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Cablegate: Tfgg01: Russian Media On Humanitarian Situation, Regional

VZCZCXRO0879
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #2407/01 2271324
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 141324Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9486
INFO RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI PRIORITY 3881
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 002407

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PBTS PINR PINS PNAT PREL GG RS
SUBJECT: TFGG01: Russian Media on Humanitarian Situation, Regional
Politics

REF: A)MOSCOW 2343, B)MOSCOW 2366, C)MOSCOW 2383

1. (SBU) Summary: The conflict in South Ossetia remained a
front-page, top-of the news hour topic for Russian media, but the
focus shifted from breaking events to refugees and humanitarian
needs, and the long-term regional and geopolitical implications. In
contrast to CNN's images of tanks and Russian troops in Gori, for
the Russian press, the war was over and state-controlled broadcast
media supported the Kremlin's line that their goals had been
achieved. The print media's wider range of views reflected the
editorial stances of its individual ownership - pro-Kremlin
Izvestiya highlighted Medvedev's 100 days in office and the victims
in Tzkhinvali, while business-oriented Vedemosti introduced topics
other than Georgia. Much ink was spilt over the American "role" in
the conflict and the future of U.S.-Russian relations. Pundits
complimented President Medvedev on his performance during the
fighting and on his working relationship with Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin. End Summary.

It's not about Georgia, it's about America
------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) After having spent the past several days highlighting the
alleged American role in the conflict, Russian media squarely placed
the issue in the context of the U.S.-Russian (instead of the
Russian-Georgian) relationship. Surprisingly, little play was given
to the August 13 statements by President Bush or Secretary Rice, but
we expect to see a measured reaction on the August 14 evening news.


3. (SBU) Kommersant, a business-oriented daily, declared warm
relations between Moscow and Washington over. It accused President
Bush of threatening Russia with isolation in retaliation for its
military success in South Ossetia. Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a centrist
newspaper, accused the United States of trying to "punish" Russia.
State-controlled Channel One aired a statement by Foreign Minister
Lavrov which gave the U.S. a choice between a real partnership with
Russia or a "virtual" one with Georgia.

Medvedev and Putin working well together
----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) By coincidence, the 100 day mark of the Medvedev
administration was reached August 14, allowing the Russia press to
turn attention to the performance of the president and the
omnipresent prime minister. All media unanimously praised how well
the two were working together. Izvestiya noted that this challenge
by a "broad front of Russia's enemies" showed that Putin and
Medvedev complimented each other. Komsomolskaya Pravda, a
pro-Kremlin tabloid, smugly said that while Medvedev's election was
hailed in the West, he has demonstrated himself to be a tough
defender of Russian interests. However, Nezavisimaya Gazeta
complimented the president on his show of independence from the
prime minister and his order to halt the military advance into
Georgia.

South Ossetia: the forgotten victim
-----------------------------------

5. (SBU) Russian television continued its barrage of images and
reports from South Ossetia highlighting the destruction and "crimes"
committed by Georgia. Highlighting the government-declared "Day of
Mourning," broadcasts included footage of destroyed cities, reports
from refugee camps, and ordinary Russians giving blood. Moskovskiy
Komsomolets, a well-read tabloid newspaper, dedicated a full page to
color photos of the ruins from the conflict zone. Komsomolskaya
Pravda, Russia's highest circulated daily, carried reports of
funerals for Tskhinvali residents accompanied by a large photo of a
woman weeping atop a coffin. Both newspapers also ran extensive
stories on Russian soldiers killed in the conflict with pictures of
their widows and orphaned children.

6. (SBU) While much of the Russian press was reveling in the
righteousness of Russia's cause, Interfax, an independent wire
service, ran a story about how Russian troops were leaving the city
of Gori intact, with water and electricity service for the civilian
population. The article noted that both Georgian officials and
foreign ambassadors had visited the city (presumably to confirm the
reports of its intact condition.) In addition, Moskovskiy
Komsomolets queried Embassy Moscow as to why it did not lower its
flag to half staff in honor of the victims of the conflict.

Lessons for the region?
-----------------------

7. (SBU) On a more ominous note, while the Hitler-Saakashvili
comparisons abounded in the media, Saakashvili was also compared to
other troublesome regional leaders. Izvestiya ran a box article
entitled "Little Allies" which included photos of Polish President

MOSCOW 00002407 002 OF 002


Kaczinski, Lithuanian President Adamkus, Ukrainian President
Yuschenko, and a rather unflattering portrait of Saakashvili. Few
papers and no broadcast covered the August 13 appearance of the
Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian and Ukrainian presidents in solidarity
with Saakashvili in Tbilisi.

8. (SBU) Nezavisimaya Gazeta ran a front page story predicting that
the conflict in the Caucasus would transfer to the Russian-Ukrainian
border. Channel One cited an Interfax report accusing Ukraine of
being involved in the fighting on the side of the Georgians.

Paging Dr. Freud
-----------------

9. (U) Komsomolskaya Pravda continued the media's
psychoanalysis/character assassination of Saakashvili under the
headline: "Saakashvili has been offended since childhood - and now
he is dying to prove that he is not weak." The tabloid resurrected
claims that the Georgian president's stepfather beat him, and that
he has been unfaithful to his wife with a Georgian pop singer and
his secretary.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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