Guardian misinformation on Russia

The interesting question is why?

This piece contains straight lies. Not distortions, lack of balance, one-sided presentation – straight lies.

The level of violence was unusual for protests in Russia, where heavily armoured police usually methodically kettle protesters without resorting to open fighting in the streets. Videos on Saturday showed police beating protesters with truncheons, and one showed an officer kicking a female protester in the stomach and knocking her to the ground. She was hospitalised in a critical condition. The officer has not been identified.

Interestingly an admission that all the Guardian’s previous stories about riot police “brutally” suppressing demonstrations in Moscow have been lies.

The point here about the ‘female protestor’ is a) she wasn’t a protestor – she is a middle-aged lady who stepped in front of officers who were escorting an arrested man to remonstrate with them and b) while she certainly was kicked the police in St Petersburg have already admitted it happened and apologised. [1] There is some doubt about the “critical condition”. According to one news report she was well enough to meet the local police chief in hospital. He went to apologise. Roth is telling lies. He is a liar.

Update. According to a subsequent Guardian report by agencies the woman suffered concussion and needed stitches and is now well enough to ne giving interviews demanding the officer who kicked her be punished. So definitely not critically injured as Roth wrote. A lie and it is highly inlikely Roth will go back and correct it. Indeed the whole event is being misrepresented. At first she was a protestor and now she is a woman who simply ‘asked’ officers why they arrested a man. As the video in the link shows she blocked the path of the officers who were carrying out an arrest and remonstrated with them. A single abberant act which the police have already acknowledged as such is being used to create a ‘brutal crackdown’ narrative.

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Videos have also emerged of protesters attacking police and of several dozen smashing the glass of a car that appeared to belong to the FSB, Russia’s domestic intelligence service. The driver of the car was reported by the RIA Novosti state news agency to have sustained a serious eye injury, but this has not been confirmed.

The woman hurt by police is “in a critical condition”. (Doubtful). The security personnel attacked by demonstrators may be injured but here “it has not been confirmed”. (One wonders who Roth will turn to to “confirm” this – maybe Navalny’s press office?)

Authorities have required social media companies such as TikTok to delete posts from underage users supporting the protests.

I am 99% sure this isn’t true. All the reports I have read in the Russian media are that social media are being told to remove posts summoning children to illegal protests. A completely different matter. At best – both kinds of material are being removed. [2] Again – Roth is lying. (In the UK too this would be precisely the sort of thing which the police would get involved in: people inciting children to illegal acts on social media).

But why all these lies by journalists? It can’t surely be explained by entirely by “lazy journalism” though I don’t doubt that the Guardian relies very heavily on Navalny’s press releases in producing their copy on Russia. Is it hatred of the conservative and ‘illiberal’ regime in Russia? A straightfoward copybook regime change op. with the media fully understanding their role in serving the interests of corporate power?

Update 27-1-21

Why bother to full up the pages of a newspaper with lies? Why bother?

This is more from Roth

“alleged breaches of coronavirus restrictions during last week’s” – funny but in the UK at the moment no political protests of any kind at all are allowed and old ladies are being bundled into police vans for protesting.

“The raids put additional pressure on Navalny as the Kremlin weighs whether or not to risk giving its most stalwart critic the kind of lengthy prison sentence that could turn him into a political martyr”. Roth pretends he knows that Navalny’s case will be decided in the Kremlin. The situation may not be quite this simple. At any event Roth doesn’t know this and so this sentence fails a basic test of journalism; to report what you know not what you don’t and when you are speculating make that clear.

The whole piece is written in effect from the point of view of Navalny. His point of view predominates. As usual this is the underlying racism we see in these people; the people who don’t accept their liberal values (Russians who don’t support Navalny i.e. the clear majority) are simply de-existed – like the people in Donbass who are de-existed because they claim their own heritage and it just happens not to align with what the EU and NATO had in mind for that piece of territory.

“The powerful group [actually not a ‘group’ but a legally constituted criminal investigation body] has also launched an inquiry into alleged calls for underage Russians to join the protests” – in reality there is nothing alleged about this. Navalny is even doing it from his prison cell. (In England calling children out onto the streets would be immediately condemned across the political spectrum; liberals are however happy to see it happen in Russia even in the middle of a coronavirus epidemic).

“Meanwhile the Insider newspaper, in a collaboration with Bellingcat, released new information on the FSB hit squad that allegedly poisoned Navalny” – “information” – ho ho. Everything from this side is “information”. Everything from the Russian government is an “allegation”. The FSB “hit squad” with reference to Navalny is a fiction. 100% fiction. There is zero evidence of anything of the kind. (The evidence relates to a surveillance team. There is no evidence that the surveillance team poisoned Navalny with ‘Novichok’).

Roth goes on to reference new material from Bellingcat. Using the same apparent phone data that they have in their possession they claim to link the FSB to more assassinations. These include: “Nikita Isayev, a prominent political activist and pundit on state television, died of an apparent heart attack on a train in 2019. He was avowedly pro-Kremlin in his public remarks, and the Insider [Bellingcat’s media partner] said it was unclear why he was apparently targeted.” Which rather undermines the story it would seem. I.e. maybe he wasn’t and maybe the fact that someone was under surveillance by the FSB (if they indeed were) does not mean that when they die or fall ill it is because the FSB did something. One can see how wedded they are to their own narrative when facts they turn up which taken at face value oppose their conclusions are simply presented as surprising exceptions.

Notes

  1. https://www.gazeta.ru/social/news/2021/01/24/n_15529382.shtml
  2. https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/4660588

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer