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It also broadcast Mr. Putin’s address to the nation on February 24 in which he recognized the independence of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, and declared that the war was justified to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine. On the show, Mr. Bydanov falsely claimed that the Russian army was not firing on Ukrainian towns.

On March 4, Mr Bydanov revealed his former boss was Alexander Bastrykin, head of Russia’s investigative committee and a member of Mr Putin’s inner circle, who has been sanctioned by Britain and the US under the Magnitsky laws of both countries.

On the March 4 broadcast, Mr Bydanov also spoke with Russian Ambassador to Australia Alexey Pavlovsky, who said he wanted to explain Russia’s point of view, but that was difficult because of the pressure he was under in Australia and the “one-sided press”. ”. He added that he was focusing on social media to communicate Moscow’s position and that he approved of Mr Bastrykin’s work.

“My former boss Alexander Ivanovich Bastrykin, he is now the head of the Investigative Committee, says that there are more than 450 criminal cases opened for crimes in Donbass,” Mr Bydanov said.

On the Feb. 25 broadcast, the host played a Russian propaganda song mocking protests in Kyiv that led to the 2014 overthrow of Moscow-backed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

A new presenter hosted the last show on March 18 and made no political commentary on the war, but did air an excerpt from Russian news that spoke about atrocities committed by Ukrainians against Russian speakers in Donbass.

3ZZZ manager Jon King said the station was investigating the program after receiving several complaints, but the investigation would take up to six weeks.

“We are a volunteer-run organization and we have to give them time to react to things,” Mr King said.

“Because we are an ethnic radio, we have to have things translated, which is time consuming and expensive… We don’t want the investigation to take six weeks, we want it to be faster… but the irony is the ongoing correspondence we receive from complainants is taking longer and taking me away from the investigation.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Communications and Media Authority said it had received two complaints about the program.

“ACMA is concerned about these complaints. He is currently reviewing the matter and has been in contact with the broadcaster regarding the program and their response,” the spokeswoman said.

“Community broadcasters operate under a system of co-regulation. Co-regulation gives broadcasters the possibility to respond to the complainant in the first instance.

However, Denis Muller, a senior fellow at the Center for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne, criticized the regulator and the radio station for not immediately shutting down the program.

“The comments were made a month ago and we have this licensee who is basically playing for time in the interest of promoting Russian propaganda,” Dr Muller said.

“Why wouldn’t this violate a serious constitution of license terms… This stirs up enmities and hatreds on the part of [the diaspora’s] old country and it is deeply against the public interest.

He said that while propaganda had always been an integral part of warfare, Russia was the aggressor in warfare and its disinformation should not be allowed to proliferate, especially in Australia.

Many Western media and activists have been expelled from the country, while the Kremlin has also blocked Russians from accessing many social media platforms.

SBS and Foxtel have suspended broadcasts of Kremlin-controlled state media Russia Today and NTV, while Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has asked Facebook, Twitter, Google and other digital platforms to block Russian state media to curb “misinformation regarding the Russian invasion”. of Ukraine”.

Mr. Bydanov has been contacted for comment.

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