Because of Crimea annexation, American presidential election, Syrian situation, spying cases, being reelected and much more, Russian president Vladimir Putin has been all around in world media during the last years.
Therefore, it was a must to talk about him at the 12th edition of the International Journalism Festival, in Perugia. Today afternoon, at Hotel Brufani’s Sala Rafaello, a panel discussion tried to figure out, like its name says, What Putin really wants.
Galina Timchenko, executive editor at Meduza, couldn’t hide her pessimism about Putin’s Government and Russian future. “There are evidences about Russian involvement in several attacks,” she stated on her first intervention. And about journalism in Russia, she knows well how the situation is going: “RT is small, but they won, with Sputnik.”
For Andrei Soldatov, editor at agentura.ru which call itself “the secret services watchdog,” since Putin is president paranoia in Russian Government and secret services has been growing, and that explains Mr. Putin’s desire of controlling media and the increase of fake news coming from Russia. “The question is impact”, stated Mr. Soldatov. And all those soldiers and trolls, but also journalists, are seen by Mr. Putin as “soldiers.”
“It’s happening in both Internet and streets,” affirmed Hannes Grassegger, journalist and economist, talking about how Estonia is flooded of Russian disinformation. “Putin deliberately tries to kill trust on everything but him”, completed Mr. Soldatov.
If media panorama doesn’t seem to be good, surveillance is even worst. “There is an elephant in the room”, said journalist and author Fabio Chiusi about it, because many words have been written about Russian spies, but it seems to be that is a nonstop situation.
“Is bad to treat all as a conspiracy,” clarified Mr. Soldatov. And mixing both misinformation and surveillance, Ms. Timchenko stated: “Putin tried to interfere in the US presidential election, but he didn’t ‘chose’ Trump.”
Between that realism and pessimism that surrounds information in western countries about Putin, a Russian woman asked, after giving examples of how for her Russian recent history has been distorted: “When are we going to stop lying about Russia?”
“That’s why we are journalists,” stated, Mr. Grassegger. And he concluded: “A positive outcome is that now the world is paying attention to what is happening in Russia.” But no one was sure about what does Putin really wants.
José Manuel Cuevas