A man the Moscow Times calls “the Kremlin’s new chief propagandist” claimed “Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash” on Russian TV today.
Behind him was a picture of President Obama and a mushroom cloud. One interpretation put Kiselyov’s words as “Russia is world's only country that is ready to turn the USA into radioactive ash.”
The controversial comments came on behalf of Dmitry Kiselyov, a man that independent media in Russia call the head of Rossia Segodnya, or Russia Today. It’s the successor to RIA Novosti, the state-funded and largest news organization in Russia. President Vladimir Putin put Kiselyvov at the helm of Rossia Segodnya after closing RIA Novosti, which had earned a respected reputation among journalists.
So is it all that surprising that Kiselyov is out to rub salt in a festering wound?
Not really. He’s been a controversial figure for some time now. He’s clearly a staunch supporter of the Kremlin’s policies and makes no effort to hide his views in his weekly TV show on the state-run Rossiya 1 channel, so we shouldn't be too surprised that he's getting testy.
He’s the same guy who said LGBT folks should “be prohibited from donating blood, sperm, and their hearts, in case they die in a car accident, should be buried or burned as unfit for extending anyone's life.”
He also was a sharp critic of Euromaidan. Back in December he called it “a very small dot on the body of Ukraine. If you burn it with a soldering iron, it will hurt.” But ironically he said that Euromaidan could be blown out of proportion in the media.
He warned against “American fascism” that would overtake Syria and turn it toward the West, and he called Russians who opposed Crimean annexation the “fifth column” within Russia.
Russian journalists at Vedomosti, a well-respected business daily in the country, said the appointment of Kiselyov was a sign that Putin was giving up the “intellectual” crowd and instead going after his base supporters, who in a lot of ways agree with what Kiselyov has to say.
What's shocking about Kiselyov's comments is that they're directly tied to the Russian leadership, whether Putin wants that or not. He put Kiselyov into place at Russia Today, so when Kiselyov goes on a tangent like this, Putin ultimately is associated with it.