Recently television has been transformed into a powerful instrument
used to manipulate public opinion. This began approximately in
1993, after the unforgettable referendum "Yes-Yes-No-Yes"
and the events by the White House (Ed. shooting of parliament).
By 1996 television had already been transformed into a weapon
exploited by Boris Yeltsin to ensure election for a second term
In 1999 television was transformed into even more than a weapon,
becoming a sharp grinder manipulated by political technologists
to change the views of people in their own interests. Television
played a decisive role in the election campaigns of 1999 and 2000.
It was used to create the military hysteria in autumn 1999 culminating
in the broad-scale military actions in the Northern Caucasus.
You can hit any target with the help of electronic media. It
is highly likely that this experience will serve as the cornerstone
for the new dangerous direction of dirty politics called "management
of people's choice". This is prone to the creation of totalitarian
systems with a democratic facade, the so-called "Potyemkin
villages" (Ed. During the trip of Catherine the Great to
inspect Russian provinces, Prince Potemkin created fake facades
of villages passed by he Empress, thereby masking his incompetent
management and stealing), when all the traits of the civil society
seem to be present: a Constitution, parliament, courts, etc.,
- they will only function as required by a couple dozen people
close to power.
In the classic totalitarian system, which was for a long time
embodied in the Soviet Union, everything was performed more openly.
There was a single Central Television. The present system adjusts
the democratic institutions to its needs, instead of eliminating
This happens with television. Today the state does not nationalise
television channels, and leaves them as private in name, but ushers
through them the same propaganda. The change of owners of NTV
in spring 2001 and TV6 in winter 2002 with all their trials, suits
and financial disputes, had a single goal: to impose state control
over these federal channels.
People certainly feel that they are being manipulated. While
not everybody may realise this, most of them feel this is happening.
The manipulators also realise that there is limited potential
and that the political chicanery will one day stick in their throat.
This means that they have to find something to make eople watch
television. This is the underlying reason for the serious moral
degradation of television.
Television demonstrates behavioural patterns that are strange
to the national perception, Western cultural standards that are
far from being the best, a cult of violence, low instincts - not
All this hinders maintenance of morals in society, especially
of the new generation. Political manipulation is ensured, backed
by low-quality entertainment, which is easier to swallow. Public
morals degrade much more rapidly than ethics. It is difficult
to roll a stone up a hill, but it is easy to push it down.
Why are such policies destructive for our country? This path
will lead to the irreversible backwardness of our country. Fooled,
disorientated, incapable of comparison, analysis and independent
thinking, people are unable to create a 21st century economy.
People who open a newspaper and cannot understand which article
has been paid for and which has not, which information is a provocation
and which is true - such people are unable to make discoveries
and create new technologies, they are unable to raise our country
to the level of leading world countries. They are deprived of
such a possibility, when electronic media are used for mercenary
There is no contradiction: what authority would not need educated
and morally developed people! Our authority is established on
exports of natural resources, and is quite satisfied with this
authority. In Japan they would have to either create the Sony
industry or die. In Holland - to learn to cultivate tulips. But
in Russia they could always export another tonne of oil and thus
"resolve the problem". This does not require any new
technologies. This requires 'tame' people.
But to transform the people tame requires a transfer of the mass
media under public control and the creation of real public television.
There are examples: in the United Kingdom and Germany.
There is no possibility to introduce paid television in Russia
- let us leave the commercials, but limit them to inter-programme
blocks, as is the case at German Public Television. The financing
problem can be resolved. It is much more important to develop
an efficient mechanism of public control over the mass media.
P.S. Today, on February 18, 2002, the third meeting of the All-Russia
Democratic Assembly devoted to freedom of speech will take place.
* Allusion to the TV promotion of "correct" answers
at the national referendum on the adoption of the RF Constitution
of Speech and Media Law in Russia