Guardian propaganda watch – fake news on Russia

The Guardian seems to be obsessed with criticising Russia. This is strange in itself. The Guardian is a UK newspaper. Its readership have no democratic say over what happens in Russia. They do (in theory) have a democratic say over what happens in the UK. There is plenty wrong in this country that one would have thought that a liberal democratic newspaper would want to concentrate on. But for some reason the Guardian wants to cover a lot of screen space criticising Russia instead.

There probably is plenty to criticise in Russia – if you want to. This is why it is all the more surprising that the Guardian ‘journalists’ who write on Russia have to consistently make up stories. Why do this? That they do this (and this website has demonstrated that they do this  time and time again) gives away what is going on. They aren’t even criticising Russia from some kind of real, genuine, indignation. They just want a straw-dog to shoot down.

This is typical example; a story about the head of Russia’s National Guard who has released a video in response to claims by the nationalist “anti-corruption” blogger Alexei Navalny of corruption in tendering by the National Guard. In the video the head of Russia’s National Guard, Victor Zolotov, refers to the age-old tradition of fighting a duel with someone who insults you, and, in this context, offers to fight Navalny on the mat or in a boxing ring.

The article is standard Guardian fare. It stops short of outright lies (mostly they avoid outright lies) but is spun in such a way to support the fixed narrative on Russia. Zolotov is described as a “close ally of Putin”. He obviously is a connection but the point of mentioning this, which isn’t really relevant to the story, is to tarnish Putin. The report by one of the Guardian’s propagandists in Moscow (that these people can live there and write this propaganda quite freely undermines half the narrative on the ‘harsh media climate’ of course) omits the context in which Zolotov made his comments – the tradition of the duel. Without this context it does appear as a “bizarre rant”. Since “bizarre rant” is the preferred story they omit the details which give the video a more coherent meaning.  The “investigation” by Navalany, referred to by the Guardian, appears, in his own words, to depend solely on looking at the website of the National Guard (where tenders are openly published, as government tenders are in the UK).  [1] Finally, the Guardian mentions that protesters have been detained in recent political demonstrations against recent pension reforms. (Not really relevant to their non-story about Zolotov but it is all part of the anti-Russia narrative so it finds a home here). This is true; people have been detained. But, as is standard in how the Guardian reports on protests in Russia, they omit the fact that people have been arrested on a proper legal basis. In Russia there is a law, (passed by an elected government), that it is an offence to hold a rally if the authorities have not given permission for it to go ahead. This may be a somewhat more authoritarian law than we are used to in the UK, (though police here also take a robust attitude to policing demonstrations where the organisers have not cleared it with the police), but that is the law in Russia. The protesters have been arrested for breaking Russian law. All this will be known to Andrew Roth in Moscow, but he chooses, for whatever reason, to omit it and instead promote a false narrative on Russia. As for the police “using batons on people who are in their teens and early twenties”. Gosh, Andrew, have you never attended a political demonstration in the UK? Hey ho; the police here use batons as well – and against people in their “teens and early twenties”.

There is plenty to write about in the UK – massive social inequality, laundering of public money to private corporations on an absolutely massive scale, use of solitary confinement as a routine punishment on teenagers in schools etc. etc. Are we being distracted from all this with these endless fake tales of how bad things are in Russia?

Notes

1. https://www.rt.com/politics/438154-national-guard-navalny-duel/

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Skripal

This is Craig Murray’s take on the recent Skripal case revelations (the naming of two suspects said to be working for Russian military intelligence).

His observant point about the timeline is interesting – based on the times now given by the police of the victims’ and suspects’ movements this leaves only a small frame between 12.00 and 13.15 on the day of the assassination attempt for the poison to have been applied to the “doorknob”.

It seems implausible that the would-be assassins turned up at a random time hoping that the Skripals would be out so they could calmly apply the poison to the doorknob and then leave. In the material presented by the police there has been nothing relating to other operatives or surveillance of the Skripals which could have helped the assassins know that the Skripals were out. We can posit then a meeting – the 2 would-be assasins met the Skripals on their doorstep. During this meeting they applied the poison to the door-knob. The meeting could have been by arrangement or not. (If not though surely the Skripals would have panicked having these 2 dodgy looking characters turn up on their doorstep unannounced – and called their MI6 handlers rather than popping into town for a quick coffee?). This modus operandi is similar to the assassination of Litvinenko – a meeting is set up and during the meeting the poison is administered.

We then have to assume that because of the method of administration – via a surface rather than direct application to the skin – the Skripals only came into contact with a tiny amount of the substance – which is why they were not killed.

If we follow this line of conjecture all we can suggest is that the Skripals were meeting someone / some people who they expected to look Russian and these people were their would-be assassins.

