Russia analyst interviewed by ABC a 'blatantly pro-Kremlin apologist'

By On May 07, 2018

Russia analyst interviewed by ABC a 'blatantly pro-Kremlin apologist'

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Russia analyst interviewed by ABC a 'blatantly pro-Kremlin apologist'

RN breakfast program under fire for introducing Mark Sleboda as a ‘Moscow-based political analyst’ but not disclosing his work for the state-owned RT

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is detained by police at a opposition protest in Moscow on 5 May.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is detained by police at a opposition protest in Moscow on 5 May. An analyst interviewed by ABC radio said the protests were small and HE dismissed the suggestion people had stayed away due to fear. Photograph: TASS / Barcroft Images

A political analyst interviewed on ABC radio about the weekend protests against Russian president Vladimir Putin is a mouthpiece for the Kremlin, Russia experts have said.

Mark Sleboda, described by the ABC simply as a “Moscow-based political analyst”, was interviewed on Monday morning by Radio National host Fran Kelly.

Asked for his views on the anti-Putin demonstrations and the release of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny from custody, Sleboda said the protests were small and “lucky to have pulled 6,000 people”. He dismissed the suggestion people had stayed away due to fear. “I don’t think there’s any cause for people to be frightened,” he said.

Mark Sleboda (@MarkSleboda1)

Better question. Why do we even allow Western state media to broadcast in Russia and the Rest of the world? https://t.co/OPQofKxZph

May 7, 2018

“Putin’s approval has increased since the last election due to his handling of the economy and foreign policy,” he said. He defended the arrest of Navalny on the grounds he had broken the law by demonstrating and he said the opposition leader had been barred from running in the election because he had “twice been convicted of fraud”.

Alexey Muraviev, associate professor of national security and strategic studies at of Curtin University, said he fundamentally disagreed with much of what Sleboda said and he did not sound like an independent analyst.

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“When he says that Navalny broke the law by protesting, that’s the official government line and the reality is every time something happens Navalny just gets neutralised by Putin forces.”

The ABC did not disclose during the nine-minute interview or on its websi te that Sleboda is an analyst for the state-owned English-language television channel Russia Today, now known as RT.

RT is a powerful PR arm of the Russian government which is used as a weapon in the global information war.

Antfarmer (@antfarmer)

This guy had the gall to equate Putin fixing elections and the constitution to stay in power to Germany’s Angela Merkel actually...you know.. winning elections! 4 terms as Chancellor...

May 7, 2018

Kelly noted that Navalny’s supporters had chanted “Out with the Tsar”, a reference to the fact that Putin has been either prime minister or president of Russia “for almost 20 years and will be in until 2024”.

Sleboda responded that it was “exactly the same amount of time that Angela Merkel has been the leader of Germany”.

Kelly: “Will Angela Merkel be in for 24 years?”

Sleboda: “She just renewed for her fourth term, so 23 or 24, yes. ”

Merkel, who was sworn in for a fourth term earlier this year despite her CDU party losing ground in September’s election, has been chancellor of Germany since 2005 â€" 13 years.

Muraviev said Sleboda did not utter “a single discordant note in terms of the official positions of the Putin administration”.

He said it was surprising to hear the US-born commentator expressing views that were “effectively reflective of the official position of the Kremlin”.

Russia's Alexei Navalny arrested as 1,600 detained nationwide Read more

“He spoke as the promoter and the defender of the official position of Putin’s government,” Muraviev told Guardian Australia.

“Some of the statements he made were way too categorical, he debated, he argued, he advocated.

“To me he sounds either incredibly ill-informed or incredibly naive or somehow politically biased.”

Kyle Wilson, a visiting fellow at the Australi an National University’s Centre for European Studies, said Sleboda was not a critical source the public broadcaster should rely on.

“In my view there is a question mark about the credibility of Sleboda as a commentator for two reasons,” Wilson told Guardian Australia. “Firstly he has for some years been a commentator for Russia Today and he represents the more extreme end of the spectrum in terms of offering the Kremlin view.

“Second he has an association with Alexander Dugin, who is a xenophobic, hard-right, nationalist ideologue about whom even the Kremlin has some doubts.

“So it seems to be reasonable to assume that Mark Sleboda is an apologist, a blatantly pro-Kremlin apologist.

“ABC radio is far more effective in dealing with matters that are extremely controversial when it offers a range of opinion.

“But to give a platform on a mainstream program to a Kremlin apologist doesn’t seem to be the most effective way of presenting controversial issues.”

The ABC said in a statement: “This was just one interview in the ABC’s long-term and comprehensive coverage of this area, which has involved interviewing a variety of analysts from a range of different perspectives. We will continue to cover these issues from an array of viewpoints.”

In 2014 Russia Today’s British channel was censured by the UK media regulator for coverage involving Sleboda. It was found to have breached the broadcasting code on impartiality over its coverage of the Ukraine crisis, including for one report in which Sleboda described the Ukrainian administration as a “putsch government” that came to power with the help of “a number of extremists”.

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Source: Google News Russia | Netizen 24 Russia

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