Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Dosvedanya, Booby

Russian Foreign Ministry Says It Will Not Renew ABC-TV's Permission to Operate

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it will not renew permission for ABC-TV to operate in the country after the network broadcast an interview with a notorious Chechen warlord.

In a statement, the ministry said ABC would be considered "undesirable" by all Russian state agencies because of an interview with Shamil Basayev, which was broadcast last week on "Nightline."

The ministry called the broadcast a "clear fact supporting the propaganda of terrorism" and said it "resounded with direct calls for violence against Russian citizens."

As a result, the ministry said it decided "not to renew the accreditations of employees of this television company after they expire."

The Foreign Ministry is the main government agency authorizing foreign media outlets to work in Russia, and the decision effectively now bars ABC from working here.

ABC News had no immediate comment.

There's a war on!


Cassandra said...

Now if only our government had that kind of moral clarity.

portia said...

OK, I’ll go out on a limb here,

My first reaction is Wow. How did that Russian journalist find Basayev? No doubt, the Russian government is asking the same question; they have a $10 million bounty on his head and have been looking for him for the past 6 years.

My second reaction is that Russia’s decision is regrettable. Yes, Basayev is bad, yes he’s a known terrorist—he even admits so on the taped interview—but interviewing him doesn’t foster terrorism, it exposes it by taking evil out from under the rock which it hides and uncovers it for all the world to see. We need to know the faces our enemies, and to hear their raw, ugly words in all their outrageousness. We need to shake people out of their complacency. I dare say that past interviews of Castro or Saddam or Bin Laden that were shown on American TV did not garner support for these monsters. In fact, maybe if more people had watched John Miller’s 1998 taped interview of Bin Laden, and heard his strident accusations and jihad pronouncements, fewer people around the world would have been asking three years later, “Osama who?”

Mostly though, I fear that attempting to punish ABC for its audacity by stripping it of its credentials—and calling the network an “outlaw”-- has instead shone a harsh spotlight on the iron grip Russia keeps on journalists in general, and the Chechen conflict in particular. Even our State Dep't has publicly announced that it is disappointed with the Foreign Ministry's decision. Russia should have seized this opportunity to expose Russia’s greatest enemy to the world and gain public sympathy and support, instead of turning this incident into a story about journalists, freedom of press, and the encroaching PUTIN-TV.

Cassandra said...

My first reaction is Wow. How did that Russian journalist find Basayev?

The same way they always find criminals and terrorists - they have ties.

I'd repeat my earlier comment, but I'm already tiresome over at VC.

portia said...

Actually, I don't think it's a coincidence that Babitsky, the Russian journalist who interviewed Basayev, is the individual at the heart of this brouhaha. Over the past 5 years, Babitsky has had a tumultuous relationship with the Russian government because of his coverage of the atrocities in Chechnya, and which resulted in a game of human chess including his being kidnapped, arrested, imprisoned and handed over to Chechen rebels in exchange for release of Russian soldiers. News of his kidnapping--which was captured on videotape--was heard around the world, and the international outcry finally prompted Putin's intercession, and Babitsky's subsequent release. He continues to be a thorn in the government's side as he persists in covering the war in Chechnya, which the Russian authorities have banned access to for all but a few international and local state approved [read: pro-Russian] journalists since the beginning of the Second Chechen war.

spd rdr said...

Well, Ted and Co. took a calculated gamble. Russia warned them not to run the program and they said "Pfffft! Try and stop us." So the program was aired and now they're gone.I think the U.S. response was correct:"We regret that you seek to stifle the news, Mr. Putin, but we won't interfere." Now ABC can run a series of reports on its favorite subject: itself.

I wonder if they paid for the lead or the interview?

portia said...

Well, I didn't think I'd hear those words from your lips after you nearly bit off my head yesterday. Something I said? I'll take that as a yes:)

Supposedly, Babitsky undertook the interview on his own, and shopped it around various networks. That said, I'm sure some rubles were exchanged.