Media sways opinions

An opinion poll made public yesterday indicated that the media, particularly television, has played a significant role in shaping public opinion over recent key issues such as the alleged abduction of Pakistani migrants and the killing of an Albanian national. The survey, conducted by VPRC on behalf of Skai Radio, found that 32 percent of respondents thought the Albanian community was at least partly to blame for the murder of a 17-year-old Albanian in Rethymnon, Crete, on New Year’s Day. The teenager was allegedly stabbed by a group of Greeks after an altercation at a local bar. There was a rise in ethnic tension on the island in the wake of the stabbing and some locals expressed on television the view that the Albanian community had provoked the incident. According to yesterday’s poll, 44 percent of the 949 people questioned believe the murder cannot be justified. Despite the government’s insistence that claims of Pakistani migrants being abducted last summer are untrue, the poll indicates that the majority of the public is unconvinced by the official line. The survey found that 53 percent believe the Pakistanis were kidnapped and questioned while another 30 percent believe Greek and British secret agents were involved. Meanwhile, a substantial number of Greeks do not seem to trust the official explanation about the death of a Russian prisoner, Maxim Zhilim, this month. Zhilim shot and killed two police officers while being transferred to prison but was found dead three days later. One in five of those polled said they did not believe the coroner’s verdict that Zhilim committed suicide but thought that police officers killed him – a theory that received substantial coverage in the media in the wake of his death. Just over half of those polled accepted that Zhilim shot himself. The survey results may cause some concern to the government, which seems to have struggled to communicate its views on these issues, but the ruling conservatives will be buoyed by the fact the poll still puts them 2.5 percent ahead of main rivals PASOK.

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