An employee walks near a rotary dredge which works on the coal face of the Borodinsky opencast colliery, near the Siberian town of Borodino, east of Krasnoyarsk, Russia. -Reuters
The Russian leadership has told major companies to supply it with news stories that put its stewardship of the country in a positive light, according to documents seen by Reuters. A seven-page document spelled out the kind of articles required, with a focus on new jobs, scientific achievements and new infrastructure, especially those involving state support. It also detailed how the stories should be presented, and gave a weekly deadline for submissions.
The instructions were sent last month by the energy ministry to 45 companies in Russia's energy and utilities sector including Rosneft, Lukoil and Novatek, according to a second document, a list of recipients. The drive coincides with the run-up to a presidential election in March next year when President Vladimir Putin needs a strong mandate with high turnout to maintain his firm grip on power after dominating Russian politics for two decades.
"Life for the majority of people has become calmer, more comfortable, more attractive. But many such examples often escape the media's attention," said the first document. "Our task, through a creative and painstaking approach, is to select such topics and subjects and offer them to the media."
That document, which did not mention the election, said the news items to be supplied were to feed a "positive news wire" and should correspond to two themes: "Life is getting better" and "How things were; how they are now".Both documents were attached to an invitation, dated Oct. 9, sent by the energy ministry to senior executives in the public relations and government relations departments of the firms, of which 17 are state-controlled and 28 privately-held.
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