Swedish TV Apologizes for 'Wrong' Report on Ukrainians Weeping With Joy Over Russian Passports
05:23 GMT 04.08.2022 (Updated: 05:24 GMT 04.08.2022)
A story in which the residents of the city of Kherson were shown with tears of joy over becoming Russian citizens sparked dozens of complaints from angry viewers, who thought that the reporting “reeked of Russian propaganda”, based on how different it was from the typical Western coverage of the conflict.
SVT, the Swedish national broadcaster, has apologized for a report on the Ukraine conflict following numerous complaints from viewers, who perceived the coverage as heavily tilted in favor of Russia.
In the July 28 edition of the Rapport program, the residents of Kherson were shown weeping with joy over receiving Russian passports and becoming Russian citizens and swore allegiance to the Russian Federation to the sound of its anthem.
In subsequent days, the Swedish Radio and Television Supervisory Board has received about 50 complaints over SVT for reporting that “reeks Russian propaganda”.
“The report claimed that Ukrainians are happy to become citizens of Russia. It turns out that Swedish television amid hostilities distributes Russian propaganda, and this is hardly a paragon of journalistic ethics”, one of the complaints said, as quoted by the outlet Dagens Media.
A similar view was expressed by Jakob Sidenwall, a columnist at the newspaper Smålands Posten, who also accused SVT of sharing “Russian propaganda”. Among others, he complained that it hadn't been mentioned who had gained access to the “occupied” city (which has been under Russian control for months) and how, and accused the journalists of generally sharing the “Russian” viewpoint, as in the same report Russian rocket attacks on Kiev were called a “response” to Ukraine's attempts to shell bridges in order to isolate Russian-controlled areas and prevent them from receiving reinforcements.
The broadcaster responded to the criticism with a statement from the show's managing editor Judit Ek and program director Charlotta Friborg, who explained that the footage was obtained by Reuters news agency and admitted that the viewers should have been given a better explanation. They also stressed that Reuters correspondents admittedly worked freely and without control from the Russian military.
Most of Kherson Oblast has been under Russian control since the early stages of Russian's military operation to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine. In May, the Kherson military-civilian administration announced its intention for the region to re-join Russia. Plans to hold a referendum have been announced.
In recent months, the broadcasting of Russian TV channels and radio stations has been launched, and trade ties with neighboring Crimea are being restored in Kherson. Crimea rejoined Russia in 2014, after a referendum determined that over 96 percent of the peninsula's voters were in favor of reunification.
The approach of Swedish mainstream media to the Ukrainian conflict is very similar to that of the West in general. Russia's operation, which was launched after the Donbass People's Republics requested help from Russia amid intensifying attacks by Ukrainian troops, is viewed as an “invasion” and “occupation”; no mention is ever made of the Ukrainian atrocities inflicted upon the people of Donbass since 2014. The tone of the coverage tends to be overwhelmingly pro-Ukrainian, to the point where its losses of territory are presented as tactical ploys to lure the “enemy”.