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« Social Media Fails in Covering Moscow Metro Blast | Main | First Reply to Vadim Nikitin »

March 30, 2010


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Alexey Sidorenko

Dear Catherine,

FYI, I don't moderate GV comments. Someone else does (probably Solana Larsen). It just takes time to check it. I will reply your valuable comment as soon as it is moderated.


Alexey Sidorenko

and I'm Alexey not Alexei.


Dear Catherine,

My name is Vadim Isakov and I am one of the editors of RuNet Echo project ( at Global Voices Online

Your comment went to the spam folder and that is why it did not appear on the site immediately. After you mentioned it, I went to search for it and approved it.

To be fair, Alexey has nothing to do with comment moderation on GV and he cannot be blamed for "unfortunately moderating" comments.

GV encourages everyone to express their ideas and opinions about the stories that we publish. Unfortunately, an enormous amount of spam and advertisements online disguised as "comments" force us to keep our moderation system. In the future, if you do not see your comments appearing immediately on the GV site, e-mail me directly (my contact info is on RuNet Echo site) and I will personally see that it is published.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

Runetechno, you're not getting it.

This is the Internet.

Be free.

I'm not complaining about Alexei taking 8 hours to moderate -- and it turns out I'm in the spam file. That happens.

I'm talking about your unfortunate policy of pre-moderation of comments -- period.

Sorry, but you cannot invoke the problem of "an enormous amount of spam". Get a good blogging system and spam filter -- they're all over, and even free. I have thousands of people visiting my other site a day and typepad puts in a good spam filter so I don't have to do too much. It's not the end of the world to cut out a few Viagra ads and fish a few thing out of the spam filter once every day or so. I'd much rather do that than miss a lively debate.

I don't need special attention. I need you to review your polices. Global Voices should not be pre-moderated. Put in a spam filter, let it go.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

Um, Alexey, you *are* aware that your name can be transliterated from Russian as either Alexey or Alexei depending on what transliteration system one uses, say the AP style book or New York Times?

I appreciate that you've developed a preference for how your name is transliterated, understood. But it does seem an awful trivial thing to be complaining about.


"From this latest BBC story ( we see the Russia media -- kak ona est'" >>> This is rather interesting but Anton Nossik (aka Dolboeb in LiveJournal) wrote in his blog that he would never give his comments to Russian Service of BBC again and asked them to forget the numbers of his telephones ("Don't call me again", 2010-03-29 21:03:00). It seems that BBC simply distorted what he had said and commented to them.

"Anton Nossik, one of Russia's best-known bloggers, was among those who noted the near-silence of the state-controlled TV channels hours after the explosions" >>> after that I should not trust this information!!!

Catherine Fitzpatrick

There's a Russian saying for that: "Don't blame the mirror if you have a crooked face."

Sounds like Anton got cold feet after making his debut into international prime-time on BBC.

I find this all supremely stupid. Anton said -- we could all see what he wrote on his blog -- that he noted the strange lack of coverage on TV, what they were in fact broadcasting instead of footage about the terakt.

And that was a valid point and one not only he made. And BBC reiterated it.

Where's the distortion? Instead of shouting that we "shouldn't trust this information," I'd like both Anton and you to tell us *what* is distorted because a) the comment is true -- the TV *was* silent b) it appears to be what he wrote.

What's the beef?

Catherine Fitzpatrick

In other words, I quite frankly chalk up this backtracking to fear -- fear of consequences of seeming to mount not a private journal comment to a group of friends about bad government TV, and not even a famous Russian blogger comment to a group of thousands of viewers -- but a comment to the BBC, with millions of viewers, where the government might get angry.

It's pretty nasty stuff, the pressure you guys are under.

Vadim Nikitin

Dear Catherine,

Thank you for your spirited comment on my article comparing Fox News and Russia Today:

Because I agree with most of your criticisms of RT, I'm having some trouble connecting them with my piece.

For example, you somehow accused me of ‘prettifying’ RT and ‘mislead[ing] the public, and challenged me to “explain what about RT’s coverage departed from the official line”.

