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Western media reluctant to cover Ukrainian crisis impartially

August 06, 2014, 17:25 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

MOSCOW, August 06. /ITAR-TASS/. Foreign mass media are partial in their coverage of the Ukrainian crisis. This firm opinion of the Russian authorities is beginning to be shared by quite a few journalists in the West itself. Even amid conflicts and media wars, many of them say, media workers should toe the line and observe the code of professional conduct. 

Journalists representing the world’s mass media giants have ignored the Russian Foreign Ministry’s invitation to go to a tent camp near Ukrainian border to see and talk to hundreds of Ukrainian military who had fled to Russia just recently, the deputy chief of the Foreign Ministry’s information and press department, Maria Zakharova, has said. “The same day when the news arrived over 400 Ukrainian military had asked Russian border guards for asylum we decided to invite a group of foreign correspondents to go to the Rostov Region,” Zakharova says on her page in Facebook. According to the senior Foreign Ministry official, journalists representing the leading US mass media left the invitation unnoticed. Bloomberg was the sole US media represented in the group that agreed to go. The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor and Washington Post were all absent.

“We keep inviting them, but they are either reluctant to hear or under a ban,” Zakharova said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week highlighted several instances of political censorship in the western mass media. One such incident, he recalled, occurred just recently, when a BBC correspondent’s report concerning the circumstances of the Malaysian Boeing’s loss over Ukraine that disagreed with comments by the US Department of State was eventually removed from the web-site of the broadcaster’s Russian service.

“I do hope that the authorities of Britain or any other country will avoid dragging mass media into their political games or bowing to this or that government’s political likes and dislikes,” Lavrov said.

Quite a few commentators in the West agree the Russian authorities do have a point there. The Guardian, of Britain, several days ago published several commentaries by experts who were trying to find out whether the Western media were objective enough in drawing their picture of the Ukrainian crisis. Britain’s ex-ambassador to Russia Tony Brenton, however critical of the Russian mass media, agreed that their Western counterparts were far from impeccable, too. In particular, Brenton said that Russia’s arguments, however convincing, were being belittled now and then. Also, he acknowledged that British papers tended to play down certain events and facts.

Biased journalism strips the West of its moral authority, says Nabi Abdullayev, the editor-in-chief of the Moscow-published English language newspaper the Moscow Times. He reproached Western journalists for not asking such key questions as: Will future Ukraine be a democracy? What aims is the US after? Are Moscow’s fears over the risk of NATO’s expansion justified? Abdullayev argues that without articles on such themes the media that cover the Ukrainian crisis cannot but stay biased.

Stephen Ebert, of US, a professional translator, has shared his impressions of a three-day tour of Russia’s Crimea with the on-line periodical Vzglyad. “I spent three days in Crimea, mostly in Sevastopol. Before that I had possibly been reading US media too much, so I was expecting to see Russian military in green uniform at every street corner, but instead I saw something very different: Crimea is back home.”

“Sadly, the US public at large - the main consumer of media products - remains alarmingly ignorant. This is the reason why we are witnesses to the comeback of cold war attributes - attempts to draw an enemy image, the relapse of the evil empire rhetoric and the demonization of Putin,” Ebert believes.

“In our press we have too much partial information about what has been happening in Ukraine,” Finnish commentator Antero Eerola told the portal Free Press in an interview. “There is a clear bad-guys-vs-good-guys distinction. Russia and Putin are on the bad guys side, of course. My colleagues have neglected the fundamental principles of Western journalism, such as independence and impartiality.”

Whenever a conflict flares up, both parties must be listened to, Eerola says. “These days only one party to the dispute - Western Ukraine - enjoys undivided attention. In Luhansk, in Donbass the Ukrainian government is killing its own citizens. We can hardly learn anything about that anywhere.”

The Russian mass media are more accurate in their coverage of the events in Ukraine that the foreign ones, Russia’s leading lawyer Dmitry Agranovsky says with certainty. “The foreign mass media keep lying, in doing so they have broken all possible bounds, they have long lost honour and dignity,” Agranovsky told the news agency Novy Region (New Region). “We all are witnesses to the western media’s push-button information policy against Russia, which is being accused of all mortal sins.

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