Meddling in the internal affairs of another country

by on June 13, 2017 in International affairs

This is a statement by the EU on the detentions, at an illegal rally, of numerous protestors in Moscow:

– We expect the Russian authorities to comply fully with international obligations Russia, including in the Council of Europe and the OSCE, in the protection of these rights, and to release immediately the peaceful demonstrators and those people who intend to exercise their fundamental rights – says the text of the statement the EU. [1]

The events are described here on RT – reported more or less accurately perhaps, though with a PR spin in favour of the Kremlin. If you prefer to read your news through the filter of Western liberal make-believe you can read the Guardian version here. 

At any event. It should be pointed out that this rally was illegal under Russian law. The organisers were permitted to hold a rally at another location. They chose to move it to the location – in the middle of a family day out type event  – which was unsanctioned. People were arrested. Whether the demonstrators were “peaceful” or not is irrelevant. They were breaking the law. In Europe people are often arrested while they are “peacefully” breaking the law. As for their “fundamental rights”. No one has the “fundamental right” to ignore the laws of the land. (There is of course a philosophical argument against legal positivism; there comes a point when one does have a “right” to break the law; even in some cases a duty. The classic example would be the laws of Nazi Germany. Is the EU invoking this principle? That would be quite a strong claim – to equate Russia with Nazi Germany).

Russia has an elected President and an elected lower chamber of Parliament. There is a legal system – with laws enacted through a constitutional political process. None of this is perfect. As the OSCE report on the 2012 Presidential elections indicated (with the usual lack of clarity in OSCE reports) there is room for improvement. [2] The legal system has not yet shaken off its historical background in Bolshevik administrative justice. There is at least the risk of the appearance of political interference in court cases. [3] But the fact is that the majority of Russians support their President. There is a reasonably open media climate. (For example Russian media can report on this protest and the arrests and the EU statement about the matter). The people who have been arrested have been arrested according to a law passed by an elected system of government. There is a known punishment. They are not going to be disappeared into a secret jail. The approach may be somewhat more authoritarian than in the liberal West. But it is not Nazi Germany. The protesters who took part today in an illegal rally are linked to a political figure who appears to have a plan to precisely create these kinds of situations in order precisely to create waves and gain media attention. These are stunts. (A political figure who is something of a Russian nationalist who at one time referred to Georgians as “rodents” [4]).

It is a fabrication to present what are lawful arrests as some kind of repression of “peaceful” protesters. The protesters in Maidan in Ukraine were described as “peaceful” at the same time as they were burning policemen and driving bulldozers at them. Indeed “peaceful” is really a code-word for “those we back for regime change”; they don’t even in fact have to actually be peaceful. The narrative is so prevalent, the media so dutiful in broadcasting it, that even if reality contradicts it that can just be drowned out by turning up the volume on the narrative a little more.

In the UK “peaceful” protesters are often arrested – at power stations and US bases for example. The EU does not issue pompous statements about their “fundamental rights”. This is nothing other than part of the continual attempt to cause regime change in Russia. And at the same time they complain about Russian interference in their political systems. The most troubling aspect of this is that the people who issue these statements probably take themselves seriously. They really believe their own dreams.

The statement from the EU referenced above is from Russian media – which would appear to contradict the notion that Russians all live in a “Kremlin  controlled media bubble”. (If you prefer to get the US propaganda take on this story you can read it here on ‘Radio Free Europe’).

Notes

1. Life.ru

2. OSCE

3. OECD Russia Report 2013

4. Wayback Machine Archive of Interview with Moscow radio station owned by Gazprom (Echo of Moscow)

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