Geopolitics

Unpacking TV Coverage Of Moscow Protests: Pro-Putin Slant With A Shot Of Glasnost

In Moscow, thousands braved the cold Saturday in marches both for and against Vladimir Putin. Russia’s state-run TV channels made a point of downplaying the latter. Still, there are real signs of change in how the channels cover Russia's growing

Sergey Kurginyan's fiery pro-Putin speech got good air time (youtube)
Sergey Kurginyan's fiery pro-Putin speech got good air time (youtube)
Arina Borodina

MOSCOW -- After all the anti-government marches and meetings over the past two months, it would have been impossible for Russia's state TV channels to try to hush up this past weekend's protests in the capital. But while the main news channels were sure to cover the marches, there was inevitably extra air time for the counter-protest march in favor of Vladimir Putin.

Starting at about 1 p.m., NTV offered live coverage from the pro-Putin march on Poklonnaya Hill, where Victory Park is situated. The park commemorates the Red Army's World War II effort. Political scientist Sergey Kurginyan, who addressed the gathering, told NTV how there was "stability with Putin, a strong Russia." He called Putin the "people's president." The NTV reporter signed off by saying: "we have heard how change has begun." The presenter in the studio could barely suppress a smile.

There was no room for such irony on Russia's other state channels, which treated the pro-Putin as very serious business. It was the top story on Channel 1. Vesti gave it major coverage as well.

NTV hit its stride by 7 p.m. Using a split screen to show both marches, the presenter of the program Today said police had counted 34,000 people at the anti-Putin demonstration, and 138,000 at the pro-Putin rally. The television stations didn't question the discrepancy in numbers other than to say that more Putin supporters would have come out "if it hadn't been for the cold." Only Channel One reported how "the march's organizers said the turnout was several times more."

Both Channel 1 and Russia 1 ran a two-minute statement from Putin, who was in the city of Chelyabinsk. The prime minister thanked his supporters and said he did not expect the numbers who turned out to support him. "Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin called me and said that, according to him, there were 190,000 people," Putin said.

"Russia without Putin" for all to hear

The channels proceeded to show speeches from pro-Putin supporters, whose common refrain was that if Putin goes, "we stand to lose a lot." Channel 1 then spoke with Sergey Kurginyan, the same political scientist who'd plugged for Putin earlier in the day on NTV. "No orange plague!" he said, referring to the Orange Revolution that toppled the Ukrainian government in 2004. "We will not succumb to traitors and idiots!" he said. There was talk about the orange threat on Russia 1 too. "Brothers, orange is the color of a dog's urine in the snow," said nationalist writer Alexander Prokhonov.

Nevertheless, the state channels didn't ignore the anti-Putin protests completely. Certainly the essence of what was happening came through. For the first time ever, Russia 1 aired a mass chanting of "Russia without Putin!" The station didn't, however, show the anti-Putin signs marchers were carrying.

Also, Russia 1 and NTV showed parts of the speech of journalist and media freedom campaigner Leonid Parfenov, whose sentiments had never before been broadcast. "We have a public television that is actively engaged in the administration of the president of the Russian Federation," said Parfenov. "They have subordinated television to the will of the authorities, but now they are freeing it." The NTV reporter, furthermore, not only referred to the official name of the march, "For Fair Elections', but voluntarily added – "and a Russia without Putin!"

As in December, the three channels depicted the anti-Putin marches in good faith by listing their demands, which include freedom for political prisoners, continuing political reform, and Vladimir Putin's departure. But perhaps the most striking example of how the tone of state television has changed was the speech of the opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov, who was jailed in December.

Channel 1 showed a snippet of his speech: "They say it is a revolution in mink coats, that everyone is rich, well that's a lie! I've had this coat for three years. Where is the mink coat? Like the one you and your cronies have in the Kremlin, with your billions and villas abroad." Even just a few months ago, it would have been hard to imagine any such quote being broadcast on any Russian state news channel.

Read the original article in Russian

Photo - Russia Today

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Green

In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat


CAUCHARI
— Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.


It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park

Xinhua/ZUMA

Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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