The Russian parliament has just passed a law which makes it an offence to insult  the state or its symbols.  The offence is punishable by a fine or a period of administrative detention of 15 days. Continue reading “Fake news on Russia in the Guardian”
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. Continue reading “Why tell lies Mr Harding?”
Writing about a theory that the recent tragic collapse of a block of flats in Magnitogorsk in Southern Russia was actually a terrorist attack one of the Guardian’s pseudo-journalists has felt compelled to regurgitate the stories about how Putin organised the 1999 apartment bombings in Russia.
I wonder if Marc Bennetts has any idea how revolting this is?
Sadly I don’t have much time to update this site at the moment. However I cannot let the Guardian continue its shameless and dishonest anti-Russia propaganda pass without registering some kind of protest. Not because I am a Russophile (though it is quite possible I am) but because I care about truth and I think the media should tell the truth.
This is an article by someone called Andrew Roth – one of the many people who appear to be employed by the Guardian solely for the purpose of writing propaganda about Russia.
Russia holds de facto control over the waters of the Kerch strait. It is bound by a 2003 treaty to allow Ukrainian ships access to the Sea of Azov. But since completing construction of the Crimean bridge, which took three years and cost $3.9bn (£3.05bn), Russia has implemented draconian checks on ships bound for Ukrainian ports, sometimes holding them for days.
The treaty referred to makes the Azov sea a common sea shared between Ukraine and Russia. Both countries can access the sea and both can run regimes of checking navigation in the sea. The “draconian checks” carried out by Russia are lawful under this treaty. Ukraine can also carry out such checks.
After Russia’s coastguard engaged three Ukrainian ships, Russia swarmed the strait with military jets and helicopters, and even parked a container ship in front of the bridge under which ships pass, effectively shutting down the strait in a show of force.
The Russian version is that the cargo ship was used to block passage under the Kerch bridge after two separate groups of Ukrainian military craft approached it – one from the Black Sea side and one from the Azov sea side in what must have clearly looked like a provocation of some kind.
Russia may or may not be actively trying to interfere with Ukrainian trade to ports in the sea of Azov as the article claims. – The article is strong on claims from the Ukrainian side and weak on any objective data. In any event Ukraine and Russia are engaged in a sanctions war – which has seen Russian ships impounded in Ukrainian ports. This is necessary context.
Journalism requires evenhandedness. Journalists should get “both sides of the story”. They should also be diligent in separating out claims (especially by one side in an argument/conflict) from facts. In reality of course all facts are contested. But all sources are not equal. For example a UN office may be more reliable than a government spokesperson when it comes to providing information about a war. On Ukraine though the Western media (in this particular case the Guardian) has an established pattern of treating information provided by the regime in Kiev as unquestionable objective truth. The Russian version is – as is the case in this article – often simply omitted altogether, or, if present, is treated with the utmost scepticism – with liberal use of quote marks and so on. This isn’t journalism. It is war propaganda.
It is dismaying to see the 90% of the “free press” re-casting itself as a war propaganda machine totally voluntarily. Of course the fact that the Western press in largely owned by Western finance capital – an interested party in the contest with Russia – is a major part of the reason. However, the Guardian is owned by an independent trust – so it is strange that the Guardian cannot tell the truth. In this case it seems to be some kind of ideological group-think problem. Sad though for anyone who expects the media to tell the truth.
This is another example. This one is interesting because it shows the desperation that these “journalists” have to produce anti-Russian stories at any cost. It is almost as if their careers depended on it. “Journalist” Julian Borger writes:
In his more detailed account, Putin also seems to concede that the Ukrainian boats were fleeing when they were fired on
This is his evidence:
“The border guard told them: If you go through the Kerch strait you should hire our pilot. They said no, and they went straight for the strait. And that’s when the ships collided after that, because our border guard started squeezing them out,” Putin said.
He added: “Prior to that they said they were going to blow up our bridge so what do you expect our border guards to do?” – an apparent reference to Moscow’s earlier claims that Ukrainian radicals planned to blow up a new bridge between Russia and Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
Putin said the Russian coast guard “told them to stop and they did not respond”.
“They started running away, so that’s it,” the Russian president said.
But a second’s analysis of this text shows that Putin is saying that the collision (which preceded the firing) happened when the Ukrainian boats “went straight for the strait”. His “running away” doesn’t mean away from the bridge/strait. It means from the Russian vessels.
In this attempt to cheat and misrepresent Putin’s words “journalist” Julian Borger betrays his anxiety to produce an anti-Russian story out of nothing. He then goes on to cite Bellingcat – a notorious blogger who produces scientifically flawed pseudo-forensic material which the Western press then uses to indict Russia – describing Bellingcat as an “investigative journalism agency”. (This coordinated use of Bellingcat by the anti-Russia Western press is something of an organised conspiracy). Shoddy journalism and supported by a “investigative journalist” who demonstrably does not understand the standards required of a proper forensic analysis. But – anti-Russia – and that’s the main point.
