''There were no fake news!'' Aleksey Venediktov defends a BBC correspondent

A number of Russian journalists and observers agree with the editor-in-chief of Echo of Moscow

''There were no fake news!'' Aleksey Venediktov defends a BBC correspondent Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

The scandal with the leaked correspondence of Olga Ivshina, a BBC correspondent with Kazan roots, has been inflated out of the blue, according to many leading Russian journalists, observers and her former colleagues. Earlier RIA Novosti reported that BBC was looking for ''werewolves in vests'', attaching a private correspondence of Ivshina, where she asks the interlocutor about the possible Russian influence on the protests in France. This information didn't appear in her reports as a result. Nevertheless, a number of Russian media and government officials hurried to accuse the editorial office and the employee of ''spreading fakes''. However in Kazan, where Ivshina is well known, many spoke in her support, calling the woman an objective journalist and patriot. Read more in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

''It is quite logical that our correspondent also studied this aspect''

In France, where protests against the increase in tax on gasoline continue, on 9 December the foreign ministry stated it was studying the information about ''foreign interference'' in the country's affairs. Let us remind that there were suggestions about the Russian trace in the riots and an investigation was initiated.

Earlier, RIA Novosti published the correspondence of its stringer with the correspondent of BBC Russian Service Olga Ivshina, where she asked about a possible involvement of Russia in the protests of yellow vests in France. In a joking manner, the woman explained, saying that the editors ''demand blood''. In response, the Russian media said that BBC was trying to prove ''Russian interference'' in the protests in France. The representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the channel, accusing of spreading ''fake'' news and adding that the actions of BBC journalists were a manifestation of ''cynicism'':

''How do the British public and media regulators assess such compilation of facts, which is done by the employees of their TV and radio companies?'' Maria Zakharova said, promising to draw the OSCE's attention to the situation.

Olga herself does not comment on the situation, and the press service of BBC confirmed the authenticity of the correspondence and explained the actions of their journalist:

''Since the French foreign minister publicly commented on the media reports about the possible impact on the protests from Russia, it is logical that our correspondent also studied this aspect. However, in the end, in her reports possible connection with Russia is not mentioned at all. We continue to adhere to the principles of impartial and independent journalism,'' the representative of BBC responded to the request of Realnoe Vremya.

Olga herself does not comment on the situation, and the press service of BBC confirmed the authenticity of the correspondence and explained the actions of their journalist. Photo: facebook.com/oivshina

''What is the other way to work as a journalist? Just being a microphone stand for ministers?!''

Olga Ivshina is a native of Kazan, where she graduated from the Kazan Federal University in 2008 in the field of international relations. She started her career as a journalist on a local TV channel of GTRK, worked as a correspondent in the programme Vesti-Tatarstan. For many years she used to go in search expeditions to places of battles of the Great Patriotic War, made a few films about the search movement. Recently, he has worked as a correspondent of BBC Russian Service, conducted reports from hot zones.

Speaking about the leaked correspondence of Ivshina, leading Russian journalists and observers considered the scandal inflated and saw nothing criminal in the actions of the correspondent.

''In this case, I do not understand the word 'scandal', except the word 'leaked'. Because when, for example, Russian President Vladimir Putin says that Ukrainian ships were fired upon and detained in territorial waters, I give the command to my journalists to find evidence of this. In this case, in France, the foreign minister said that an investigation was initiated, and, of course, the normal press should check what the minister says,'' the editor-in-chief of radio Echo of Moscow Aleksey Venediktov commented on the situation to Realnoe Vremya.

According to him, it is normal that edition looks for proofs of the statement of the minister, ''instead of just retransmitting his words''. Therefore, the chief editor of Echo of Moscow sees nothing special in the correspondence of Ivshina:

''We check what is sometimes claimed by Russian, non-Russian statesmen and women — this is the work of the editorial office. But at the same time, which is very important, if there are no confirmations, they are not published. This, in fact, happened in the story with BBC — they did not find confirmation of what the French foreign minister said, and it was not published. Therefore, there were no fake news!''

