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Czech TV to air expert debate on Russian series belittling purges

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Prague, Feb 13 (CTK) – The public Czech Television (CT) will air an additional expert discussion on the Forgotten Leaders Russian series it broadcast at the end of 2017 in response to the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting (RRTV) criticism, CT spokeswoman Karolina Blinkova has told CTK.

According to the RRTV, CT breached the law by having broadcast the series as it plays down Stalin’s purges.

Over 200 personalities, including Russian studies scholars, historians and teachers, joined the RRTV’s criticism in an open letter addressed to CT.

The eight-part docudrama series made in 2016 introduced several less known figures of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s regime.

CT breached the law particularly by broadcasting the episodes dedicated to Lavrentiy Beria, one of the organisers of Stalin’s purges and executions of the regime’s critics, the RRTV wrote in a press release.

The episodes in question highlight Beria’s managerial success and character and trivialise his role in making arrests, deportations and executions, the RRTV wrote, asking CT to correct its step.

“With regard to a response of a part of the public to the documentary, we have decided to schedule, probably on March 5, a discussion of renown historians on the theme, its treatment and impression,” Blinkova said.

Russian studies scholar Jan Machonin, who also published an appeal on CT to correct its step on the Babylon Revue website, contacted the RRTV over the series.

Machonin’s appeal has been supported by some 240 people, including historians, teachers, artists, former political prisoners and politicians.

“In all episodes of the series, facts on politically motivated persecutions performed by the Soviet regime and its representatives between 1917-1991 were played down on purpose, omitted or directly denied,” the appeal says.

The appeal also calls on CT to make the circumstances of purchasing the series from Russian distributors known to the public.

“CT purchased the Forgotten Leaders through a standard buying procedure of a documentary series from a foreign distributor, just like as with other films of this type,” Blinkova said.

According to Blinkova, CT’s overall broadcasting concept offered other countries’ perspective of the Russian Revolution and Stalin’s regime to the spectators as well.

“The cycle [Forgotten Leaders] was broadcast in remembrance of 100 years from the October Revolution in Russia and it was not the only film relating to the Revolution,” she said.

CT also aired documentaries made by the BBC, German-French ARTE and the France TV televisions.

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