During a press conference organized by Reporters Without Borders, the Russian journalist Zhanna Agalakova testified to the practices that prevail in the media under the influence of the Kremlin.
Correspondent in Paris for Europe of the public television channel Pervy Kanal, she resigned on March 3, a week after the invasion of Ukraine. “I want Russia to hear me, that people learn to distinguish propaganda (…), stop being zombified,” she told reporters.
The journalist explained that she had already had to make “compromises in (her) career” but that the invasion of Ukraine was for her “a red line”.
“In recent days, we have seen a stir within these propaganda media”, with “a certain number of resignations, difficult to quantify”, supported Christophe Deloire, secretary general of RSF.
“We do not see Russia”
Zhanna Agalakova described in detail a Russian media system “which only conveys the Kremlin’s point of view”. “Our news does not show the country, we do not see Russia. We only see the first man in the country, what he ate, who he shook hands with, we even saw him shirtless. But we do not know if he is married, if he has children, ”she said, avoiding to pronounce the name of President Vladimir Putin.
To justify its action in Ukraine, “the power played on an extremely sensitive chord for the Russians” by claiming to fight against Nazi groups. “When, in Russia, one hears the word Nazi, one has only one reaction: it is necessary to destroy that. It’s a manipulation, a huge lie,” she said.
“The authorities are trying to strangle the independent media,” she added, believing that the absence of a free press leads to the “suicide of a country”.
According to her, things got complicated in 2014, with the start of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in Crimea and the Donbass region.
At the time, she was a correspondent in New York. “I was no longer immune to propaganda. I was only supposed to talk about negative things about the United States, like abused adopted children, for example,” she explained.
“I didn’t lie, every fact was real. But take real facts, mix them up and you’ll end up with a big lie,” she continued.
Journalists “hostages” of the situation
“Many journalists, producers or people who work in the media think like me,” she said. “But those who are there have families, elderly parents, children, houses to pay for. They are hostages to the situation,” she argued.
Zhanna Agalakova also criticized the Western policy of sanctions which “affect especially the middle class” Russian and “people who share democratic values”. “In this story, you lose your allies,” she said.
“It’s not often that a Russian journalist decides to speak. I would like to underline the courage you have shown today,” said Christophe Deloire of RSF.