Russia Condemns WWII Criticism
Published: February 12, 2014 (Issue # 1797)
MOSCOW (AP) - The Sochi Winter Olympics are making Russians beam with pride. But while the opening ceremony left out World War II at the behest of Olympic organizers, Russia’s role in defeating Nazi Germany is still one of the nation’s proudest moments, as some have found out the hard way.
Perceived slights to Russian pride caused an independent television station to be forced off the air and the Moscow correspondent of a U.S. network to be summoned to the Foreign Ministry for an official reprimand. In the latest display of Russian displeasure, a prominent anchor on state television insinuated that U.S. Marines depicted in the war memorial near Washington looked as if they were engaged in gay sex.
Here is a look at what caused Russians to react so strongly and how the Kremlin responded:
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The independent television station Dozhd, or TV Rain, came under attack after asking viewers in January whether the Soviet Union should have surrendered Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, to save the lives of the 1 million people who died during the nearly 900-day Nazi siege of the city during the war. The station quickly pulled the poll and apologized, but President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said the station had crossed a “red line.” Russian cable providers lined up to drop Dozhd from their packages and prosecutors opened an investigation.
The poll struck a nerve with Russians for whom the resistance in Leningrad exemplified the suffering and heroism of the war. But the station’s owner and editor have accused the Kremlin of using the poll to shut down Dozhd because of its critical reporting. The station has provided a platform for opposition leaders and reported on allegations of official corruption.
After major cable and satellite providers dropped Dozhd, its viewership has fallen from 17 million households to 2 million, according to station owner Nataliya Sindeyeva. While never able to compete with the state channels, Dozhd has been popular with urban middle-class Russians disturbed by the corruption and growing authoritarianism under Putin.
AN “UGLY” MONUMENT
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