BBG Watch

RFE:RL_LogoRadio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has it right; the Voice of America (VOA) English News got it wrong. RFE/RL reported that “U.S. Senator John McCain has arrived in Kyiv on Saturday, where he met with oppositon and religious leaders as well as with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara. VOA News reported that McCain will arrive in Kyiv on Sunday.

RT (formerly Russia Today) is also contradicting VOA News by reporting Saturday, 19:20 GMT (2PM ET), that “Ukraine’s foreign minister Leonid Kozhara has assured visiting U.S. senator John McCain that integration with Europe remains a ‘priority’ for the current government, according to an official ministry statement.

The politicians reportedly mostly discussed the government’s handling of the current wave of protests; McCain also met with opposition leaders today [Saturday].”

See: “Mass protests in Kiev: LIVE UPDATES,” RT (Russia Today) December 14, 2013.

If VOA English News does not check RT website, it could at least check the RFE/RL website, or it could look at Senator McCain’s Twitter account to get the story right.

In fact, as of 4PM ET, VOA English News has no idea where McCain is and what he may be doing. VOA English News is giving international audiences incomplete and erroneous information on McCain’s trip to Ukraine.

Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 5.03.50 PMFortunately, at least the VOA Ukrainian Service is reporting correct information about Senator McCain.

But the vast majority of other VOA foreign language services are also giving the wrong information after VOA English News.

One of them is the VOA Russian Service, which posted a translation of the VOA English News report with wrong information about McCain and did not check the facts on its own. Audiences in Russia already know from their own domestic media that Senator McCain is already in Ukraine.

The VOA Ukrainian Service website has suffered denial of service attacks in recent days, but the service also regularly updates its Facebook page and has posted there several photos of Senator McCain in Kyiv on Saturday.

According to a report by RFE/RL Ukrainian Service, McCain has already met with Vitali Klitschko of the UDAR party, nationalist leader Oleh Tyahnybok, and Arseniy Yatsenyuk of the Batkvyshchyna (Fatherland) opposition party, RFE/RL reported He also met with Patriarch Filaret, the leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

RFE/RL also reported that the Foreign Ministry said in a statement that MCain and Kozhara discussed “key issues of Ukrainian-American relations” and Kozhara underlined the “priority of Ukraine’s European integration course.”

See: “McCain In Kyiv; Four Officials Charged Over Crackdown,” By RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, December 14, 2013.

The Voice of America (VOA), which was hours late behind the Voice of Russia (VOR), RT (formerly Russia Today) and other international media in reporting on McCain’s visit to Ukraine, has finally reported that the visit will take place. But VOA got the news wrong by reporting that McCain’s visit will not start until Sunday: “U.S. Senators John McCain, a leading Republican, and Chris Murphy, the Democratic chairman of the Senate’s Europe subcommittee, will visit Ukraine on Sunday for talks with government officials, opposition and civil society leaders.”

See: “Ukraine President Suspends Officials over Protest Crackdown,” VOA News, Last updated on: December 14, 2013 10:20 AM.

In fact, Senator McCain has already been for many hours in Kyiv on Saturday, as reported by RFE/RL and other media, and Senator Murphy will join him there Sunday.

The VOA English news website is again offering late and superficial as well as inaccurate information.

We noted that this VOA English news report with a wrong date for Senator McCain’s visit to Ukraine has not been updated from 10:20AM ET until 4:00PM ET and is still not updated and not corrected when this BBG Watch report is being posted.

There is very little news posting and updating on the VOA English website, particularly on weekends and outside of business hours in Washington, DC. One can safely conclude that the VOA central news operation is in a state of complete meltdown under the current VOA top management.

It is a miracle that the VOA Ukrainian Service has been able to mobilize and provide outstanding news reporting from Ukraine in such a badly managed environment.


Ukraine President Suspends Officials over Protest Crackdown” is the outdated VOA English News Report with the wrong information about Senator McCain as it still appears on the VOA English website at 5:20PM ET. It has not been corrected or updated since 10:20AM ET.

VOA English News also posted earlier a Reuters report with the same wrong information:

“Reuters – on VOA website – “US Senators to Visit Ukraine on Day of Opposition Rally

December 13, 2013 WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators John McCain, a leading Republican voice on foreign policy issues, and Chris Murphy, the Democratic chairman of the Senate’s Europe subcommittee, will visit the Ukrainian capital on Sunday, the day the Ukrainian opposition plans a mass rally, aides said on Friday.”

The latest report, re-posted below, is presented as VOA News original content.

Ukraine President Suspends Officials over Protest Crackdown

VOA News Last updated on: December 14, 2013 10:20 AM

In a conciliatory move toward protesters, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has suspended his deputy security council chief and the head of the Kyiv city administration for their suspected involvement in a violent police crackdown on demonstrators last month.

Prosecutor-General Viktor Pshonka announced Saturday that the two officials Volodymyr Syvkovych and Oleksandr Popov, as well as the then-head of Kyiv police and his deputy, are being investigated for allegedly exceeding their authority in connection with the crackdown.

The incident occurred in the early hours of November 30, when police used force to disperse a pro-European Union rally in Kyiv.

Mass anti-government protests have overtaken the capital for more than three weeks since President Yanukovych decided not to sign a long-awaited trade pact with the EU in an attempt to avoid losing trade with Russia.

Ukraine’s opposition leaders are calling for a new mass protest in Kyiv on Sunday, while supporters of Yanukovych are also planning a demonstration just a kilometer away.

On Saturday, thousands of government supporters rallied in the capital, where Prime Minister Mykola Azarov addressed the crowd.

Members of the opposition held direct talks with President Yanukovych Friday for the first time in more than three weeks of mass anti-government protests.

But opposition leaders emerged from the meeting, which included other political and civil society representatives, saying the president failed to meet their demands.

Among other things, the head of the Udar, or “Punch,” party — Vitaly Klitschko — and Ukraine’s other main opposition leaders are calling for the release of jailed protesters.

The Ukrainian president has proposed amnesty for those arrested in the protests. But that was not enough for the opposition, which called for Yanukovych and his government to step down.

U.S. Senators John McCain, a leading Republican, and Chris Murphy, the Democratic chairman of the Senate’s Europe subcommittee, will visit Ukraine on Sunday [Emphasis added.] for talks with government officials, opposition and civil society leaders.

Aides said Friday that senators issued a resolution calling for the United States to consider sanctions in case there is further violence against peaceful demonstrators.

The measure, which would be subject to approval by the Senate, said President Barack Obama’s administration and the U.S. Congress should consider sanctions, including visa bans and assets freezes, against anyone responsible for the violence.

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