Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ukraine Unspun

Russian Media Claims About State Spokeswoman Appear To Be Fantasy

Jen Psaki
Jen Psaki

An article about a U.S. State Department spokeswoman in the official newspaper of the Russian government appears to be completely made up. 

On June 20, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported that Jen Psaki had rejected claims that Ukrainians were fleeing to Russia's southern Rostov region. 

According to the newspaper, AP's diplomatic correspondent, Matthew Lee, then asked her to explain "all the women and children arriving in Russia's regions." 

"It's tourists" who come for Rostov's "beautiful mountains and curative air" she reportedly responded "without hesitation." 

The first problem with the statement? Rostov is generally flat, with no land more than 253 meters above sea level. 

The second problem? The conversation apparently never took place.

Lee denied it on Twitter today.

And there was no similar conversation found in a search of State Department transcripts. 

But the phantom back-and-forth between him and Psaki, which was apparently first reported on a talk show on Russia's state-run First Channel, had already quickly spread in Russian media. A Russian-language Google News search for mentions of Psaki and Rostov on June 20 returned over 120 results. 

"Psaki has once again demonstrated her incompetence," tweeted LifeNews, an outlet believed to have ties to Russia's security services. "She called Ukrainian refugees tourists." 

Psaki has been in the crosshairs of Russian media and supporters of the Kremlin since early May, when, in explaining Washington's refusal to recognize separatist referendum votes in eastern Ukraine, she mentioned carousel voting -- an election rigging method by which voters are bussed around to cast ballots in multiple polling stations.   

Lee, the AP correspondent, followed up by asking her to explain the term and Psaki awkwardly admitted that she was not "familiar with it." 

Shortly after, Dmitry Kiselyov, the head of Russia's propaganda arm, Russia Today, introduced "Psaking," a new word based on the incident. 

"“People say [Psaking] when someone makes a dogmatic statement about something they don’t understand, mixes facts up, and then doesn’t apologize," he said. 

As of writing "Rossiiskaya gazeta" had not yet issued a correction. 

-- Glenn Kates

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Ray Finch from: Lawrence, KS
June 20, 2014 22:11
Nice report. I watch a lot of Russian TV and you are absolutely correct in pointing out that the Russian media have transformed Ms. Psaki into the American Goebbels. Some of this Russian slander may be justified. Ms. Psaki, as a faithful servant to the Obama administration, has displayed a rather one-sided portrayal of the situation in Ukraine (e.g. pro-West Ukrainians-good; pro-Russian Ukrainians-bad).

The more interesting phenomenon (from my perspective) is the near impossibility today of correcting this error within the Russian information space. The lies and deception have become so deep, the passions so enflamed and rhetoric so poisonous that the majority of Russians are now willing to believe the most horrible things about America.
In Response

by: jackrac from: dela
June 21, 2014 10:51
You obviously don't watch enough Russian TV then. Psaki has, quite rightly, been made into a bit of an incompetant clown unsure of what she is exactly saying- so not an "American Goebbels"

I don't think there is a problem of correcting error within the Russian informtion space.

In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
June 21, 2014 14:18
Jackrac, are you from Delaware or New Hampshire? I for one am from Vienna, Avstria.

Enjoy your weekend, and cheers from Vena!
In Response

by: Moshe Zuisman from: Israel
June 22, 2014 05:02
Exactly jackrac.
I suspect - mr. Ray "saw" Russian TV mainly in reports of NY times and CNN. Or - he simply do not know Russian too much.
I f he would really know Russian and see Russian TV - he would know that in Russian news space Psaki became comic figure and target of endless mocking. Not something really suiting image of "new Goebbels"...
In Response

by: Derry from: England
June 22, 2014 10:48
Well done Ray on the excellent comment. It unfortunate that the Russian troll JACKRAC has tried to discredit your comment.

