Source Pravda.Ru

Media Space Wars

It is said history repeats itself. What once was a tragedy is replayed as a farce. Something like that is likely to happen now with what in the Soviet times was called 'enemy voices on the air'. Today's young are lucky not to have known the frustration of trying to get tuned to the short-wave news or entertainment programmes of The Voice of America, Deutsche Velle, Radio Liberty or other foreign radio stations and listen through the deafening noise of suppressor installations. Today, radio broadcasts from abroad may join the arsenal of weapons used in Russia's domestic political wars. According to news media, Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovsky are dissatisfied with the nearly complete takeover of The Echo of Moscow broadcasts, Sergei Buntman, the radio station's Editor-in-Chief, admitting the ongoing reprogramming to include the programmes authored by his 'colleagues' from TV-6. According to certain sources, in order ' to preserve the freedom of speech', Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovsky have had a new powerful television centre built for the Inter-TV satellite television company in Cologne, Germany. The centre is supposed to be used for political broadcasts primarily addressed to Russian speakers living abroad. However, these programs will be also available to the not so numerous owners of satellite dish aerials in Russia.

This seems to be the way Russia's out-of-favour oligarchs, unable to influence the population of Russia at large, intend to affect the opinions of the most economically and socially active part of it, those who can afford satellite dishes and foreign travel. Some say the programmes to be broadcast are to be partially developed in Russia by journalists from Evgeny Kiselyov's team.

It is clear that once a broadcasting channel like that begins functioning as a political challenge to the President and Government of the Russian Federation, Boris Berezovsky will demonstratively become a political emigrant to never return home. What is not clear is how Bob is going to continue struggling for TV-6 on the one hand, while creating his own broadcasting centre abroad on the other hand. One can hardly sit on two, Russian and foreign, chairs at once. Well, the media tycoon probably knows what he is doing. After all he studied the history of the Communist Party of the USSR and that party's experience of revolutionary propaganda.

However, what Mr. Berezovsky does is not all that interesting. He is hardly capable of becoming the leader of a consolidated opposition to the President of Russia. Yet with time, someone may be able to use the propaganda resources Bob is busily creating. And this someone should be looked for not outside but inside Russia. There's a number of those disgruntled, including some ex-oligarchs who, while not going to ever leave Russia, have been seriously enough hurt by what her present leaders do. Yet they will reveal themselves as a serious political force probably not until the end of this or the beginning of the next year, just before the next elections to the State Duma. In the meantime, what is interesting is the possible reaction of the leaders of Russia to the mass media-related and political initiatives of Boris Berezovsky abroad. The best to serve the ex-oligarch's purposes would be the reanimation of the Soviet tradition of suppressing foreign broadcasts. Yet this is hardly likely to happen. First, this would not be legal and so far Russian authorities stick with law and order. Of course, not everyone always likes the way law and order are applied. Secondly, no one will be stupid enough to do the opposition's advertising for it. Thirdly, electronic broadcast suppression is very expensive.

What is really significant is that those capable of receiving Inter-TV broadcasts are, by now, quite certain of their sympathies and antipathies. They have lots of alternative sources of information and one would have to use super-human efforts to swerve them over to the viewpoint of Mr. Berezovsky. The optimal course of action for Russian authorities to take would be achieving the maximal effectiveness of their own propaganda and counterpropaganda systems while abandoning the tactics of ideological defence in favour of ideological offence. If this happens, it will become obvious to all that Mr. Berezovsky and Mr. Gusinsky represent the past day of Russian politics and economy while the country keeps developing along new healthier lines than those of 1990s and that the propaganda activeness of the ex-oligarchs is truly nothing but deceit and farce.

Oleg Solodukhin.

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