March 16, 2014

Not Yet News at AP or Politico: Russian State Broadcaster’s ‘Turn Into Radioactive Ash’ Warning to U.S.

As of 11 P.M. Eastern Time Sunday evening, searches at both the Associated Press and at the Politico on “radioactive” returned nothing relating to a comment made on TV by Russian “journalist” Dmitry Kiselyov reminding viewers that his country, as translated by the wire service AFP“is the only one in the world “realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash.” Reuters also has a story here. Further evidence of AP disinterest is the fact that its two “10 Things to Know for Monday” relating to Russia as of 9:03 p.m. noted the West’s intent to impose sanctions and penalties but did not mention the Russian threat.

Kiselyov isn’t some freelancer mouthing off for “look at me” attention. As such, the failure of these two outlets to report what is clearly a serious escalation in rhetoric emanating from Russia is breathtakingly negligent, even by their non-standards. It’s as if they’re desperately trying to keep Kiselyov’s statement from becoming an item on the U.S. morning news shows.

AFP’s Stuart Williams waited far too long — until the tenth paragraph — to fully describe Kiselyov’s association with Vladimir Putin’s government. From all appearances, Kiselyov might as well be Putin’s press secretary.

In December, BBC reported that Putin put him in charge of a new state-run news entity called Rossiya Segodnya, which translates as “Russia Today” (bolds are mine throughout this post):

The new agency is to be headed by Dmitry Kiselev, one of Russian TV’s most notorious anchors, known for his extreme anti-Western and homophobic views.

Mr. Putin’s decree states that Russia Today’s role will be to transmit to foreign audiences information about the “Russian Federation’s state policy and public life in Russia.”

It seems likely, therefore, that it will complement the work of the state-funded foreign-language TV station, RT, which when it was launched in 2005 was also known as Russia Today.

The new agency will be a “huge machine for propaganda in the West,” tweeted liberal website editor Roman Fedoseyev.

The new Russia Today does not appear to be directly connected with its namesake – RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said on Twitter that she found out about its launch from a Moscow radio station. Still, the choice of name for the new agency can hardly be a coincidence.

… Known back in the 1990s as one of the faces of “independent journalism”, Mr. Kiselev has recently become notorious for his extreme and sometimes bizarre diatribes in his role as a top anchor on official channel Rossiya 1.

He has likened Kremlin opponents at home and abroad to the Nazis, used a Swedish children’s TV show about toilet training to exemplify “Western values”, and repeatedly demonised homosexuals.

Mr. Kiselev himself told state news channel Rossiya 24 he saw his “mission” in his new job as restoring a “just attitude to Russia as an important country in the world which has good intentions.”

The obvious point is that Kiselev wouldn’t have said without Putin’s implicit or explicit blessing.

Here are excerpts from Williams’s AFP report:

State TV says Russia could turn US to ‘radioactive ash’

DmitryKiselyov03162014

A leading anchor on Russian state television on Sunday described Russia as the only country capable of turning the United States into “radioactive ash,” in an incendiary comment at the height of tensions over the Crimea referendum.

“Russia is the only country in the world realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash,” anchor Dmitry Kiselyov said on his weekly news show on state-controlled Rossiya 1 television.

Kiselyov made the comment to support his argument that the United States and President Barack Obama were living in fear of Russia led by President Vladimir Putin amid the Ukraine crisis.

His programme was broadcast as the first exit polls were being published showing an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voting to leave Ukraine and join Russia.

He stood in his studio in front of a gigantic image of a mushroom cloud produced after a nuclear attack, with the words “into radioactive ash”.

… Putin last year appointed Kiselyov head of the new Russia Today news agency that is to replace the soon to be liquidated RIA Novosti news agency with the aim of better promoting Russia’s official position.

Kiselyov also made great play of Russia’s so-called “dead hand” capability to fire nuclear-capable intercontinental missiles automatically in the case of attack.

The system, also known as Perimeter, was in use during the Cold War but its use in post-Soviet Russia is not officially confirmed.

But Kiselyov appeared to claim it remained active, giving Russia the chance to strike back even if its main command positions were taken out in a strike by the West.

The Permiter system is the “Doomsday Machine” described in an October 1993 New York Times article. A 2009 Wired Magazine article claimed that Perimeter “it is still in place.”

The latter portion of the YouTube video of Kiselyov’s broadcast shows how Perimeter would automatically send ICBM’s streaming out of Russia should it be struck.

That’s also more than a little newsworthy, and is getting coverage at many outlets — but not at AP and the Politico.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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