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.



Navalny – banned and Guardian reporting

Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation and political networks have been banned by court order.

Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation along with his political network, have been found by a court in Moscow, at the request of the prosecutor, to be violating Russia’s laws on extremism. The organisations have been banned. In a separate move a law has been passed in the State Duma which will prevent anyone who has been involved in an extremist organisation from participating in elections for a period of time. This move will prevent people who were involved in the now banned organisations from standing in the upcoming (Autumn) Parliamentary elections under a new banner. [1]

This is the Guardian’s report on the banning in Russia of Alexei Navalny’s organisations. Andrew Roth has certainly studied the argument of the defence. (Most likely he has been briefed by the defence). The argument is that the law on extremism requires that the offence be accompanied by violence or the threat of violence and in this case the prosecutor has not established that – or even, indeed, tried to.

Continue reading “Navalny – banned and Guardian reporting”

Better get a new spy chief?

I don’t know how much the head of Britain’s MI6 earns but I’m sure it is a tidy sum and the tax-payer deserves better than this. Apparently the new-in-post head of MI6 has said that Russia is an “objectively declining power economically and demographically”. He also apparently referred to the Skripal incident and the alleged Russian part in an explosion in a Czech arms dump in 2014 which latter incident recently “came to light”. And: “When you get that pattern of reckless behaviour, of course you then look at what is happening around Ukraine and of course it worries us”. (The warehouse involved in the Czech explosion which explosion we are supposed to believe has only just been linked to the same people involved in the Skripal incident was supplying arms to Ukraine – from some points of view to kill civilians in Donbass).

And “It is an extremely challenged place…. And clearly the treatment of Alexei Navalny as we saw with the thousands of protesters on the streets of well – not just Moscow – of a number of cities shows that there is a deal of disaffection with Mr Putin”.

Continue reading “Better get a new spy chief?”

When is a foreign agent not a foreign agent?

The liberal media is reporting in pained tones today that Russia has designated an “independent” media publication VTimes as a ‘foreign agent’. Under this law the publication is allowed to continue operating but must display a message informing readers that it is a foreign agent. It must also submit its accounts for special scrutiny. The publication has decided to close. This is AFP in the Guardian. And this is the Independent. The AFP/Guardian story is especially agonised: “The editors’ [VTimes] statement comes at a difficult time for Russian journalists who do not work for state-run media, with space for independent journalism and dissenting voices shrinking dramatically.” – the “dissenting voices shrinking rapidly” is a little bit melodramatic. Another publication – based abroad – Medusa has also been told it must carry this label. But there remain many independent media (not mass broadcast admittedly) outlets such as Kommersant or Internet TV Station Dozhd in Russia. (Rain). In addition almost all of the Western liberal media (including the Guardian and Independent and BBC Russian service is accessible in Russia) as well as pure propaganda outlets such as US funded Radio Free Europe (which has been designated a foreign agent but which refuses to comply with Russian law) are accessible within Russia. So “dissenting voices shrinking dramatically” is not really accurate.

(In passing we can note that AFP is part-owned by the French government – does it see itself as “independent” whereas Russian state owned media is not?).

But what struck me about the stories in the Guardian and Independent about VTimes being designated a “foreign agent” is that neither of them felt it necessary to inform their readers that VTimes is… in fact, a foreign agent. It is supported by a Dutch organisation “Stichting 2 Oktober” [1] As is readily visible on its website Stichting 2 Oktober is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.