The Russian News Agency TASS (Russian: Информационное агентство России ТАСС, romanized: Informatsionnoye agentstvo Rossii, or Information agency of Russia), abbreviated TASS (ТАСС), is a Russian state-owned news agency founded in 1904. It is the largest Russian news agency and one of the largest news agencies worldwide.[2]

Russian News Agency TASS
Company typeFederal State Unitary Enterprise
IndustryState news agency
Founded1 September 1904; 119 years ago (1904-09-01)
HeadquartersMoscow, Russia
Area served
Key people
Andrey Kondrashov (director)[1]
ProductsNews media
OwnerWholly owned by federal government (as federal unitary enterprise)

TASS is registered as a Federal State Unitary Enterprise, owned by the Government of Russia.[3] Headquartered in Moscow, it has 70 offices in Russia and in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), "along with 56 global branches in 53 countries".[4]

In Soviet times, it was named the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (Телеграфное агентство Советского Союза, Telegrafnoye agentstvo Sovetskogo Soyuza) and was the central agency for news collection and distribution for all Soviet newspapers, radio and television stations. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it was renamed Information Telegraph Agency of Russia (ITAR-TASS) (Информационное телеграфное агентство России (ИТАР-ТАСС), informatsionnoye telegrafnoye agentstvo Rossii (ITAR-TASS)) in 1992, but regained the simpler TASS name in 2014. Currently, on a daily basis TASS is "publishing nearly 3,000 news items in six languages and about 700 photographs and videos from correspondents in Russia and across the world".[4]

History edit

1902: TTA, SPTA, PTA, ROSTA edit

The origin of TASS dates back to December 1902 when it began operations as the Commercial Telegraph Agency (TTA, Torgovo-Telegrafnoe Agentstvo) under the Ministry of Finance, with Torgovo-Promyshlennaya Gazeta's staff being the main supplier of journalists. As the demand for non-business began during the first battles of the Russo-Japanese War in February 1904, the agency had to change its name to the St. Petersburg Telegraph Agency (SPTA). As there was no change of headquarters and almost no change in its staff and function, it was a mere rebranding.

In August 1914, one day after St. Petersburg was renamed Petrograd, SPTA was renamed the Petrograd Telegraph Agency (PTA). It was seized by Bolsheviks in November 1917 and by December was renamed as the Central Information Agency of the Soviet Russian Council of People's Commissars. On 7 September 1918, the presidium renamed PTA and the Press bureau into the Russian Telegraph Agency (ROSTA), which became "the central information agency of the whole Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic".[citation needed]

1925: TASS edit

In July 1925 the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (Телеграфное агентство Советского Союза, Telegrafnoye agentstvo Sovetskogo Soyuza, TASS) was established by a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, and took over the duties of the ROSTA as the country's central information agency. TASS enjoyed "exclusive right to gather and distribute information outside the Soviet Union, as well as the right to distribute foreign and domestic information within the Soviet Union, and manage the news agencies of the Soviet republics". Official state information was delivered as the TASS Report (Russian: Сообщение ТАСС, Soobshchyeniye TASS).

TASS included affiliated news agencies in all 14 Soviet republics in addition to Russia: RATAU (Ukrainian SSR, now Ukrinform), BelTA (Byelorussian SSR), ETA (Estonian SSR), Latinform (Latvian SSR, now LETA), ELTA (Lithuanian SSR), ATEM (Moldavian SSR, now Moldpres), Armenpress (Armenian SSR), Gruzinform (Georgian SSR), Azerinform (Azerbaijan SSR, now AZERTAC), UzTAG (Uzbek SSR, now UzA), KazTAG (Kazakh SSR, now Kazinform), KyrTAG (Kyrgyz SSR, now Kabar), Turkmeninform (Turkmen SSR, now TDH) and TajikTA (Tajik SSR, now Khovar). Over the history other affiliates existed, e.g. KarelfinTAG for the Karelo-Finnish SSR.[citation needed] In addition to producing reports for general consumption, TASS produced packages of content for non-public use. Western news reports and potentially embarrassing domestic news would be compiled daily into a collection known as "White Tass", and particularly important[clarification needed] news would be compiled into a smaller collection known as "Red Tass". These collections were made available only to journalistic and political leaders, and to top journalists and political leaders, respectively.[5]

In 1961 Ria Novosti was created to supplement TASS, mainly in foreign reporting and human-interest stories. After 1971, TASS was elevated to the status of State Committee at the Government of the Soviet Union.

The agency was frequently used as a front organization by the Soviet intelligence agencies, such as the NKVD (later KGB) and Main Intelligence Directorate, with TASS employees serving as informants.[6] In 1959, Alexander Alexeyev was dispatched to Cuba on a fact-finding mission, ostensibly working for TASS.[7] Former Georgetown University professor James David Atkinson stated that TASS was an "effective propaganda medium" but that it concentrated "more heavily on espionage than on other activities."[8] TASS frequently served as a vector for Soviet active measures.[9]

1992: ITAR-TASS edit

In January 1992, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a Presidential Decree signed by Boris Yeltsin re-defined status of TASS and renamed it the Information Telegraph Agency of Russia. In May 1994 The Russian Government adopted a resolution "On approval of the Charter of the Information Telegraph Agency of Russia", under which it operates as a central government news agency. The TASS acronym was, by this point, well-recognized around the world and so was retained after being redefined as the Telegraph agency of communication and messages (Russian: Телеграфное агентство связи и сообщения, romanized: Telegrafnoye agentstvo svazi i soobshcheniya). The agency as a whole was referred to as "ITAR-TASS".

