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Have you heard about the Russian propaganda in its pure status, subsidized by ourselves, by our taxes? Yeah, it’s possible, and it’s scandalous. Radio Romania Actualitati, the station funded by your money, is a box of resonance for Kremlin’s official positions, broadly broadcasted, with no editorial filter, without any discernment, for tens of minutes of radio show. Last night, for dozens of minutes I had the feeling that I was listening to the communist radio journals, when Romania was allied with Russia (then USSR), in the Warsaw Pact, when it was a comrade in ideology with China and North Korea, and the US, Japan and South Korea were the bad imperialists.
What happened, in a nutshell: on Tuesday evening’s “Global Agenda,” for a long period of time, I was listening the news from the studio, as well as a generous Moscow correspondence about Russia’s and China’s positions on the North Korea ballistic missile test. Plus China’s position on globalization, equally, generously recited. I listened astonished these journalistic reports, written in the purest comradely style, of warm friendship and appreciation for Russia and China, which - as Radio Romania correspondent from Moscow said - urged the US and South Korea “to abstain from large-scale military exercises.” There was no addition made by the newsroom or by the correspondent in Moscow about the real context: there is an absolute dictator (Kim Jong Un), politically supported by Russia and China, who threatens South Korea, Japan and the US with ballistic attacks. No. There was no background of the news. Whoever listened to the radio report had the reverse impression about the situation in that region. The radio provided zero context, zero editorial filter.
This was only the latest example of an extremely long series. I have begun to pay attention to how Radio Romania Actualitati (RRA) treats delicate foreign policy issues since 2014, when Russia illegally annexed the Crimea and triggered the war in eastern Ukraine. I noticed the same behaviour: Russia’s positions were transmitted without a filter, without a context, by RRA correspondent in Moscow, Alexandru Beleavski, and most of the time broadcast as such by the editorial office in Bucharest. Whoever tried to get information by listening RRA had all the chances of finding out that Russia is the victim of a major Western conspiracy, that the Crimean peninsula broke itself from Ukraine, that the war in eastern Ukraine is carried on by anyone else, but not by the Russians.
RRA had the same approach during the 2016 political-sports crisis, when the World Anti-Doping Agency revealed a state-approved Kremlin program whereby Russian performers were scientifically doped to bring as many medals as possible to their country. The RRA Moscow correspondences were built exclusively on Russia’s position, and they were simple repetitions of the state propaganda communication.
Last week, Putin’s interview with the American director Oliver Stone received a great exposure in Radio Romania reports. An interview almost unanimously described by Western journalists as embarrassing because of Stone’s lack of any critical stance about Russia’s autocratic leader was presented in several successive news from Moscow.
The strong feeling is that Radio Romania Actualitati does not have a correspondent in Moscow, but Moscow has a correspondent with Radio Romania Actualitati. Let’s admit that it might be delicate for a foreign journalist to issue critical or at least objective positions when he is in Moscow, although there are dozens of foreign correspondents who do honestly their job. But even so, the lack of filters in RRA’s Bucharest editorial newsroom is inconceivable, there where editors and news bosses should balance the information, at least on important themes.
The benevolent behavior showed by this institution towards Russia was revealed in 2014, when Russia was the main guest of the Gaudeamus book fair, organized by Radio Romania Actualitati, during a full war launched by Moscow in Ukraine. Does this seem coincidental?
Look at the Radio Romania Actualities priorities when it comes to correspondents in Europe and North America. Moscow is receiving increased attention via a journalist hired as a correspondent. However, in the US, the public radio allows working with a retired collaborator who sends far fewer correspondents than his colleague in Russia. In Brussels, the headquarters of EU and NATO institutions, Radio Romania has no correspondent. Neither in Strasbourg, where the European Parliament’s headquarters are located. In Paris, Berlin and London, the capitals of European countries with which Romania has strategic partnerships, the public radio has temporary collaborators. This is Radio Romania Actualitati human resources strategy. Just as in communism, when light came from the East, and NATO and the EU were enemies of the people.