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Russian journalists’ union backs Kamchatka TV host who burst into laughter after disability payment fail

Russian journalists’ union backs Kamchatka TV host who burst into laughter after disability payment fail
Her reaction went viral, outraging many viewers, but the Russian Union of Journalists says people are being too hard on a local TV anchor in Kamchatka who lost her composure in the studio.

Aleksandra Novikova burst into laughter when she misread news about increases in social welfare payments – believing recipients were to get an extra 500 rubles ($8) for "international travel." The report was about a three percent increase in allowances for the disabled and for military veterans, among others.

The presenter was explaining rises totaling over 1,500 rubles ($24) when she dropped the clanger. Novikova was supposed to say that an extra 900 rubles ($14) was for the purchase of medicines, with 137 rubles ($2) for a sanatorium ticket, with the remaining 500 rubles ($8) earmarked for local travel to a treatment center.

Alas, she spoke of "international (rather than "intercity") travel," sending her into a fit of the giggles. Kamchatka is an isolated Asian peninsula from which trips abroad are notably pricey.

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The program was not broadcast live, but later the video leaked online and quickly spread on social networks. The director of the Kamchatka State Television and Radio Company said no decision has been reached on whether the newsreader will be disciplined. Aleksey Kostylev also said he knows who posted the clip but also hasn't decided how this employee will be dealt with.

"So far no one has been punished for anything.. [but] there will be some punishment. So far, I have no plan to punish Alexandra. We know who posted the video, but let's leave it [for now]," he said. "These are our problems. Does punishment save anyone from [future] problems?"

The Chairman of the Kamchatka branch of the Russian Union of Journalists believes Novikova made an understandable human mistake. Gregory Becker expressed the hope she would hold onto her job.

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