Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Press unit seeks guidance from Russian state media

Press unit seeks guidance from Russian state media

A view of Russian state news agency TASS building in Moscow this year. The government’s Press and Quick Reaction Unit has requested help from TASS in an effort to prevent a colour revolution. Vasily Maximov/AFP
A view of Russian state news agency TASS building in Moscow this year. The government’s Press and Quick Reaction Unit has requested help from TASS in an effort to prevent a colour revolution. Vasily Maximov/AFP

Press unit seeks guidance from Russian state media

The government’s Press and Quick Reaction Unit has sought the services of Russia’s government-owned news agency to help prevent a “colour revolution”, spokesperson Tith Sothea confirmed yesterday.

The Russian News Agency, better known as TASS, is an integral part of President Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine and has repeatedly been accused of fabricating reports, especially about the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

Svay Sitha, head of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit (PQRU), proposed TASS provide training on news writing skills in a meeting with TASS general director Sergey Mikhaylov on Friday. The reason, according to a statement published on the PQRU website, was because “Russia has many years of experience of successfully preventing colour revolution and in that the press has played an important role in maintaining social stability”.

“The biggest enemy of [a] colour revolution is showing and explaining to the public, so they know and see the truth,” Sitha said in the statement.

The statement outlined Sitha’s belief that training from the Russian government media group would help disseminate information about the achievements of the government and “prevent any exaggeration and fake news which is contrary to the truth” and designed to “create chaos in society”.

Sothea yesterday confirmed Mikhaylov had “welcomed” the proposal but no formal deal had been made. Mikhaylov and other TASS personnel did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.

Moeun Chhean Naridh, director of the Cambodian Institute for Media Studies, said the strength of a democracy was measured on its level of press freedom, and choosing Russia for a tutor was a dubious decision. “In a truly democratic society, I think we will not want an international media organisation like the Russian New Agency to provide this kind of training,” Naridh said.

“We know that the Russian society claims to be democratic, but . . . there are various restrictions on rights and freedoms.”

He noted, however, the PQRU and TASS were “birds of the same feather”.

“I don’t think [PQRU] would want to have training or advice from real professional media organisations, like AP or Reuters, because they don’t share the same ideology or news values,” he said.

In an email, Human Rights Watch Asia deputy director Phil Robertson suggested the proposed media training course be dubbed “building credible sounding narratives with lies”, given TASS’ spin on stories about eastern Ukraine. “Any way you look at it, this is not going to increase the truth quotient in the government’s reactions to queries by reporters.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Bosba: The first Khmer woman composer from UK’s Cambridge

    Bosba Panh is just 25 years old, but she’s already accomplished some impressive milestones for herself and the Kingdom. On July 24, she graduated with a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge as the first Khmer woman composer and Khmer music graduate ever at

  • ‘Golden’ Angkor Wat likely due to natural phenomenon: ANA

    Pictures and video clips of the Angkor Wat temple, its spires seemingly coated in gold, have been shared tens of thousands of times on social media, prompting a sense of wonder among those who have seen them. Hong Sam Ath, who took the pictures and

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway