Dmitry Kiselyov, general director of the news agency Russiya Segodnya [Russia Today] promised to preserve all of RIA Novosti’s brands on the base of which a new media will be created. He announced this at a meeting with the RIA Novosti collective, a videotape of which was published on 12 December on Youtube.
On 9 December, on the Kremlin website, the president’s decree was published on the liquidation of RIA Novosti and the creation on its base of a new international agency, Rossiya Segodnya. By another decree, Dmitry Kisilyov, deputy general director of the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company was made director of this agency.
Full text of the speech by Kiselyov:
Kiselyov: The first message I want to send – I will try to be guided in cooperation with Nikolai and Sveta [Nikolai Biryukov, general director of RIA Novosti and Svetlana Mironyuk, editor-in-chief of RIA Novosti] – we will try to do everything so that this passes unnoticed for you, this bureaucratic transformation of the creation of a new agency, so that you go through this without leaving your seats, without any pauses in work and in pay. That’s the main task.
The liquidation was chosen as the most convenient form of the merging of three structures – RIA Novosti, Russia Today (the television channel), and Voice of Russia (the radio station) in order to refrain from duplication of functions, so as to make this state system more rational and more effective. That is, your talent will be in demand in a new structure. For me, this [appointment as general director of Rossiya Segodnya—TV Rain] was unexpected. For me this is, in a way, coming full circle, because my first professional lines as a journalist, when I received a fee, I wrote for Novosti Press Agency (APN) in 1975, when many weren’t here yet in the project.
I very much value the journalistic school which is supported here or which is being reproduced. I myself am the fruit of it to some extent, although in television sometimes this can look intimidating. I understand that, this is a television image which presupposes a certain theatricality, a dramatization, a grotesqueness. Although this is my own program, I agree with every word, but it’s a question of form – a form, of course, that is somewhat provocative, but that is consciously incorporated and dosed out. That does not mean that every one of you is obliged to reproduce this in your own performance. That is for sure. There will be a normal, healthy, ambitious policy which we will formulate with your help; without ambitious policy not a single publication in the world exists. That’s understood as well, nothing has to be explained here.
If there are any questions, I am ready to answer them, adding that we are in good personal contact with RIA Novosti, with Svetlana, Nikolai, with everyone. The administration of the president supports us, the government supports us, Rospechat [state publishing agency] supports us. This project will be implemented with as minimal losses as possible here, if at all.
The money is being discussed. Yesterday there was a meeting of the Ministry of Finance in which both I, and representatives of the relevant ministry took part. Andrei Ivanov, deputy minister of finance, chairing the meeting, listened to us enthusiastically and literally pulled out the drafts and lines of expenditures which we need now. The financial office of RIA Novosti is providing all its thoughts, it is making a register of needs, they will be covered in accordance with the overall task.
I don’t have complaints [against the editorial policy of RIA Novosti—TV Rain], because we have freedom of the press in our country. The question is how to position oneself as a state news agency. Often, under the slogan of objectivity, we distort the picture and look at our own country as if it were foreign. I think that this period of distilled, estranged journalism is over.
I myself have espoused these principles, you can easily find my statements in the Internet. But I ask for a certain internal evolution, which could be conveyed by the English proverb about how a person who was not a revolutionary in his youth has no heart, and a person who has not become a conservative when he was more mature has no mind. Everyone passes through this revolution, and for me it did not happened as a result of Putin’s efforts as they write, “here is what Putin did with this person.” I realized that our post-Soviet journalism is unlike Western journalism in that it does not reproduce values, it produces them. Under conditions when consensual values are missing in a country, when children are not such a value – otherwise we would not have more than a million abortions in the country , otherwise we wouldn’t have so many homeless children, otherwise we would have another educational system, when old people are not a value – otherwise we would do more so that they lived better, when the earth is not a value – otherwise we would not pollute it so, when some of our, ahem, journalists, for example at Ekho – this was a concrete example – treat our army as the enemy (this was in 2008) – we have a vacuum of values emerging.
The French sociologist David Émile Durkheim invented the word “anomie” [having no social norms or a lack of social ethic – Ed.] — this is a pre-suicidal state of a person, of an individual. If we are not brought together by this, then why do we exist as a country, as a community, as Russia? Therefore it is journalism that is that instrument and resource for the country that enables these values to be created. If you like, to determine what is good and what is bad. That’s why we understand that literature is largely “yellow”; we understand that – the Internet is an amorphous state, a large territory of individual burrows where people are sitting. I believe that the great mission precisely of creating these values is incumbent on journalists in contemporary Russia.
