United States Agency for Global Media

Current Time provides election coverage ignored by Russian state media

Russia has been rocked by a series of protests in the year-long run-up to the presidential elections in March 2018. While state television has ignored such events, Current Time has delivered live coverage to its TV and online audiences.

CT had almost four hours of live coverage during the October 7 protests in 30 Russian cities called by opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. While state TV was reciting birthday well-wishes for Vladimir Putin, Current Time was airing live footage of protesting crowds and activists being arrested by riot police.

Live-streamed coverage in 2017 drew nearly 2 million views and high audience engagement in terms of reactions, shares, and comments, with one-third of the overall volume coming from Russia.

Current Time provided nearly three and a half hours of live coverage from Navalny’s January 28 “election boycott” protests across Russia. Hosted from Prague, Current Time’s coverage included live reports from correspondents on the ground in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as video reports from a number of other cities, reporting from RFE/RL’s Russian and Tatar-Bashkir services, social media updates, guests in the Moscow studio, a live interview with Navalny’s Moscow coordinator Nikolai Lyaskin from inside a police van shortly after Lyaskin’s detention, and for the first time a breaking news ticker that allowed us to follow arrests and crowd sizes in protests across the country. The entire program was streamed on the website and social media platforms.

The stream received 716K total views, including 385K on YouTube, 253K on VKontakte, and 82K on Facebook; altogether, video products tied to the protests were viewed more than 1.4 million times in less than 24 hours, beating Dozhd, Meduza, and BBC Russian in terms of video views.

In a back-handed compliment, Current Time’s online content also came under a massive bot-attack, with thousands of comments and dislikes from fake accounts.