[home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][Yabloko's Views]
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 2, 2004

Russia's State TV Is Mopping up Some Terminology
It is prohibited to pronounce "Chechnya" and "replacement of benefits by money"

By Sergey Varshavchik
Russia's state-run TV stations have received a style list prescribing the terminology to be used in reports on sensitive subjects such as Chechnya and the benefits bill. From now on Channel One and Russia TV are on a "slippery slope" towards a ban on reporting some subjects at all. According to the NG correspondent, there is a list of terms which should be a used in a strictly prescribed manner. It is prohibited to pronounce during broadcasting “Chechnya” (only “the Chechen republic”) and “Kadyrov” (should be pronounced only “Akhmad-Khadzhi Kadyrov”) and not “replacement of benefits by money” but “monetised benefits”, and not “shahid” but a “shahid belt”. The very mention of the term "killer”, not to mention "banking crisis", will be prohibited. In response to Nezavisimaya Gazeta's queries, spokesmen for the TV channel confirmed that these instructions actually do exist.

The head of "Vesti " Andrei Bystritsky declined to comment. Viktoriya Arutyunova, Adviser to the Chairman of VGTRK [All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company], commented on the situation for Nezavisimaya Gazeta instead. She said "the official name of the Chechen Republic is the Chechen Republic. Chechnya is the vernacular name, which you and I use in telephone conversations and in discussions at the kitchen table. Television, however, is a public medium." As for the prohibition of the term "replacement of benefits with money", Viktoriya Arutyunova feels that "this also cannot be said on television". She feels that TV reports should apply the official language used in the document.

The ominous document actually says: "On the amendment of RF legislative instruments pursuant to the passage of the federal laws 'On amendments and additions to the federal law "On the common organisational principles of legislative (representative) and executive governing bodies of components of the Russian Federation" and 'On the common organisational principles of local self-government in the Russian Federation'". On the second channel, however, they stubbornly use vernacular terms to identify it: the law "on monetized benefits", the "basic benefit package" and so forth.

Similar terminological instructions have been issued at the other state channel. According to a manager at Channel One, this is being done "so that people do not get confused". "For them, this is already such a complex system. We do this simply so they know what we are talking about and will not think this is something different, something new they will have to figure out," he said.

Only NTV is still taking the liberty of calling Chechnya "Chechnya" and referring to social reform as the "replacement of benefits with money".

Furthermore, some of the topics discussed on the fourth channel are already banned on the first two. In contrast to NTV, Channel One and the Russia TV channels never mention the peculiar film clip of a man resembling Basayev at the weapons depot in Nazran, never comment on the election of Deputy Chief of Presidential Staff Igor Sechin to the board of directors of Rosneft, the country's biggest oil company, and never discuss the demonstration by young YABLOKO members who poured paint on the plaque commemorating Yuriy Andropov at the wall of the Federal Security Service. The news clips on the state channels are completely different: Vladimir Putin makes a historic trip to Ukraine to meet his colleague [Leonid] Kuchma; Chairman Abdul-Kerim Arsakhanov of the Chechen Electoral Commission proudly tells state journalists about the declaration of campaign rules signed by candidates to ensure a "good election campaign"; and the government's preparations for the payment of money to citizens instead of benefits that were promised but never delivered.

According to Director Aleksey Samokhvalov of the National TV and Radio Research Centre, the use of the new official terms on Russian TV is quite similar to the situation in Ukraine: "The presidential administration there sends out so-called 'topic guides [temniki] - i.e., recommendations to the media on appropriate coverage of various topics. In comparison with them, we are just starting out, as they have already reached the point of 'topic guides' in Ukraine, while we are still only “mopping” up our terminology."

Evidently, such terms as "protest demonstration", "miners' hunger strike", "freedom of speech" and all other words that are pointless in the context of state TV policy, will also recede forever into the information past soon. They will be categorized as vernacular terms, appropriate only in telephone conversations and in the kitchen. This is a slippery slope.


See also:

Freedom of Speech and Media Law in Russia

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, August 2, 2004

[home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][Yabloko's Views]

Project Director: Vyacheslav Erohin e-mail: admin@yabloko.ru Director: Olga Radayeva, e-mail: english@yabloko.ru
Administrator: Vlad Smirnov, e-mail: vladislav.smirnov@yabloko.ru