The Current

Russian media coverage of the Syrian conflict is propaganda, says journalist

Despite western media attention that chronicles Russia's role in the Syrian government's relentless bombing of civilians in Aleppo, Russia's own news organizations present a far more benign view. The Current looks at what message Moscow is sending.
While western media focuses on bombings and civilian deaths in Syria, journalist Alec Luhn says reports within Russia are selective and defensive of the Kremlin. (Ameer Alhalbi/AFP/Getty Images)

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Russian citizens are often kept in the dark about the "severe civilian casualties" of Syrians, according to Moscow-based journalist Alec Luhn.

RELATEDRussian media could almost be covering a different war in Syria

Luhn tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti the vast majority of Russians rely on state media coverage for information — and the result is a widespread lack of awareness about the death toll in Syria, and Russia's role in the bombings.

A Syrian boy receives treatment at a makeshift hospital following airstrikes on Aleppo, Sept. 24. (Karam Al-Masri/AFP/Getty Images)
The bombings over rebel-held areas of Aleppo by Russian warplanes and their Syrian government allies barely made a blip, says Luhn, as Russian media coverage instead focused on "Russian soldiers delivering aid to other parts of the country."

Luhn says the Russian government works hard to shape a very different narrative of the war in Syria than what western media portrays.

He tells Tremonti that Russia has ran a press tour busing journalists to the ancient city of Palmyra, which was reclaimed by Syrian government allied forces.

"They staged a classical music concert among the picturesque ruins," says Luhn.

This satellite image released by the United Nations, shows a damaged school or athletic facility in the Owaija district of Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 1. (The Associated Press)

On Oct. 5, the United Nations released satellite pictures showing increased devastation of the besieged area of Aleppo. And today the U.N. is predicting Aleppo will be totally destroyed within two months. 

Despite the destruction and loss of life, Luhn says many Russian citizens are disinterested in the ongoing conflict.

"[With] the Syrian war — there's no connection with the people here. They don't understand why Russia is there."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry.