Russian media roundup: The mass shooting in Orlando, Euro 2016 and the Russia Day celebration on June 12 all made headlines in Russia last week.
A man lays down flowers during a vigil in front of the United States embassy in Berlin, German, Monday, June 13, 2016 to honor the victims of the attack on the gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Photo: AP
Last week, members of the Russian media anticipated the start of the 2016 UEFA Euro Championship and explored the security risks associated with its organization. In addition, Russian journalists focused on the implications of the tragic mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. Finally, Russia’s state-run media covered the Russia Day public holiday on June 12.
The Orlando shooting in America
The mass shooting that happened in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12 with 50 people killed was covered widely by the Russian media, which attempted to determine to what extent it was an example of homegrown domestic terrorism. An American-born man who carried out the attack (Omar Mateen) pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Greater Syria (ISIS); later, the terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the shooting.
Vzglyad, a pro-government media outlet, republished a response to the terror attack from Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova. She expressed her regret over the tragedy and emotionally criticized those who argued that the people who were attacked somehow deserved it. “First, the questions of preferences of any kind should not be addressed with violence. Second, it is impossible to defend even the most proper, traditional values if one lacks compassion,” she said.
The Russian state newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported that businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called U.S. President Barack Obama to resign following the attack in Orlando, which became the bloodiest in American history since 9/11. According to Trump, Obama failed in his speech following the shooting to draw any connection to ISIS, which the terrorist pledged allegiance to before the attack.
“In his remarks today, President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘Radical Islam’. For that reason alone, he should step down. If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words ‘Radical Islam’ she should get out of this race for the Presidency,” Trump said.
The mass media outlet Moskovsky Komsomolets compiled a number of accounts of those who witnessed the tragedy first hand, from those who were in the club at the time of the shooting to the parents of those who had been killed.
The beginning of the UEFA European Championship, or Euro 2016, and Russia’s first match with England was another key topic discussed last week in Russia. Following the June 11 game that ended with a 1-1 draw, violence flared between the Russian and English fans threatening the teams to be disqualified.
The liberal news outlet RBC Daily and business newspaper Kommersant reported that there were searches in Russian fans’ hotel rooms following the clashes with English fans. Kommersant also quoted the chief executive of the Football Supporters’ Federation, Kevin Miles, who called for Russia to be expelled from Euro 2016 over the attacks on English fans, but didn’t say to what extent the English fans were responsible.
However, Miles remarked that the policing was not good enough to ensure security: “There’s got to be a huge question mark about the policing. The first responsibility of a police force at a tournament is to guarantee the safety of people coming to watch it, and they singularly failed to do that.”
The business newspaper Vedomosti thinks that the championship in France will be a very challenging task for its organizers. The security of Euro 2016 will be a key issue after the November terror attacks in Paris. There were reports, according to the media, that terror attacks were being prepared in Paris and Brussels on the day when the Russia-England match was scheduled. The risks might lower the number of football tourists, the paper argued.
On June 12, people across Russia celebrated Russia Day commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) on June 12, 1990. Russian media, especially pro-government outlets, extensively covered it.
Cultural events took place all over the country, with more than 3 million people participating, reported Vzglyad. The media said that the holiday was also celebrated in Montreal, Canada as part of a European festival. Another news website, Vesti.ru covered the Russia Day concert in London, England featuring the best Russian singers and musicians playing Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich.
State news channel Life.ru reported from the celebration of Russia Day in Syria. The deputy leader of Syria’s ruling Baath Party, the press advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the deputy minister of foreign affairs of the country and the finance minister participated in the celebrations, the media noted.
The business newspaper Kommersant gathered the opinions of public figures from art, culture, academia and politics to share their views on the importance of this holiday. Among others, the article features a comment by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party, who believes that this is a holiday that must be celebrated.
On the other hand, some shared the opinion of writer Viktor Erofeev, who thinks that the day hasn’t really become a widely celebrated holiday. “The public holiday was aimed to celebrate the idea of honoring the new country that was different from the Soviet Union with its ideology, governmental structure and general mood. It was not at all associated with current patriotism,” he commented.