Kremlin-appointed Russian media personality Dmitry Kiselyov, who once urged that the hearts of gay auto-accident victims “be either buried or burned” because they are “unsuitable” for organ donation, got called on some very creative bullshit this week.
Several French residents interviewed for Kiselyov’s weekly show were shocked to see themselves railing against migrants on Russian primetime television, after the French Daily Show-esque Le Petit Journal tracked down half a dozen subjects and played the segment for them. Their quotes had been apparently either taken out of context or completely made up in translation.
The segment on “Euroskepticism” (anti-EU-ism) “in France” kicked off with dramatic confrontations at the protests over France’s new labor laws. Several people who were actually criticizing the neoliberal labor reforms had their quotes distorted or dubbed over with barely tangent fiction. The crew hit a propaganda goldmine when a seemingly drunk, brown-skinned stranger started harassing one of their interviewees. After he left, the protestor was translated to have said that she feels unsafe living in France and that the police should be “dealing with the migrants instead of chasing us from the streets.” According to Le Petit Journal, that’s the opposite of what she was saying.
The segment also featured a scary, graffitied school that was allegedly shut down and overrun by migrants. (The school was actually closed and vacant for five years, long before the refugee crisis.) Republican Party politician Bruno Le Maire was translated as saying, “We must work more with Russia. The future of Europe depends on it,” implying that the chaos in France was caused by the “poor European Union”—you know, the one that’s embargoing Russia over its annexation of Crimea right now. Le Maire told Le Petit Journal that the translated statement “differs greatly” from what was actually said.
The anti-EU hodgepodge, complete with random cuts to black kids and women in hijabs, delivered a confusing message of a chaotic France terrorized by migrants and in desperate need of Russian friendship. It didn’t really fly in France. 122 TV says that the original segment has been wiped from the network’s site and YouTube channel. Earlier today, Vesti Nedeli host Dmitry Kiselyov admitted to the Russian newspaper Kommersant that there were some problems with this segment, because “we occasionally miss things” (don’t we all!) but “we will deal with this in the next Vesti Nedeli on Sunday.”
Vesti Nedeli (“News of the Week”) is a popular news-themed show on the Rossia 1 state-television channel, but it’s not Kiselyov’s only gig. Since 2013, he has been appointed by Putin himself to head a 2,300-person government-owned international news agency Rossiya Segodnya, Frankensteined from the opposition-purged remnants of the forcefully dissolved RIA Novosti news agency and Voice of Russia radio.
Kiselyov is not a subtle propagandist, and makes batshit assertions all the time, like ones about American spies fighting on the side of “the terrorists in Syria” and “the fascists in Ukraine.” He once showed German “documents” with a quote attributed to Hitler with obvious grammatical errors. Earlier this year, he did a segment on Alexei Navalny, Russia’s surprisingly semi-successful opposition politician, which alleged that Navalny was working with the CIA via impossibly timestamped video and audio of “secret service agents” who spoke in badly broken English.