This may seem like a small point; just a throw-away line in a single Guardian article. But I pick on it because it seems indicative of a certain perspective. The comment appears in an article on some sort of a spy scandal in Serbia. (Allegations of a Russian spy paying off a Serbian official; good TV but hardly news – all spy agencies pay informers/agents in ‘enemy’ and even ‘allied’ countries all the time). The article is by Shaun Walker who used to be based in Moscow where he churned out a series of anti-Russia propaganda articles. This is what struck me:
A Russian “humanitarian centre” located in the southern city of Niš has raised alarm among western diplomats, and Serbia has also signed a free-trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union, a Moscow-led bloc designed to rival the EU.
The Eurasian Economic Union – of which currently Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are members – is a free-trade area. The bloc have a Customs Union agreement and a commitment to free movement of people and capital. It is the same idea as the European Union. The idea is to increase the prosperity of member states by encouraging trade and investment by removing inter-country barriers.
But Mr Walker can only see this as something “designed to rival the EU”. That these states (of which Russia is indeed the largest) might have chosen to combine in order to develop their economies and increase living standards for their people – without any regard to ‘rivalling’ the EU – doesn’t seem to enter Mr Walker’s head. He can only see the EEU in terms of a “rival”. For Mr Walker when these states try and develop themselves they are seen as being belligerent. If we think this through this means that Mr Walker doesn’t really permit that the citizens of these countries have the right to development. This is consistent with much of the Guardian’s “journalism” on Russia – which, in essence, turns into non-people the citizens of Donbass (whose desire to join Russia is transcribed into a Russian-led aggression) and which in general offers an entirely misleading account of Russia as consisting of two groups; the Kremlin and the Western-leaning (only slightly in actual reality) liberals in Moscow and St. Petersburg. All the other groupings; socialists, regional nationalists, Islamists, Putin-oppositionists who still aren’t “Western” and many more simply don’t appear anywhere in the narrative.
We hardly need note the obviousness of the propaganda. The Guardian writes panegyrics about the “humanitarian” work of the White Helmets in Syria – despite the fact that the group is a paid-up tool of two of the powers which are illegally bombing and occupying Syria. But a Russian centre in Serbia which is not engaged in any kind of warfare can only be called ‘humanitarian’ in quotation marks. The meaning is clear; Russians cannot ever be “humanitarian”.
Why Western liberals cannot accept Russia is still a mystery to me. Maybe it is just different.