CNN censors Russian official’s topical interview on Syria

The final version lacks Russian diplomat’s answers to the two key questions of anchor Christiane Amanpour
UN, November 28, 12:31 /ITAR-TASS/. The U.S. TV channel CNN has censored an interview with Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, editing out comment on the Syrian people’s support of President Assad and a statement about obstacles the opposition puts in the way of humanitarian aid. The broadcast with anchor Christiane Amanpour was aired on Tuesday evening.

The final version lacks the Russian diplomat’s answers to the two key questions, one of them about Assad’s role in negotiations after the interim process started in the country. “This is something that Syrians will decide,” the unedited interview on the official site of the Russian permanent mission to the UN quotes Churkin as saying, and “it’s a fact of life that many Syrians, a large segment of the Syrian population, is supporting President Assad that also has to be taken into account”.

“So let’s have the dialogue started and let’s allow the Syrians to decide what kind of path they need to take to end this conflict,” Churkin said.

CNN has also opted to omit Churkin’s comment that any opposition preconditions for the start of Geneva negotiations due on January 22 were unacceptable, as well as his evaluation of the rebels’ and supporting countries’ activity to hamper humanitarian aid. In particular, Churkin said a high-level task group’s consultation on dealing with the humanitarian situation in Syria was now underway in Switzerland.

Churkin added that there was some influence with the Syrian government on this issue but “nobody knows who is influencing those hundreds or dozens at least of powerful armed groups on the ground” making humanitarian activity very difficult.

“We need to identify those countries and they need to assume responsibility for dealing with those groups so that they will not prevent the evacuation of the population from besieged areas,” he said. “Because over the past few months there have been a number of situations when the Syrian government agreed to the evacuation of the population but the opposition groups prevented that from happening.”

Another “interesting note” that failed to reach the U.S. viewer was that “whenever the population is leaving various besieged areas they move to the territories controlled by the Syrian government”, Churkin said, noting that “it tells a lot about whom the population is relying on for providing humanitarian support”.

Churkin told Itar-Tass on Wednesday he regretted the interview was broadcast in an abridged version, saying the most acute issues of a Syrian crisis settlement remained on the cutting-room floor.