Putin honors 300+ pro-Russian journalists

On April 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin honored over 300 TV, print and radio journalists for “objective coverage” of the Ukraine crisis, Kyiv Post and Reuters reported.

Their true objectivity is thrown into question by the sheer amount of propaganda abounding in Russian media, and by the fact that the Kremlin has a history of using propaganda as a weapon.

“I can confirm that such a decree was signed, but we usually do not publish them. Now, since this information has become public, we do not plan to add any details about it,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told The Moscow Times.

The awards were given under Decree 279, the contents of which were hidden until a Russian newspaper broke the story on May 5.

There was a lull between Decrees 278 and 280 in the official gazette, Huffington Post reported. A Kremlin source said, “It was for internal use, not for public use.”

Ukrainians and Russians alike have difficulty parsing information from their news media.

There is a large volume of propaganda in addition to confused, fragmented reporting and outright lies.

For example, Russian media reported heavy fighting in Kramatorsk, a city in the region of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

Reuters reporters on the scene found no evidence of this.

Russian media deny being part of a Kremlin propaganda campaign and accuse Western media of bias, Huffington Post reported.

Western reporters in Ukraine have been taken hostage and attacked, likely a result of such claims being accepted by the public.

Paul Gubarev, a pro-Russian protest leader currently being detained, said on Facebook that journalists are “catalysts of intolerance, hatred and violence.”

Russian news outlets paint the Ukrainian government as being unable to manage its own country and having a majority of pro-Russians. Ukrainian news outlets lack the same funding and organization as Russian state media.

This means it also lacks the same single-mindedness needed to effectively argue against such portrayals.

Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, has trouble getting intelligence from the East.

This also means that Ukrainian media cannot prove that pro-Russia rebels are in the pay of the Kremlin, Huffington Post reported.

Ukraine is currently preparing for three big events.

A referendum on independence for the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk was scheduled for May 11, May 9 was the anniversary of Germany’s surrender at the end of World War II, and the presidential election will take place on May 25.

All three have the potential to transform into violent displays.

Putin could use such an occurrence as pretext to invade.

Putin has said he will invade if he feels pro-Russians and Russian-speakers need his protection, Huffington Post reported.

Previously, President Dmitry Medvedev also presented awards to journalists in 2009 for their coverage of the conflict between Russia and Georgia in 2008 over the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The decree associated with the Russia-Georgia conflict was also made public.

Independent media analyst Vasily Gatov told The Moscow Times that the awards also shared an eerie link to the tradition in Soviet Russia of giving out awards in May commemorating the Russian victory in World War II.

“These awards show that Russia’s political system works on the basis of informal rules and signals. If someone does not receive such an award, this could be interpreted as a sign of disgrace,” Gatov said in a phone interview.

-Dionna Cheatham ’15, Junior Politics/Opinions Editor

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