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Russia’s state-run media almost entirely ignored the recent report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), more commonly known as the “Panama Papers,” despite the fact that the released documents mentioned close friends and associates of President Vladimir Putin.
Major free-to-air television networks, such as Channel One, Rossiya, Ren-TV and NTV, didn’t even mention the controversy in their news desks, while state-controlled wire services Rossiya Segodnya and TASS provided only brief discussion of the report.
Oppositionist legislator Dmitry Gudkov demanded explanations for the brief and incomplete coverage of the Panama Papers from the state media. Dmitry Kiselev, head of Rossiya Segodnya, responded by saying he had no intention of discussing the organization’s editorial policies with Gudkov.
Other Russian media gave the Panama Papers more coverage, but often focused on foreign personalities implicated in the controversy, including soccer player Lionel Messi and Michel Platini, former president of the European soccer governing body UEFA, rather than examining the Russian angle.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who previously spoke about “an information attack” against Russia orchestrated by the West, said at a news briefing that Putin was the main target of the Panama Papers, even though he was not directly mentioned in the released documents.
Peskov’s statement, in which he accused the West of “Putinophobia,” was widely covered by the Russian media.
Meanwhile, the pro-Kremlin English-language television network Russia Today (RT) dismissed the Panama Papers as poor quality journalism.
“Why is the West so obsessed with focusing its narrow attention span on Putin at the exception of corrupt Western leaders who only get passing mention in these hack pieces?” read a comment published on the network’s website.
Independent newspaper Vedomosti quoted Igor Yakovenko, head of the foundation Public Examination, as saying that Russians, who have been heavily exposed to Kremlin propaganda across the media, are likely to ignore the controversy.
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