Russian media sacks staff over Goebbels Facebook post

VGTRK media group’s Facebook page published a photo of Goebbels and quoted his opinion on Bolshevik leader Lenin

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Russia’s largest state media company on Tuesday said it was sacking an entire department over a Facebook post quoting Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels and calling him a “great” figure.

On Monday the Facebook page of VGTRK media group -- which controls a handful of national channels -- published a photo of Goebbels and quoted his opinion of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.

The post was part of a series titled “Great people on Lenin,” marking the 90th anniversary of the Soviet leader’s death.

“We apologize to our readers for the unethical publication,” VGTRK wrote on its Facebook page, which is followed by 1.1 million people.

“Due to this we announce that today our Social Media Marketing team has been fired in its entirety.”

The media company did not provide further details and its spokespeople were not immediately available for comment.

The inclusion of Goebbels raised eyebrows among some commentators, given VGTRK’s strongly pro-Kremlin news coverage and its impact on public opinion.

The pro-opposition photographer and popular blogger Dmitry Aleshkovsky described VGTRK’s main news show as “Goebbels’ television,” in a Facebook comment.

VGTRK”s deputy general director Dmitry Kiselyov was also recently named head of Russia Today, a new state news agency established in an apparent bid to improve the country’s battered international image.

The Facebook entry on Goebbels was published on the 70th anniversary of the lifting of the Nazi siege of Leningrad, during which at least 800,000 died of hunger.

In a related scandal, independent television channel TV Rain on Monday received a barrage of complaints from senior lawmakers for a phone-in poll asking if Leningrad should have surrendered to save lives.

The channel quickly apologized, saying it had not intended to offend veterans.

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