Guardian Propaganda Watch 201

I’m not quite sure why I write these posts. I think in part because I live in Russia and I find it distasteful to see misinformation being created by a newspaper. Casual readers will tend to believe what they believe in the Guardian and it is frsutrating to see such an innacurate picture being painted.

I am also – and I think this even more strongly – troubled by the violation of journalistic norms. Journalism is a profession and a practice with certain standards – such as factual accuracy, truthfulness and so on. To see these norms being so casually violated by people who pretend they are doing journalism is very frustrating. If there is no real journalism then we already live in a post-democractic distopian world.

This is the Guardian’s Theo Merz writing a piece on a demand by the Russian internet regulator for Twitter to remove/block the channel of an outlet linked to Khodorkovsky. [1]

Russia’s media watchdog has told Twitter to delete the account of an opposition news outlet following threats from Moscow to block the social network entirely if it did not remove “banned content” within a month.

For Guardian journalists Russia has no right to make its own laws. If they try to ban child porn then child porn is described as “illegal”. Russia has a set of laws which include the banning of certain organistions outright which are considered to be trying to agitate for regime change. MBKh media is accused of posting content from a banned organisation. The content is not “banned”. It is banned. It is sheer imperialism to deny to Russia the right to make and enforce their own laws.

Veronika Kutsyllo, the outlet’s editor in chief, denied sharing such material and said that MBKh had not been informed of the watchdog’s demand in advance. “[The state] has been pursuing this new tactic for some time, putting pressure on networks and providers without first warning their potential ‘victims’,” she said.

In fact this is normal – in the West too. The issue is with Twitter not MBKh media. There is no reason for Roskomnadzor to contact MBKh media. It is also typical of this pseudo-journalism to give full airtime to the opponents of the Russian state, however misldeading their statements. MBKh media is of course not a “victim”.

Authorities have previously demanded that Twitter and other social networks delete messages that allegedly called on minors to take part in anti-Kremlin protests.

Nothing in fact ‘alleged’ about this. Navalny was even calling for kids to take part in illegal demonstrations from prison. In Russia Navalny is known as “King of the Kids” for his propensity to summon children to his rallies. But just as they treat everything that e.g. Navalny says as unquestionable fact so everything which the Russian authorities says is always “alleged”. This is pathetic and hardly journalism.

“After the protests it became clear that Twitter wasn’t planning on deleting messages relating to peaceful civic actions and would continue to flag state propaganda, so users would be able to recognise fake information,” Darbinyan said

This is a quote from someone from an organisation which Theo Merz describes as “the Russian internet rights group Roskomsvoboda” (which appears to be a pressure group). Of course ‘peaceful civic actions’ is entirely misleading. The West always uses the line about ‘peaceful demonstrations’ when they refer to actions which are in fact illegal under Russian law – and in general whenever they are agitating for regime change. But the law is the law. (In the UK too ‘peaceful’ civic actions can also lead to arrest in many circumstances – and even more so if current legislation is passed). [2]

In general the article relies on two sources which are in essence organisations opposed to the Russian state (one based abroad) and contains nothing from the Russian government side or who might explain that position. ‘Balanced journalism’ does not apply to Russia.



Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer