RFE/RL romanticizes Putin by recycling his propaganda

BBG Watch Guest Commentary

Thinking, naively, that Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a U.S. taxpayer-funded outlet of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) meant to promote freedom and democracy in unfree societies, one finds out that those in charge of this page are awe-struck by Putin’s mettle and manliness as he stands, heroically, in the warm summer rain without an umbrella!

Wow! What an example to be promoted at the cost of the U.S. taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars! So fascinated with Putin are those in charge of this webpage, who draw their salaries and generous benefits from the U.S. Congress, that they decided to contact Putin’s photographer to ask him how the great picture of this great, great leader was taken. Visitors of the web page must have thought that they had been somehow redirected to RT’s or Sputnik’s sites.

One can only imagine how the FB conversation must have unfurled between an incredulous Alexei Druzhinin and RFE/RL:

[The following conversation is a parody.]

RFE/RL: Hello, Mr. Druzhinin?
 
Druzhinin: Yes, me.
 
RFE/RL: THE Mr. Druzhinin? The author of that magnificent photo of the no-less-magnificent-leader-to-be-reelected-again-and-again-and-again?
 
Druzhinin: Yes, yes, he himself here. The photographer, not the great leader, ha ha. What do you want? Who you? We do not give statements unless you are from the Chinese, North Korean or Venezuelan media. Or, OK, maybe Cuba, too.
 
RFE/RL: No-no-no-no! We’re from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc.
Druzhinin: What????? Vade retro!
 
RFE/RL: No, it’s not like that! At least, not anymore! We are so dumbstruck by the incredibly brave gesture of your president that we want to post your photo of a rained-on but indomitable Putin on OUR web page!
 
Druzhinin: Are you, like, sure???
 
RFE/RL: Yes-yes-yes! We love it! How did you do it? How did HE do it?
 
Druzhinin: What, get reelected over-and-over-and-over again? Well, people love him, plus he knows how to part with those who bother him, plus the people love him, plus…
 
RFE/RL: Psh… No, we don’t care he gets reelected over and over again, we know he’s loved, it’s sooo obvious!!! We do care, however, about how he stood there in the harsh summer rain to pose for you! 15 minutes! At the end of June! Must have been tough for both of you, huh?
 
Druzhinin: Well, it was… Let me tell you how it happened, but first, are you REALLY REALLY FROM RFE/RL?…”

The rest is history, as they say, or maybe His Story. Putin’s. To whom RFE/RL does a generous favor, by unwittingly promoting his media stunts for free. Or, rather, at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.

Could this colossal blunder have been caused by the fact that both the newsroom’s newly appointed managers chose to hurry on and take long vacations away from the worries of the workplace, with the blessing of the upper management? There may be other causes, such as a terrible lack of professional competence, indifference or even disdain for the company’s mission, lack of direction, and a general atmosphere of low morale, interrupted only by self-congratulatory outbursts at all managerial levels. Whatever the causes, one thing is clear: the free fall continues at RFE/RL.

“June 22 dawned chilly and changeable in Moscow, but by the time photographer Aleksei Druzhinin was in place near central Moscow’s eternal flame, the sunshine was warming the Kremlin’s walls and “it looked like it would be sunny all day,” he recalled.

The photographer, who works for Putin’s presidential administration, told RFE/RL in a Facebook message that as Russian officials approached the wreath, “the rain came down in buckets” and continued to hammer down until the moment the Russian president left, around 15 minutes later.

The photographer downplays the part he played in the fame of the image. “The reaction was not to the photo itself, but to the fact Putin had refused an umbrella and stood in mourning in the rain.” Later, when a student asked Putin about his decision to forego an umbrella, the Russian president added to his carefully crafted strong-man image, telling the young woman: “I’m not made of sugar.”

###

RFE/RL

 

Eyewitness To History: 2017

 
By Amos Chapel
 

The photographers who captured 10 of the year’s most powerful images tell the story behind the moment.
 
(…)
 
[Go to RFE/RL’s “Eyewitness To History: 2017” to see the photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin standing in the rain featured by RFE/RL.]
 
Russian President Vladimir Putin stands under heavy rain while observing a moment of silence at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. June 22, 2017. Photo: Aleksei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters.
 
June 22 dawned chilly and changeable in Moscow, but by the time photographer Aleksei Druzhinin was in place near central Moscow’s eternal flame, the sunshine was warming the Kremlin’s walls and “it looked like it would be sunny all day,” he recalled.
 
The photographer, who works for Putin’s presidential administration, told RFE/RL in a Facebook message that as Russian officials approached the wreath, “the rain came down in buckets” and continued to hammer down until the moment the Russian president left, around 15 minutes later.
 
The photographer downplays the part he played in the fame of the image. “The reaction was not to the photo itself, but to the fact Putin had refused an umbrella and stood in mourning in the rain.” Later, when a student asked Putin about his decision to forego an umbrella, the Russian president added to his carefully crafted hard-man image, telling the young woman: “I’m not made of sugar.”
 
END OF RFE/RL TEXT

 

According to RFE/RL, “RFE/RL journalists report the news in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.”
 
 

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