Table of contents:
- Brought it hard
- We are our own, we will build a new world
- Star lit up
- Are you well fed?
- The action movie diet
- Nothing personal, just business
- For what I fought, I ran into something
- Want the truth? So eat up
- As you sow, so shall you reap
- An unexpected twist
No wonder the media is called the fifth power. No, they do not issue the laws by which people live, they do not make sure that these laws are implemented. But journalists form the information field on which people's ideas about events taking place in the world are built. And this is a big responsibility. After all, this can lead to war. It is not always possible to realize this without loss. Correspondent Elena Masyuk had to feel responsibility for her words in Chechen captivity.
Brought it hard
At the beginning of the nineties, the country was overwhelmed by the spirit of freedom, from which literally everyone was drunk. The authorities, headed by Boris Yeltsin, handed out sovereignties to the right and left "as much as you can carry in your hands." Citizens in orderly rows went into commerce and their "roof". The media exposed and scolded anything and everything, calling it "freedom of speech". The profession of a journalist-whistleblower was held in high esteem. One of thesefreedom-loving journalists was Elena Masyuk.
She was born in 1966 in Alma-Ata, managed to work on local TV, and then went to conquer Moscow. Graduated from Moscow State University, faculty of journalism in 1993, completed an internship in America at CNN and at the Duke Institute. There she absorbed the spirit of liberalism and holy faith in democratic ideals, and that the authorities must be exposed. Young-green, as they say, but it came in handy in those troubled times. It has become a symbol of "Freedom of Speech" in the post-Soviet space. But all right.
We are our own, we will build a new world
The young journalist began to gain experience in programs that were cult in those days: Vzglyad and Top Secret. Then they believed that the Soviet government was to blame for all the troubles, but now we will remove it, and democracy will come, and we will immediately live like in paradise. Therefore, this very Soviet government was kicked by everyone and sundry, accelerating the "bright future". Naturally, the journalists were on the front line.
Elena Masyuk, although she worked then in these programs, but only in second or third roles. However, the ideas of universal democratic happiness became stronger in her young soul for the rest of her life. For her idealism, cut off from life, she will have to pay a lot, but this is later, later. Everything seemed right now, and everything is going according to plan.
Star lit up
Elena Masyuk will reach her journalistic Olympus very soon. Already in 1994, her name will be the main one in the reports from the first Chechen war. The journalist was then in the NTV team. This TV channel was part of the holding group of the oligarchVladimir Gusinsky and was considered the country's main opposition channel. Coverage of the first Chechen war on state channels was sluggish. As the journalists themselves said, the reports were made not far from the hotels, and the pictures from the front line were bought either from the military or from the militants.
Against this background, the reports of a young brave correspondent from the very heart of the war were perceived as a revelation. For her work, she will receive many awards from the American and Russian society. But not a single award can heal the emotional wounds of either Masyuk herself or those people who openly hate her.
Are you well fed?
I would like to believe that Elena Masyuk went to Chechnya not for fame, but, as she says in an interview, to honestly fulfill her civic duty. She was one of the few who took the side of the militants, and in every possible way sang them in her reports as fighters for the freedom of the Republic of Ichkeria. At the same time, the guys from the federal troops were almost animals that strangle the freedom-loving people.
Her reporting, featuring rebel leaders and portraying federal troops as usurpers, shaped public opinion in the West. And they whipped up other radical journalists to rock the boat of public opinion. Either naivety, or holy faith in bearded Robin Hoods made Elena Masyuk not notice the obvious facts. Being in the militant camps, she perfectly saw the conditions in which the prisoners were kept, while she takes from theminterview with the question: “Are you well fed?”, And receives a joyful answer: “Yes, almost like my mother in the village.” Not a prisoner, but some kind of resort.
The action movie diet
How well they feed in captivity, Elena Masyuk will tell from her personal experience a few years later, and not so enthusiastically. Describing the noble struggle of Chechen fighters for freedom from the Russian Empire, Masyuk will keep silent about such a phenomenon in Chechnya as kidnapping and human trafficking. It all started spontaneously, at first they stole people who were "guilty" before the commanders for a ransom. Further more, they began to steal those who had at least some money. And then it was put on stream, they stole everyone in a row, indiscriminately, including their compatriots. Those who were not ransomed were either sold into slavery, like Russian boy soldiers, or killed.
Locals later said that many survived and escaped captivity only because everyone had a weapon.
On the walls of houses openly hung advertisements for the sale of live goods, indicating age, physique and degree of he alth. Foreigners and journalists were the most coveted goods, as they were almost always bought for a lot of money. Even in her worst nightmare, Elena could not dream that, by the grace of the noble liberators, she would end up on the other side of the bars and eat only one sausage, a piece of bread and a glass of tea a day.
Nothing personal, just business
In May 1997, Elena, together with the film crew, went on another business trip to Chechnya. May 10 after the journalistinterviewed Vakha Arsanov, one of the prominent Dudayevites, who then served as deputy head of the Chechen security department, the film crew was taken prisoner. She was asked for a ransom of two million dollars.
