|Type||Federal State Unitary Enterprise|
|Industry||State news agency|
|Founded||1 September 1904|
|Owner||Wholly owned by federal government (as federal unitary enterprise)|
The Russian News Agency TASS (Russian: Информационное агентство России ТАСС, tr. 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.
TASS is registered as a Federal State Unitary Enterprise, owned by the Government of Russia. 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".
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), nformatsionnoye 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".
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".
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. 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.
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. In 1959, Alexander Alexeyev was dispatched to Cuba on a fact-finding mission, ostensibly working for TASS. 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." TASS frequently served as a vector for Soviet active measures.
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, tr. 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.
TASS is registered as a Federal State Unitary Enterprise, owned by the Government of Russia. 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 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. The agency organized the first News Agencies World Congress (NAWC) in 2004.
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.
TASS has been cited as a source of disinformation as part of Russian influence operations.
Further information: Disinformation in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
As of March 2022, examples of propagation of disinformation in relation to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine are as follows: