ROAR: “CIS countries should build information space based on Russian language”

Journalists from the CIS and Baltic States are meeting their colleagues, politicians and public figures in Moscow at the fourth European and Asian media forum.

The gathering, organized by RIA Novosti news agency, should promote a professional dialogue and “reset” the post-soviet media arena. “Russia is forming a positive image in the post-soviet media,” Evgenia Voyko of the Center for Political Conjuncture said. The Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, “again called the Commonwealth of Independent States a priority of Russia,” she noted.

However, attention was also paid to Ukraine and Georgia, relations with which have deteriorated recently, the analyst stressed, adding that the Russian leadership does not intend to correct its line in relations with these countries.

“Holding a major media forum in the Russian capital and, more importantly, the close attention to it from Russia’s supreme power is evidence of increasing interest of the state in the newest technologies and communication mechanisms,” Voyko said. “This corresponds to the chosen course for modernization in all spheres.”

There is a need for this kind of forum because it allows not only the media, but also analysts and politicians to exchange opinions, the analyst said. She noted that the cooperation between media nowadays is “not only a question of quality and quick communication, but first of all, the political will, or lack thereof.”

Thus, resetting relations between the media of different countries should be started at the level of leadership, and then it will affect the climate of media relations, Voyko told Actualcomment.ru.

Sometimes the media outlets become “victims of geopolitical circumstances,” the analyst said. She gave an example of several Ukrainian media outlets which “are ready to broadcast in other languages than the state language (as a rule, in Russian), but do not have the legal permission to do so.”

Speaking at the forum, the Russian president defended freedom of speech and promised the state’s support for Russian-language media abroad. Analysts believe it was important because the Russian language is losing its positions in the former soviet republics.

CIS Executive Secretary Sergey Lebedev said at the forum that “the use of the Russian language is decreasing” in the countries of the commonwealth.

“I personally witnessed the facts demonstrating that the Russian language is being abandoned,” Lebedev said. “In some hotels of the CIS countries young people preferred to speak with me in English because they did not know Russian.”

The coverage of CIS activities in these countries “is not sufficient and it is not impartial,” despite the fact that the coverage of integration processes in the CIS “has increased over the last two years,” he said.

The current stage of CIS development requires “more productive partnership,” Lebedev said. “It is important that citizens of the CIS countries should know more about each other and can hear the Russian language,” he said. Now the question of the creation of a printed news outlet of the CIS is being discussed, he added.

Meanwhile, some Russian public and state-run organizations have increased their activities to support the projects connected with the Russian language. The Russian World Foundation has already supported 450 projects in different countries, Vesti.ru website reported.

Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Yakovenko was quoted by the website as saying that more people now come to 52 Russian centers of science and culture in 72 countries to study the Russian language.

Today the Russian language is “the last thing” that connects Russian-speaking diasporas abroad, said Anatoly Lysenko, president of the International Television and Radio Academy. If former USSR republics abandon Russian, “how will we understand each other?” he asked.

Preserving ties between the CIS countries requires funds, Lysenko was quoted by Voice of Russia radio as saying. He added that the funds “will return to us” in cultural, scientific and economic spheres.

Russia has already become more persistent in building its information space, the radio said. Indeed, an idea about the creation of the international association of Russian-speaking broadcasters is being discussed.

If established, the association may help its participants to defend the rights of broadcasters in the countries “where the Russian language is being forced out of broadcasters’ programs,” the radio said. A new information association would contribute to developing dialogue between Russia and compatriots living abroad, it added.

Aleksey Ostrovsky, chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS affairs, also stressed at the media forum the need to cover integration processes in the CIS. “Developing a common information space may become a model for deepening relations between republics of the former USSR,” he said.

Unlike the member states of the European Union, peoples of the CIS have the language advantage in the integration process, Ostrovsky said. He believes those living in the CIS countries “are interested in keeping this colossal resource.”

A single information space supports the unity of a particular system, said Vitaly Tretyakov, editor-in-chief of Political Class magazine. “As no information space or security space or any other one in the CIS can exist without the main role of Russia, that means that there may only be a single space based on the Russian language,” he told Actualcomment.ru.

“It is impossible to preserve unity without a single information space,” he said. Moreover, the countries participating in that system should understand that they are uniting around Russia and “should take into account Russia’s interests, bearing in mind their own.”

“For these countries it is also impossible to be simultaneously in the single information space with Russia and with the US,” Tretyakov said. “The US and Russia have different languages, different geopolitical objectives,” he noted. The countries that have chosen the single information and other kind of space with Russia should “give up certain things” for the common interest, the analyst stressed.

Sergey Borisov, RT