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Apr. 20, 2007
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French Sue over Documentary Cuts
The French agency CAPA, one of the producers of a documentary film entitled USA: The Conquest of the East, announced yesterday that it is suing the Rossia television channel. The film, which describes the role of American nongovernmental organizations in the color revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Serbia, was shown on Rossia on Sunday with cuts. The filmmakers say that the content of the film was distorted because of the cuts. Representatives of the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Co., which owns Rossia, told Kommersant that the film was cut with the permission of the French.
The film appeared on Rossia with the title Revolution.com and the subtitle USA: The Conquest of the East. The channel began advertising it several days in advance of the showing as A unique film that can't be missed. Don't miss the investigation of French journalists! The film aired at 8:46 p.m., with the channel's main political program of the week, News of the Week, ending 20 minutes early for it. The film describes how various U.S. NGOs participated in preparing for and financing the color revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Serbia. The 48-minute film ended at 9:34.

The full version of the film, which can be seen on Google.com, is almost six minutes longer (53 min. 40 sec.). In addition, Rossia cut the name of the author of the documentary, French journalist Manon Loizeau, out of the credits, leaving only the name of the French production company. The Russian version of the film ends with the organizers of the revolution in Georgia sitting in the Washington office of one of the NGOs saying Revolution in Russia is only a matter of time and the price people have to pay. But I am sure that time will come.

At the beginning of the film, French journalists say that the were in Moscow. The mention of the city remains in the version shown on Rossia, but the footage of the Russian capital is not seen. The edited version, two Russian girls, members of the youth organization Defense, are shown in Washington. They tell the journalists that they are sick of Putin. In the full version of the film, there are shots in the Moscow office of Defense of a portrait of the Russia president with a bull's eye superimposed on it.

Loizeau's narrative text describing Defense was cut from the film. Nor is the footage of Ours leader Vasily Yakimenko and political strategist Gleb Pavlovsky saying that Ours is a pro-Putin front. The opinion of the French journalists that Ours is a secret antirevolutionary ministry is also cut, as is their prediction that, if a revolution occurs in Russia, it will be red.

Yesterday, four days after the film aired in Russia, the French reacted sharply to the cuts. CAPA CEO Herve Chabalier told Agence France Presse that we intend to initiate a court case against the Russian state channel and its authorized representative MCG Programming Limited. He said that We hold that the film was cut by at least six minutes. The film, shot by the Frenchwoman Manon Loizeau (whose name was cut from the Russian version), tells not of an American conspiracy, but of the people who support the democratization of the countries of the former Soviet area. Chabalier continued that The Rossia channel intentionally distorted the content to fit its political goals. It was not a coincidence that the documentary film was shown on the same evening as the harsh suppression of an opposition demonstration [the March of Those Who Disagree]. A CAPA spokesman added, Obviously, this is deeply manipulative, with the goal of convincing Russians that all popular demonstrations are the fruits of a supposed American conspiracy. The spokesman noted that Rossia did not fulfill the terms of its contract, which forbade any changes to the film. We don't want to be accomplices of the Russian authorities, he said. We thought that television had become professional in Russia, but that is not the case.

An official All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Co. spokesman told Kommersant that he was very surprised by the CAPA announcement. At the Russian broadcast company, Kommersant learned that the film was purchased about two weeks ago under a rather strict contract. Company representatives would not release the contract. One executive who wished to remained unnamed said, however, that it was CAPA that insisted that we not mention the name of the organization [Defense] in the film and not under any circumstances show the two Russian activists, blurring out their faces In the agreement, the film's time code (48th minute, 25th second), after which the image should be altered, is indicated exactly. That fragments last more than two minutes. In our tradition on air, we obscure the faces only of members of the special services. If we had cut the two girls out of the film altogether, we would have gone immediately to the commentary of the official Russian participants in the film [Yakimenko and Pavlovsky]. But then the viewer wouldn't understand. Our version stopped at that time code indicated in the agreement.

When asked why the name of Manon Loizeau was deleted from the credits, representatives of the Russian broadcast company said that We showed the credits as we received them from the French. They did not deny that the film was intentionally shown on April 15. If it weren't for the reticence of CAPA, one broadcast executive said, we would be pleased to show our viewers the film whole. The deleted fragment is extremely interesting to us. As soon as CAPA officially removes its restrictions, we are ready to broadcast the film. When asked if the company was prepared to face CAPA in court, the source replied, Of course. Herve Chabalier's assistant told Kommersant that he was busy and he had already expressed his official position to AFP. Loizeau was not reachable for comments.

Arina Borodina

All the Article in Russian as of Apr. 20, 2007

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