Media freedom in Russia – not as bad as they want you to think

This is a story by the Guardian’s Moscow correspondent Andrew Roth about a police raid on some online journalists in Moscow.

The journalists run a website called “project” (проект in Russian). They were planning to publish a story (and have now published) about the secret wealth of a government Minister. Previous stories have included an investigation into the leader of Chechnya – Ramzan Kadyrov. The journalists have been questioned in connection with an old defamation case. It seems they were interrogated; and phones and computers searched. The “Project” website itself makes no mention of arrests. Roth says that one editor was “detained”.

Roth contextualises the story as an episode in a wider crackdown on “journalists and opposition groups”.

Roth must know that he is misleading the British public. According to his own reporting groups such as the one in this case use stolen information (“the government has been unable to get a handle on the troves of Russian data that have been leaked and sold on an expansive black market”) to produce stories which embarrass senior figures in the government. They (these groups in general) seem to be more akin to the News of the World than Panorama or Dispatches. The actual story in question seems to be that a government minister’s family have acquired property. The suggestion is that this must be the result of corruption. Nothing then all that terrible – and one can note that enriching themselves and their families (if that is what has been happening here) is hardly something exclusive to Russian government Ministers. British government Ministers seem pretty adept at this too.

Meanwhile Assange languishes in Belmarsh for publishing information about war crimes.

Continue reading “Media freedom in Russia – not as bad as they want you to think”

The US Election and the liberal media hoax

The liberal media endlessly repeats the line “Trump’s false claims about the election”. They don’t just report what Trump says – which would be journalism. They prefix everything with the editorial gloss – the instruction what to believe – that the claims are “false”. The media, and this seems to be a particular feature of liberal US journalists, are, perhaps without knowing it, writing news reports that could come straight out of the page of a newspaper in a completely controlled state like North Korea. In such an environment the people are not given facts and left to make up their own minds. They are simply told what to believe. This is one aspect of what we can call totalitarian liberalism. (Another aspect is the refusal to accept that there can be a plurality of views on many subjects from “gender identity” to questions of the correct political path for a country to follow). Usually when the liberal media endlessly repeats something (e.g. “Russian aggression”) you know that it is a narrative with little or no basis in analysis. So, I thought that the claims about Trump might be worth checking out.

Continue reading “The US Election and the liberal media hoax”

The level of journalism in the UK on Russia – an example

The level of journalism on Russia in the UK is staggeringly low.

This is an example – an article in the Independent by someone who works for state broadcaster Channel 4. It is based on an interview she did with the Russian Ambassador to the UK. Extracts and comments follow:

A question about whether the president of Belarus was Russia’s “pocket dictator” had gone down particularly badly.

If she used this precise expression then one can see why it went down badly. Was she surprised? What is her job? To get the news or to abuse an Ambassador?

And although Berlin and Paris are reportedly pushing to “reset” relations with Moscow, it’s hard to envisage Russia entirely shedding its pariah status while it continues to target its enemies with Novichok – at home and abroad.

“Pariah status”. Hang on – it is only from within the political narrative of the State Department and European capitals that Russia has ‘pariah status’. From within Russia and from many places on the planet Russia is not a ‘pariah’. Has the ‘journalist’ not just shown us that her worldview is entrapped within that of Western orthodoxy? Maybe it is just me but I thought that journalists were supposed to be able to rise about the viewpoint of the government of their own country and try to be objective.

The journalist, we note, has swallowed as fact the claims that the Russian state poisoned Navalny – claims for which there is in fact no evidence. (Evidence if it is that that he had been tracked by the FSB as we would have expected him to be is not in fact evidence that he was poisoned by the FSB).

Just like the last ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko, the current one uses the same playbook, questioning the evidence of Russian skulduggery and malevolence, even when intelligence agencies the world over say it’s there.

All Russians use the same “playbook”. A phrase with obvious associations to spying. Oh deary me. Maybe the journalist is mixing up Cold War 007 and modern politics. “Skulduggery and malevolence”; isn’t this from the “playbook” of Western intelligence agencies? And again, and very revealingly, we learn that the “journalist” simply takes at face value what Western intelligence agencies say about Russia (it is “malevolent”). Not realising no doubt that part of the job of spy agencies is to create certain narratives about their supposed opponents.

When I asked about the dozens of Russians who have died in mysterious circumstances on the streets of Britain, he laughed, presumably to convey the message that the question was so ridiculous it didn’t merit a serious response.

I would like to ask Cathy Newman to list the names of the “dozens” of Russians who have died in “mysterious circumstances” on the streets of Britain. I wonder how many she would in fact be able to name. Even being kind to her she needs to name 24. Russian secret services would have to be running all over the country to have killed 24 people in “mysterious circumstances”. No wonder the Ambassador laughed.

The minute we’d finished, he’d declared himself “disappointed” with the interview..

I’m not surprised. Maybe you could ask yourself why?

The biggest fear in the Kremlin must be that they are facing total idiots in the West

This is the Guardian reporting on the summit between Putin and Biden [1]:

Putin unfairly equates his jailing of political opponents to charges filed against Capitol rioters

An American reporter, Rachel Scott of ABC News, asked Vladimir Putin about how he has responded to political opposition in Russia. Scott said to Putin, “The list of your political opponents who are dead, imprisoned or jailed is long. … My question is, Mr President, what are you so afraid of?”

Putin responded by equating his jailing of critics like Alexei Navalny to the charges filed against the rioters who participated in the Capitol insurrection, which resulted in five deaths. The Russian president claimed the insurrectionists had gone to the Capitol with “political demands” and were subsequently jailed for being so. That is, of course, a gross mischaracterization. Navalny and his supporters are fighting for free and fair elections in Russia, while the Capitol insurrectionists were attempting to overturn the results of a free and fair election in the US.

The Guardian quotes this horror in full and without embarrassment and gives it the headline “Putin unfairly equates his jailing of political opponents to charges filed against Capitol rioters

One assumes this vulgar US journalist thinks that this is a brave question. In fact it just shows their own ghastly vulgarity. (For a start you don’t ask the leader of a great nation if he is a killer. It is just in bad taste. Despite the far worse and much more evidentially supported charges Russian journalists don’t, as far as I know, start every question to a US President with “how does it feel to have killed tens of thousands of children in an illegal war in Iraq?”). This supposed “long list” of “dead opponents” is a trope of anti-Russia haters. When you get into it the list is quite short. In some cases people are now doing jailtime for the killings. In the case of Anna Politkovskaya and Boris Nemtsov people have been arrested and sent to jail – though it is true not the instigators. In the case of Nemtsov one person remains on the run. Russia is a very large state. It is not as homogenous as the US. And – yes “corruption” is more widespread. But evidence that links these murders to Putin has yet to be produced. Litvinenko was quite probably assassinated, but then he was a traitor and a spy working for British intelligence – not exactly a freedom fighter.

Firstly – this brave journalist from ABC is late to the game. Someone from NBC asked Putin just this question in an interview recently. This is his lengthy answer.

Secondly; Putin’s comparison of Navalny with the capital rioters may have problems. But from his point of view it is not unreasonable. Navalny was aiming to overturn the Russian system by any means including calling children to illegal demonstrations (in the middle of a Coronavirus epidemic) . The Russians believe (or say they believe) that he was working with Western intelligence. The capital rioters were expressing their dissatisfaction with the US political system – also illegally – and they are now being hunted down and thrown in jail.

At any event this is an oversimplification to such an extent that it is hard to believe its author is a human and not a fairy: “Navalny and his supporters are fighting for free and fair elections in Russia, while the Capitol insurrectionists were attempting to overturn the results of a free and fair election in the US.” Oh come on. Navalny is a purist saint fighting for “free and fair elections” in Russia? Not, of course, fighting by any means, fair or foul, to get elected despite having a very small level of popular support? (As demonstrated by his second place in the 2013 Mayoral Moscow elections). The idea that the Capitol “insurrectionists” (oh, how carefully they have chosen this word) were seriously trying to overturn the results of the US election is a joke. One is reminded of Putin’s remark about claims of “election rigging” – is the US such a banana Republic that its elections can be overturned so easily? One can apply the remark here: is the US such a banana Republic that its election could be overturned by a few hundred people rushing into its Parliament building? This narrative about “insurrection” is a fairy tale. But they really believe it. Perhaps. Purist freedom fighters (Navalny) on the one hand and deplorables on the other (Capitol “insurrectionists”). The world for these people is very black and white. Very simple and easy to understand.

But the main point here is how “journalism” in the “free” West is every day more and more prescriptive. They can’t just report what Putin said and leave it for people to decide how valid the comparison is. They have to tell you what to believe. The comparison Putin is making is an “unfair equation” which “is, of course, a gross mischaracterization.”. These editorial opinions are mixed in with the news and are treated at the same level as reportage/truth/facts. This is how the media operated in Stalin’s Russia. An irony which probably escapes them.

Notes

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2021/jun/16/joe-biden-vladimir-putin-us-russia-summit-meeting-geneva-ukraine-live-updates?page=with:block-60ca255c8f08bfe0ccb13a92#block-60ca255c8f08bfe0ccb13a92