In May of last year, the TRT Russian project was launched on the website of TRT, a Turkish media holding company. It is an Internet platform for the Russian-speaking residents of the post-Soviet space.
When watching it, one might get the impression that nothing positive is happening in Russia and that life there is full of tragedies. However, Ankara claims to be in every possible way interested in building partnership and friendly relations with Russia. However, TRT's agenda calls this into question.
The authors of the @istanbul_wolf Telegram channel commented on why TRT Russian hired reporters from Ukraine, what the role of exiled tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is, and how Russian opposition media outlets are furthering their viewpoints through this platform. The material was prepared as part of the Networks of Influence project of the Federal News Agency.
TRT [the first Turkish national television network] was founded in 1964. Until the 1990s it was the only TV channel in Turkey. However, today, the situation is different. The holding includes hundreds of TV and radio channels and three international radio stations. TRT’s channel in English is of special interest.
Last year, it was decided to create a Russian-language platform of the Turkish holding. Its main task would be to work with Muslims in Russia. To form the "correct" worldview among the Russian public the image of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as "the leader of Muslims" is being created.
Before the holding began broadcasting in Russia, its management assured that all the information would be verified and objective. “TRT Russian will play an active role in combating disinformation and manipulation. It will provide access to truthful information and honest news in the Russian-speaking world,” the press release says about the channel's goals.
Seven months later, everything fell into place. As it turned out, the news was presented from very different perspectives in Russia and Turkey. Stories about Turkey covered various achievements of the military-industrial complex, strategic development, and travel destinations while news about Russia was mostly negative and tragic. It was aimed at forming a negative attitude toward daily life in Russia. When watching the channel, one gets the impression that nothing positive is happening in Russia. There are only crimes, and people get sick, die, and suffer.
Obviously, the channel’s agenda was biased. It goes against the official relations policy between Moscow and Ankara which is positioned as a partnership and friendship.
The platform draws a lot of attention to the development of Turkish-Ukrainian relations. Noticeably, Ankara calls Kyiv “a strategic partner.” It is also claimed that the relationship between the countries “received a new boost after the annexation of Crimea.” Theses of this kind might also invite some assumptions.
Anton Ravitsky, a former anchor of the Ukrainian channel ICTV, became one of the hosts of TRT Russian. He is known for his anti-Russian statements. Ravitsky moved to Istanbul and now tells the public about the difficult life of the middle class in Russia.
Today, TRT's Russian-language news platform is presented in the most popular social nets. It is broadcast worldwide in the Arabic, German and English languages. According to plans, it might begin broadcasting in Russian this spring. Presumably, the channel is sponsored by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an exiled Russian businessman. In the past, he already supported anti-Russian publications.
The management of the Turkish media holding is going to promote opposition statements. For this purpose, it is necessary to actively involve relevant "experts." In this respect, TRT and Khodorkovsky's interests coincide. There is no surprise that the employees of TRT Russian have been recently actively referring to various opposition resources. For instance, the controversial Novaya Gazeta newspaper which is also sponsored by Khodorkovsky.
MBH-Media is another opposition resource that is actively quoted by TRT Russian. Last December, the Turkish platform broadcast an interview with the head of the Memorial organization declared a "foreign agent" under Russian law. Earlier, it was published on Khodorkovsky's resources.
According to plans, in the former Soviet Union space, TRT Russian is to begin broadcasting in April. Until then, the project's supervisors are tasked with creating a negative image of Russia on the media scene. The holding is highly likely to be “helped” by the Russian oppositionists and relevant resources with their experience in the “correct” and “proper” presentation of material.