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Under fake name, MK speaks to Russian radio as analyst

Ethics Committee raps Ksenia Svetlova for talking to state-sponsored Sputnik as ‘Aleksandra Kalinina’; lawmaker says ‘what is the big deal?’

MK Ksenia Svetlova of the Zionist Union party as a new member of the Israeli Knesset, March 29, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
MK Ksenia Svetlova of the Zionist Union party as a new member of the Israeli Knesset, March 29, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

An opposition lawmaker was instructed by the Knesset’s Ethics Committee to stop calling in to a Russian radio station using a fake name, after it was revealed that she had been speaking to Moscow’s state-sponsored Sputnik radio station as an analyst.

Although she was not punished for her actions, the Knesset’s Ethics Committee last week ordered MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union), a former journalist and Arab world expert, to immediately cease the practice, Army Radio reported on Sunday.

Svetlova reportedly called Sputnik on numerous occasions to discuss a variety of subjects, identifying herself as Aleksandra Kalinina.

In an interview with Army Radio, Svetlova defended her actions, saying, “As soon as the Ethics Committee told me to desist, I desisted. What is the big deal?”

“In my opinion the big deal is Israel’s failed public diplomacy in the Russian-speaking world,” she said.

Svetlova argued there is a need for an objective voice defending Israel on Russian radio and maintained she did not want her opinions to be judged by her political role.

Zionist Union MK Ksenia Svetlova speaks during a press conference, February 22 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Zionist Union MK Ksenia Svetlova speaks during a press conference, February 22 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Svetlova noted that Sputnik is broadcast in many countries with large Russian-speaking populations, as well as in Arab countries throughout the Middle East, necessitating a pro-Israel voice to counter the radio station’s anti-Israel stance and the anti-Semitic views held by many of its listeners.

“I am prepared to explain the position of Israel with regards to the Middle East and the terrorist organizations [Hamas and Islamic Jihad] that are not recognized as such in Russia, at any time,” she said, while adding that she has also sought to articulate Israel’s views on Iran and Hezbollah.

Svetlova said she previously spoke with officials in the Prime Minister’s Office about plans to counter anti-Semitic and anti-Israel views held by Russians, but since the proposals had yet to be implemented she decided that “I can do only what I can do at the moment.”

She also added during the interview that she had been using a “pen name.”

Prior to entering politics in 2015, Svetlova was an Arab affairs correspondent for Channel 9, an Israeli Russian-language television station.

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