In September 2014 the agency regained its former name as Russian News Agency TASS.[citation needed]

Organization edit

TASS is registered as a Federal State Unitary Enterprise, owned by the Government of Russia.[3] Headquartered in Moscow, TASS has 70 offices in Russia and in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), as well as 68 bureaus around the world.

TASS press center edit

TASS multi-media press center is a communication floor in the heart of Moscow. Every year it hosts some 300 events featuring high-ranking Russian officials, foreign heads of state, leaders of main political parties, representatives of the world of arts and culture, scientists and sporting personalities as well as managers of Russian and foreign business enterprises. TASS press centers also operate in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk.

TASS is a media partner of high-profile conferences, forums and exhibitions in Russia and abroad.[10] The agency organized the first News Agencies World Congress (NAWC) in 2004.[11]

TASS building edit

TASS is headquartered in a building in the Soviet brutalist style built in 1977. In November 2021, an association of Russian architects criticized plans by Moscow city authorities to renovate the building without due regard for the preservation of its historic appearance.[12]

Controversies and criticisms edit

TASS has been cited as a source of disinformation as part of Russian influence operations.[13]

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine edit

  • On 27 February 2022, "under the circumstances of the new media regulation enforced by the Russian government, which is heavily restricting media freedom", the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) unanimously decided to suspend TASS as "not being able to provide unbiased news", pending an exclusion decision.[14]
  • In March 2022, Getty Images, after "monitoring Russian state news agency TASS closely since Russia's invasion of Ukraine" decided to end its partnership with TASS for what it said was violating editorial policy.[15]

As of March 2022, examples of propagation of disinformation in relation to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine are as follows:

  • TASS falsely claimed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fled Kyiv following the invasion and also that he had surrendered.[citation needed] Zelenskyy used social media to post statements, videos and photos to counter this Russian disinformation.[16][17]
  • TASS made unsubstantiated claims that Ukraine was making a nuclear dirty bomb.[18]
  • TASS published unsubstantiated claims that "Ukrainian nationalists" were responsible for Ukrainian civilians not being able to leave the city of Mariupol[19][20] while the city was besieged and bombed by the Russian military.[21][22]

Directors of TASS edit

Notable journalists edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Мишустин назначил автора фильмов про Путина гендиректором ТАСС". (in Russian). 5 July 2023.
  2. ^ "Russia – Media Landscape". European Journalism Centre. Archived from the original on 20 March 2018. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  3. ^ a b Radia, Kirit (10 May 2014). "Putin Rules the Rink". ABC News. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  4. ^ a b "About TASS". Retrieved 10 April 2023.
  5. ^ Hoffman, Erik P. (1984). The Soviet Polity in the Modern Era. New York: DeGruyter. p. 644. ISBN 0202241645.
  6. ^ Kruglak, Theodore Eduard (1962). The Two Faces of TASS. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-1-4529-3712-0.
  7. ^ Alexeyev, Alexander. "Interview with Alexander Alekseyev [Soviet Ambassador to Cuba]" (PDF). National Security Archive (Interview). George Washington University. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  8. ^ Atkinson, James David (3 September 2018). The Edge of War. Pickle Partners Publishing. ISBN 978-1-78912-280-0. OCLC 1050955447.
  9. ^ Rid, Thomas (21 April 2020). Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-71865-7.
  10. ^ TASS official website
  11. ^ Rashid Hassan (20 November 2013). "News agencies embrace information technology". Arab News. Riyadh. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Russian Architects Blast Plans to Renovate Iconic TASS Building". The Moscow Times. 11 November 2021. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  13. ^ Mölder, Holger; Sazonov, Vladimir; Chochia, Archil; Kerikmäe, Tanel, eds. (2021). The Russian Federation in Global Knowledge Warfare: Influence Operations in Europe and Its Neighbourhood. Contributions to International Relations. Cham: Springer International Publishing. p. 310. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-73955-3. ISBN 978-3-030-73954-6. OCLC 1261878464. S2CID 240562891.
  14. ^ "The European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) suspends TASS from Alliance pending exclusion decision". Forbes. 27 February 2022. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  15. ^ "Getty Images Cuts Ties With Kremlin-Linked News Agency Tass". Forbes. 8 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  16. ^ Klepper, David (5 March 2022). "Russian propaganda 'outgunned' by social media rebuttals". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 6 March 2022. Retrieved 6 March 2022.
  17. ^ Champion, Marc; Krasnolutska, Daryna (26 February 2022). "Ukraine's TV comedian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy finds his role as wartime leader". Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 6 March 2022.
  18. ^ "Russia, without evidence, says Ukraine making nuclear "dirty bomb"". Reuters. 6 March 2022. Retrieved 6 March 2022.
  19. ^ "Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation: nationalists take away school buses intended for refugees". 11 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  20. ^ "Military operation in Ukraine". 11 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  21. ^ "Mariupol residents suffer as Russian forces lay siege". 8 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  22. ^ "Mariupol says children's hospital destroyed by Russian bombing". National Post. 9 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  23. ^ "Всеволод Кукушкин: "У каждого игрока есть свое место в истории хоккея"". (in Russian). 1 March 2018. Archived from the original on 22 May 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2019.

External links edit