Top Russian official reflects on 'media war' between the West and Moscow

Vladimir Grigoriev says western outlets do not offer an impartial view of Russia

A picture taken on June 8, 2018 shows an unidentified directors of the Russia Today (RT) TV company at in their apparatus room in Moscow. (Photo by Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP)
Powered by automated translation

A senior Russian official has spoken of a "media war" between the West and Moscow and claimed the BBC and The New York Times have become propaganda tools in the process.

Vladimir Grigoriev, deputy director of the Federal Agency on Press and Mass Communication, said the British state broadcaster and The New York Times cover a version of Russia that does not match reality.

Speaking to a media delegation from the UAE, Mr Grigoriev said: “I don’t see Russia there. Whatever they cover, that is not my country.”

[There is] quite an obvious media war between Russia and the West. RT is defending the Russian position

He went on to praise RT, a state-funded Russian media channel, which he said was delivering professional journalism in a world locked in an information war.

“[RT] has been attacked by the western media because of many factors. The first is that it is giving other news rather than mainstream western news,” Mr Grigoriev said. “Of course it is a Russian channel.”

His remarks come as Russian leader Vladimir Putin prepares for a milestone visit to the UAE on Tuesday. It will be his first visit to Abu Dhabi since 2007 and in the years since, the UAE and Russia have built up strong cultural, commercial and tourism ties. People's attitudes to Russia are also warming.

This year’s Arab Youth Survey revealed that about two thirds of 18 to 24-year-olds across the Arabian Gulf, Levant and North Africa regard Russia as a friend.

Demonstrators hold smoke grenades as they gather in central Kiev on October 6, 2019 to protest broader autonomy for separatist territories, part of a plan to end a war with Russian-backed fighters. Protesters chanted "No to surrender!", with some holding placards critical of President Volodymyr Zelensky in the crowd, which police said had swelled to around 10,000 people. Ukrainian, Russian and separatist negotiators agreed on a roadmap that envisages special status for separatist territories if they conduct free and fair elections under the Ukrainian constitution. / AFP / Genya SAVILOV
Crowds gather in Kiev to protest against more autonomy for pro-Russian separatist territories. Vladimir Grigoriev claims Western reporting of the conflict is one-sided. AFP

RT – formerly known as Russia Today – began broadcasting in 2005. The news agency Sputnik was established in 2014 from the Ria Novosti international network and Voice of Russia radio service. Both offer extensive coverage in Arabic and the brands have engaged millions of Arabic-speaking followers on social media.

“RT is nice and very professional,” Mr Grigoriev said. “They are covering news differently and probably make many people irritated.”

He dismissed claims made by the West that it offered a factually inaccurate view of the world, arguing the only valid accusation concerned the Syria war where it gave the regime more than 30 seconds of coverage and the opposition 15 seconds.

Mr Grigoriev pinpoints the Ukraine war as the moment he switched off western outlets. Russian considerations in the conflict are rarely conveyed on western channels, he said.

"I used to start my day with The New York Times and the BBC. But I stopped watching the BBC and I stopped reading The New York Times," Mr Grigoriev said. "It is quite an obvious media war between Russia and the West. RT is defending the Russian position."