But I don’t remember having ever asserted anything of the sort. In fact, I took care to explain that even when RT “quotes and interviews researchers from the liberal-Atlanticist Carnegie Center”, it does this only “when the soundbites are uncontroversial/suit the state narrative”.

In addition, I stated very clearly that not only is RT “funded by the government and supervised by Russian state media service RIA Novosty” but also that it is “widely considered to be “a Kremlin project to improve Russia’s image around the world”, accused of airing obscure conspiracy theorists to promote an anti-Western agenda”.

Moreover, all the articles to which I linked were unanimously critical of the channel, so I struggle to see your interpretation of my piece as some sort of RT hagiography.

As to whether RT has a provocative take, your own (justifiably outraged) comment:

“Any discussion about human rights activists murdered in the Caucasus like Natalya Estemirova? Any discussion about Kadyrov's reign of terror? (Lavelle even had the temerity to say "Say what you will about Kadyrov, but it's quiet down there lately"

demonstrated that it certainly succeeded in provoking you.

Remember, RT’s target audience is not Russians, but foreigners; in contrast to the Russian language media which is almost wholly pro-Kremlin, such a viewpoint among the contemporary English language press, which tend to be critical of the Russian state, fits the very definition of an alternative and provocative take.

True, RT said nothing about Estemirova. But how many mainstream Anglophone outlets have questioned the propriety of nuclear superpowers America and Israel lecturing Iran over the nuclear issue?

Wherever you stand on this issue, it is an example of RT provoking debate and challenging established Western thinking.

Yet my main issue with your response is the following:

You write that “this isn't a discussion about Fox News. It's a discussion about RT”. But actually, my article was specifically a discussion of both RT and Fox News, as the headline, “Russia Today: The Kremlin’s Fox News?” unambiguously indicated.

I also find somewhat puzzling your likening a dispassionate comparison between two networks to a ‘moral equivalence game’, particularly when I made no moral judgements about either one.

That aside, the central argument of my piece - which I apologise for perhaps not having made very clear - is that Russia Today and Fox News share a common psychological base, or ‘origin myth’: a rather paranoid and besieged view of the world, a desire to correct the record and align it more closely to their respective ideologies.

I then quote a CJR article in which Terry McDermott describes “a loopy self-absorption to this that is peculiar to Fox and that derives from its origin narrative as the network for the unrepresented, for the outsiders. There is a strain of resentment, of put-upon-ness that pervades almost everything Fox puts on the air”.

This is followed by my conclusion that “in its obsession with Western ‘misrepresentation’ of a Russia struggling to be heard above the lies and calumny of its foes, McDermott could easily have been describing Russia Today”.

Note that this last sentence is hardly a rousing endorsement of RT.

I agree with you that Russia Today does not offer an alternative take from the Kremlin narrative.

But what both RT and Fox do do is offer an alternative take from what each perceives to be received wisdom; in Fox’s case the enemy is the ‘liberal media’ and for RT it is the ‘Western media’.

This is my observation. What it is not is a comment on the validity of that take or the veracity of its raison d’etre.

But if I were to comment, I would say that while both are fairly dubious, there is far less basis for believing in a ‘liberal media bias’ than there is for believing that Western media have generally not treated Russia with the same sort of forced objectivity reserved for other subjects.

And while a number of very reputable media critics, scholars and theorists (McChesney, Bagdikian, Chomsky and Herman, to name just as few) have convincingly debunked the liberal media fallacy, several media studies have found a predisposition of mainstream Anglophone media towards an anti-Russian slant (see also my analysis of the western media coverage during the Russia-Georgia war:

To sum up: is there room among the Western media for a more considered and nuanced Russia narrative, one that could sometimes happen to align with the Kremlin’s interests?

Do we need more interviews with people like Vanden Heuvel, Fred Weir, Mark Ames, Stephen Cohen and Boris Kagarlitsky in the English-language press? Emphatically so.

That is why the demise of the Exile was such a tragedy.

However, as I have emphatically stated in the past, a state-run pro-Kremlin channel is hardly the best way to fill that niche and reverse these negative narratives because the truth should be strong enough to stand up on its own.

Best wishes,


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