Russian Journalists Say да to Social Media

MOSCOW — Russian journalists discussed the role of social media in covering ethnic migration issues and created a Facebook page to post stories and exchange information at a seminar organized by the Moscow Higher School of Economics (HSE) and the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

“Social media can make the problems of ethnic migration more transparent as more journalists cover the issue and the stories are re-posted,” said Anna Kachkaeva, dean of HSE’s media communications school. Kachkaeva also hosts a talk show and other programs for the BBG funded Russian-language Radio Liberty.

The journalists, who attended a three-day conference and seminar, came from across the country to further their knowledge of immigration challenges in Russia, a leading destination for migrants.

Elena Mikhina, 30, a reporter from Krasnodar in the Kuban region, said her area is a magnet from agricultural workers from Armenia and Turkey. She said many workers face discrimination under the country’s labor laws.

Another reporter, Eugeny Kostitsin of Ufa, said immigrants were recently a big story in his area because of allegations the head of the migration service had enslaved 12 people from Tajikstan. The official was fired but not prosecuted, according to Kostitsin.

Anna Plotnikova, who works for Voice of America as a reporter in St. Petersburg, said there was tension with immigrants in that city, stemming primarily from religious practices.  She recounted that some migrants slaughtered animals in ritual killings and frequently blocked roads during religious holidays, angering residents.

Elena Ulyashena, who works as a main editor at Moskovsky Komsomolec in Krasnoyarsk, called the seminar “phenomenal.”

“I’ve really learned why it is important to use social media,” she said.

The BBG (, the U.S. broadcasting agency which includes RFE/RL and VOA, is charged by Congress with training international journalists on a variety of subjects.