BBG Watch Commentary

U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) reposted a large part of a press release from Vladimir Putin’s official investigators into the murder of opposition leader Borys Nemtsov without questioning its lack of objectivity or specifically listing other more likely theories as to why former Deputy Prime Minister was assassinated, such as his strong criticism of Putin and hatred against the democratic opposition promoted by in the Kremlin-controlled news media.

Chess champion Gary Kasparov, a pro-democracy activist in Russia who now spends time in the United States and who was friends with Boris Nemtsov for over two decades, told CNN that the hatred spread by the Kremlin through the mass media in Russia is responsible for Boris Nemtsov’s death.

The Voice of America needs to learn that journalistic balance and objectivity does not mean repeating press releases without any challenge.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which like the Voice of America is also overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) did a far more sophisticated job in reporting on the Boris Nemtsov murder and the murder investigation.

While the VOA report did list Nemtsov’s strong opposition to Putin’s waging war in Ukraine and Nemtsov’s other pro-democracy activities, VOA did not present them as possible motives for his murder. VOA did not directly question in any way the self-serving theories put out by the Kremlin investigators and instead gave them full and prominent showing in its report.

Putin’s take on the investigation got 159 words from VOA, almost as much as the entire initial VOA report on Nemtsov’s murder (194 words), which was posted late yesterday. VOA was well behind Al Jazeera, BBC, Deutsche Welle and Russia’s RT in reporting on the story. VOA’s coverage later improved slightly, but even Russia’s Sputnik International gave more information on U.S. reactions to the killing than what VOA Director David Ensor describes as the official state broadcaster of the United States.

International audiences now know why Boris Nemtsov was killed. It was a provocation aimed against President Vladimir Putin, according to what the Voice of America report prominently suggested.

We’re not saying that VOA should not have reported on this highly misleading theory, but come on, show some journalistic skill and at least say that you know what you are reporting rather than just repeat the Kremlin’s propaganda and disinformation line without any questions asked.

FROM: Russia Approves March Commemorating Opposition Leader | Voice of America

A Putin spokesman said the murder bore the hallmarks of a contract killing and described it as a “provocation.” He said the Kremlin will oversee the investigation.
Russia’s Investigative Committee is exploring several lines of inquiry, a spokesman, Vladimir Markin, said Saturday. The crime could be an attempt to destabilize the political situation or it also could be linked with Islamic extremism or the situation in Ukraine, he said.
“First of all, of course, it is the possibility that the murder could be a provocation to destabilize the political situation in Russia,” Markin said. “And Nemtsov could become a sacrificial victim for those who would not stop before using any means to reach their political goals.”
Markin said the committee also was “closely looking into a possibility that the murder could have links with Islamist extremism. The investigation has information that Nemtsov received threats linked to his position about the shooting at the Charlie Hebdo magazine office in Paris.”

FROM: Russia Approves March Commemorating Opposition Leader | Voice of America


Listed below are some skeptical reactions. Their authors could probably do a better job writing news for the Voice of America.

In contrast to the Voice of America’s treatment of the murder investigation, we show what Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported. Like VOA, RFE/RL is also overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).


Putin’s ‘Hybrid’ Great Terror | RFE/RL

When reporters asked former world chess champion and Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov who was behind the assassination of opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, he dismissed the question as irrelevant.
Whoever did the dirty work, he implied, would have done so only with President Vladimir Putin’s blessing.
“Who gave the order to kill Nemtsov? Who knows,” Kasparov said. ”But this was done not far from the Kremlin and it would have been done by Putin’s cronies. Who ordered it? I don’t care. Putin must be held responsible for the murder of Boris.”
Kasparov’s remark gets to the heart of the larger significance of Nemtsov’s killing. We don’t yet know who ordered and carried out the hit or why. But the specifics don’t matter as much as the signal it sends — and what it portends.
“The message is this,” Kasparov said. “We have no allergy to blood and anyone can be killed.”
Exactly one year after Putin launched a hybrid war in Ukraine with the appearance of the storied “little green men” in Crimea, the killing of Nemtsov — by men shooting from a little white car — appears to mark an escalation of what can be described as a hybrid campaign of terror against Russia’s beleaguered and largely ineffectual opposition.


Putin’s ‘Hybrid’ Great Terror | RFE/RL


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