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Russia Today Channel Goes Live

Created: 10.12.2005 19:29 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 19:29 MSK > document.write(get_ago(1134232146)); </SCRIPT> , 17 hours 49 minutes ago

A 24-hour, English-language, state-funded television channel went live from its Moscow studios on Saturday, designed to broadcast news from a Russian perspective around the globe, the Reuters news agency reported.

At 4 p.m. Moscow time the countdown clock and swirling orange graphics melted away and the anchor welcomed viewers to Russia Today — “from Russia to the world.” The launch comes amid growing Western criticism of Moscow’s attitude to democracy and the rule of law, while Kremlin officials complain the foreign media misrepresent Russia.

The first bulletin led on a health scandal close to home — an investigation into how blood supplies in the southern Russian city Voronezh became contaminated with the HIV virus.

Bird flu in Ukraine and the fate of four Western hostages being held in Iraq followed before the channel ran teasers for some of its feature programs, including a German artist who lives on the ruins of a Soviet collective farm.

The channel also looked at how some former Soviet countries were rewriting children’s history books now they are independent from Moscow.

“We will mainly have Russian news, but we will also show international events and express them from our point of view here,” Margarita Simonyan, Russia Today’s editor-in-chief, told the Interfax news agency.

Russia’s image abroad deteriorated after what many foreigners saw as the politically-motivated arrest and trial of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. More recently a draft law that would tighten state control over charities and pro-democracy groups operating in Russia caused consternation.

Russian media have debated how far the new channel will stray from the Kremlin’s line on sensitive issues such as the simmering violence in Chechnya.

Simonyan has said Russia Today will offer “objective and interesting” reporting. The channel has offices in London, Washington, Paris and Jerusalem and plans to open more soon, said Simonyan, a former Kremlin correspondent for state TV channel Rossiya.

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