Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Window on Eurasia: Russian Banks May Aid Non-Russian Media Outlets in Moscow

Paul Goble

Staunton, November 29 – The Moscow city official responsible for dealing with the Russian capital’s ethnic minorities says that “major [Russian] banks” now have “a commercial interest” in supporting the non-Russian media there, a development that could lead to a new flowering of newspapers and other outlets directed at these communities.
Dzhamil Sadykhbekov, chief editor of the newspaper, “Strana Sodruzhestva,” told a recent meeting of journalists, experts and officials at the Moscow House of Nationalities about this possibility, something that could boost the number – already 60 -- and effectiveness – not high -- of such publications (gazeta-nv.ru/content/view/5114/109/).
As reported by Zagidat Sirazhdinova in “Nastoyashcheye vremya,” the meeting focused on two major issues “are national newspapers necessary in principle in the current realities” of Moscow life and how they and other media outlets can “struggle with xenophobia and migrantophobia.”
Vera Malkova, a specialist at the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, told the group that in her view, the amount of negative coverage of non-Russians in the Moscow media had “somewhat declined,” the result of efforts by editors like Pavel Gusev of “Moskovsky komsomolets” to promote tolerance and prevent explosions.
Margarita Lyange, the head of the Guild of Inter-Ethnic Journalism, however, pointed to another “extreme” towards which she said the Russia media is now trending: treatment of ethnic issues only in overly positive “festival” colors as was “characteristic of the Soviet epoch lest outlets be accused of inciting inter-ethnic tensions.
And Ekaterina Arutyunova, another participant in the meeting, pointed to an even bigger problem. Xenophobia in Russia is now “so great that even positive publications, which feature exclusively information” excite ethnic passions and are received “negatively” regardless of what the journalists do.
“The psychological distance from that which one could call ‘the alien’ is normal, but in this case,” she said, “it is already xenophobia.” Consequently, Arutyunova continued, ethnic media are necessary to provide places for the discussion of many problems and also to serve as a place where people can let off tensions before they lead to open conflict.
That would be just fine, some other participants said, if the ethnic media were of high quality. Unfortunately, some of them suggested, that is not now the case. Instead, “the ethnic press … recalls the wall newspapers of the Soviet epoch” rather than genuine journalism with serious reporting on serious issues.
But Sirazhdinova says, some of those working in these outlets disagreed. Amil Sarkarov, the editor of Moscow’s “Lezginskiye izvestiya,” said that publications like his own which happens to be in Russian “can show the real picture of inter-ethnic relations in the [Russian] capital.”

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