Western media misrepresent Ukraine events, distort Putin's image, politics - analyst

Author: us-russia
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Western media misrepresent Ukraine events, distort Putin
Published 3-03-2014, 12:16
The strained situation in Ukraine is aggravated not only due to internal contradictions but also because of unfair coverage by the Western media. The ways the media are presenting the situation in Ukraine leads to misunderstanding in the world community, said William Dunkerley, a media business analyst and consultant based in New Britain, Connecticut, USA, who works with media organizations in Russia and other-post communist countries, in an interview with the VoR.
The strained situation in Ukraine is aggravated not only due to internal contradictions but also because of unfair coverage by the Western media. The ways the media are presenting the situation in Ukraine leads to misunderstanding in the world community, said William Dunkerley, a media business analyst and consultant based in New Britain, Connecticut, USA, who works with media organizations in Russia and other-post communist countries, in an interview with the VoR.

What is going on in Ukraine? What are your impressions? What is your analysis of the situation?

I've been looking at the news reports and I see that there are a lot of opportunities for misunderstanding, both on the side of people viewing it from the US and likewise with those looking at it from Russia and Ukraine.

What kind of misunderstanding, especially for the people of the US? What should people in the US understand?

I think it is important to understand the framework in which Americans view what happens in Russia. Many Americans regard president Putin as a dictator, a despot; he has been accused of wanting to recreate the Soviet Union. Americans tend to believe what they see and hear about this, so I believe the current events are being interpreted in view of their past understanding of Russia and president Putin. Not all of that "understanding" is accurate, and that presents a problem for being able to make an accurate assessment of what is happening now.

Right now the US mainstream media draws a very dark picture of what is happening in Crimea. Definitely the situation is very tense; but do you see a reason to worry?

It certainly is an escalating situation right now and it is hard to predict what the outcome would be. Frankly I didn't find it unexpected that something would happen in Crimea. In the rest of the country there are forces both external to Ukraine on the Western European side, and on the Russian side, that have a vested interest in keeping the country together; namely, the traversing of Ukraine by the gas pipeline which is very important to Western Europe. But that uniting physical factor doesn't apply to Crimea. There is a large Russian population in Crimea that may feel threatened by the actions of the people who have taken over control in Kiev. This population is well aware of the situation that evolved in the Baltic states after the end of the Soviet Union wherein the Russians who had been living there were disenfranchised and treated as foreigners, even though many of them were born there, some of them second generation. I think that much of the Russian population may be having thoughts like that. When the new Parliament in Kiev voted to cancel the language law that had given credibility to the use of Russian in the areas and regions of Ukraine that are populated by a lot of Russian speakers - it sort of placed it into those spheres.

What do you think Russia and the US could do to resolve the situation?

It is hard to untangle it because there are so many misconceptions on each side. I think it is a very serious problem that president Putin has allowed his political enemies to define him internationally. As a result, most people in the US, and that includes Washington, have a basis of understanding that is not necessarily founded on fact.

Do you think that a one-on-one meeting between the presidents would help?

It could if they went in with an attitude of openness to cooperate rather than going in with set positions trying to convince each other of one's point of view.

Now there is information in the press that president Obama might not attend G-8 Summit in Sochi in June. Do you think such actions can help or will they only aggravate the situation?

I don't see how it can help, it sounds to me like it is just pandering to a political base in the US.

How do you think the situation will develop?

I really don't know. I don't find the trouble in Crimea to be surprising. In fact just a couple of days ago I had talked to some people who are interested in Russia, and expressed a view that if there is going to be a trouble hot spot – it is going to be Crimea. So it just didn't surprise me when the recent actions started to unfold. There are so many different directions that things could take now that I believe it would be impossible to make a reasonable prediction. 

 

By Samir Shakhbaz

The Voice of Russia

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