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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NTV Says ORT, RTR Faked Police Footage




The video footage on RTR and ORT television painted a frightening picture - elite special forces police showing just how easy it was for terrorists to sneak past Moscow's inattentive cops and plant bombs.


Scary indeed - except that at least some of the videotape was faked to discredit Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, nongovernmental NTV television charged over the weekend.


The terrorism footage appears to be part of the ongoing propaganda war between the Kremlin - and its supporters ORT and RTR - and Luzhkov, who has received extensive coverage from NTV.


The latest exchange began a week ago Saturday, when ORT and RTR showed what purported to be a police training tape. In it, ski masked and camouflaged federal special forces agents hauled boxes of fake explosives past guards at a Moscow reservoir. There were also scenes of them ostensibly getting into the air-circulation system of the Moscow metro, all described by the ominous bass voice of the narrator.


RTR and ORT said the video was shot in October - after the terrorist apartment-block explosions that killed almost 300 people in Moscow and other cities.


Not so, NTV said in its rebuttal Sunday.


NTV said the metro parts of the segment were actually shot by underground exploration enthusiasts, the Diggers, and were previously shown on ORT in 1996. The Diggers wear orange uniforms that say "Diggers" on the back. The uniforms worn by the purported special forces officers in the video were also orange - but the label on the back was blacked out.


NTV showed the two videos side by side last Sunday. Indeed, they appeared to be identical.


Dmitry Gayev, head of Moscow's metro security, said it was impossible for the footage to have been filmed in October. Since the Diggers infiltrated the metro in 1996, improved security has been implemented, he said Sunday on NTV. "Cameras have been placed everywhere," he said.


As for police failing to notice the exercises, NTV interviewed a traffic cop, Alexander Lenin, who said he stopped one of the jeeps and let it pass when the occupants produced their ID.


Amid the war in Chechnya and terrorist attacks at home, reports suggesting the mayor can't protect the city from more explosions and deaths could be a powerful political weapon with the approach of the Dec. 19 parliamentary elections, in which Luzhkov is leading his Fatherland-All Russia bloc.


He is also a possible presidential contender next year, and is viewed with suspicion by the Kremlin.


"The main goal now is to undermine Luzhkov's position in the elections," said Yevgeny Volk, a political analyst for the Heritage Foundation. "And the most sensitive issue - the safety of the people - has been chosen as the key item in this campaign."


These videos, Volk said, could hurt Luzhkov's ratings. "It can definitely influence his image. Every Sunday, ORT and RTR try to discredit Luzhkov. ORT is the only channel that transmits all over Russia and Luzhkov's ratings are declining," Volk said.


"People are frightened by these explosions and unaware who is really behind them. They don't trust anyone anymore."


Ironically, most of the guards in the film who "failed" the test, according to Volk, were federal security forces - who are not under Luzhkov's command.


The Interior Ministry department that secures water and land transportation routes reports to the federal government, as does the one responsible for securing the Moscow underground tunnels, Volk said.


In reaction to the video, Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo called for the resignation of the Moscow police chief, Lieutenant General Nikolai Kulikov, the daily newspaper Segodnya reported. Rushailo also said there may be personnel replacements in the police department following a "comprehensive investigation," the paper reported.


"They want someone in there that's not loyal to Luzhkov and can turn compromising evidence on the mayor," Volk said.


On Monday, Luzhkov said he is categorically against the possible resignation Kulikov. The mayor called video a "falsification and insinuation," Segodnya reported.