Last week, Russia’s state-controlled NTV invited an American expert to comment on how the US had reacted to President Putin’s annual address. The American pundit explained that the US had been shocked by the powerful Russian nuclear weapon that had been displayed attacking the State of Florida in a video animation.
Research conducted by journalists from the Russian independent outlet The Insider shows that this commentator’s main claim to fame is that he sells soaps and CDs with himself singing his own compositions on his private website. He calls himself a writer, but The Insider was not able to find any book authored by him, identifying only a few articles published on lesser known websites.
NTV used the singing soap salesman’s comments to build a story about “strong Western reactions” to President Putin’s speech, saying that “the US have been totally convinced that in the military sphere they are ahead of the entire planet, but now it turns out that the situation has changed”.
NTV is owned by the well-known state-owned Russian gas exporter Gazprom, and is known for loyally, sometimes even aggressively pushing the Kremlin’s political line. As we have previously described, pro-Kremlin international media such as Sputnik and RT, but also Kremlin-controlled media inside Russia, have a long track record of identifying commentators from Western countries who are not particularly well known in their own country, and presenting them as international authorities in a given field, provided that what they say confirms the pro-Kremlin narrative.