12:43 GMT +311 December 2017
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    Estonian Journalist Goes to Russia, Accidentally Dispels Media Myths

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    An Estonian journalist's attempt to understand life in the Russian city of Pskov led him to first admit that media coverage of life in Russia is a bit slanted.

    Estonian journalist Krister Paris who visited the provincial Russian city of Pskov covering the case of Estonian intelligence operative Eston Kohver made three observations: there are very few cops, people are not drunk and there is food in the stores.

    The observations, not very unusual for a foreigner visiting Russia, even a journalist, do reflect some cardinal differences between how people perceive Russia and their observations upon visiting. At its base, Russia is a place where people live and work, like almost any other place in the world.

    "Why should people drink here?" One visiting tourist asked the journalist.

    Because it is a place where people live and work, it is difficult for people to engage in other activities, such as being watched by police, constantly drinking and not eating.

    The lack of a police presence led Paris to even wonder what country is more of a "police state," Russia or his native Estonia. In the case of food availability, the issue became that of the variety of goods, rather the amount, and their prices.

    However, the absence of ready-made cliches about Russia, almost omnipresent in dispatches about Russia, the shabby apartment blocs, the drugs and drinking, the depressed, alienated person with a tragic story to tell  all make it difficult to create the typical Russia story.

    Focusing instead on the lives of regular people is no good either, as it means no literary characters to illustrate the story. All that is left is everyday issues particular to the author, in this case the price of beer, the quality of asphalt (which he favorably compared to Estonia's) and the level of customer service.

    Estonian intelligence operative Eston Kohver, whose trial the journalist was covering, was detained in Russia on September 5, 2014, with hidden recording devices, according to Russia's Federal Security Service, and is currently facing trial in the city of Pskov. The Estonian government alleges that he was kidnapped in Estonia and transported to Russia prior to his arrest.

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    Tags:
    media coverage, myths, drinking, police, Russia, Pskov
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