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. Continue reading “Why tell lies Mr Harding?”

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The Guardian and the demonisation of Russia

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?

Continue reading “The Guardian and the demonisation of Russia”

More Guardian anti-Russia prop.

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. Continue reading “More Guardian anti-Russia prop.”

Guardian propaganda watch – praise for Bellingcat

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.

 

Why does the Guardian lie so much on Russia?

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?

This is Guardian ‘journalist’ Andrew Roth writing from Moscow on Putin’s comments that Skripal is/was a traitor and scumbag.

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”

In fact the two suspects were produced and gave an interview to RT.

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.

Update

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.

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/

Guardian propaganda (102)

The Guardian was predictably enough quick off the mark to produce the anti-Russia propaganda that Russian provocateur Alexei Navalny was aiming for by holding an illegal rally in Moscow.

Russia – a country in which the President and lower chamber of Parliament are elected under constitutional elections monitored in the past by the OSCE – has laws relating to rallies. Organisers of rallies have to seek permission from the authorities. If they hold a rally in an area for which permission has not been granted people who attend the rally can be arrested. There is a penalty for breaking this law.

Alexei Navalny is the leader of a political movement in Russia which is opposed to the current leadership. He is noted for holding illegal and unsanctioned rallies. It is likely he does this in order to produce images of himself and others being arrested – which suits his platform. The Guardian duly obliges.

In this latest incident and the associated ‘coverage’ in the Guardian the Guardian informs its readers that Navalny represents a “minority” in Russia. According to a poll by the Russian Levada polling institute he has the support of around 2% of the population. It may be therefore be quite a small “minority”. (Navalny is a nationalist figure rather than a classic ‘pro-Western’ liberal. His main platform appears to be to be opposed to the “crooks” in United Russia).

The Guardian article also informs its readers:

During the previous rally on 26 March, more than 1,000 people were detained in Moscow alone, including the Guardian journalist Alec Luhn. Most were released after a few hours, but some were given 15-day jail sentences, including Navalny.

A few people have been given more serious jail terms, with one protester sentenced to 18 months in what appears to be an attempt to use random repression to deter people from protesting.

There is no source and no factual basis for this claim at all. We should know we are in the realm of propaganda and “interfering in elections” here. Contrary to the claim about “randomness” made here Russia has a system of laws. A sentence of 18 months could not have been given simply for attendance at an illegal rally. There is a law which makes repeated breach of this law punishable by a long jail sentence. It is possible that this was the case with this 18 month sentence. However; the penalty for a first breach appears to be 15 days. [1] The information here is wrong and also misleadingly creates the impression that Russian courts just give random sentences. The author of this piece is based in Moscow and will know that he is misleading people.

The piece also explains:

The protest comes as Russia enters an election cycle, with a vote due next March expected to give Putin six more years in the Kremlin. Navalny, a lawyer turned anti-corruption campaigner, has announced his intention to stand, though few expect him to be allowed on to the ballot.

This is entirely misleading. It gives the impression that whether or not Navalny will be “allowed to stand” will be down to an arbitrary decision by the authorities. In fact Navalny has been convicted in Russia of corruption (a fact missing from this article). This article on RT explains that under Russian law because he is still serving a suspended sentence Navalny will not be permitted under Russian law to stand. A result of the rule of law is presented here as an act of arbitrary authority. This of course feeds into the narrative of an ‘oppressive, authoritarian regime’ which large sections of the Western press wish to tell. But is is fake. It is of course possible to argue that Russian law is applied somewhat selectively and in favour of the authorities. But this piece doesn’t attempt that. It simply misleads.

This Guardian article is written by Shaun Walker – one of the Guardian’s resident propaganda writers based in Moscow. Mr Walker is lying and demonstrably so. This is our discussion of an example of Mr Walker’s propaganda on the situation in Ukraine.

Mr Walker may have written this propaganda because he knows that this is what the Guardian wants and he, Mr Walker, wants to keep his job. Quite why the Guardian does this is not 100% clear. Most of the Western press is owned by finance capital. Finance capital has a strong motive to overturn the current nationalist system of rule in Russia – with its irritating restrictions on inward foreign investment. It is hardly surprising then that the Western press is used in a propaganda role to undermine that nationalist system of rule. But the Guardian is a slightly curious case. It is owned by a Trust which is simply in the business of producing the Guardian. With the Guardian it appears to be something personal and ideological. They hate “Putin”. It may be because Putin’s Russia is not one which is especially favourable to the culture of hedonism, gender reassignment, “marriage equality” etc. which seems to have become the main credo of the kind of liberal media classes who work at the Guardian.

Finally; before falling for the story here about “Kremlin repression” – don’t forget that the UK has pretty strict laws about what happens in public spaces. (Some of which is critiqued by the Manifesto Club here).  Including legislation which permits local authorities to ban groups of 2 or more people gathering in a space. We could ask why the Guardian is so keen to produce these pieces of theatre about Russia but has relatively little to say about the situation in the UK.

Notes

1. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/12/russia-peaceful-activist-sentenced-under-repressive-new-law-must-be-released/