Listening Post
News channel or propaganda tool?
A look at why Russia Today often seems more interested in reviving the Cold War than reporting on real Russian stories.
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2012 11:30

Back in the day, the Soviet Union had a newspaper called Pravda, which is the Russian word for 'truth'.

The paper's propaganda was about as subtle as its title. Since then, political systems and ideologies have changed, but in 2005 when the Kremlin was getting back into the news business, it created Russia Today, or RT, as it is now known.

RT is an international news channel set up to rival Western news channels and to provide a Russian perspective.

The network has since added two more channels, broadcasting in Spanish and Arabic. RT's English-language project is getting mixed reviews. Its criticism of Washington's political agenda is relentless and it has a penchant for off-beat stories and conspiracy theories. 

Listening Post's Ana de Sousa looks at a channel that often seems more interested in reviving the Cold War than reporting what is really happening in Russia today.

"I think one of Russia Today's big strengths is the West is in a mess, there is no doubt about it. They love any sign of protest and systemic weakness in the West is great for them. The core of Russia Today is anti-Westernism ... you get these kind of silly stories about pets that can talk and just ludicrous sort of feel good stories, while turning a complete blind eye to the, I would say, rather more serious problems such as lack of democracy, rule of law, collapsing infrastructure and the rest of it in Russia itself." 

Ed Lucas, The Economist

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