Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hey, you buried the lede (and that's not a typo)

As you read this story that highlights the increased police response to protests in Russia, you'll likely keep asking yourself -- why is the government acting as it is?

It takes almost 25 paragraphs to get to the point (and in the journalism world that's called burying the lede, pronounced lead):
These people can whip up xenophobia where the Kremlin doesn't want it....
Russia Today in this story provides the context to the Moscow-area protests
What started as a gathering to mark the death of a football fan, killed in a fight with ethnic North Caucasions, soon turned into a nationalist riot with ethnic minorities and police being attacked.
And while these sporadic protests have been taking place in and around Moscow, the political situation in Belarus has led to louder, more dangerous protests. As the Associated Press notes,
Up to 40,000 opposition activists rallied in central Minsk to call for longtime authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko to step down. It was the largest opposition rally since mass street protests against Lukashenko in 1996, but it was over within hours. By late Sunday, police had cleared Independence Square of all demonstrators.
The protests developed as national elections neared. As Russia Today reports (full story here),
Preliminary results based on exit polls suggest the current leader, Aleksandr Lukashenko, received more than eighty percent of the votes in Sunday's election, guaranteeing his re-election, with the highest ranking of his opposition competitors receiving just over six per cent.
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Some ten thousand people gathered to protest the country's presidential elections, calling them fraudulent.
Also, Presidential candidate Neklyayev was rushed to hospital following a clash with black-uniformed police, his spokesperson, Spetsnaz, told RT.
More than eighty percent of the vote? And that's not fraudulent? These results came despite President Lukashenko allowing political campaigning. The New York Times explains in this story that:
It would be hard to describe Mr. Lukashenko as a born-again democrat. None of the nine candidates running against him stand much of a chance of ending his 16-year reign. Rather, this veneer of pluralism, evidenced in the capital and elsewhere by a few campaign posters and scattered opposition rallies, appears to be part of an effort by Mr. Lukashenko to court the West amid increasingly sour and unpredictable relations with his longtime patron, the Kremlin.
Keep in mind that the aforementioned Russia Today is linked to the Kremlin, which ensures that it will offer an anti-Belarus approach to its reporting. Don't misunderstand me; I am not suggesting that President Lukashenko is a good guy. Rather what I am saying is that if Moscow and Minsk were political allies, then RT would be offering a more benign interpretation of events taking place in Belarus.

And that's not burying the lead, thank you.

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