MOSCOW, February 18 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has presented the incoming head of new government media conglomerate Rossiya Segodnya with a state award for service to his country.
Dmitry Kiselyov, 59, who made his name as an abrasively government-loyal television personality, was awarded the Order for Service to the Fatherland Fourth Class.
According to a government statement, Kiselyov received the honor for “achievements in labor, significant contribution to the socio-economic development of the Russian Federation, services in the humanitarian sphere, strengthening of the rule of law, protection of the rights and interests of citizens, and many years of diligent work.”
The award is Kiselyov’s second state service recognition, after he was presented with the Order of Friendship in 2005 for achievements in media.
Kiselyov is set to start work this year as general director of Rossiya Segodnya, a newly created media conglomerate that will incorporate state news agency RIA Novosti, which Putin liquidated in a surprise decree in December.
In the announcement that stunned even the agency’s own staff, the Kremlin said that RIA Novosti and the state-owned Voice of Russia radio would be scrapped and absorbed into Rossiya Segodnya.
Kiselyov said that the creation of the new media entity was necessary to redress what he called an unfair international perception of Russia.
“The creation of a fair attitude toward Russia as an important country with good intentions – this is the mission of the new structure that I will be heading up,” he said in December.
Kiselyov is best known as a presenter on a weekly Sunday evening news commentary show, and last year made international headlines after anti-gay remarks he had made during a television debate surfaced online.
His presentation style and news commentary is notable for its often intentionally provocative and doggedly anti-Western slant.
Commenting on Russia’s ice hockey defeat to the United States at the Sochi Olympics last week, Kiselyov heavily implied that a contentious refereeing decision that resulted in the loss was the outcome of a multimillion-dollar deal with US network NBC to lock down Olympic broadcasting rights.
The United States didn't purchase a defeat, he claimed.
Responding to a CNN feature lightheartedly pouring scorn on what the broadcaster described as an unsightly World War II monument in Belarus, Kiselyov remarked that the Iwo Jima Memorial looked like a group of gay men engaged in the act of coitus.
Earlier in his career, Kiselyov worked with privately owned television station NTV, which was an energetic critic of Putin’s government at the time of its takeover by the media arm of state energy giant Gazprom in 2000. He also presented a program on TV-6, another ferociously anti-government channel, owned by Putin foe Boris Berezovsky.
In a December profile of Kiselyov, the Economist cited him as making a distinction in 1999 between television journalists and “agitators.”
“People will, of course, swallow anything. But if we keep lowering the bar and dropping morals we will, one day, find ourselves splashing in the dirt like pigs and eating each other, along with this dirt, and then we would not be able to sink any lower,” the weekly cited him as saying.