Do the revelations about these two suspects – who are said to have flown in from Russia – tell us who did it? Essentially no; all the three main theories (Kremlin ordered assassination; rogue elements in Russian intelligence and/or the mafia; a third-party state) remain in the running. The only theory which takes a slight dent from these revelations is the theory that the attack was staged by Ukrainian intelligence – as it would be quite challenging for Ukrainian intelligence to have sent two agents from Russia (and back again) with plausible fake Russian passports. If it was an unauthorised attack by Russian military intelligence that tells us that Putin is not in control (though of course we are continually told by the Western propaganda machine that Putin is fully in control). If it was a mafia hit then we might expect Russia to track down the perpetrators – why not? Of course the British position of trying to embarrass Russia by a series of media leaks rather than talking to them does not make it easy at all for Russia to say that it was done by the Russian mafia/unauthorised elements in their intelligence networks. – The British position – managed by MI6 and No. 10 – is aimed at extracting maximum political capital from this and trying to use it to discredit Putin personally. The British position – either confess you did it or confess to an unauthorised chemical weapons programme – has specifically closed off the door for Russia to admit that it was an attack by rogue agents – even if it was. Russia is only offered a single choice here – and all doors lead to the toppling of “Putin” – the main goal of the Western financial (“freedom”) elites at the moment.

In summary – we still can’t say who did it based on the actual evidence in the public domain. We can observe that the event is being used by No. 10 to try to attack and discredit Putin personally. To do this they are stage managing the media narrative in the British press. (This stage management of the ‘democratic’ media is a bit of an insult to the British public – but we know that these people have no conception of democracy so that is no surprise).

 

 

 

More Guardian propaganda

This is a lovely piece of Guardian propaganda on Syria.

The author is delusional. It is however a nice example of how the Western media builds its propaganda. A few quotes – from Anti-Assad groups and the UN (to give it a sense of objectivity) are picked out and strung together to build the narrative. Of course; this is just how delusions are developed by psychotics – a few points which are true establish the narrative which itself is delusional. The author no doubt believes his “analysis” and probably thinks he is saving humanity.

Before commenting on a few specific points it is worth noting that the author gets through his whole piece about an upcoming “murderous onslaught” in Syria’s Idlib province without once mentioning who the target of the military campaign is – Al-Nusra, or Al Qaeda in Syria – and affiliated groups. This, Al-Nusra / Al-Qaeda, is the same group who murdered more than 3000 Americans in the Twin Towers attacks in 2001. This group is not mentioned once in the article! That alone tells us we are in the realm of extraordinary propaganda.

A few points:

The author cites something called “The Syria Campaign” as evidence of human rights atrocities committed by Assad/Russia (he doesn’t specify which). A quick glance at the website of “The Syria Campaign” with its banner “We are a human rights advocacy group supporting Syria’s heroes in the struggle for freedom and democracy” tells us clearly which side of the civil war this group is on. As we know “truth is the first casualty of war”. Citing a partisan group for information in the context of a war is reasonable reporting; however to present it as some kind of source of neutral facts is babyish. You shouldn’t even pass the first year of an undergraduate course in journalism if you can’t show that you are assessing your sources for likely bias.

The author describes as “disinformation” and “fake news” recent Russian claims that the militants are planning a chemical weapons “false-flag” operation. He then backs up this claim by referencing “documented evidence” by a group called the Syrian Archive that the Syrian government has committed chemical weapons attacks in the past. (Therefore it is false to say that the militants are planning a false flag attack). Again we are supposed to believe that the Syrian Archive is some kind of neutral objective group. But even one second’s research shows that it is not. The director of this group is linked to the notorious Belllingcat operation – a single person who is linked to Nato’s Atlantic Council [1] and who produces shoddily researched papers based largely on “social media analysis” backing Western positions on various matters (usually Russia bad). (We have analysed his ‘work’ on MH17 here – it is demonstrably technically flawed). What we see here is a nexus of organisations who present themselves as “human rights advocates” and so on but who, in reality, are part of an organised network of groups producing pro-Western narratives. Furthemore; if the Assad regime has on occasion used chemical weapons it does not follow from that that every incident can be taken at face value. It is possible for it both to be true that Assad’s forces have used chemical weapons and militants have staged false flag attacks. In reality this is what happens in the fog of war. On both points then – objectivity of sources and general understanding of how to report on wars author Simon Tisdall’s piece fails elementary tests of journalism. He simply fails to show that Russian claims about an upcoming chemical weapons false flag operation by militants are “fake news”.

Then we have this:

The Russian and Syrian regimes claimed to be solely concerned with fighting terrorism when defending their previous, indiscriminate missile, barrel bomb and artillery attacks on civilian residential areas, hospitals and schools, notably in Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta, which caused mass casualties.

One wonders if Mr Tisdall has any evidence for his claim that Russia has used “barrel bombs” and “indiscriminate missile attacks” in Syria? Probably not. He’s probably just making it up.

