Statement by the Independent Media Council: Russian Propagandists Have No Place in the Media of the Civilized World

Statement by the Independent Media Council: Russian Propagandists Have No Place in the Media of the Civilized World

1 Березня 2023
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Statement by the Independent Media Council: Russian Propagandists Have No Place in the Media of the Civilized World

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The Independent Media Council is issuing a demand for the immediate dismissal of Harry Knyagnitsky from his role at the Voice of America. Furthermore, the IMC urges all high-quality and responsible media outlets across the civilized world to take a principled stance against the employment of Russian propagandists.
Statement by the Independent Media Council: Russian Propagandists Have No Place in the Media of the Civilized World
Statement by the Independent Media Council: Russian Propagandists Have No Place in the Media of the Civilized World

Українською текст читайте тут.

The Independent Media Council is expressing its outrage over the employment of Harry Knyagnitsky by the Russian service of the Voice of America since November 2022.

It is important to note that NTV, the television network where Harry Knyagnitsky worked as a propagandist, is wholly owned by the Russian state-owned company Gazprom. The European Union has also imposed sanctions on NTV since December 2022 for "continuous and concerted actions of disinformation and military propaganda, legitimizing Russian aggression."

The IMC has reason to believe that Harry Knyagnitsky's past work at NTV was deeply troubling and raises significant questions about his ability to conduct impartial journalism. As a military correspondent, Knyagnitsky was responsible for the story Genocide and Destruction: Donbas Residents Terrified of the Actions of the Ukrainian Army.

Knyagnitsky also authored materials about the alleged "coup d'état" in Ukraine and the "accession" of Crimea to Russia, as well as other articles promoting narratives that are often relied upon by Russian President Vladimir Putin when justifying the war against Ukraine.

The reports that Knyagnitsky filmed in 2014 continue to play a role in the ongoing genocide of Ukrainians, and the IMC believes that he must be held accountable for his role in spreading harmful narratives.

For instance, Knyagnitsky was one of the propagandists who normalized the alleged "escape" of Ukrainian children to Russia, a narrative that has been used by the Kremlin to justify the abduction of over 14,000 Ukrainian children.

Even after leaving NTV, Knyagnitsky's perspectives on current events remained controversial and demonstrated a lack of impartiality.

For instance, during his tenure at RTVI, Knyagnitsky speculated that Ukraine had provoked Russia during the Kerch Strait incident, in which Russian forces fired at and kidnapped Ukrainian sailors. His comments downplayed the severity of the situation and failed to acknowledge Russia's actions as a clear violation of international law.

The IMC recognizes that the presence of Russian propagandists at the Voice of America raises serious concerns about the broadcaster's reputation and credibility. It is deeply troubling that someone like Harry Knyagnitsky, who helped disguise Russian aggression as "militia" and legitimized the annexation of Crimea on camera, is now working for the Russian service of the Voice of America.

The IMC finds the Voice of America's response to the call for the release of Harry Knyagnitsky from his position to be particularly cynical, especially on the eve of the anniversary of Russia's treacherous and full-scale attack on Ukraine.

According to the Institute of Mass Information, since February 24, 2022, Russia has committed 497 against journalists and media in Ukraine. 48 media professionals were killed in Ukraine as a result of Russian armed aggression, including US citizens and US media workers - Brent Renaud (TIME correspondent), Pierre Zakrzewski (Fox News cameraman), and Oleksandra Kuvshynova (Fox News producer).

In his response, Nigel Gibbs of the Voice of America refers to the previous many years of experience in hiring journalists "from repressive societies, including Russia." However, it is essential to recognize that the current geopolitical landscape is vastly different from what happened during the Cold War and the period of détente between the US and the USSR. It has no relevance to the current war, the largest in Europe since 1945.

The IMC acknowledges that the term "repressive society" is not universally applicable and that each country must be evaluated on its own merits. In the case of Russia, it is important to recognize that the majority of Russia's population consistently supports the unprovoked and brutal war against Ukraine, which violates international law and the UN Charter.

Whereas in previous decades, the recruitment of Russian propagandists could be done in secrecy, the current digital age will facilitate loud publicity of such shameful actions.

These practices undermine the credibility of financial, humanitarian, and defense assistance provided by the United States to Ukraine during this difficult time of Russian aggression. We believe that hiring individuals with a history of spreading disinformation and propaganda is a betrayal of the American public's trust and a threat to the integrity of democratic values. 

The IMC demands that Harry Knyagnitsky be fired from Voice of America, and we urge media organizations to take immediate action to prevent the hiring of individuals involved in criminal disinformation.

The Voice of America serves as a model for media organizations around the world. We believe that this model should prioritize the protection of high standards of reputation and journalistic integrity rather than whitewashing the actions of Russian propagandists.

The IMC calls on all high-quality and responsible media organizations in the civilized world to take a principled stance against the employment of Russian media professionals with a track record of working for Kremlin propaganda. Regardless of what views and beliefs they express now, former propagandists should not be permitted to enter the journalistic profession and create media products aimed at the people of the free world. The IMC acknowledges that those responsible for the crimes of Russian propaganda should be held accountable someday. However, we also believe that reputational mechanisms of responsibility for involvement in wrongdoing should be put in place now.

Команда «Детектора медіа» понад 20 років виконує роль watchdog'a українських медіа. Ми аналізуємо якість контенту і спонукаємо медіагравців дотримуватися професійних та етичних стандартів. Щоб інформація, яку отримуєте ви, була правдивою та повною.

До 22-річчя з дня народження видання ми відновлюємо нашу Спільноту! Це коло активних людей, які хочуть та можуть фінансово підтримати наше видання, долучитися до генерування спільних ідей та отримувати більше ексклюзивної інформації про стан справ в українських медіа.

Мабуть, ще ніколи якісна журналістика не була такою важливою, як сьогодні.
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