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Russia Today Is Two Countries One Defined By TV And One By Internet – OpEd

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Russians live in one of two different countries depending on whether their view of it comes from television or from the Internet, countries are so “strikingly” at odds with one another that those whose views are formed exclusively by one find it hard to understand or even accept those whose views are formed entirely by the other, Yury Komarov says.

And what is perhaps most remarkable of all, the blogger says, is that this divide is far deeper than the one in Soviet times between the official media and the Internet of that time, the kitchens and beer halls where people really talked. There was a different stress on things, but “there wasn’t as now these two mutually exclusive countries” (publizist.ru/blogs/34/32173/-).

Today, Komarov says, “television shows us the first country,” one in which everything is wonderful and peaceful, where the government under the world’s best prime minister is “unceasingly concerned about the people” and diligently works to bring to life “the enormous plans of the world’s best president, Vladimir Putin.” 

Local officials, this picture has it, “while fulfilling the directives of the voters daily open new medical centers” and other socially useful places. The economy and GDP are constantly growing, and Russia is ceasing to be dependent on the world price of oil and gas.  “Wages are rising and pensions are indexed.”

As a result, he continues, “people are dancing and singing at various holidays, festivals and non-alcoholic Cossack assemblies.” Television notes that “of course, there are problems, but they are mainly in Ukraine.” That’s why TV talks so much about it. But with us under President Putin everything is good and getting better.

“In any case,” television informs, “there cannot be any talk about some ‘Russian rising,’ the replacement of the prime minister or even more the president.” Things are going too well for anyone to think about anything like that.

But the Internet shows an entirely different Russia, one in which the authorities barely are keeping control, trash is spreading across the country and “throughout the country day and night are taking place protest meetings about which television doesn’t make any mention. But by tomorrow, these will grow into “one universal rising” because one can’t live like this anymore.”

Everywhere officials are violating the rights of Russians, everything is “bought and sold, even those questions to Putin get on the air only as a result of bribes.” Those without money, however, are left out in the cold, the Internet Russia shows. And now “the last drop” has fallen with the powers refusing to register opposition candidates for the Moscow city council.
There is of course no mention of this in TV Russia. People watching its image assume that if that is happening, it must be occurring in Ukraine something television doesn’t mention at all because in Russia such things are “impossible,” whereas in Ukraine, “a place that should have ceased to exist yesterday,” such things are the norm.

Because television and the Internet present such different Russias and because most Russians choose one or the other as their primary source of information, it is no wonder that the country is as divided as those relying on the Internet think but as those who continue to view television have not a clue.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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