For the first ten days they were kept in a pit where they could only sit, then they were constantly transported from place to place. The captives were kept in cellars, in some caves that served as a den for bears. They had to learn all the charm of life in captivity from the inside. Let's not hide the fact that many, and especially the Russian military, who fought in Chechnya for no apparent reason, gloated when the news of Masyuk's capture spread. Finally, she learns the truth, the mouthpiece of which she considered herself. Of course, it can be said that the Chechens set up Elena Masyuk, but for them it was just business and nothing personal.
For what I fought, I ran into something
In any conflict, and especially in a military one, it is very difficult to find the truth: the warring parties will have their own version of events and motives. Elena took the position of militants, believing that they were fighting for freedom, but for what? And when trouble happened to her, not one of the noble knights of Islam came to her rescue. She had to experience the other side of the liberation war in her own skin. The film crew was released only after three and a half months, in August. They were paid a ransom of two million dollars. The people were in terrible physical and mental condition.
At the press conference, which was held after the return of correspondents, only Elena spoke. She spoke of the horrors of captivity,the fear they always felt. And in the end, she angrily threw the phrase that journalists in Chechnya have nothing to do, let them sit without journalists. So resentment escaped, because she believed that with her reports she helped them gain freedom, and instead of gratitude … captivity and shame for life.
Want the truth? So eat up
Several years will pass, and in 2004 the story of the capture of journalists will surface again. What for? This time the journalist Yulia Latynina distinguished herself - another fighter for truth and liberal ideals. In an interview on the same liberal channel Ekho Moskvy, she told the details of life in captivity Masyuk. It turned out that the journalist was constantly humiliated and raped, and this was done with particular cruelty, and all this was recorded on videotape. According to eyewitnesses, video cassettes and photos of Elena Masyuk's captivity were then sold on the Grozny market. These cassettes also ended up in the hands of the federal troops.
Why did Latynina do this? Out of envy, or out of some pathological love for the truth, no matter how unattractive it may be? Motives are hard to understand. Many years have passed, and to open the aching wound, for what? But it is clear that the boomerang law worked: what Elena gave to the world, she received from it, no matter how cruel it may sound.
As you sow, so shall you reap
Elena, in her reports from Chechnya, broadcast to the whole world the suffering of the Chechen people from the actions of the federal troops. In one of the interviews, which she will give 20 years after the captivity, she will say that she never gave harsh assessments of the actions of the federal troops.The correspondent will object to her, saying that it was her reports that formed a negative attitude towards the Russians in the minds of the audience. And public opinion will remember this for a long time, considering it a betrayal.
To this, the journalist will respond very sharply about this public opinion, which she does not care about. You should not pay attention to it, because it is worth nothing. She did nothing wrong and has no regrets. If the situation were repeated now, she would have done exactly the same. She is considered a popularizer of militants, but she herself sees everything differently. For example, the story of an interview with Basayev, who allegedly could not be found anywhere by the feds. She went to Chechnya and interviewed him, showing the whole world that Basayev is in Chechnya, and the authorities are simply lying.
The journalist has no choice but to defend herself and stand in the pose of a strong woman, but her further life is a series of disappointments and failures. The personal life of Elena Masyuk did not work out: she has neither a husband nor children. Even though she says she despises public opinion, she can't get away from it. Do not turn away from those soldiers and officers who saw how the militants mocked the prisoners: they were beaten half to death, kicked in the head until their eyes popped out, their nostrils were torn out, etc.
Don't turn your back on those eighteen-year-olds drafted into the army and immediately thrown into the heat of war. They were cannon fodder in the Chechen military company, they died without understanding why. Mediocre politics, greed, and sometimes stupidity,made thousands of men fight and die in a senseless war. But it's not their fault, it's pain. And with all this, presenting them as bloodthirsty invaders is beyond comprehension. One of the officers, when he found out that Masyuk had been released, could not stand such injustice:
When I found out that the plane had arrived for Masyuk, I just couldn't believe my ears. Our guys are not released, but this reptile, which for years betrayed us, doused us with slops, was pulled out. I didn't believe this was really happening. And then I wanted to go to Moscow, kill all the bastards there …
An unexpected twist
After the captivity, Elena Vasilievna Masyuk worked in various television and radio companies, releasing her programs, and in 2005 she was abruptly abandoned. All programs were closed, and they didn’t even really explain why. She switched to social activities. Now she is a member of the Council under the President of the Russian Federation for the development of civil society and human rights. According to the classics of the genre, Elena Masyuk should have at least been punished, but instead, awards, broadcast, and now an adviser to the president.
There is an interesting version of this turn of events. Elena was a double agent, that is, she worked for the special services, and the captivity was staged. There were no cassettes and photos of Elena Masyuk during her time in captivity. This was done in order for her to return as a victim, and, accordingly, no investigations, and even more so - punishments.