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Russian Channel Suspends Show with VOA


A breakthrough weekly show involving Russian and American journalists and guests has been “suspended”, the Russian Business Channel (RBC) says, for the next two weeks. The first three broadcasts—which started in August--offered Russians a rare chance to hear U.S. views on the Russian intervention in Ukraine.

In a letter to VOA Wednesday, RBC said it wants to review the format of the broadcast, which is titled “Cold War?”

That format has VOA anchors in Washington and New York, linked with the RBC host Alexey Reut in Moscow, and joined by in-studio guests. The focus of each program has been on issues of concern – and tension – for both Russia and the United States.

The most recent show, broadcast September 11, opened with an acknowledgement of the 9/11 anniversary and then focused on President Obama’s September 10 address to the nation in which he outlined his strategy for defeating the Islamic State militants. After stressing the significance of the terrorist threat to the United States, VOA anchor Alexey Berezin showed a video clip of President Obama’s remarks in his September 10 speech:

“It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny,” the President said.

VOA’s in-studio guest, Matthew Bryza, a former U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan who is now with a Washington-based think tank, responded bluntly when the RBC host of Cold War?, Alexey Reut asked whether threats or money from Washington convinced Europe to impose sanctions on Russia.

“Maybe this is the way it works in Russia,” Bryza said, but “Western diplomacy does not work this way. Perhaps it is hard to believe, but our European allies make their own decisions.”

“President Obama believes that America and its partners can convince Mr. Putin to end the war only if they impose sanctions and take tough measures,” Bryza added.

The program may have had only three showings on Russian television, but it is safe to say it has offered Russian audiences something they do not often see of late on their television: the American perspective.

RBC says it reaches 11 percent of the Russian television audience, including the country’s influential business leadership.

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