Because not broadcasting a child's severed head on national TV is clearly just one more example of the terrible censorship of Putin's regime
On February 29, 2016 in Moscow, a deranged 38 year old migrant from Uzbekistan beheaded a 4 year old disabled girl she was babysitting. She waited for the parents to leave, then killed the girl and set the apartment on fire. She was arrested outside a Moscow metro station, dressed in black, holding up the child's severed head and screaming "I am a terrorist!"
A gruesome, and terrible tragedy. One that makes you wish Russia had not, in its attempt to emulate Western Europe, bowed to pressure to suspend the death penalty.
Enter Anna Dolgov and The Moscow Times, a publication notorious for its thinly veiled Russophobic journalism.
I find Moscow Times particularly curious for the fact they distribute the print version of the publication free-of-charge. There is hardly any advertising. It raises the question who pays their bills. Well, I can make an educated guess.
I am always offered a copy on Aeroflot flights. It's very gracious of Putin's dictatorship to hand out this tripe on Russia's state-owned airline. Unless of course there is a shortage of toilet paper in the lavatory.
Well, apparently the business model of not charging anything didn't work out for them, as they were forced to cease their daily print edition last November and go to a weekly format.
Or maybe it's just that the majority of expats who move to Moscow (their target audience) aren't interested in reading the same old banal anti-Putin diatribes they can in Western papers.
I will give them credit for occasionally publishing information about scandals or local news that otherwise wouldn't be reported in English - one reason their stories occasionally appear on Russia Insider. But their agenda is clear.
Back to the matter of this tragic and disgusting murder. Ms. Dolgov had the following to say about the lack of coverage on Russian TV channels:
The Kremlin has decided that some incidents in Russia are too incendiary to be shown on television.
After police on Monday detained a woman who was brandishing the severed head of a child and threatening to blow herself up in northwestern Moscow, Russia's digital media and social networks were overflowing with updates on the story and expressions of horror and outrage.
But none of the major television networks — including Channel One, Rossia-1, NTV and Moscow's TVTs — made a single mention of the incident in their newscasts, the RBC business news agency reported. RBC said its journalists watched all newscasts by these and other television channels following the woman's detention.
The majority of Russians get their news from television, according to polls, and as far as the main television networks were concerned, the bloodcurdling story simply did not happen.
Apart from masquerading as a news story what is actually an opinion piece (something typical for Moscow Times), the implication by Ms. Dolgov is that there was a concerted effort by the Kremlin and Russian TV channels to keep the Russian people uninformed about this incident.
That is simply inaccurate. The case has been widely discussed in Russian media in the last few days, and not only in "digital media and social networks." It has been on the front page of Russia's leading newspapers. They have quickly gathered facts on the woman's background. There is all manner of speculation about her motive, as well as her sanity.
And also covered in Komsomolskaya Pravda:
The Komsomolskaya Pravda reporting also includes photos of the makeshift memorial of toys and flowers left by Muscovites at the site where the murderous nanny was arrested with the child's head.
One wonders how so many people learned about it, since "the majority" of Russians get their news from TV, according to Ms. Dulgov, where of course, there was no coverage.
In fact, even Kommersant ran a story about this incident being excluded from TV - probably the uncredited original inspiration for the Moscow Times piece.
Let's see how Dulgov reported what Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov said:
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the administration issuing any directives to the networks, but said he approved of the absence of the incident from television newscasts.
“The channels themselves decided to not show crazy people,” Peskov was quoted by RBC as saying. “But we support them.”
Unidentified employees of Russian television networks told RBC the authorities wanted the story scrapped from newscasts to avoid drawing the nation's attention to ethnically or religiously charged issues.
First of all, the nanny's full name, age, ethnic and national origin, and religious views have been covered in depth in Russian newspapers. The suggestion of the "unidentified employees" that the Russian government is trying to prevent that information from being highlighted is therefore absurd and easily disproved.
The fact is, the TV censorship (which nobody denies happened, whether it was ordered by the Kremlin or not), is a question of propriety, not one of infringing the freedom of the press. Sober discussion and speculation in print media is appropriate and fully accessible to the public.
It is a question of not rewarding and glorifying a reprehensible act through the medium of video and television. Apparently in their clear bias in favor of the idea that Russia must embrace all things Western, The Moscow Times and Anna Dulgov fail to see this fact outside their ideological blinders.
The Kommersant article shed some light on the decision of the TV channels when it asked the opinion of Leonid Levin, head of the Duma Committee on Information Policy:
He said that a crime against a child "surpasses all known levels of cruelty and immorality." The was "covered on all media channels, including television," and therefore "to talk about concealing or prohibition of information is unfair."
But "the constant accusations of mass media about promoting violence and the cynical attempt to create regulatory authorities, aimed at combating the cult of violence and cruelty in the media, of course imply reasonable care on the part of editors", assured Mr. Levin. This he considered "reasonable editorial policy", which "allowed them to convey timely information to citizens, while reducing possible damage to the health of social relationships."