Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Perhaps the most interesting event I have 'eyewitnessed' was in Russia at the end of the millenium (1999/2000 version).
I was in Red Square, Moscow, for the New Year celebrations - I had been there on the previous three years also, and it was full. It was also sub-zero, so most people were fairly well wrapped-up.
As usual, a mixed bunch had gathered - mainly male, but quite international, mostly armed with fireworks, which they used to 'attack' the Kremlin guards - a sort of annual ritual. There must have been several thousand people in the square.
Because of the special year, there were television cameras and a big screen.
We were able to watch the year change around the world - and I thought we could see the flashes of our own celebrations as they were broadcast internationally. My sister says she was watching the celebrations in Red Square in England. On reflection, I am not so sure we did see Red Square.
Around a half past eleven, pm (approxiamate time) the screen changed image. An announcement was made in Russian (a little hard to hear above the noise of the full square) and the television feed to the square, which was from Russian state television, started to broadcast Yeltsin's resignation - and announce Putin's take over.
Shortly after that, an image was broadcast of an empty Red Square - complete with clock at the correct time - and that was how the New Year was shown to the whole of Russia.
Let me make this clear, that night, and for several days after, the official media version of the millenium change was of an empty Red Square - subbdued celebrations in the rest of Moscow, and the suggestion of deep felt loss at Yeltsin leaving.
At the same time, Russian State Television cameras were broadcasting to the rest of the world images of the celebrations in Red Square (my sister watched them).
The West gets the reality, the Russians a lie.

Several points arise from this to my mind.

If the State Television service had stored away images of an empty Red Square in the snow at midnight, they must have recorded them at least 24 hours before - the snow covering, etc were right - suggesting recent recording.
Why had they done this ? - the only answer I can think of is that they had already been informed that Yeltsin was going to resign - which goes against all the media follow-up stories I have read. Officially it was a decision taken on New Year's Eve.
It also suggests Putin and others manipulation of the media to be fairly complete - this was the greatest New Year's celebration of the current era - and the powers that be were able to tell a totally false story - across the whole of Russia (I guess, certainly in Moscow).

Why was it not picked up by the western media? I never saw a single report about this - and the broadcasts of Russian Television is certainly monitered by the western media. There is an active and large presence of Western Reporters in Moscow - I never saw any reference to these events. I have heard nothing and seen nothing of it since.

The control exercised by Putin today is sometimes projected as developing and strengthening: The reality is that it has been there from before the very first day he officially took over.

The Western Media, (BBC, CNN, included) must activly co-operate in this. If not, why no broadcast about the events?

As a little coda, I am very aware of the Tiawan issue in China - I lived there for just over a year.
A couple of days ago I was watching BBC World News and a live feed via telephone from their Beijing correspondent on Bush's visit. Everything was going fine until he started to talk about Tiawan - then the sound cut out. He came back, used the word Tiawan again - and again cut out.
No one on the News programme said anything other than 'technical error'. I know from my own experience of using the internet and attempting to send emails in China there are some quite sophisticated systems in place that will automatically cut out and crash programmes if certain key words or phrases are used.
Is this what happened with the BBC Reporter?
If it is, why have they not told the World of the censoreship they are working under and, by the look of it, co-operating with?
Which other 'Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth' news organisations are operating covert censoreship agreements?

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