Europe News

Russian media on downed airliner: The CIA did it

Flight MH17: The Russian media perspective
Flight MH17: The Russian media perspective

If perception is reality, then the Russian population would assume that the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 was the work of the Ukrainians—with the help of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, or vice versa.

Just one day after the horrific tragedy that left 298 people dead, Russia's Channel One ran a package telling its audience that the entire incident was orchestrated by the United States, specifically by the CIA.

A document purportedly showing that the U.S. was planning to do the same thing during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis was showing in a full-screen graphic.

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Viewers then learned that the "U.S. orchestrated this because Ukrainian government is not sophisticated enough to orchestrate this," according to the broadcast, which was translated from the original Russian by CNBC.

A part of the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 is seen at its crash site, near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region, July 20, 2014.
Maxim Zmeyev | Reuters

According to Channel One, Russia's swift economic growth and the progress of the so-called BRIC nations—Brazil, Russia, India and China—have inspired the United States to try to damage Russia's economy. The broadcast portrayed Russia as a leader of the BRIC states, though its economy is dwarfed by China's, is smaller than Brazil's and only slightly larger than India's, according to data from the International Monetary Fund.

The government of Russian President Vladimir Putin financially supports and editorially controls a domestic media machine that has become reminiscent of Soviet propaganda, and the former KGB agent has shut down most independent news channels that may stray from the Kremlin line.

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Russian TV anchors, reporters and guests still consistently use the word "terrorists" to refer to the demonstrators who ousted Putin ally Viktor Yanukovych as Ukraine's president, just as they did during the Crimea crisis earlier this year.

Putin: 'America doing experiments like on rats'
Putin: 'America doing experiments like on rats'

Government funding works in two ways.

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First, the Duma provides full subsidies for cultural programs and channels that provide a positive image of Russia abroad. Secondly, channels receive funding through partial subsidies from the state and private investors like Roman Abramovich, who helps fund Russia's Channel One, and energy giant Gazprom, which helps fund NTV.

—By CNBC's Dina Gusovsky