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Russian State TV Adds Its Own Twist To RFE/RL Video


RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service filmed the disgruntled soldier last week.

RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service filmed the disgruntled soldier last week.

Russian state-television is suddenly broadcasting RFE/RL videos -- albeit unattributed.

On June 19, Rossia 24 broadcast segments of two separate videos shot in eastern Ukraine by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service. Contrasting the state broadcaster's angle with the on-the-ground reporting by our reporters provides a useful case study in how a video's context can be shifted to represent one particular point of view.

Video 1: The Disgruntled Soldier

The first video features a Ukrainian national guardsman who is brutal in his criticism of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

"Comrade Poroshenko, please establish order if you're a real president and a man of your word," he said. "All of us are beginning to think that we're being used as cannon fodder."

He went on to complain about a lack of apparent strategy, backup support, and food rations.

Rossia 24 aired these complaints, including a threat to turn around and go to Kyiv, here.

The channel also claimed, wrongly, that the video was posted on the Internet by members of the Ukrainian National Guard.

What Rossia 24 omits, however, is the soldier's account of why he is in the east in the first place.

Referring to armed separatists who have been engaged in fighting with Ukraine's military forces since occupying buildings in April, the soldier appealed to Poroshenko to "bring together qualified, reasonable army professionals who can defeat the [separatist] monster that has emerged here."

He added that "We are defending our country absolutely for free."


So, Rossia -- a channel that has provided a steady flow of coverage in support of the separatist cause -- is content to air the grievances toward Kyiv of a disgruntled Ukrainian volunteer without also showing how he feels about pro-Russian militiamen.

Video 2: Slovyansk Shelling

In the aftermath of two Rossia 24 journalists being killed earlier this week when Ukrainian troops attacked a separatist checkpoint in Luhansk, Rossia 24 used another RFE/RL video -- of Ukrainian National Guardsmen shelling in a Slovyansk suburb -- to imply that the deaths may not have been a mistake made in the fog of war.

"They take aim carefully, choosing their targets," a Rossia 24 reporter said over the footage of the shelling. "Fighters of the National Guard are performing an execution in a suburb of Slovyansk. They brag that they can hit a person from several kilometers away. But after the demise of our colleagues, many said Ukrainian soldiers didn't see who they were firing at."

The Rossia 24 report then used audio from the RFE/RL Ukrainian Service report:

"Is it possible to hit [the target] from such a distance?" the RFE/RL journalist asks.

"It is possible," the soldier answers. "With good aim, it's possible to hit the target."

The Rossia 24 version of the video, however, omits the claim by the same soldier -- included in the original RFE/RL video -- that civilians had left the village they were shelling two to three weeks ago.

RFE/RL cannot independently confirm the soldier's claim.

-- RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service/Glenn Kates

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