Published 28 November 2022 at 18.05
Media. In a news feature in SVT, members of the Russian Orthodox Church in Sweden were singled out as suspected Putin agents – and the camera was focused on a child. The media ethics committee now blames the state television giant for having violated good journalistic practice.
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The news piece was published on SVT's website in May this year and was about making Russians in Sweden who are members of the Russian Orthodox Church suspicious.
Among other things, the liberal was interviewed the conspiracy theorist Patrik Oksanen, who was allowed to publish the text about the church's possible connections to Vladimir Putin.
The report showed images from a prayer during a service from a Russian Orthodox church. Several worship participants were seen, including a child.
But with the help of a mistranslation, SVT claimed that the parishioners prayed “for the Russian state”.
Parts of the prayer read, according to SVT's subtitles:
– Give us strength to defeat the enemy and with by the help of your weapon of peace give us invincible victory now and forever and ever, amen. We pray for our father, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill. We pray for our country, for its rulers, for its rulers and for a peaceful life.
The father: The child is against the war
The child's father reported the feature to the Public Media Ombudsman (MO). He was critical of his children being shown in a picture along with an incorrect description and translation of the prayer. The child had been wrongly singled out for supporting Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to the father.
According to the father, the prayer for “victory over the enemies” was not a prayer for the Russian military and the invasion. On the contrary, it was about a Christian victory – and the child prayed against the Russian invasion, which the child opposed, the father stated. It also appeared that the child prayed for Kirill, which the child did not. According to the father, “Our country” would refer to Sweden and not Russia.
SVT has defended itself by saying that the images from the service were illustrative, general environmental images. The reporting team had received permission to film from those closest to the camera. Since the feature was about criticism directed at the church's leadership and not individuals in the congregation, it was judged that the images were not of a sensitive nature.
After the child's relatives contacted the editors, the images of the child were removed.
SVT has also corrected its incorrect translation where it was claimed that the congregation “prays for the Russian state”.
MO has assessed that SVT is to be blamed for the publications that were made with the images of the child, on svt.se and SVT Play. According to the ombudsman, the public interest in the reporting on Ukraine, and how different groups allegedly stand on the war, is “very great”. criticism directed at Swedish Russian Orthodox congregations supporting the war is unacceptable. There is no interest that justifies an identification of him. The child's father has also stated that the child is completely against the war, that she has not prayed for Kirill and that the prayer in addition has been translated in an incorrect way,” writes MO.
The matter was handed over to the Media Ethics Committee, which shares MO's assessment and now blames SVT for having violated good journalistic practice.