Russian state TV news anchor breaks down laughing while reading report about new social spending

On February 9, Russian Internet users started sharing a recording of Vesti-Khamchatka news anchor Alexandra Novikova bursting into hysterical laughter while reporting a three-percent increase in certain social-security payments. Novikova loses her composure when explaining that the state’s new indexing of payments will leave recipients with “a little more than 1,500 rubles” ($23.50) a month to help with payments for medicines, health resort packages, and “international travel” (sic) to these facilities. 

Drawing on a “set of social services,” Novikova explains in the report, beneficiaries can spend almost 900 rubles ($14.09) on medicines, 137 rubles ($2.15) on vouchers, and the remaining balance “on international travel.” When uttering the last phrase, the news anchor breaks down in laughter and says, “I honestly really tried not to laugh right there.”(Laughter begins around 0:48 in the video.)

Novikova then jokes that she’s happy not to have laughed during a live broadcast. The website TJournal says the footage that leaked online is likely one of several takes that were not included in the final report aired on television. TJournal reports that Alexandra Novikova does work for GTRK Kamchatka and has appeared in other reports aired on Vesti. The studio that recorded the report also belongs to the state television network, according to TJournal.

By the time of this writing, GTRK Kamchatka had removed the original report featuring Novikova from YouTube and VKontakte, though copies of the anchor laughing continue to circulate online. The GTRK Kamchatka does not have its own separate website.

TJournal also points out that Novikova incorrectly reported the new social payments for “international” travel. Starting on February 1, 2020, benefits paid to three types of recipients went up by three percent: disabled combat veterans, persons exposed to radiation, and persons honored as Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia and Heroes of Socialist Labor.

These beneficiaries will now receive 1,155 rubles and 6 kopecks (about $18.08) a month for purchasing essential medicines (889 rubles and 66 kopecks, or $13.92), health resort packages to prevent major diseases (137 rubles and 63 kopecks, or $2.15), and free travel on the local commuter rail and 127 rubles and 77 kopecks ($2) for roundtrip intercity transport.

Alexey Kostelyov, the director of VGTRK’s Kamchatka branch, told the publication Pdmnews that he knows the identity of the individual who leaked the footage on social media. He says he plans to punish the person who was responsible, and he says anchor Alexandra Novikova is not in any trouble.

(c)MEDUZA 2020

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