The underlying thread here is basically that when Russia is involved in a military operation it is a “murderous onslaught on civilians” but when the West or Israel is it is usually a “targeted campaign aimed to minimise civilian casualties”. To be fair to Mr Tisdall he was one of a few voices questioning the propaganda the public was fed in the run-up to the Iraq war. It seems strange that he appears to have lost his ability to question what the Western corporate-state is telling him on Syria.

Notes

1. http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/about/experts/list/eliot-higgins

Skripal – wave 2

The first ploy was to tell the public (and possibly Britain’s allies) a lie. Porton Down had indentified the substance used as coming from Russia.

That was exposed as a lie.

What has happened since is exactly what we would expect from Britain’s intelligence services. They have leaked a series of claims to the press.

The leaks (better understood as planted information) concern this persistent claim about a Russian training manual mentioning smearing nerve agents on doors and the claim about a message being sent from Syria to Moscow about “the package has been delivered” and “two agents have made their egress”. (With reference to the latter Craig Murray suggests this is probably just a sexed up translation of “left”).

That is – they are scraping through their records to find anything, no matter what, which can be used to prop up the government line. This – information management – is a primary function of the intelligence services. This is what they do.

No doubt there was some kind of an intercept (by all accounts of an unencrypted communication) from Syria. No doubt there is some document which can somehow be described as a “training manual” and there are some grounds which permit it to be said that it dates from post-Soviet times (which is what they are claiming). But all this is just the usual titbits  – without the details including the source of the alleged ‘training manual’ no one can independently come to any conclusion at all.

All this doesn’t stop the eager press from playing its part. For example, today’s Daily Telegraph has the headline: “Russia hacked Yulia Skripal’s emails for five years and tested Novichok on door handles, bombshell intelligence dossier reveals”. There is nothing “bombshell” about this. As we say above this is routine and the intelligence services are just doing their bit to prop up a government story. – As for the story about Russian intelligence carrying out surveillance into Julia Skripal’s emails – we would expect them to be doing exactly that. If a British spy defected to Moscow and his daughter continued to work in London MI6 would not be hacking her emails? Come on. What is going on here is little titbits of ‘information’ are being released as part of a studied news management campaign to prop up a failing story.

MI6 is doing what we would expect from them. Telling lies (or at least planting massaged information) to prop up whatever the government wants them to prop up.

But it is lamentable to see the “free press” quite so eagerly doing their bidding. We can note the Telegraph breathlessly says “it has been revealed” and “it has emerged”. The “journalist” will get some kind of a payback for further dressing up MI6’s planted stories. But it has zero to do with journalism.

 

 

 

 

Mock outrage

The Daily Telegraph today briefly had a headline about Theresa May’s “outrage” about the “suspected” chemical attack in Syria.

The headline was altered quite quickly to lose the word “outrage”. Notice however that the url for the story still refers to May being “deeply disturbed”. The article includes the sentence:

“The Government has stressed the importance of the attack being investigated to determine who is culpable.”

It looks like the government and their stooges in the media are realising that claiming to be “outraged” before an attack of some kind has moved from the claim stage to the “no other explanation is plausible stage” (a new concept which, it seems, means – we have decided that they – usually Russia – did it, but, no, we can’t prove it) is dubious. How can you be outraged about a claim, about a suspected attack? You can’t be. The normal sequence is – you wait until it is confirmed and, when it is, then you feel outraged. That they seem willing to produce the outrage on the basis of “suspected”, “alleged” or even “very likely” shows us that the outrage is synthetic. They aren’t really outraged at all. In fact they couldn’t care less about whether brown-skinned people in Syria are being gassed. It’s just a convenient lever in a game of narratives. (Syria = bad regime = human rights abuser === same with Russia => contrast with us = noble, law-abiding, civilised, humane => therefore anything we do – such as illegally invade Syria is fine). A game, which, amusingly, is being played more and more solely for their own benefit. – That is – who but themselves believes their narratives any more?

We can see the same narrative on Skripal. If it is only “very likely” that Russia did it – how can you feel such horror?

That this article had its headline fixed shows that the government narrative writers (aka. “journalists”) are aware of this flaw in their narratives and are working to fix it. They are, basically, working on the choreography of these denunciations and continuously improving it.

Fake news

The story on the Skripal poisoning is being stage-manged by the intelligence services and No. 10 for political effect.

As usual the UK media does what is required of them and amplifies and broadcasts the preferred narrative.

One characteristic of the current rash of anti-Russia stories is how we move so quickly from probability to fact. For example; that Russia “hacked” the US election – was presented by US intelligence as a matter of probability, not as a fact. But soon in the media and political circles it is taken as absolute fact. The same with the Skripal poisoning. This was described as being “very likely” a state sanctioned hit. But now – a couple of weeks later – the discourse treats it as proven fact. This jump from probability to fact is strange; how do rational people justify this to themselves?

