20:34 02.02.2024

Material of German channel ZDF about occupied Mariupol is unacceptable

3 min read

Suspilne media expressed indignation and disappointment with the material of the German public television channel ZDF from Russian-occupied Mariupol.

"The material published on January 29 on the broadcaster's website and containing video (including live coverage) and text from its own correspondent, head of the ZDF Moscow bureau Armin Kerper, misleads the audience not only about living conditions in the occupied city, but also about the nature and consequences of Russian aggression," the media said in a statement released by the company.

Analyzing the material published by ZDF, Suspilne identified a number of professional violations. First of all, it is noted that the material was prepared with the permission and assistance of the Russian occupation authorities, that is, contrary to Ukrainian legislation, because the ZDF film crew entered the city through Russia's territory.

"This fundamental point must be voiced by the editors: thousands of international journalists, and above all Ukrainians, cannot get into the city, and the phrase that the group works 'freely' in the city looks like an invitation to other media to break the law and cooperate with the occupation authorities," according to the statement.

In addition, the author's statement that before the war Mariupol was a predominantly Russian-speaking city, and the troupe of the Drama Theater that suffered bombing could not stage performances in Russian, "but now they can," sounds manipulative and contributes to the spread of Russian propaganda, which used the narrative of oppression Russian-speaking citizens in Ukraine for invasion and occupation.

"The author's assumption that the vast majority of the city's residents support Russia, and not the West, is a manipulation, because Russia does not just repress the inhabitants of the occupied territories. It organized a so-called filtering among residents who tried to evacuate, illegally detaining and subjecting to cruel torture those who "collaborated" with Ukraine: government officials, journalists, representatives of civil society," according to the statement.

The author's statement that he "did not see" resistance in Mariupol, without mentioning the above facts, distorts the picture and creates the impression that residents fully support the Russian occupation and forced Russification.

In addition, the picture of the "restoration" of the city by the occupiers who destroyed it is not only incomplete, but also distorted. There are known facts where city residents are offered new housing on credit and on the terms of Russian legislation, and this is against the backdrop of the fact that thousands of residents do not have the opportunity to enter the city and control the fate of their housing.

"We respect the desire of professional media to work independently and impartially. But such materials only declare 'balance,' in fact manipulating this concept and spreading Russian propaganda narratives, thus contributing to the justification of war, war crimes and occupation. Such materials are unacceptable, especially with on the part of public broadcasters operating freely and independently on the territory of Ukraine. We call on ZDF to provide an explanation for all the violations mentioned, and to provide its audience with a broader context for the facts described in the report," Suspilne said.