US Pays Russian Journalists to Criticise Putin

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Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ

7th July, 2016


Russian journalist Matvey Ganapolskiy, known for his critical statements against the Russian government, received funds from the US government agency BBG. This is evidenced by open data from the public procurement website of the United States.

The money for Ganapolskiy, according to the database of procurement of contracts and grants of the American government, was transferred in 2010. The last recorded payment to the journalist is dated 2014. There had been 19 transfers in total amounting to $12,800.

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Payments for 2010-2012 were addressed to the name of Ganapolskiy in order to “ensure the writing, editing, and proof-reading of material for a Russian website”. Payments for 2013 and 2014 were also addressed to the journalist for “professional support”.

The source of the funding is the board of governors on issues of broadcasting (Broadcasting Board of Governors, BBG), a US governmental Agency. According to the official website of the organization, the board is an “independent federal Agency” supervising all US civilian international media as well as a platform that manages their events. The Agency’s mission is to inform, involve, and unite people in support of freedom and democracy.

The council manages such media as the “Voice of America, Radio Liberty, and Radio Free Asia”. The Agency also controls broadcasting networks in Cuba and the Middle East.

Interestingly, the case study of the American grants is almost unique: Life found individual payments for the person, but not for the Non-Profit Organisation. 

Matvey Ganapolskiy is the author of many TV projects; he hosted entertainment and political shows. Since 1991 he has been a journalist working for the radio station “Echo of Moscow”. On 18th March, 2014, he became the radio host of the Ukrainian radio station “Radio Vesti”, where he worked until the end of 2015. From 1st March, 2016, he is the leader of the Ukrainian radio station “Radio Era”.

Living now in Ukraine, the journalist is still working for the “Echo of Moscow” as the host of the “Replica Host” (2008), “Ganapolskiy. The results without Yevgeny Kiselyov” (2013). Earlier he hosted the program “Morning Reversal” and “Interception”.

Ganapolskiy is widely known for his critical remarks against Russian foreign and domestic policy. The journalist is often called a Russophobe because of its materials and statements. On the air of the Ukrainian “Radio Vesti” in October last year, he called a person who phoned in live and stated that he admires the President of Russia Vladimir Putin, “scum” and a “beast”.

Matvey Ganapolskiy in a conversation with Life did not give an explanation for the monetary transfers from the agency BBG, answering the questions of the correspondent with questions.

“That is, Ganapolskiy gets money from the State Department. Why are you interested?” he said. “Yes, I’m a famous journalist, but why do you care how much I supposedly received from the Americans? Why you are not interested in how much I received from the Russian government and on what projects?”

After that, the Ganapolskiy added, “ isn’t satisfied with my answers” and ended the conversation.

Dean of the faculty of sociology and political science under the Government of the Russian Federation Aleksandr Shatilov noted the cooperation of the Russian liberal press with foreign sponsors has been popular over the last 25 years.

“Most often it is indirect funding, through grants, support projects, that is money not paid directly. But a fact remains a fact – journalists in one or another measure are sponsored by foreign States and there, as it’s seen, those who pay order the music. “Therefore, the majority of the representatives of the liberal press, in varying degrees, are connected by financial ties with various foundations, grants, and government agencies. Here, of course, some funds support the journalists on a corporate basis, based on the support of the media community. Some funds, as you might expect, are funding the media in order to promote a certain political line through journalists who become echoes of a foreign point of view, including on sensitive issues of foreign and domestic policy of Russia.

Shatilov notes that Matvey Ganapolskiy was originally a liberal minded journalist.

“In principle, Ganapolskiy has always adhered to a liberal point of view that didn’t like government policy in Russia since the beginning of the 2000’s. On the other hand, without foreign support, many journalists of the liberal persuasion would have wilted, because they are, shall we say, used to, like in the 90’s, maintaining a hedonistic lifestyle that requires a replenishment. It is difficult to say how much impact sponsorship has on the views of Matvey Ganapolskiy, but the impact is a fact,” the analyst added.

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