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Russia: Media Say Attacks Were Not Only Against U.S.

  • Francesca Mereu

All major Russian television networks canceled their regular programming yesterday to cover the devastating terrorist attacks against the United States. Today, the first pages of Russian newspapers are completely devoted to the story, too. RFE/RL Moscow correspondent Francesca Mereu reports on how the Russian media is covering the crisis:

Moscow, 12 September 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Photographs of the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. dominate the front pages of most Russian newspapers today.

The coverage in "Vremya MN" is headlined: "The Apocalypses Happened Yesterday." The newspaper points out that the hijacked planes destroyed more than simply the World Trade towers in New York City and part of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

The paper writes: "All the crisis of the past 10 years -- in the Stock Exchange, in the Middle East, in the Balkans, the fight against Communism, [Islamic] fundamentalism, and globalization -- belong to yesterday. For the second day, television is showing us the world falling apart like a paper house."

"Kommersant" headlined their coverage in English "Armageddon Now." The newspaper describes yesterday's terrorist attacks as the beginning of a third world war, and it questions how the world is going to change:

"The attack was so big and catastrophic that after that, the world cannot be how it used to be." Fear, the paper writes, "embraced the world."

The newspaper "Izvestia" labels their coverage with the phrases: "Armageddon. Big country. Big sorrow. Big suffering." The paper comments that the attacks were not a terrorist attack against America but against the entire civilized world. The paper points out that Russia must now "find its place in the new international system."

Yesterday afternoon, the major Russian television networks broadcast images taken directly from CNN. At around 9 pm local time, Russian television broadcast President Vladimir Putin's comments on the attacks.

Putin -- referring to the Chechen war -- says that Russia knows very well what terrorism is:

"What happened today underlines one more time the importance of the Russian proposal to unite international forces in the fight against terrorism. That is the plague of the 21st century. Russia directly knows what terrorism is and for that reason we understand the feelings of the American people."

Late yesterday, TV channels interrupted coverage of the aftermath of the bombings to also broadcast experts' commentaries on the issue.

The channel TV6 broadcast live for about eight hours. Yevgeni Kiselyov, one of the hosts of the TV6 news program, interviewed former Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeni Primakov, who is now a deputy in the State Duma. In the interview, Primakov underlined that terrorism is a big problem in today's world. He says that, at the moment, it is important to find a solution to it.

"It is extremely important for us [Russians] to elaborate a tactic [against terrorism], [to think about] how to correctly behave, and if you want to work together [with the Americans to prevent terrorism]."

Commentary on the state-owned ORT channel used the terrorist attacks to underline that U.S. President George W. Bush's administration's plans for missile defense are useless, since a passenger plane is enough to damage a country. The station said that such a missile defense shield would have been ineffective against yesterday's attacks.

Furthermore, the channel used the terrorist attacks in an effort to justify the Russian invasion of Chechnya. The station interviewed Igor Panarin, a military expert. He said that, after their experiences in Chechnya, the Russian Army and the country's security services have more experience than anyone else with terrorism:

"The experience that the Russian Army and the secret services have got at the end of the '90s in the fight against international terrorism demonstrate that we are ready more [than anyone else] to fight against international terrorism. The last events in the North Caucasus display that our secret services can successfully work and effectively reply to the terrorists' challenge."

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a minute of silence be held across the country at noon today to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks. Interfax news agency reports that this move is designed to demonstrate Russia's solidarity with the American people in their time of crisis.

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