Why tell lies Mr Harding?

There is plenty to criticise about Russia. Even if we take an intelligent approach and start from the position that Russia is a different country, with its own history and traditions and values, and criticism should take this into account, not simply be based on the expectation that Russia should automatically adopt all Western values and trends, even then there is still plenty to criticise about Russia.

So; it is beyond this author why Western journalists have to tell endless lies when they write about Russia. This is standard fare from the Guardian’s Luke Harding, in an article about two Russians who have been denied asylum in Sweden. Mr Harding used to be based in Moscow. He must know that he is lying. Comments follow:

Knedlyakovsky was the only male participant and wore a dress in solidarity with the LGBT movement.

Note how Mr Harding regularises and normalises this kind of behaviour and indeed the ‘LGBT movement’. This is a cultural trend in the West. Not something that most Russians are keen on. It may be normal in England. It is seen as rather strange in Russia.

In 2016 Knedlyakovsky staged another protest by attaching a wooden cross to a statue in Krasnodar of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who founded the Cheka, a forerunner of the KGB, now known as the Federal Security Service (FSB). Vladimir Putin is a former head of the FSB.

It is not really correct to simply say that the KGB has been renamed the FSB. This makes the explicit claim that Russia (FSB) is a straight continuation of the Soviet Union (KGB). Such a view is part of the doctrine of the Russia haters. Most academics writing on Russia/the Soviet Union would see elements of continuity and divergence between the Soviet Union and Russia and between the KGB and the FSB.

The stunt appears to have annoyed the local FSB chief; Knedlyakovsky was arrested and spent 15 days in jail, locked up in a windowless basement cell.

This is the sort of deliberate dishonesty that the Guardian ‘journalists’ writing on Russia practice. I don’t know the details (and don’t have the time to look them up) but this sounds very much like a period of what is known as ‘administrative detention’ – a valid sentence in Russia. What is likely to have been a sentence for an offence under Russian law is presented as an arbitrary act of power by the ‘local FSB chief’. As for ‘windowless basement cell’ this is likely to belong to specific kind of reporting whereby what are normal practices in Russia are presented in the Western media as being specific to people they like to champion as ‘dissenters’. For example we were told in mock outraged tones how Ukrainian pilot Savchenko was held in a “cage” in court during her  2016 trial. She was, and it seems harsh, but as it happens this is how defendants in criminal trials often appear in Russian courts. (Perhaps they don’t have the money to build the reinforced glass cages that they use in the UK).

What this writer fails to understand is why it is necessary to dress up these kinds of stories with all this hyperbole and false representations. On the face of it this appears to be a real story. But it simply isn’t clear why it comes with all this fakery. Is is simply hate? Imperialism? Brute ignorance?


Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer