Guardian agitprop about the “war on independent journalism” in Russia

Unfortunately very short of time but this really is a big lie even by the usual standards of the Guardian on Russia. The piece starts with an absurd and over-dramatic line: “The Kremlin’s war on independent journalism in Russia has escalated after the Proekt investigative media outlet was outlawed in an act of revenge for a series of deeply embarrassing revelations about Vladimir Putin and top Kremlin officials

The article states: “The rare decision to ban a critical media outlet by fiat…” and “State media on Thursday announced that Russia’s justice ministry had added Proekt to a list of “undesirable organisations”. (Incidentally it is the list – not “a”. The journalist uses “a” to add to the impression that something rather arbitrary has happened).

The journalist is trying to give the impression a) that the Project media organisation was banned by an arbitrary order of the “government” and b) that this was because it has been deemed “undesirable”. And that all this is part of a war on “independent journalism”.

Firstly – the law under which this organisation has been banned is a Russian law passed by Parliament. This law gives statutory power to the General Prosecutor of Russia to determine which organisations should be added to the list. This is not as the journalist tells his readers a “fiat” of the “government”. On the contrary it is a process carried out by judicial authorities on the basis of a law passed by parliament. (The UK too often passes laws which can lead to subsequent statutory legislation being added or which enable various bodies to act with the power of law without further recourse to Parliament).

Secondly – the specific law in question relates to undesirable foreign organisations. The journalist omits this detail. But it is rather important. At issue is that in Russia (based on the law) prosecutorial authorities can ban foreign organisations which they believe are prejudicial to constitutional order, security and the defence interests of the state. The Guardian chooses not to report it but it seems that ‘Project’ is in fact a foreign media organisation or has significant foreign links. The liberal opposition outlet (itself in fact designated a foreign agent due to its being supported from abroad) Medusa reports that what the Guardian calls an “independent” media outlet – i.e. the closed “Project” website, is in fact owned by a US publishing company “Project Media, Inc”. [1]

(RT – that is Russian state media – has done some background research. The leader of the closed “independent” media outlet spent time in the US and they report that he has links including funding links abroad. [2])

Far from this being a “war on independent journalism” what is happening is that following some stories about a government Minister this web site has attracted the attention of the Justice Department. They have noted that it falls under the scope of foreign media organisations which are undermining the constitutional order and have banned it, following a legal process approved by an elected Parliament. (Of course one can argue as some more serious critics do that there is a danger of this law being over-applied; are they protecting constitutional order or the current government and where is the line? But we are nowhere near this serious discussion in the Guardian’s piece. And, at any event, it is a discussion for the Russians to have not Western would-be mentors).

It is certainly true that this is a more robust media regime than exists in say the UK. On the other hand there are plenty of recent examples of prosecutions of bloggers in the UK for political dissidence, for example Craig Murray for his exposé of the fit-up of Alex Salmond and Mark Hirst who had previously worked for Russian outlet Sputnik, and there is extensive policing of social media (not just for racism but for more general thought crimes). Let’s grant though that Russia may well be more ‘authoritarian’ in some respects than the UK. But why should it not be? The democrats betray their imperialism when they demand that everyone else should adopt their exact standards.

Finally – a lot of the “independent journalism” which Roth extols are in fact simply muck-raking web sites.

At any event this Guardian article is entirely misleading. It should be understood in the context of the ongoing and persistent Western regime change operation to spread “liberal” values in Russia and trigger a change of government (by any means) and a change in the direction of the country. This is why, incidentally, that the Russians have to be so alert to the activities of foreign backed media organisations.

Notes

  1. https://meduza.io/news/2021/07/15/genprokuratura-priznala-izdanie-proekt-nezhelatelnoy-organizatsiey-ego-zhurnalistov-vklyuchili-v-reestr-inostrannyh-agentov
  2. https://russian.rt.com/world/article/593261-hodorkovskii-tsar-rassledovanie

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer