Conflict in Current Time TV Over Possible Appointment of Propagandist Ilya Klishin

Conflict in Current Time TV Over Possible Appointment of Propagandist Ilya Klishin

31 Березня 2023
31 Березня 2023

Conflict in Current Time TV Over Possible Appointment of Propagandist Ilya Klishin

The person under consideration for the position of the head of the channel’s online team was previously known for stating that Ukraine would not be a part of Europe and that Russia should retain Crimea after Putin is gone. However, according to the press service of Current Time, it has not yet been confirmed that he will be appointed to the role.
Conflict in Current Time TV Over Possible Appointment of Propagandist Ilya Klishin
Conflict in Current Time TV Over Possible Appointment of Propagandist Ilya Klishin

Українською читайте тут.

The prospective appointment of Ilya Klishin as the head of the Internet team, which oversees the website, YouTube, and all social media, has caused a stir among the Ukrainian, Belarusian, and a portion of the Russian team working in the Prague office of Current Time. As a result, they have canceled a meeting with the potential top manager. Detector Media, citing five anonymous sources who preferred to remain undisclosed due to ethical and career-related reasons, reported on this development.

According to Detector Media’s sources, Ilya Klishin was introduced to the team on March 29 as the new head of the Internet team, but his official start date was expected to be after he had obtained his visa.

However, Victoria Benner, the Communications Director of Radio Liberty (Current Time is a joint project of Radio Liberty and Voice of America), stated that “We have not yet finalized the appointment of a new director of the online team of Current Time”. Pavel Butorin, the director of Current Time, directed us to the external relations department when we asked him for comment.

Before his potential appointment as the head of the Internet team at Current Time, Ilya Klishin served as the website manager for the Russian TV channel Rain (Dozhd), as well as the head of the online team for the Russian-language TV channel RTVI.

In his propaganda articles published during Russia’s war against Ukraine, Ilya Klishin expressed his views on several occasions. For instance, in an article titled How Russia Can Keep Crimea After Putin, he argued that “The task is exactly this: how to preserve Crimea in the new Russia and how to get it recognized as part of our country by the West and, most importantly, by Ukraine. It is important to understand that there is no option to give it back [...] Western partners should make it clear that this is a historical choice, and perhaps even exaggerate the scale of internal resistance that demands compensation for it”.

In another publication, he discussed Why Ukraine Cannot Return to Europe: “In Ukraine, as you may have noticed, the invention (”remembering”) of its Europeanness has been going on with varying success for more than a decade [...] Ukraine is not Serbia, it is not even Turkey. For Brussels, Ukraine is, excuse me, Morocco. A country on the periphery of the union, where unrest occurs from time to time, and it is important to maintain stability. The Eastern Partnership, i.e., the European countries of the former USSR, are not candidates for accession, they are a fence to be tidied up and even painted. Or to be put out if a neighbor on the other side poured gasoline on it and set it on fire for some reason”.

Radio Liberty’s external relations department did not comment on Ilya Klishin’s past or views at the request of DM.

As Detector Media has learned, the appointment of Ilya Klishin is only the latest in a series of similar problems facing the newsroom of the Current Time. 

To recap, this TV channel is a joint Russian-language project of Radio Liberty and Voice of America. It is based in Prague and broadcasts to Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Georgia, and other countries in the region. 

Ukrainian staff members are outraged that Russians are being appointed to all senior positions in the editorial office of Current Time, even during Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. Kirill Sukhotsky, the regional director in charge of all Russian-language projects at Radio Liberty, is allegedly responsible for their promotion. He was born in Belarus, and before joining Radio Liberty, he directed Reuters TV in Russia and the CIS, and worked for the BBC in Moscow and London. 

Victoria Benner, communications director of Radio Liberty, denied the information that the top managers are exclusively Russian: “This is not true. The management team of Current Time includes citizens of many countries, including Ukraine”. 

Later, Detector Media’s sources clarified that there is one Ukrainian among the top managers of Current Time, Volodymyr Mykhailov, head of the Utro morning show. 

As one of the former employees of Current Time told Detektor Media, even before the full-scale war, differences of opinion developed between the Russian management in Prague and the Ukrainian team, for example, over the recognition of the presence of Russian regular troops in Ukraine. 

There are also people from Russian state propaganda channels among the staff of Current Time. Detector Media is currently verifying information about specific individuals and their personal involvement in propaganda. At the same time, in recent years, such employees as Saken Amurzaev, Timur Olevskiy, and Dmitry Treshchanin have been fired (the latter two journalists were the authors of an investigation into the head of the Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin).  

This combination of factors makes the Ukrainian part of the editorial office of Current Time worry about the threat of being excluded from the list of foreign TV channels that are allowed to be rebroadcast in Ukraine. In September 2022, the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting added Current Time to the updated list of foreign TV channels that can be rebroadcast in Ukraine. The channel can be broadcast by providers of all telecommunications systems.

For the records, in August 2022, Current Time published and then deleted a video showing Moscow residents smilingly claiming that their lives have not changed (or hardly changed) in the six months since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Some directly voiced support for the Kremlin’s actions.

A personnel scandal with Russian propagandists also occurred in the Russian service of the Voice of America. They hired Harry Knyagnitsky, an NTV propagandist who filmed stories about “militants”. After an appeal from Ukrainian media professionals and outrage from Voice of America staff, the former propagandist was put on paid leave. As of yet, no decision has been made regarding his future.

Detector Media asked the Voice of America what motivated them to hire former propagandist Harry Knyagnitsky and how they see his future in the broadcaster’s organization. Our editorial team received a response: “For decades, Voice of America has hired experienced journalists from repressive societies, including Russia. All Voice of America journalists work under editorial supervision and guidance, which ensures that all their work meets the highest standards of journalism and our charter. Mr. Knyagnitsky’s work, like that of other VOA journalists, is subject to the news agency’s rigorous editorial process”.

Ukrainian media professionals interviewed by Detector Media consider the Voice of America’s statement about the appointment of Harry Knyagnitsky to be a “retort,” “mockery,” and “a signal to other propagandists”.

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