This is an article by one of the people who work for the Guardian newspaper posing as journalists but who are in fact propagandists. These people have essentially the same attitude to the press as people who produce copy for the State Department funded propaganda channel Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. The press exists in order to wage war by other means. After all propaganda is cheap. If you have to tell a trough of lies to undermine your “enemy” then that is better than losing lives on the battlefield. And if it helps the American Empire expand then it must be good. After all “freedom” is an absolute good…. This is Shaun Walker:
Remarkable work by The Insider, a Russian news outlet, and the online sleuths of Bellingcat has pulled back the veil of secrecy from a number of GRU operations, which have included a failed coup attempt in Montenegro, involvement in the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines jet over eastern Ukraine in 2014, and the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury earlier this year.
“online sleuths” – is a euphemism for describing the activities of an online blogger notorious for peddling low-grade stories which are lapped up by the Western press solely because they always find the right culprit. The absolute ignorance about basic forensic standards which characterised “Bellingcat’s” fake news story about MH17 (see here) – doesn’t bother these people in the slightest. They either don’t understand basic science themselves or just know that 90% of people just read the news headlines – or both. “Pulling back the veil of secrecy” is one way of describing fifth-rate fake forensics but it ain’t journalism – Shaun Walker should be writing for Radio Free Europe. Needless to say the “failed coup attempt in Montenegro” is contested. But all this is how this propaganda proceeds. If you repeat your claims as truth often enough eventually you end up believing them to be part of the fabric of reality yourself.
Quite possibly a Russian intelligence agency was behind the alleged attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. If this was the case then maybe the Kremlin knew about it in advance; or maybe they didn’t. There is quite a lot of material in the public domain which makes the former quite a strong possibility.
All this makes it all the more surprising that the Guardian incessantly lies when they write about Russia. If they want to criticise Russia there is surely plenty to write about without lying?
These are the lies in Mr Roth’s piece:
i. The piece is headlined “Vladimir Putin calls Sergei Skripal a scumbag and a traitor”. However; in his actual remarks Putin called Skripal a traitor and then went on to say that surely seeing a traitor as a ‘scumbag’ is the natural reaction. (The Russian word he used is подонок for which Wiktionary offers the following translations “rogue, bastard, rat, scum, scoundrel”). That is – for Putin Skripal is a traitor and it follows from this that he is a rogue/rat/scum/scoundrel. To report this as “scumbag and traitor” i.e. to change the word order obfuscates Putin’s principled position – he doesn’t like traitors, and for Putin it follows from this that Skripal is a подонок. Furthermore; the word “scumbag” appears to be the worst possible translation of the Russian word Putin used. These errors are likely not unintentional. Mr Roth wants to tell a story about how terrible Putin is and he will distort the facts to prop up his story.
ii. “The novichok used was one of a number of nerve agents developed in the Soviet Union”. This is tendentious. Indeed this lie has already been called out. The substance allegedly used has been identified as being of a type which was developed by the Soviet Union. However, the specific material that was used in Salisbury could have come from a wide number of countries (including Britain) with the knowledge and capacity to produce this kind of agent.
iii. “Investigative journalists claim they have identified one of the two men as Col Anatoliy Chepiga, a military intelligence officer who strongly resembles one of the two suspects.” This refers to claims by a blogger called “Bellingcat”. Bellingcat specialises in scouring social media to find material to bolster NATO narratives on various matters. His analytical abilities do not reach the standard required of an investigative journalist – as this website has shown. Citing the weak ‘analyses’ by this propagandist as the work of an “investigative journalist” is one way that Western propagandists/journalists produce their narratives.
iv. “The Kremlin has said it will not help secure an interview with the suspects or discuss speculation as to their identities, despite the fact that Putin had originally called on them to come forward and protest their innocence on television”
v. “Russian television presented the two suspects, naming them as Boshirov and Petrov, as tourists who travelled twice to Salisbury because they were determined to see the city’s cathedral”
If Mr Roth is referring to the RT interview this is incorrect. RT simply interviewed the two men. It didn’t “present” them as anything. The interviewer (the editor of the channel) declined to state her personal opinion as to whether the men were telling the truth or not.
Embellishing a story or outright lying – a matter of semantics perhaps. But in either case – not journalism.
It really is incessant. Here is today’s article which links Skripal and alleged Russian cyberattacks. It is by ‘Diplomatic Editor’ Patrick Wintour. He writes:
Official Russian explanations for the two men’s visit to Salisbury have been widely ridiculed, prompting tensions inside the Russian government over the inept handling of the episode.
However; there haven’t been any official explanations. See point iv. above: “The Kremlin has said it will not help secure an interview with the suspects or discuss speculation as to their identities”. You can check they are lying because they can’t even get their story straight.
Then we have:
The cyber-attack on the DNC headquarters, critical to the outcome of the 2016 elections, has often been attributed to the Russians, but it is the first time the UK intelligence services have made the claim.
Maybe ‘critical’. But that is a judgement not an objective fact as Mr Wintour presents here. (And a simplistic hack as this was reported to be is not a ‘cyber-attack’. A cyber-attack is when you set out to actively damage or cripple infrastructure – such as the US/Israel cyber-attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. In this case it was a hack to obtain data. Calling this event a cyberattack is just another lie).
Actually this story about alleged Russian hacking (perhaps provided to the Guardian by the Security Services?) should be understood completely in the context a) of Britain having recently set up its own dedicated cyber warfare unit and b) Britain trying to create a post-Brexit security role for itself in Europe.
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).  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?