As for the accusations of BBC by Zakharova and other authorities, Venediktov noted that they do not know the principles of the editors' work, which are obliged to check their statements: ''We, for example, have not found confirmation that the Ukrainian courts were attacked in the territorial waters of Russia.''

''The most important thing here is not to publish if not confirmed. What is the other way to work as a journalist? Be just a stand under the microphone for ministers of France, Russia, China?!'' says the editor-in-chief of Echo of Moscow radio.

Military observer and analyst Pavel Felgengauer also saw ''nothing special'' in the content of the published correspondence of the journalist and considered the BBC's response ''quite adequate''. Photo: ru.rfi.fr

''Private correspondence was used by Russian state bodies — it is both a moral and criminal offense!''

Independent military observer and analyst Pavel Felgenhauer also saw ''nothing special'' in the content of the published correspondence of the journalist and considered the BBC's response ''quite adequate''.

''She was talking to someone, but it wasn't included in the publication. You never know what people say to each other. So there's no crime here at all. BBC quite adequately answered that it made sense to request such information, but as found nothing, in publications it didn't appear. And if it was not in the publications, then what's the problem?! Private correspondence is nobody's business. But the fact that private correspondence was used by Russian state bodies is both a moral and criminal offense! It is absolutely prohibited,'' said Pavel Felgenhauer.

Many of her Kazan colleagues also spoke in support of Olga Ivshina.

''From my point of view, the reaction of some colleagues and Mrs. Zakharova is somewhat exalted and exaggerated. From the fact that the correspondent asks: whether Russian business is making money on protests in France, and adds: ''yes, I am looking for corners'', ''edition demands blood'', still nothing follows. She didn't ask him to falsify some facts, she's just looking for evidence. Therefore, when Mrs. Zakharova in her usual manner begins to wave her hands: we will write, we will show them — the stringer or Ivshina fabricated nothing. Ivshina has the right to ask this question, especially if the edition says. So I don't know what's the problem here. I know Olga as a very professional journalist, who understands where the red line goes,'' said Advisor to the rector of Kazan Federal University Yury Alaev.

Former colleagues of Ivshina from Tatarstan GTRK also speak highly of her — as a big professional:

''Olga, though she has worked with us not so long, nevertheless she worked prominently. She is a good person and wonderful journalist, and I believe that this will not change over the years. She comes by to us when she is here in Kazan. We all love, respect and appreciate her. For many years she goes to the search teams, had made this wonderful film about the work of search groups. So to accuse her that she is digging up on Russia — it is unfair, one should learn patriotism from her,'' says Liliya Zhdanova.

''I have known Olga for a long time, 10 years, if not more. I know her as a professional and impartial journalist,'' said Anton Raykshtat. Photo: tatmitropolia.ru

''We can really tell only good things about Ivshina. We still keep in touch with her. In fact, Olga is a very honest and open person. She does not lose touch with the homeland, gives master classes to modern journalists, makes documentaries. Mostly about the search expeditions, where she spends most of her time. She makes these films and shows young people, and it is not in words, but in deed proves her love for Russia. She is very worried about everything that is happening in our country and in the world,'' said Oleg Safikanov.

Other representatives of the media community in the city also have the same opinion. ''I have known Olga for a long time, 10 years, if not more. I know her as a professional and impartial journalist,'' said another Kazan journalist Anton Raykshtat. On the situation he spoke the following:

''It is clear that it was a friendly humorous correspondence. One should understand the realities in which the journalist is. I do not see a crime in her words. One should be very naive to see behind the words that the edition ''wants blood'' something bad. The comment of BBC seems to be exhaustive. The journalist is on the spot just to check all sorts of hypotheses and conjectures. Knowing Olga, I see that she said it in her usual joking manner,'' Raykhstat believes.

By Vasilya Shirshova
Tatarstan