Russia's state-run Rossia Segodnya media holding has launched a new international multimedia project to “provide an alternative viewpoint on world events.” Sputnik International, which replaces the English-language RIA Novosti service, will incorporate several websites and radio stations, and plans to have news hubs in up to 30 cities by 2015.
Dmitry Kiselev, head of Rossia Segodnya, and host of Vesti Nedeli, known for his outrageous comments on current affairs and often called “Russia's propagandist-in-chief,” claimed Sputnik's launch was meant for people who are “tired of aggressive propaganda” and want a “different perspective.”
We will verify information, our information will be reliable. We will provide alternative interpretations that are, undoubtedly, in demand around the world. We think that the world is tired of the unipolar point of view… We believe that the basis of such a multicolored and multipolar world is international law, a world by rule.
Sputnik, the Russian world for “satellite,” is a great way to brand a Russian media product, as it “sounds familiar, warm, swift and romantic,” said Kiselev. He insisted that Sputnik does not intend to replace RIA Novosti in Russia, and that the new brand will only work outside the country. The takeover is already evident, though, as the RIA Novosti English website en.ria.ru now redirects to sputniknews.com.
Many journalists who previously followed the English-language @ria_novosti Twitter account were surprised to discover they are now subscribed to @SputnikInt instead, as it quietly took over the account, which has over 55,000 followers.
Ах вот оно чо, ну ладно тогда pic.twitter.com/LoI1oyBRw4
— Philipp Kireev (@mynameisphilipp) November 10, 2014
Oh, that's what it is, okay then.
If you look at the @SputnikInt account it has tweeted 60,000 times – but under an old name and all the old links are now broken
— Daniel Sandford (@BBCDanielS) November 10, 2014
Incidentally, the @ria_novosti name, which became vacant, was immediately occupied by someone else, and the account now looks set to become a parody one.
RuNet users and foreign observers have reacted with gusto to the new media brand, its plans and its new motto: “Telling the Untold.”
Is “Telling the Untold” even proper English? Nice start geniuses.
— Peter Leonard (@pete_leonard) November 10, 2014
I wonder how Tallinn Riga and Vilnius feel about being grouped in Kiselyov's “post-Soviet” vision of his news empire pic.twitter.com/KeqaRwathq
— Maria Antonova (@mashant) November 10, 2014
Теперь будет такая схема: РИА ссылается на Спутник, Спутник — на RT, а RT — на РИА. Цитируемость х3, ура
— Султанс (@sult) November 10, 2014
The scheme will be as follows now: RIA links to Sputnik, Sputnik quotes RT, and RT quotes RIA. Citations x3, hooray.
A few jibes also went Kiselev's way—he does, after all, have quite a reputation in the media circles and is also on the Western sanctions list along with other prominent Russian public figures.
“На презентации нового агентства Дмитрий Киселев выступил против идеологической пропаганды” Смешной анекдот, однако.
— velocity (@velocity100500) November 10, 2014
At the launch of his new agency, Dmitry Kiselev spoke against ideological propaganda. What a funny joke, yeah.
Би-би-си вдрогнуло – Киселев объявил о запуске Sputnik – радио и интернет-СМИ http://t.co/g8YuI9WFdr
— Russian Fox (@sergefox11) November 10, 2014
BBC shudders—Kiselev has announced the launch of Sputnik, a radio and Internet media.
Sputnik will be seen all over the world, unlike Kiselyov himself, who is barred from Europe and US by sanctions.
— Peter Leonard (@pete_leonard) November 10, 2014
It's unlikely that Sputnik's media output will be drastically different from anything RIA Novosti or Russia Today already produce, so it's safe to say its “alternative viewpoint” will probably stay within close orbit of the Kremlin's agenda.
Mainstream point of view: Obama is good.
Alternative point of view: Obama is bad.
All these kiselyovs have no brains to invent anything more.
If Kremlin propaganda expands, the West needs to expand its own information arsenal to counter the Russian dezinformatsiya campaign, which is now running full-throttle. Sputnik is just a small part of the Kremlin’s vast, complex and well-funded dezinformatsiya arsenal against the West and against the US specifically. Just-released report, “The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture and Money”, now available for download free at The Interpreter website.
– Executive Summary: http://www.interpretermag.com/the-menace-of-unreality-how-the-kremlin-weaponizes-information-culture-and-money/
– FULL 44 page report (PDF):
“Sputnik” sounds familiar, warm, swift and romantic? To me it sounds like its “predecessor”, the glossy magazine by the same name printed by the communists in Finland in Soviet times. It was a “digest of Soviet press” published in several languages. Its main function seemed to be making the Soviet Union look better than it really was.
Yeah, and the nationalist hate site “Sputnik and Pogrom” (http://sputnikipogrom.com/) also comes to mind. Not warm and fuzzy unless you hate on Americans, Ukrainians and migrants.