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Russian propagandist who promoted the Kremlin's narratives works at "Voice of America"

22.02.2023, 12:32

Harry Knyagnitsky, a former correspondent for the Russian propaganda channel NTV, has been working at the Russian service of "Voice of America" since at least November 2022, Detector Media reports.

His articles are published on the website of the American broadcaster.

During his time at NTV (a channel funded by the state company Gazprom and sanctioned by the EU), Knyagnitsky was a war correspondent and filmed propaganda reports about the Russian war against Ukraine.

The Kyiv Post reports that 15 VOA employees have already sent an open letter to US Congressmen, calling on the broadcaster's management to reconsider the decision to hire Knyagnitsky and fellow journalist Daria Davydova. The colleagues accuse her of legitimizing the annexation of Crimea.

From "Detector Media's" own sources in the Russian VOA service, we know that the media outlet's employees initially appealed to their management directly, but received no response. So, the sources say, appealing to Congressmen was only a matter of time. However, they only learned about the joint letter from the Kyiv Post and do not know who signed it.

Also, DM's sources in the Russian service of "Voice of America" claim that they only know about one article by Daria Davydova for the "Russian Reporter" magazine in the occupied Crimea. The manager who hired her has since been fired. But regarding Knyagnitsky, the Russian service management seemed to simply be trying to hush up the internal scandal.

As the Kyiv Post writes, the authors of the appeal to the congress claim that people who "worked for the Russian government and promoted pro-Russian narratives for years" can not be trusted with carrying out the VOA's mission. "This calls into question our reputation and that of the VOA."

"Media Detector" provided a list of content produced by Harry Knyagnitsky for NTV:

  • A report alleging that the Ukrainian military was using mobile signal on civilians' phones to aim their artillery. Speaking about the people living in the occupied territories, Knyagnitsky says: "If earlier there used to be some people in Kramatorsk who tried to stay away from what was happening and just survive, today many of them are ready to take up arms."
  • Reports alleging that the Ukrainian army was shelling civilians. For instance, in a report from October 2014, the correspondent shows the Russian paramilitary as supposedly "having to fire back", otherwise a Ukrainian tank would destroy a residential block.
  • The report "'Genocide and extermination:' Donbas residents are horrified by the Ukrainian army's actions". As DM writes, for that article, Knyagnitsky chose quotes from people who claim to be victims of genocide and seem to be fleeing cities liberated by the Ukrainian army. The article ends with the correspondent's statement about the evacuated children: "The children are happy, thinking that the war is over for them. But the National Guard is already approaching Donetsk." "Detector" reminds that defending the "people of Donbas" from the Ukrainian army is one of the arguments that Russian propaganda uses to justify full-scale aggression and deportations.
  • A report about the Ukrainian children who allegedly "moved" to Russia voluntarily. He says that the "aloofness and isolation" in their eyes makes them stand out among their peers. He also mentions the Crimean schools transitioning to the Russian curriculum. According to the American mission to the OSCE, in the course of the full-scale war, Russia has kidnapped about 14,000 children from Ukraine. Knyagnitsky, however, does not mention Russian aggression in any of the listed reports, Detektor media points out. Instead, he calls Russian fighters "militia" or the "Donbas self-defense forces." He dubs the Ukrainian army's actions "capturing cities." He also contrasts the shelling, which was allegedly done by Ukraine and caused a humanitarian catastrophe in Donetsk, with aid supplied by Russia. We remind you that the European Court of Human Rights ruled that it is Russia that has been occupying a part of the Donbas since 2014.
  • Reports about Russia "recognizing" the Revolution of Dignity as a coup d'état, alleged threats from Ukrainians, received by teachers in Donetsk, and Crimea's "accession" into Russia.
  • The story about Oleh Sentsov's alleged "terrorist group" being detained in 2014. After that, the Ukrainian filmmaker spent five years in Russian captivity. However, he sued the Russian media outlets that declared him a "terrorist" before the court's decision.

Knyagnitsky worked for NTV until 2017 and left the channel, as he claims, for ethical reasons: "How far is one to bend his back?"

After that, Knyagnitsky got a job at the New York editorial office of the Russian TV channel RTVI. This is what he wrote, for instance, about the protests triggered by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a policeman: "...for wherever Blacks are, there is crime. That's what the Russians who left South and East Harlem say."

Knyagnitsky also prepared an article on why the "liberal" American press does not investigate into sexual harrassment allegations against Joe Biden: "The water is wet, the sky is blue, the New York Times receives a Pulitzer for reporting about Putin's regime. [...] Tara Reid's story is indeed difficult to prove. Like any other story similar to it. But if we simply turn a blind eye to the evidence against Biden, doesn't it discredit the #MeToo movement, which the NYT is no stranger to? The editors are facing a difficult choice. Much more difficult than simply harping on Putin, Trump and American conservatives. And this choice won't get you a Pulitzer."

While working at RTVI, Harry Knyagnitsky did not leave the topic of the Ukrainian-Russian war behind. After Russia shelled and seized Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait, the correspondent speculated that Ukraine had deliberately provoked Russia. He also claimed that it was unclear who was to blame legally and who had entered whose waters. We remind you that in 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on non-recognition of the annexation of Crimea.

In 2018, on RTVI, Harry Knyagnitsky was parroting the talking points of Russian propaganda, saying that that the emergence of an autocephalous Ukrainian church could lead to repression of believers and a schism among Ukrainians.

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