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The notes of a journalist working in Europe for Russian TV

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Russia-Georgia

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10 days ago, when Russian-Georgian war just started, a question I asked myself was ”Who will win the PR war?”

Later I could observe it personally in the NATO headquarter.

It was August 12, the day Russian President Medvedev announced that the military operation stopped. Russia’s and Georgia’s envoys to NATO were supposed to hold briefings then.
Who would be the last one, we tried to guess. The last speaker has the opportunity to say the last word – but both Mr.Rogozin and Mr.Beshidze started their briefings at the same time in different halls. We had to make a deal with another Russian TV crew that we film in different places and exchange the video materials, if necessary.

There were about 30 journalists at Mr.Beshidze’s briefing. He spoke English, was very calm – and looked perhaps not depressed but rather tired. His answers were different: some were short and clear, others were just attempts to leave a topic unanswered.

For example, he said Georgia asked NATO for military help. Which one, people asked.
-To repair the radar near Tbilisi, it has been bombed by the Russians.
-What else?
-It is the first step.

I asked his opinion about Medvedev’s announcement, he answered:
-I don’t know anything about it, I am just back from the meeting with NATO ambassadors.
Apart from “aggression” he used just one strong expression: it was “a big mistake”, he said, not to invite Georgia to NATO in Bucharest in Apriil 2008.

OK, we finished with the Georgian and moved to the Russian.

There were more people there, perhaps, 40. Rogozin’s voice was as usually strong and loud, if not aggressive. The answers were long and detailed but often going away from the topic. A lot of rhetoric, I must say. He knows a few languages, including English, but he spoke Russian – and somebody from the Russian embassy worked as an interpreter. It seems to be a common practice for Russian official representatives abroad, I have seen it already. Interpreter is not regarded as a special profession, I am afraid, and mistake after mistake appear even when “interpreter” speaks English quite well. “Gentlemen” were translated as ”guys”, many things were simplified and cut away. A journalist even asked Mr.Rogozin: “Did I get you right? Just to make sure nothing was lost in translation…”
Mr.Rogozin didn’t blame “Anglo-Saxon press” there, it is probably a term mainly for the internal usage. At least he used it twice deliberately in exclusive interviews with me.

World information agencies quoted both envoys very shortly that day, real questions were solved not in Brussels then.

A day later I did ask Mr.Rogozin whether Russia lost the PR war. He didn’t say “yes” but his answer kind of confirmed it. Georgia hired PR-agencies and “anglo-saxon press” worked in pro-Georgian way, he said. “Including CNN which was established just for that“. Unfortunately I can not give the link to the interview since it was aired not in the news and my company (NTV) uploads only news reports to the Internet.

At the very end I asked Mr.Rogozin whether he sees his own fault in Russia’s loss. He didn’t say no, of course, but again said “we did all we could” and “there is a lot to be done”.

So even the official representative confirmed Russia lost the PR war.

But was there actually an attempt to win it?

UPD
“Guardian” put it quite well. I often disagree with this newspaper and Russian mistakes have not been analyzed there (the information about 1500 victims have not yet been proved, for example) – but the article gives some picture of the situation.

Written by andreyshilov

August 18, 2008 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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