“If there is a hell, journalists will go there”

“If there is a hell, journalists will go there”

On Monday, Russian Telegram channels drew attention to the statement of journalist Vladimir Pozner condemning his professional colleagues in connection with the war in Ukraine. “I am ashamed of my profession, I am ashamed of what they are doing, of lies that are presented as truth, of propaganda in the worst sense of the word. I am not supposed to say this, but I will say it. I am an atheist, but if there is hell, then journalists will get there,” said Posner, participating in a YouTube broadcast organized 6 days ago by the Code Pink organization (timecode 1.21.25).

Many people took these words as a criticism of Russian state propaganda. The context of the performance, however, is more complicated.

The stream in which Posner participated was dedicated to the war in Ukraine. In its description, it is said that “the war in Ukraine began in 2014, when the United States organized a coup in Ukraine to overthrow the regime in which Ukraine was a neutral country, and replace it with an anti-Russian and pro-American regime, which immediately started a war against Donbass.” – in other words, the Kremlin narrative about the events in Ukraine is being repeated. The Code Pink organization positions itself as a “feminist organization striving to put an end to wars and US imperialism.”

Posner, speaking as an invited guest, reads a historical lecture for about an hour about the reasons that, in his opinion, led to the war in Ukraine. He recognizes Vladimir Putin’s responsibility for the invasion, but notes that he does not consider him “crazy” – and tries to explain the logic of the Russian president’s actions. At the same time, Posner begins with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the expansion of NATO to the east.

In his speech, the TV presenter, although with reservations, on many points actually either supports the Kremlin’s theses, or at least speaks with their understanding. For example, he claims that the West made a promise not to expand NATO (albeit informally) and did not keep it, and also claims that the USA “clicked the bear on the nose”, provoking Russia. Posner also wonders how the United States would react if an anti-American president came to power in Mexico and called in the Russian army for help – a mirror situation, in his opinion, occurred in Ukraine. He considers Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to be completely dependent on the United States. At the same time, Posner does not say that he supports the war, but only calls to “analyze the facts” and understand the Kremlin’s logic. In this context, his evaluation by journalists is perceived first of all as a criticism of Western mass media covering the conflict from a pro-Ukrainian perspective. According to Posner, representatives of Western liberal elites do not understand what is happening in Russia and Ukraine.

At the same time, Posner emphasized that the Russian authorities have recently resorted to repression against opponents of the war: “People are put in prison for expressing their opinion.” According to Posner, most of those with whom he communicates in Russia oppose the war, but 80% of the country’s population supports Putin.

Vladimir Pozner is 88 years old. He has been known to Western audiences since Soviet times, appearing as an employee of the Soviet Television and Radio Broadcasting Committee in foreign talk shows. Led telebridges of the USSR-USA. After the collapse of the USSR, he was actively engaged in journalistic activities in Russia, and acted as a media manager. In recent years, he hosted the author’s program “Posner” on Channel One.

Vladimir Pozner has not publicly commented on what is happening in the hour that has passed since the Russian large-scale invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, his program stopped being broadcast on Channel One, and the reasons for this were not officially announced.

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