Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Newspapers Hostile to Intervention

The invasion of Chechnya has shocked the Russian media out of its customary partisan coverage, uniting journalists of very different political persuasions in condemnation of the violence.


Almost without exception, the major papers have voiced opposition to the government's intervention in the upstart Caucasus republic, and have been highly skeptical of the president's timing and motives.


"Battles on the Local Level, Disgrace on the National Level," proclaimed a banner headline in the liberal Komsomolskaya Pravda. The normally pro-Yeltsin newspaper was bitter in its reaction to the events in Chechnya:


"The real goal is to stir up the Caucasus, then the whole country. Provoke disturbances, force the Duma to push for impeachment, and then, dissolving the parliament, declare a state of emergency."


At the other end of the political spectrum, the hardline opposition paper Sovietskaya Rossiya was equally unhappy with the situation:


"What a wonderful way we celebrated Constitution Day this year. The most 'revolutionary' holiday -- and we have a tank advance, rounds from cannon, airplane and helicopter attacks, and all with live ammunition. And we even have live targets!"


Only Krasnaya Zvezda, the newspaper of the armed forces, proudly and predictably displayed a pro-intervention headline: "Guarding the Territorial Integrity of Russia Is the Army's Sacred Duty."


Boris Yeltsin's nose operation provided rich grounds for speculation. Most papers followed the interpretation given by Nezavisimaya Gazeta:


"The president's ordinary illness, which required an operation this exact week, can be interpreted in two ways: It is either a banal attempt to escape responsibility for the negative consequences of the action, or it is the equivalent of the proposal made to Gorbachev by the GKChP in Foros -- to be ill until they had established order."


The three major news programs -- on NTV, Ostankino, and Russian Television -- have provided fairly balanced coverage of the conflict, refraining from commentary in favor of footage from the war zone.


NTV did stray from its unemotional approach, however, in covering Duma Deputy Irina Khakamada, deputy chairman of the Liberal-Democratic Union of December 12. Speaking at the Museum of the Revolution on Wednesday on what NTV called a "non-feminine topic," Khakamada defended the intervention, saying that it was an attempt to avert bloodshed.


The NTV commentator said, as the camera zeroed in on a portrait of Stalin: "The father of the nation had cause to smile at this example of feminine idealism."