If we are to speak of objectivity, I believe there isn’t a single publication in the world which would be objective. Is CNN objective? No. Is BBC objective? No. Objectivity is a myth which is proposed and imposed on us. Imagine a young man puts his hand on the shoulder of a girl, and in the best case, says “You know, I have long wanted to tell you that I regard you objectively.” Is that what she is expecting? Not likely. In the same way our country – Russia – needs our love. And objectivity… How? Let’s discuss it.
Often objectivity flows into estrangement, contempt, rubbing one’s hands, a position of “the worse, the better.” That’s all. When we write about our own country from the side, it is as if we do not live in the land where, at a minimum, our parents were born. We must think about this and realize what our mission is about, what we want to say with our existence and our texts. All the more because we are a state agency which exists on government funds. I am not against other points of view, they can be diverse even within this field about which I am speaking. But if we are to speak about traditional politics, then of course we would like it to be associated with love for Russia. that does not mean that we cannot talk about problems. One hundred percent. I have not said that, and I am emphasizing this. But a hostile attitude – I am not moving to the grotesque, I do not want to say that RIA Novosti has a hostile attitude, this is just a means, a figure of speech, a means of proof, of turning, of taking some thought to the point of the grotesque. The hostile attitude can be left to private media, if someone is prepared for everything. But we have resources that are prepared to finance this.
Therefore, the creation of values – it seems to me that this is such a worthy mission, in order that we gain satisfaction from our work. I realize that for us, of course, it doesn’t end with that and we cannot carry out this work in full measure, but to take part in the general process of reflection and self-identification of Russia, this seems to me to be a noble task.
On the economic news front, I can say that it is generally accepted that the key to economic growth, persistent economic growth in Russia has not been found. I say that on my program. The prime minister formulated this last week and Vladimir Putin said it in his address. We have not found the secret to economic growth. Therefore, it seems to me that economic information must be built, targeted, and all your reflection, it is only news, it is not just a burst of information noise, it is making sense of it, it is reflection, the interpretation of information which you should, as it seems to me, having in mind this mission, put together in such a way as to help find the secrets of economic support of healthy phenomena in Russia’s economy. That is my conception here.
[Staff member]: But that doesn’t exclude on the wire the opinion of different people, different experts?
Kiselyov: I just spoke of that, that the field is broad, there are different opinions, and the overarching task is a common one. I looked at the experts’ community on which RIA Novosti is relying – it must correspond precisely to that challenge, enjoying the secret of Russia’s confident and rapid economic growth . The Russian economy has joined now the five largest economies of the world, but that’s not enough, we want more, that doesn’t keep us very warm. I would like this information to excite, to compel, for it to become more sportive, if you like, so that we understand that there’s such a resource in the country, because I personally do not intend to bury Russia. I hope you don’t, either. If you have other plans, that means you should show your flag and that’s it.
[Staff member]: Is a reduction in staff anticipated?
Kiselyov: You see, here essentially three teams are uniting. Understandably, we will look at how the goal will be the more rational construction of a structure of creation. I think that some reductions are inevitable. But I want you to interpret my words precisely – some reductions. The main team will remain, people who are capable of bearing arms will be in demand.
[Staff member]: I have another question. How can you, from the height of your human and journalistic experience, advise us, how we should find that fine line between love for Russia and love for our government in our work?
Kiselyov: This is really a problem for every person, and in all times and in all countries it is fair, it is always a problem. The relationship of love to the government or the attitude toward the government and love to the fatherland. A government is always imperfect but a fatherland – there is only one. That has to be understand, therefore there are always a lot of complaints against a government, but not against a fatherland – no, because you are part of the fatherland, you are part of the government. You work in a government company – make the government better on the territory of your body, on the territory of your work place, but you have not only the territory of your body, you have the opportunity to write and be heard – this is much better. You are taking part in his process. The government is always venal, we understand that, there are none without sin, each person is guilty, and the government all the more. But the fatherland – that’s sacred.
[Staff member]: To be honest, I haven’t heard an answer to my question.
Kiselyov: Separate your attitude toward the government from your attitude toward the fatherland. If you plan to be involved in subversive activity, and that does not coincide with my plans, then I will let you know directly.