Sunday, February 22, 2015

Russian Occupation Authorities Move to Close Crimean News Agency

Paul Goble


            Staunton, February 22 – Ever more often, life in Vladimir Putin’s world imitates not art but Soviet anecdotes. The latest move of his agents in occupied Crimea – to deny registration to and thus set the stage for shutting down Crimea’s QHA news agency -- brings yet another of those anecdotes to mind.


            The story has it that Adolf Hitler returned from the dead and happened to be in Moscow during a Soviet May Day parade.  As he watched the evidence of Soviet military power go by, the Nazi dictator’s smile became wider and wider.  A Soviet citizen approached him and said, “I bet you are thinking that if you had had such weapons, you wouldn’t have lost the war.”


            “No,” replied Hitler. “I was thinking that if I had had a newspaper like your ‘Pravda” no one would ever have found out that I did.”


             Halya Coynash reports that Roskomnadzor has now turned down QHA’s application for a license for the second time, a week after occupation head Sergey Aksyonov said that Crimea does not “need hostile media” that “stir up hysteria and give some citizens hope htat Crimea will return to Ukraine” (


            QHA’s leaders are anything but surprised by the rejection. On the one hand, the occupation authorities excluded its former general director Ismet Yuksel from Crimea already last August. And on the other, Aksyonov on February 12 denounced independent media in Crimea at a meeting with members of the Bulgarian right-wing extremist Ataka Party.


“We want all Crimean radio stations and Crimean TV channels to work systematically, normally,”Aksyonov said, ‘”but we’re against the way that some TV channels cover events inaccurately, distort objective information, and sometimes openly lie on some points … What do we need hostile media for - who stir up the population and untruthfully cover the situation?”


In reporting this, Coynash refers to one of the protests against the Russian annexation that QHA had reported. “’Supporters of Putin,’” the protesters said, “With him, you won’t speak Russian; you’ll be SILENT in Russian!’” – a sentence that is likely to become an anecdote on its own, with the additional virtue that it is true.


            It is likely the latest moves against independent media in Crimea were timed to occur when Ukrainian officials called for denying accreditation to more than 100 Russian journalists. Given the confusion between objectivity and balance in many outlets, that will allow some of them to give the Russians a pass (

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