Western sanctions are increasingly affecting Russia’s economy. But what can Moscow do about it? With absurd suggestions, a guest of the program “60 minutes” brought the moderators to the brink of a nervous breakdown.
You can think what you want of Olga Skabeeva and Yevgeny Popov, but one thing you have to concede to the two propagandists: they know their craft. The duo moderates the program “60 Minutes” on the state broadcaster Rossiya 1. In Skabeeva’s and Popov’s studio, the guests spread the crudest theories, are not above insults and abuse, and are not afraid of lying, no matter how brazen. However, the two moderators dominate their stage like tamers – at least as long as Vitaly Tretyakov does not enter it.
The author and dean of the Faculty of Television at Moscow State University hosts a program on state television. “What to do? Philosophical Conversations” is the name of his format on the Kultur channel. He’s used to rolling over his guests like a steamroller. He used the same strategy in the studio for “60 Minutes”.
Russia is right, but the propaganda is not
“Russia is always right. That is a constant in historical consciousness,” he began his appearance in last Wednesday’s evening edition. At these words, Skabeeva had to smile. “An early turnaround in the course of the military special operation is essential. Maybe not today or tomorrow. But not in a few months either,” Tretyakov continued, referring to the war in Ukraine.
He doesn’t care that Moscow’s armed forces are going backwards. He has much more complaints about Skabeeva’s and Popov’s TV colleagues, who vacillate “between thoughtless optimism and unfounded alarmism.” In World War II, not every inch of ground lost or gained was reported. “The front is 1,200 kilometers long. Why release information every day that often contradicts each other?” the dean asked, while Skabeeva and Popov bit their tongues.
“Every German knows the name of the Ukrainian ambassador Melnyk!”
But the complaint continued. The Russian media would consider it a success that the final declaration of the G20 states might not consistently name Russia as the aggressor. “Let’s evaluate our successes and failures soberly! What kind of success is that?”
“We have to recognize that Ukrainian diplomacy works very boldly, but very skilfully and effectively. Every day Zelenskyy creates a reason for the informational background noise. And we react to it. (…) But we have to ignore him,” Tretyakov demanded. Instead, Russian diplomacy must put its own agenda on the agenda.
“Will the audience ask the name of a Russian diplomat?” At most, one would hear the name of Anatoly Antonov, the ambassador to the United States. “Every German knows the name of the Ukrainian ambassador Melnyk!” Tretyakov continued to rant.
Nationalize what is German. But what?
“But Melnyk became known by calling Scholz a liver sausage,” Skabeeva interjected, trying to interrupt the reply. “Should Lavrov now spit on someone to become known?”
“Don’t pervert my words,” Tretyakov retorted, continuing his tirade targeting Russia’s foreign policy. “We must change our informative and diplomatic line”!
“What should we change? What?” Popov wanted to know. Then Tretyakov could think of nothing better than expropriation. In Germany, Gazprom’s subsidiaries have been nationalized. “But what did Russia nationalize about German or Polish?”
“There is nothing German anymore,” laughed another guest in the studio. “What do we have in German that we could nationalize?” Skabeeva also objected. Tretyakov’s suggestion: “Take away their embassies! They have two embassies.”
“Okay, assuming the embassies are gone, but how specifically should we change the general line of our diplomacy?” Skabeeva tried again to get her studio guest on the right track. But the steamroller Tretyakov rolled on. His next suggestion: take down all European flags.
“What kind of phone do you have? An American one? Let’s do without it!” Skabeeva finally burst out of patience. “Who has which car? Let’s do without it! We’ll take down the flags and burn them. But what should we do next?!” She snapped. “No populism, please! The flags are down? What then?!”
But Tretyakov continued undeterred. “Start small. Nationalize at least one German car! A German garage! And tell us about it! And don’t be happy that the majority of the UN went to the toilet and abstained from voting!”
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Moderator loses his nerve
“Everyone shares your opinion: we have to do something,” Popov tried to get the curve. But what happened, for example, to the Buran, the Soviet rocket plane that made its first and only “Buran” space flight in November 1988 in automatic mode with no crew on board, Popov asked, with Tretyakov repeatedly interrupting him.
That was enough for the moderator. “Now you’re misbehaving at all costs!” he shouted. “It is clear that neither you nor I prevented the successor to the Buran! But what did we read just recently? That 44 engines for aircraft will be produced this year and next.”
“It’s great,” Tretyakov interrupted again. “Great? What’s great about that?!” Popov finally snapped. “How many planes does 44 engines mean? 22! Ugh! We can’t even survive without them (the West). Let’s nationalize everything! Let’s take everything away from the Germans! Then the Sapsan trains will be here tomorrow! What should we drive then?! We have nothing! You have to admit that!”
“Everything we have comes from the West!”
It is easy to demand nationalization. “But what will we drive? What will we use to make calls? What will we do? Are we responsible for this? No! We can say: Let’s hold those who made it accountable. Ok! But that doesn’t bring us any new sapsan no new planes appear. We don’t have a long-haul airline either! Yes, everything we have comes from the West! We can nationalize everything now and what do we do the next day? What should we do then?! A simple question, but not Answer!”
“Yes, let’s nationalize everything! Let’s sever diplomatic relations!” Popov finally shouted, frantic.
One of the other guests attempted a calmer course, noting that the Russian economy must first clarify what is needed primarily to counteract the sanctions. “But we can’t produce anything! We need 1000 planes! But have only made 44 engines in two years.” A fact that the nationalization of German cars will not remedy. That is also clear to Popov.