Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Russia

Five Things The Kremlin's New Media Agency Thinks The West Should Fear About Itself

Dmitry Kiselyov, Putin media tsar and general director of news agency Rossiya Segodnya, at a presentation of new Russian news agency Sputnik in Moscow on November 10.
Dmitry Kiselyov, Putin media tsar and general director of news agency Rossiya Segodnya, at a presentation of new Russian news agency Sputnik in Moscow on November 10.
By Daisy Sindelar

Russia's latest media product is the Sputnik news agency, an ambitious international venture with dozens of languages and bureaus around the world. 

Dmitry Kiselyov, the head of its parent company, Rossiya Segodnya, says Sputnik aims to counter Western "propaganda."

A quick look through Sputnik's early offerings shows a product that's not so much false as it is selective -- and certain to find traction among conservative readers in the West.

Here are five reasons why the Kremlin's new media agency thinks the West should be very, very afraid.

1. The Utter Contempt Of British Politicians

West or East, Sputnik says assuringly, we are all at the mercy of politicians. After all, they are highly trained masters in the art of persuasive body language. An illustrated guide by Alina Malinovskaya offers tips on how to interpret the facial expressions and hand movements of the world's top officials. While Russian President Vladimir Putin is shown demonstrating "happiness" by turning up the corners of his lips and "listening" by holding his hands a certain way, British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and David Cameron prove once and for all they are incorrigible snobs by acting out "contempt" -- curled lip, tilted head.(German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, "betrays a lower degree of emotional comfort" by occasionally crossing her hands in front of her pelvic area.)

2. Spoiled Kids And Vegetarian Presidents

"Just a generation or two ago," writes Sputnik correspondent Nikita Alentyev, "turning down a burger would get you a slap on the wrist from Mom and Pop and a proper lecture on nutrition. Today's children love the idea of being 'special' and enjoy much more acceptance of their dietary choices from those around them." The result? The United States will have a vegetarian president by 2020.

3. You're Wasting Your Time With Al-Baghdadi

U.S. defense officials have been unable to confirm whether terrorist group Islamic State's (IS, also ISIS or ISIL) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was wounded or killed in November 8 air strikes in western Iraq. Sputnik says either way, it doesn't matter. "Unlike Al-Qaeda, which was centered around the charisma and popularity of one man," writes Andrew Korybko, "ISIL brings together a diverse group of terrorists" that are "not necessarily run centrally by al-Baghdadi." Oh, and Osama bin Laden? "He was little more than a figurehead" by the time the United States found him. 

4. Muslim Latinas Are Taking Over The Planet

With its own population of Slavs shrinking, Russia is sensitive to demographic issues -- its own and others. In an unbylined piece entitled "From The Vatican To The Veil," Sputnik cites widely reported population trends to remind the U.S. that its two fastest-growing demographic groups, Muslims and Hispanics, are increasingly converging, with Latinas proving particularly enthusiastic converts. (Hispanics make up just 12 percent of Muslim converts, but Hispanic women make up more than half of that group.) "This identification then boomerangs back to their homelands," Sputnik notes, with Muslim Latinas "returning to spread Islamic culture there."

5. South Florida Is The Next Donbas

Russia loves a good secession, particularly in its own neighborhood. Sputnik catalogues some of 2014's best secession hotspots. These include Catalonia, Scotland, Venice, Crimea -- and Miami, where a local deputy mayor, angered by climate-change indifference among officials farther north, has proposed creating a new breakaway state called South Florida.

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