Wednesday

28th Jul 2021

Letter

Storm in a teacup

The "RIA Novosti and Stalin" story unfolded according to the classical "storm in a teacup" scenario. Initially just a story like many others, it grew out of a journalist's mistake, poor knowledge of the subject, or bias and adherence to stereotypes. Unfortunately, it caused an uproar and damage to the reputation of RIA Novosti.

In essence, EUobserver wrote that somebody told somebody else about Russia's efforts to "improve the image of Joseph Stalin," as if anyone can improve the image of historical personas. It further claimed that RIA Novosti "is trying to recruit one of the top 10 PR firms in Brussels to put the project in play."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • "The Novosti Press Agency (APN), the Soviet forerunner of RIA Novosti, was never accused of defending Stalin during its 40-year history" (Photo: kremlin.ru)

Also, according to EUobserver, RIA Novosti plans to hold a high-level conference about the Arctic in Moscow in late November, which "is likely to be followed up by similar conferences in the Middle East and the Far East next year."

But this is just another 'eurorumour'. The journalist asked RIA Novosti to comment on it, but the agency's spokesman discarded the idea of improving Stalin's image and said about the Middle East project that the agency would soon resume the publication of the Arabic-language newspaper Anba Mosku (The Moscow News) in 16 countries.

The journalist was also told of the agency's plans to host a major conference on the Arctic within the framework of the Valdai international discussion club of experts, which was first held six years ago with the assistance of RIA Novosti. As for plans in the Far East, EUobserver was probably referring to the upcoming launch of the RIA Novosti economic newswire in the Chinese language.

This is not a sensation but a routine work of RIA Novosti as a large news agency. This is exactly what the journalist did not hear – or refused to hear from RIA Novosti. Instead, he opted for fusing all these elements in such a way as to create a sensation.

Even the Novosti Press Agency (APN), the Soviet forerunner of RIA Novosti, was never accused of defending Stalin during its 40-year history. Moreover, Solomon Lozovsky, the founder of Sovinformburo, which was later reorganised into APN, was one of Stalin's victims. He was executed in 1952. The average age of journalists at RIA Novosti today is 28, and for most of them Stalinism is a shocking, but very old page in Russia's history.

On a personal level, I can add that the great-grandmother of my elder son spent 10 years in the Gulag labour camps after her father was shot in 1937, the peak of Stalin's persecution campaign. My generation, aged around 40, grew up during Gorbachev's perestroika. The brightest events of my student years – I studied in Europe – were the fall of the Berlin Wall, the execution of Romanian dictator Ceausescu, and the dissolution of the socialist bloc countries in Eastern Europe.

The article alleging a link between Stalin and our news agency has made it obvious that RIA Novosti must do its best to promote a professional dialogue with foreign historians on complicated historical issues that concern modern Russia. The vacuum must be filled. Such professional dialogue will eventually lead to a public discussion that should provide assessments and lead to practical actions.

Svetlana Mironyuk is Editor-in-Chief of RIA Novosti

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

New pro-Russia campaign comes to EU capital

Russian news agency Ria Novosti is rolling out a new public relations campaign in the political capital of the European Union which, according to sources in the PR industry, aims to justify Russia's great power ambitions and improve the image of Joseph Stalin.

Brexit: what is the 'Lugano Convention' and does it matter?

After Brexit, the UK ceased to be a member of the Lugano Convention, an international treaty which governs cross-border civil and commercial legal disputes. In May, the European Commission published an opinion calling for the UK's re-application to be rejected.

Column

Does democracy need troublemakers?

Comedians, businessmen and other outsiders – think of Edward Snowden, Slawi Trifonow (the TV star who won the Bulgarian elections recently), or Donald Trump – try to disrupt power, pretending to expose political elites. Why is this happening?

Separating migrant families at EU borders must stop

Hundreds of documented cases of pushbacks of migrants and asylum seekers tell the story of a European Union whose member states seem to resort to increasingly degrading and inhuman practices in the management of its external borders.

Hungary: why we can't support a global minimum tax

This month the OECD Inclusive Framework agreed on the main building blocks of new tax legislation for a global minimum tax and for the digital economy. However, Hungary did not join - this is why.

Column

Does democracy need troublemakers?

Comedians, businessmen and other outsiders – think of Edward Snowden, Slawi Trifonow (the TV star who won the Bulgarian elections recently), or Donald Trump – try to disrupt power, pretending to expose political elites. Why is this happening?

Ukraine - Zelensky's authoritarian turn?

President Volodymyr Zelensky has begun his third year mired in mid-term unpopularity with a poll showing only 21.8 percent of Ukrainians would vote to re-elect him. More than half would prefer him not even to run for a second term.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU hits vaccination target, as Delta variant now dominates
  2. European arms 'displaced over a million people', research finds
  3. Brexit: what is the 'Lugano Convention' and does it matter?
  4. US maintains summer travel ban on EU tourists
  5. Does democracy need troublemakers?
  6. Separating migrant families at EU borders must stop
  7. Germany mulls restrictions for unvaccinated as cases soar
  8. 'Prison island' birthplace of EU reborn as think-tank venue

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us