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21:21 GMT +3 hours29 January 2015

RIA Novosti denies mounting PR campaign to improve Stalin's image

RIA Novosti on Friday strongly denied allegations it had teamed up with a Western PR company "to justify Russia's great power ambitions and improve the image of Joseph Stalin."

MOSCOW, October 30 (RIA Novosti) - RIA Novosti on Friday strongly denied allegations it had teamed up with a Western PR company "to justify Russia's great power ambitions and improve the image of Joseph Stalin."

On October 26, EUobserver.com published an article entitled "New pro-Russia campaign comes to EU capital," alleging the Russian news agency had teamed up with a consultancy firm called RJI Companies and "is trying to recruit one of the top 10 PR firms in Brussels to put the project in play."

"Utter rubbish. The author of the article did indeed ask me about plans concerning RIA Novosti's cooperation with the RJI company. For about 40 minutes, I talked about the development of conference-related activities in the framework of the Valdai discussion club and the agency's other projects. The upshot was just a brief quote that absolutely does not reflect the essence of my explanations to the EUobserver.com journalist. This alone shows the author's fundamental bias and his obvious lack of professionalism," said Valery Levchenko, RIA Novosti deputy general director.

The text of the article shows that the EUobserver.com journalist lumped together everything, including rumors, that he had managed to gather about RIA Novosti's activities abroad.

RIA Novosti has not launched any new project on Russia's image; the agency conducts its current activities with the aim of holding a variety of news and expert events in foreign countries and the former Soviet Union, as well as in Russia. This activity includes the organization and conduct of conferences and forums, various media activities, and the active development of Internet sites in 14 foreign languages.

The agency does indeed intend to implement a number of the projects mentioned in the article. For example, in December, Jordan will host a conference on security in the Middle East under the brand name of the Valdai International Discussion Club, in which experts from Russia, regional states and a number of Western countries will participate. Furthermore, in February 2010, RIA Novosti plans to hold a major international conference on the Arctic in Moscow.

The RJI PR company mentioned in the article is indeed RIA Novosti's partner in organizing a number of activities abroad, in particular, in Jordan, as well as in the distribution in 16 states of the Middle East of the Arabic-language edition of the Moscow News weekly (Anba Moscou), whose publication the agency has resumed after a 17-year hiatus.

We have grounds to believe that because of his low professionalism and the limited information he has about Russia, the EUobserver.com journalist mistook next week’s planned launch of Anba Moscou in the majority of Arab states for the start of some new project to improve our country’s image abroad.

What is especially cynical is that the disinformation campaign against RIA Novosti was started just before Remembrance Day for Victims of Political Repression - a very sensitive date for our country, in connection with which Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stressed the impermissibility of any attempts to justify Stalin-era reprisals under the guise of restoring historical justice.

Unfortunately, unprofessional and irresponsible allegations like those in the EUobserver.com article, based on unverified and obviously false information, erode the trust and mutual understanding between countries and peoples, and create new information barriers.

“It’s a pity that those media outlets that picked up the article in question and delivered it to their audiences did not bother to fulfill their journalistic duty - to check the facts and ask RIA Novosti for comment,” Levchenko said.