Jack Shafer, man, we love you. We’ve always regarded those foreign investment advertising supplements that show up in the NY Times and Washington Posts as quirky little curiosities: Learn about the hidden tourist hotspots of Qatar! Discover Uzbekistan for your company – our authoritarianism means you save money!
Produced by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the official Russian government newspaper, the section mimics the look and feel of a hometown paper, with news, an op-ed section, a sports feature (Maria Sharapova), two business pages, an entertainment page, and even a recipe for “Salad Oliver.” But beneath the shattered syntax of these laughable pieces beats the bloody red heart of the tone-deaf Soviet propagandist.
A USA Today-style infographic at the bottom of “Opposition’s Disarray” reports the results of a poll titled, “Have You Heard of the Other Russia Movement?” The results:
I haven’t heard of it: 61 percent
Not sure: 15 percent
It is a political opposition movement essential for the proper functioning of society: 13 percent
It is a collection of marginal figures who should be kept out of power: 11 percent.
Talk about loaded questions!
As journalism – even state-sponsored journalism – “Russia: Behind the Headlines” presents more questions than it answers. A feature about Russian Railways notes that the president of the state-owned firm, Vladimir Yakunin, earned a degree as a mechanical engineer in 1972 before laboring at the USSR’s United Nations office between 1985 and 1991. Did the comrade’s work between 1972 and 1985 get tossed down the memory hole? Shouldn’t readers knowâ€”as a quick Web search reveals – that Yakunin may become president of Russia after Putin steps down? Earlier this year in a piece handicapping the potential successors, the International Herald Tribune called Yakunin a former KGB agent.
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