How to avoid being misquoted by Russian TV: repeat the same soundbite 84 times
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Russia has a new Internet hero. Grigory Melkoniantz, the head of a nonprofit organization called Golos, got pro-Kremlin TV journalists out of his hair by telling them “You are Surkov’s propagandists” 84 times in 7 minutes – and capturing it all on video. Vladislav Surkov is the first deputy head of the presidential administration. Nicknamed “the Gray Cardinal,” he is widely considered to be the Kremlin’s chief ideologist.
Golos, meaning “Voice,” is Russia’s largest voters’ rights organisation. It notably tracks reported instances of electoral fraud on a map.
In the run-up to legislative elections on December 4, the private, state-controlled TV station NTV sent a team of journalists to a Golos meeting to ask the activists a question: “Are you CIA agents?”
It didn’t stop there. On November 28, another crew of NTV journalists, who are renowned for trying to embarrass activists who question the ruling government’s policies, came back to the Golos offices. This time they tried to film Melkoniantz. But all the Golos director did was repeat the same sentence over and over, “Vy - surkovskaya propaganda” (“You are Surkov’s propagandists”), until the journalists left.
In a magazine interview the following day, he claimed that journalists from NTV regularly edited footage of him speaking in order to distort his words. He said that’s why he decided to repeat the same phrase over and over again, so that there would be no way to edit it or take it out of context.
Following this interview, three deputies from the Russian legislature’s lower house officially asked for Golos to be shut down.
Golos’ director filmed the November 28 incident himself; his video became an instant hit on YouTube. NTV, contacted by the Russian press, refused to comment.