Vladimir Putin and Avigdor Lieberman at Netanya ceremony: Gazprom wants to do business.
Vladimir Putin and Avigdor Lieberman at Netanya ceremony: Gazprom wants to do business. Photo by Avo O
Text size
AP
Vladimir Putin. Photo by AP

A Russian television channel's Middle East bureau chief tweeted on Monday that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman protested over the station's broadcasts at his meeting with Vladimir Putin last month.

The tweet on the website Twitter was made by RT's Middle East bureau chief Paula Slier, a South African journalist. The tweet was based on a report by the Russian news site InoForum.

Lieberman reportedly raised the issue at his meeting with the Russian president after months of frustration about the channel's broadcasts.

RT, formerly called Russia Today, broadcasts in English. It was set up by Russia for international audiences. Much of the channel's funding comes from the Russian government, and senior Israeli officials say Russia's Foreign Ministry sometimes has a hand in editing.

Slier said Lieberman "complained to Putin about Russia Today channel and told him 'from Israeli bureau of RT flows anti-Israel propaganda.'"

"Lieberman: 'I tried to talk privately with RT correspondent but they refer to instructions from Moscow' - untrue, they've never spoken with me," tweeted Slier.

Lieberman also reportedly asked Putin "to influence the editorial policy of the RT, making it more objective of Israel," Slier said. She also tweeted that Lieberman protested that RT had arranged a broadcast for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as part of an interview he gave WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on an Internet video chat.

"We decline to comment on private conversations with foreign leaders," a Lieberman aide said on Monday.

But a senior Foreign Ministry official confirmed that Lieberman had expressed dissatisfaction with RT's broadcasts at his meeting with Putin.

Another ministry official said Jerusalem's anger with RT's broadcasts stemmed from its correspondents' methods as well as the content.

"They broadcast stories without asking us for a comment, and interview people in an entirely one-sided way," the official said. "It's such an anti-Israeli channel that to a certain extent it sometimes even surpasses Qatari Al Jazeera."

One reason for Israel's protest was that Russian Foreign Ministry officials have asked their Israeli colleagues several times to assist RT's staff in Israel, and the Israelis have assisted. A Foreign Ministry source said Russian officials even asked Lieberman to give the channel an interview, and he consented.

But the channel's reporters and editors persisted in their unbalanced reporting, the official said.Rus