But sometimes they brashly base the story on what is admitted to be no more than a “claim”. This is a nice piece of fake news in the Telegraph about alleged Russian state Twitter activity. Here the author admits that the article is based on a “claim”.

The potentially fake accounts, which experts say could be linked to the bot factory in St Petersburg, retweeted a poll by a British user which ended with more than 15,700 votes.

“potentially fake” and “could be”. A decent journalist would not even bother with the story. (Based on ‘expert’ ‘research’ by the Atlantic Council – which is a NATO linked organisation).

In either case standards of journalism do not exist for the Western media. Either they make it up altogether or they print conjecture and claims that should not even have made it past the initial filtering stages. The aim is to smear and destroy Russia; they are hard at work – oblivious it seems to the fact that they are doing exactly what they accuse Russian state media of doing.

Propaganda in the Economist

There is an article in this week’s Economist magazine about Russian military power.

The opening paragraph contains a phrase along the lines of “since Russia’s invasion of Eastern Ukraine in 2014”. No such invasion has taken place. Whoever wrote this (the article is not attributed) is insane or evil. – This is really the only question worth asking about most Western journalists these days.

This is an oft-used propaganda technique. If they repeat some fiction often enough eventually they will (so the reasoning goes presumably) convince their readers – and themselves – of its truth. It is an exercise in self-hypnosis and mass mesmerisation. As to the claim – the key point here is we are in the realms of narrative journalism. This is how 99% of the Western media work. It is not about facts and reportage but about building a tale. The tale is sometimes established with reference to a few supporting facts. But when, as in this case, there are no supporting facts – they simply repeat it over and over so it becomes true. “Russia invaded Eastern Ukraine in 2014”. This is not a statement in the realm of facts – which could be contested and/or proved. Such a statement would be – “Russia has supported the rebels in Eastern Ukraine with military advice and hardware”. Little or no evidence exists for this in the public domain – but it’s entirely possible. But the Economist is not trying to assert that fact. That (possible?) fact alone would not suffice. After all; the Western countries are supplying the regime in Kiev with military advice and hardware. So just to say that Russia is too would make it look like what it is – a civil war with major powers each backing their side. Hence we have to get to the “Russia invaded” narrative. The key point here – and this is the identical propagandist line which comes out of Kiev – is to recast the rebellion in the East of Ukraine as being the result of “Russian aggression”. This in turn masks the reality of Western actions in Ukraine – supporting a coup and signing a political agreement with an unelected government for example. The fact is that the President who was disposed, Yanukovych, was a member of the Party of Regions.  The Party of Regions was strong in Eastern Ukraine. When the elected President was chased from office by a Western backed mob it is those who supported the Party of Regions who lost out. While it is true that in the West of Ukraine there is strong desire on the part of people to belong to the EU and NATO in the East the situation is entirely reversed. Gallup polling in April 2014 showed figures of 19% and 13% respectively for EU and NATO membership. [1] Thus the people in the East of Ukraine were disenfranchised by Maidan. The purpose of the “Russia invaded” narrative is to deny this reality. A civil war, triggered by a Western backed coup, has to be repackaged as an external invasion in order to deny the awkward fact that millions of Ukrainians who live in the East were in fact disenfranchised rather than liberated by Maidan. Ironic of course that the bastions of ‘democracy’ are in fact on the side of crushing democracy.

But all this lying is entirely par of the course. There is, however,  something a little surprising in the Economist article. The article weighs up in worried tones how Russia is stronger than NATO “on its borders”. The source appears to be a Western think-tank. This shows the psychopathic thinking which these people (the Western military machine and their hangers-on in various think tanks and the media) engage in. Why should Russia not be “stronger than NATO” on its own territory? To whom would this be an offence but to people contemplating an invasion of Russia? Of course; articles like this are planted in order to drum up support for more military spending – and to legitimize this when it happens. But the underlying reality is psychopathic. It is only a psychopath who has to be stronger than his foe (anyone who is not his absolutely obedient slave) on all counts and in all theatres. Contrast with Russia’s military posture – of trying to maintain a credible defence and to maintain the balance of nuclear deterrence. The West demands – like the imperialists that they are – that Russia lie on the floor in the posture of a submissive dog licking its master’s boots. Anything else is construed as aggression. This is the basis for their delusions about “Russian aggression”. It is the same, exactly the same, as how a psychopath genuinely sees his beaten wife’s slight resistance to the next blow as a sign of terrible and unforgivable aggression against him.

Insane or lying? Perhaps they are all just psychopaths.

Notes 1. http://www.bbg.gov/wp-content/media/2014/06/Ukraine-slide-deck.pdf