The Daily Telegraph has today published the BBC’s response to Peter Oborne’s comment piece questioning the impartiality of the BBC’s news coverage of Russia and some aspects of the BBC series Putin, Russia And The West.
The letter reads:
SIR – Peter Oborne (Comment, February 2) questions the impartiality of the BBC’s “Putin, Russia and the West” because our consultant, Angus Roxburgh, was once a PR advisor to the Kremlin. He was also a Sunday Times correspondent, and later the BBC’s Moscow correspondent. That is why he was hired: he helped secure interviews with key Kremlin insiders.
The series is about Putin’s relations with the West since becoming president in 2000. That is why we did not cover earlier events such as the 1999 apartment bombings. We do not gloss over his record on Chechnya.
We reject the suggestion that the BBC’s Moscow bureau is “extremely reluctant” to criticise the Kremlin. We reported allegations of electoral fraud levelled at Putin’s party and continue to cover the ensuing popular protests.
In both our Russian and English coverage we strive to report Russia from all perspectives. We include a range of voices, including many opposition figures.
Over decades, BBC staff in Russia have been subjected to intimidation. Following the death of Alexander Litvinenko, three Russian staff were attacked in mysterious circumstances – hardly the experiences of those working for a “fearful news organisation”.
The World Service also covered the Litvinenko story from all sides, including securing his last ever interview.
Fiona Campbell - BBC Executive Producer, “Putin, Russia And The West”
Jon Williams - BBC World News Editor
Sarah Gibson - Head of BBC Russian