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Russian parents fear radio brainwashing

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Postby rath » Sat Jul 03, 2010 1:27 am

Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Broadcast: 25/06/2010
Reporter: Norman Hermant

A kid's radio station in Russia is raising fears of brainwashing because main sponsor Gazprom has close links to the Kremlin.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Communism might be dead in Russia, but it seems some of its techniques live on. A radio station set up exclusively for kids has become hugely popular in just a few years, but parents fear it may be brainwashing their youngsters. The station's biggest sponsor is Gazprom, Russia's largest company and one with close links to the Kremlin.

The ABC's Moscow correspondent Norman Hermant reports.

NORMAN HERMANT, REPORTER: It has all the glitz of pop extravaganzas for kids everywhere and this show in Moscow packed in its target audience, all here to see their favourite stars. Not from TV or the movies, but from radio. This concert is being hosted by a station that's quickly become a mainstay in kids' entertainment here: Detskoe Radio, a station for children with Russian characters, Russian songs and Russian stories.

Staff say they've succeeded in spite of an onslaught of children's entertainment from abroad and they say that's good for the country.

ALEXEI BULANICHEV, DETSKOE RADIO: There's Disney heroes, there's no other foreign heroes. This is very Russian. And I think it's very important and it is very useful for children to have some Russian radio.

NORMAN HERMANT: There's something else this station has that's hard to miss: it's links to Gazprom. The Russian oil and gas giant is the primary sponsor, and whether they realise it or not, kids listening in are hearing a lot from the company.

For five-year-old Petya Burtsev, Detskoe Radio is a big part of his day. As he listens, he hears a stream of ads from Gazprom. In one, a witch has captured a little boy and is about to bake him in a pie. But her stove has gone out. "Gazprom would help you if you were kind to people," says the boy. Petya says he likes Gazprom.

PETYA BURTSEV, DESTKOE RADIO listener (voiceover translation): Because they say in the advertisement that it spends some of its money on good deeds and on children too. That's too.

NORMAN HERMANT: His mother says she appreciates the station's programming, but she is concerned about the message her kids are getting.

MARIA BURTSEVA, MOTHER: Children may think that everything that is good for children is thanks to Gazprom. Like we thought in our childhood that everything that is good for us we must think our government.

NORMAN HERMANT: Critics say Gazprom and the Russian Government are really one and the same. Strongarm tactics by the Kremlin helped Gazprom become Russia's biggest company. The Government owns the majority of its shares and the former chairman of Gazprom's board of directors, Dmitry Medvedev, is now Russia's President.

This psychologist isn't surprised Gazprom has seen the benefits of linking its corporate identity with radio for children. The station and events like this one, he says, bolster the company's image before kids are even old enough to be consumers.

ALEXEY OBUKHOV, MOSCOW STATE PEDAGOGICAL UNIVERSITY (voiceover translation): They form a positive attitude to this corporation from a very early age, so that when they grow up, no matter what happens in the future, they will view one of the key state corporations very positively.

NORMAN HERMANT: And, says Maria Burtseva, it's not only Gazprom that children will see in a positive light.

MARIA BURTSEVA: It's the instrument to rule the children, to make them more useful for the future for the government.

NORMAN HERMANT: Petya is already a fan of Detskoe childrens' radio and a fan of Gazprom. In the future, it may not take that much convincing to make him a fan of the government too.
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