BBG Watch Commentary

Voice of America (VOA) English news report on “Pro-Russia, Anti-Ukraine Rally Held in Moscow” (Posted February 21, 2015 10:44 AM, Checked and Not Updated As Of 2:20 PM) is short in words and information.

This is a common phenomenon on the VOA English and foreign language websites, especially on weekends. Hardly anyone works in the VOA central newsroom and on its website team after business hours. Staffing on weekends is especially weak. VOA also has a large cadre of bureaucrats who only work 9 to 5, Monday through Friday.

The VOA English news report on the Moscow rally has has three paragraphs and 99 words. There is no mention in the VOA report that the rally was largely orchestrated by the Kremlin and pro-Kremlin groups.

To find such information, international audiences would have to go to Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) or BBC news websites.

The Voice of America English and Russian reports on the rally in Moscow were woefully inadequate.

VOA should have used some of the reporting by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which together with VOA and other taxpayer-funded U.S. international media outlets, is overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a federal agency with a bipartisan board.

Time and time again, VOA has been incapable of providing adequate news coverage.

VOA Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 2.07PM ET

Pro-Russia, Anti-Ukraine Rally Held in Moscow | VOA English News

VOA News
February 21, 2015 10:44 AM
Russians have gathered in a central square in Moscow for what they call an “anti-Maidan” rally, vowing to prevent a pro-Western uprising like the one that took place in Ukraine’s capital a year ago.
Thousands of pro-Kremlin demonstrators turned out for Saturday’s rally, voicing support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and criticizing Ukraine’s pro-Western government. Many carried Russian flags or wore ribbons symbolizing their support for Russia.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been strained since last year, when Russia annexed parts of eastern Ukraine and began supporting a pro-Russian insurgency inside Ukrainian borders.

Pro-Russia, Anti-Ukraine Rally Held in Moscow | VOA English News


A report on the VOA Russian Service website was not much longer than the VOA English news report, only 158 words.

The VOA Russian Service report did mention in one sentence information from Russian media that some of the rally participants may have been attracted by a promise of pay. The VOA Russian report also said that according to Russian media, demonstrators gathered to protest “against the color revolutions,” and “against what happened in Kiev at end of February 2014, which launched a chain of tragic events [Emphasis added]: a coup in Ukraine, crisis, loss of life, humanitarian catastrophe.”

VOA Russian Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 2.49PM ET

«Антимайдан» в Москве | VOA Russian Service News

Русская служба «Голоса Америки»
21.02.2015 17:04
В субботу 21 февраля в Москве состоялся марш движения «Антимайдан». Тысячи прокремлевских демонстрантов приняли участие в акции, выражая поддержку президенту России Владимиру Путину и критикуя прозападное правительство Украины.
Многие участники марша пришли с плакатами, флагами и георгиевскими лентами.
За последний год отношения России и Украины ухудшились. В марте 2014-го года Россия аннексировала украинский Крым и начала оказывать поддержку сепаратистам в Украине.
Российские СМИ сообщают, что собравшиеся выступают «против “цветных революций”, против того, что произошло в Киеве конце февраля 2014-го, что запустило целую цепочку трагических событий: госпереворот на Украине, кризис, человеческие жертвы, гуманитарная катастрофа».
Тем временем корреспондент «Коммерсанта» Григорий Туманов в своем микроблоге в Twitter пишет, что ему удалось записаться в число тех, кому за участие в митинге обещают заплатить 300 рублей.
Шествие прошло от Страстного бульвара по улице Петровка до Площади Революции, где был организован митинг. Как пишут российская пресса, колонну возглавляли один из создателей «Антимайдана» байкер Хирург и украинский политик Олег Царев, лидер движения «Новороссия».

«Антимайдан» в Москве | VOA Russian Service News


RFE/RL English-language news report on the Moscow rally, “Free Rubles And A College Dean: Strategies For Rallying ‘Anti-Maidan’ Protesters,” had 580 words, one video, and several reported tweets. It focused heavily on describing how the rally was organized by the Russian authorities and groups linked with the Kremlin.

RFERL Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 2.56PM ET


Free Rubles And A College Dean: Strategies For Rallying ‘Anti-Maidan’ Protesters | RFE/RL

But here are the more illuminating parts of what two of them told reporter Vladimir Romensky.
Romensky: Why did you decide to come out onto the street today?
Student 1: I was forced here.
Romensky: Why, who forced [you]?
Student 1: Him [glancing towards his friend].
Romensky: Why did you make him participate?
Student 2: Because I didn’t want to come alone!
Romensky: Are you a Young Guard activist?
Student 2: No.
Student 1: They just gave us these flags.
Romensky: Why did you decide to come here? How did you know about this protest?
Student 2: The dean ordered it.
Romensky: What did the dean say?
Student 2: It was a directive from the rector — fiver [volunteers] per group. So we were assembled [and] came here.
Romensky: Do you know what’s written on your poster?
Student 2: A thief has to sit in prison.
Romensky: Whose photograph is on it.
Student 2: Looks like [Russian opposition leader Aleksei] Navalny and the second I don’t know.
Romensky: Do you feel like Navalny should be in prison?
Student 2: No I don’t feel that way.
Romensky: So why are you holding that poster?

Free Rubles And A College Dean: Strategies For Rallying ‘Anti-Maidan’ Protesters | RFE/RL


The BBC report, “Ukraine crisis: Moscow rally against ‘coup’ one year on,” had 700 words, two videos and several photos.

The BBC’s Sarah Rainsford, at the scene, reported that “the event was highly organised, with flags and banners distributed and buses laid on from some provinces.”