Ukraine should sue all Russian media for libel, slander and defamation. All Russian media should be deported from Ukraine as they clearly support terrorism.

by: saucymugwump from: saucymugwump.blogspot.com
June 21, 2014 01:40
RFE/RL should have shortened the title of this article to just "Russian Media Claims Appear To Be Fantasy" or even "Russian Claims Appear To Be Fantasy."

Russia and its direct ancestor, the Soviet Union, has been the home of world-class liars since the very beginning of the USSR. The Soviets claimed that there were no purges in the 1930s. The Soviets claimed that there were no hidden protocols in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The Soviets claimed that the Finns were the aggressor in the Winter War. The Soviets claimed that the Katyn massacre was the work of Nazis. The Soviets claimed that the countries of Eastern Europe voluntarily and freely joined their union. And so on.

by: Jack from: US
June 21, 2014 01:45
Russian media to fabricate a story? Who could have thought they finally learned after US media? Does RFERL now claim Russian media is coming up with stories of weapons of mass destruction in Ukraine like US media did with stories of WMD in Iraq or "atrocities" of evil Christians (Serbs) in Bosnia against innocent Muslims?
In Response

by: Eric from: Los Angeles
June 21, 2014 17:55
You are confusing US administration (producers of info on WMD etc.) w/ US media (we have the widest availability of free press in the world including worldwide opinions everyday on television, internet and print media).US Media and Government are not joined together by ownership and censorship here as they are in Russia...
In Response

by: Jack from: US
June 21, 2014 18:42
Eric spoken like CNN anchor. US media is not censored? heh, heh..
In Response

by: Marcel from: Munich
June 22, 2014 13:38
"Jack" is obviously not "from" US. It's funny how the Russian propaganda apparatus prides itself in the English-language skills of its trolls. The problem is: Unlike in Russian, we use articles in English. So: if you want to bad-mouth people (and in a rather ridiculous manner to boot - who watches CNN?) do it right. It's "a" CNN anchor. (Disclaimer: Not normally this picky when it comes to language, but this incessant trolling is rather annoying.)
In Response

by: Jack from: US
June 23, 2014 00:05
@Marcel, you should know my mother is Chechen and my father was Russian soldier who fought in Chechnya and Daghestan against US-and-Saudi sponsored peaceful Muslims. My mother became Christians because she saw the evil of Islam and those who are behind Islam, like US regime and its Saudi and German minions

by: jojnjo from: jojnjo@gmail.com
June 22, 2014 00:24
Well the whole world knows by now, Russian Media strive on spouting out lies regularly on behalf of Putin/Lavrov the world's two biggest liars of all.

In fact Putin's latest lie is that he supports Ukraine's "Peace Plan" when he clearly doesn't by what's happening on the ground. You see Vladimir speak with a fork in his mouth..."Forked Tongue"!

by: American Kulak from: USSA ISP (check it)
June 22, 2014 04:58
Nice misdirection propagandists. InterpreterMag's pathetic claims that Matthew Lee of the AP can't tell the difference between a video shot in Fallujah in 2004 and footage from Slovyiansk area in 2014 are conveniently buried under a faked report that somehow was smuggled into Russian media. Maybe Russian MP's paranoid rantings about a 5th or 6th column even in state-funded media aren't so paranoid after all, there really are people in Moscow making sure Rossiskaya Gazeta runs stories completely made up and unchecked rather than about NATO country mercs operating in Southeast Ukraine (including that 'Ukrainian National Guard soldier' who spoke perfect Italian caught on YouTube) or Right Sector's massacre in Shastye.

About #UkraineUnspun

The information war is in full swing in the tense standoff between Ukraine and Russia. In an attempt to present a clearer picture, #UkraineUnspun will unravel information coming from Russian and Ukrainian media, politicians and activists. Written by Glenn Kates and contributors from RFE/RL.

Follow the hashtag #UkraineUnspun on Twitter and let us know what we should be covering -- or to weigh in on any of our stories. Or write us at webteam@rferl.org

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