Friday, December 02, 2005

Return of the Censor

From time to time there are significant and apparently increasing discrepancies between English-language and Russian-language newswire reports that emanate from the Russian Federation. This was obvious in the Interfax accounts of remarks by Polish Foreign Minister Stefan Meller, who visited Moscow for talks in the middle of last month, on November 14. While the Russian-language report - giving a more or less complete of Meller's Izvestia interview - talked frankly about the issues that still surround Katyn and their implication for Russian-Polish relations, the English-language report amounted to little more than an oblique precis of what Meller actually said. His remarks were also presented in selective fashion, and rearranged from their original sequence and out of their original context.

When asked about Katyn, Meller prefaced his remarks as follows:
- Чудовищные преступления в Катыни, Медном, Харькове оставили большую травму в душе польского народа. Эта большая травма стала уже частью коллективной памяти народа. Люди, расстрелянные Сталиным в Катыни, были цветом польского офицерства, цветом польской интеллигенции.

"The monstrous crimes in Katyn, Mednoye and Kharkov left a major trauma in the Polish nation's soul. This major trauma has by now become a part of the nation's collective memory. The people shot by Stalin at Katyn were the flower of the Polish officer corps, the flower of the Polish intelligentsia."
In the English-language version of the report, this paragraph is missing, and an extra paragraph, which was not in Meller's remarks, has been inserted:
Over 4,000 Polish officers detained by the Soviet Union in 1939 were shot in Katyn outside Smolensk in spring 1940. In 1990 Moscow admitted that the Soviet Union's secret police, the NKVD, were involved in the execution of the Polish officers.
Also last month, on a matter of internal censorship: Yabloko officials were were quoted by the Ekho Moskvy radio station as saying that the paper had edited a promotional text by them and had removed passages where the authors called the current Russian leadership “authoritarian and clannish”.

(via Marius)
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