Feature

When is a crisis not a crisis?

The Russian government, like the Soviet government before it, has always reacted to bad news by first ignoring the events and then downplaying them, said Anna Smolchenko in<strong> </strong><em>The Moscow Times.</em></p

Anna SmolchenkoThe Moscow Times

Russians are being told that the global financial crisis hasn’t touched them, said Anna Smolchenko. The day after “Black Monday,” when world stock markets plunged, the three main television stations failed to report on the “blood bath” in the two Russian stock markets, which each dropped nearly 20 percent. Instead, they all showed a Russian billionaire talking about how the global crisis “offered new opportunities for Russian companies abroad.” That’s not surprising. The Russian government, like the Soviet government before it, has always reacted to bad news by first ignoring the events and then downplaying them. The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, the 2000 sinking of the Kursk submarine, and the 2004 siege of a school in Beslan were all reported well after the fact, once the government had agreed on its spin strategy. For the current calamity, the strategy is straightforward denial. The Kremlin has “instructed both state and privately owned” TV channels to avoid the terms “financial crisis” and “collapse” in their coverage of Russia’s stock markets. So far, the strategy is “paying off.” While the rest of the world worries, Russians are relaxed.

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