially created back in the time of the Chechen wars, which, even though it lied through its teeth, at least did not allow major goof-ups: the lies were all filtered and sorted.

On 9 August the television channel «Vesti» somehow contrived under the banner of a “live broadcast” to show the simultaneous existence of minister for emergency affairs of Russia Shoigu both in Moscow and in Vladikavkaz. This was both funny and sad. Funny, because we saw two Shoigus simultaneously. Sad – because they were so openly demonstrating that they regard viewers as garbage.Particular attention the heads of the Russian television channels devoted to stories about the criminal regime of Saakashvili and about how the Ossetian and Abkhazian people are groaning for a long time already under the yoke of Georgia and are dreaming of Anschluss with Russia.Most often of all was heard the word “aggression”. But in international documents is clearly recorded that aggression – this is military actions on the territory of another state. Only Ossetia – is a part of Georgia. And Russia has always recognized this, agreeing with resolutions of the UNO. It is precisely this most important detail that Russian TV for some reason categorically forgot to report.They were indignantly reporting to Russian viewers that the broadcasting of Russian television channels on the territory of Georgia has by decision of the leadership of Georgia been prohibited. But journalist Oleg Panfilov, telephoning from Tbilisy to the radio «Echo Moskvy», reported that nobody had prohibited anything, that he is calmly watching Russian television channels in his hotel. Oleg also reported that in Georgia they have for a long time already regarded Russian television as comedic and entertaining, as it is impossible to take it seriously due to its falsity and one-sidedness in covering events.Someone of the historical personages said that truth – is the first victim of war. I have already observed the agony of this victim in the First Chechen War, when I myself was dispatched by a military newspaper to Grozny. I never made it there, because on the very first day of my assignment I wrote an article about those who were supposed to go to this war: about the hastily gathered and absolutely not trained for war young sailors of the Pacific Fleet. The article came out in a civilian newspaper, while I was literally taken off an airplane flying to Grozny.In the Russian mass information media they do not write and on TV they do not talk about how the «Ossetian separatists» – are in actuality Russian government officials. Like the journalist Yulia Latynina wrote, “The head of the local KGB, Anatoly Baranov, used to head the Federal Security Service (FSB) in the Russian Republic of Mordovia. The head of the South Ossetian Interior Ministry, Mikhail Mindzayev, served in the Interior Ministry of Russia’s North Ossetia. The South Ossetian ‘defense minister,’ Vasily Lunev, used to be military commissar in Perm Oblast, and the secretary of South Ossetia’s Security Council, Anatoly Barankevich, is a former deputy military commissar of Stavropol Krai. So who exactly is a separatist in this government? South Ossetian ‘prime minister’ Yury Morozov?” They don’t write this – because it’s true. But the aim of the pro-state mass information media of Russia – is to spread lies. By the way, lies mixed in with truth don’t stop being lies. Furthermore, they start to look like the truth. And because of this they are even more frightening.I very much hope that the leaders of the world civilized community are going to knock some sense into both Georgia and Russia. Otherwise, the blood of innocent and deceived people will continue to flow.