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Type of site
|News and opinion|
|Available in||English, Russian|
|Area served||The Western world|
|Created by||Simon North, Matthew Allen, Paul Kaiser, Enrico Braun, Richard Brandt, John Helmer, Gilbert Doctorow, Eric Zuesse, Xenia Zinoviev, Dmitry Orlov, et al.|
|Alexa rank||35,799 (November 2017[update])|
Russia Insider is a news website launched in September 2014. The website reports on political and social affairs and claims to provide an alternative view to the mainstream news about Russia and country-related issues. The website was founded and is driven by its editor Charles Bausman and volunteer contributors, at the beginning almost all based in Moscow, reportedly to promote a better understanding of Russia. The website has been criticised for being "pro-Russian" and "pro-Kremlin".
It describes its mission as media criticism and reform, underlining the issues of Western media which are seen by the founders as extremely biased, especially on Russia. Many articles are copied, excerpted or translated from other websites, such as Russia Beyond, Voltairenet.org, Strategic Culture Foundation, The Guardian, HuffPost, and Consortiumnews among others, however there is also some original content.
Russia Insider was started as an online user generated movement by a few volunteer contributors. It is based on the concept of citizen journalism and claims that it represents neither government or corporate interests. It has both English and Russian editions, and the English edition is aimed at Western readers. The publication's main goal is to represent an alternative to how Russia is being portrayed in the Western media. Bausman, born in Germany but educated in the United States, is believed to have lived in Russia for nearly thirty years, although he also has a base in Greenwich, Connecticut. "There are five of us in Moscow, the rest in London, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Ottawa, and all over the world", he told—it's a global thing," he told Anne W. Semmes of the Greenwich Time newspaper in March 2015.
In order to maintain its objective to be an independent and transparent news source, Russia Insider is supported by crowdfunding initiative and individual donations. The publication is said to have raised over $120,000 from two crowdfunding campaigns and donations from launch to 2015.
In late 2015, Anton Shekhovtsov who investigates the far right in Russia, alleged that Bausman had sought funding from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev, who is reportedly close to the Kremlin, citing emails leaked by Anonymous International in which Alexey Komov acted as an intermediary. It could not be ascertained whether or not Malofeev had actually come through with such funding. The solicitation to Malofeev was cited as evidence of Russia Insider's connection to the far-right in Russia and Europe.
The website has been criticized for its pro-Russian stance, and considered a "pro-Kremlin propaganda site" by Newsweek, BBC News and Slate, among others. It is considered by the Euractiv website to be alongside "several highly visible partisan outlets such as RT, Ruptly and Sputnik".
Antisemitic editorial policy
On January 15, 2018, Russia Insider published an editorial by Bausman titled "It's Time to Drop the Jew Taboo". In it, he complained of "the strict taboo in the media, of criticizing Jews as a group, using that term" and announced that "from now on, the pages of Russia Insider will be open to articles which fairly and honestly address the influence of Jewish elites, including pointing out when it is malevolent, which it often is". Bausman attributed a "human catastrophe" and "unfolding cataclysm" in which "millions have died" to "Jewish pressure groups".
In the course of the article, the website's editor accused Jews of responsibility for a range of perceived ills, including the claims that: "Hostility to Putin's Russia is largely a Jewish phenomenon" (for example accusing the PBS television network of acting "like some Gentile starlet submitting to Harvey Weinstein"); that "what happened in 2014 in the Ukraine" (the 2014 revolution) "is inextricably linked to alleged Jewish culpability for the [Russian] revolution" of 1917; and that "the ongoing sex scandals which grace our front pages...from Hollywood to entertainment to media to Washington" involve men who "tend towards a certain ethnicity".
Vladislav Davidzon, contributing to the American Tablet magazine, wrote that the article "contained a comprehensive litany of the most vile accusations against Jews dating back more than one hundred years". Bausman has been a regular guest on the Russian overseas network RT in the past. A few days later it issued a statement which said: "RT categorically and unequivocally condemns the disgusting hate speech promoted by the recent Russia Insider article, its author, and the platform as a whole, and rejects any association to such". It asserted that the station had blacklisted Bausman two years ago.
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