We were wrong but Russia is responsible for us being wrong (The BBC’s correspondent on Mueller)

There is sometimes a call that people who peddle hate-speech should be “de-platformed”. We should, it is suggested, deny them the “oxygen of publicity”, which they crave. But when it comes to hating Russia and spreading false stories and myths all is open season. Strange. At least; irrational. Continue reading “We were wrong but Russia is responsible for us being wrong (The BBC’s correspondent on Mueller)”

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Russia experts in the West

The Western media touts a bizarre array of so-called experts on Russia. These range from Western academics who simply live in delusional universes of their own making to dissidents who, like most dissidents, know which side their bread is buttered and will say what their new masters in MI6 and NATO require. (The media usually slavishly reports whatever they say without doubting a morsel). Many of these experts work for “think-tanks” with clear links to the Western war machine. Continue reading “Russia experts in the West”

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?”

Propaganda Watch update

Christmas and the propaganda never stops.

I very rarely watch the BBC news. (Only if I am staying with someone who does watch it).

Last night’s 24 hours bulletin was the usual fare of shoddy reporting and propaganda for political class [1] ideologies. As usual (at least when I watch it) the majority of the presenters are women and/or black and/or obviously gay. Last night out of several presenters/reporters only one was not a black woman. The token man was not an attractive specimen – huge and overweight with a bland sagging face. I couldn’t help wondering if he hadn’t been chosen deliberately – to mock the genre. He certainly didn’t know how to report, referring to the 20 ‘other charges’ against actor Kevin Spacey for historical sexual assault. In fact he meant allegations. There is only one charge. The media often take advantage of someone under pressure on sex abuse/assault charges and drop the normal standards by which allegations should be reported as allegations and charges as charges. (Presumably the media has a good sense of when someone is under too much pressure to be able to respond to each and every piece of false reporting). The ‘reporter’ was introduced by a third-rate presenter who in effect giggled as she read the piece – as if to say out loud “hysterically funny but he denies these charges which we all know are true”. And, of course, they are “true” – given that, these days, sexual assault verdicts are reached against (almost entirely white men) in public media trials, not by the courts and the doctrine that “allegations must be believed” means in fact that all allegations are treated as true anyway. News reporting in the Western media is no longer anything to do with facts – it is all about creating media narratives. In this case one in which white men are always the villain.

Meanwhile over in today’s Guardian there is a report on the case of the two Americans who have been arrested in China. This is widely seen as retaliation for the arrest of a Chinese businesswoman in Canada following a request for extradition by the US. The US wants to try Meng Wanzhou for breaking US sanctions on companies doing business with Iran. [2] Wanzhou was snatched as she was transferring through Vancouver. The attempt to extend US law all over the world is rightly described by Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, as “revolting”. The Guardian ends its report with “She [Wanzhou] is living under electronic surveillance in a luxury home in Vancouver, welcoming visitors daily and updating her social media page. Kovrig and Spavor [the 2 US Citizens held in China] have been held under more difficult conditions and denied access to lawyers.”. This is interesting because it mixes up political and legal matters. Wanzhou has been released under a large bond and under stringent bail conditions by a court following Canadian law and a court hearing.  Kovrig and Spavor are also being treated in accordance with the law – Chinese law. [3] This comment invalidates China’s right to have a different legal system to that of the US and indeed shows a failure to even understand that there is such a thing as a legal process. This report is credited to AFP – a media organisation owned by the French state. Such blatant imperialism is precisely the mindset of the new media class in the West.

A campaign at home to undermine all the former bastions of authority – the law, white men, the family (all this presented as the height of progressive thinking) – and a crude and retrograde colonialism abroad. Such is the ideology of the new media and political classes in the West.

Notes

1. The Triumph of the Political Class. Peter Oborne. Simon & Schuster 2007

2. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/2177013/huawei-executive-sabrina-meng-wanzhou-fraudulently-represented-company

3. https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2179049/china-denies-detained-canadian-ex-diplomat-michael-kovrig

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.

We “bolster” – they meddle

You have to do a double-take to check that the author of this Guardian article on the recent referendum in Macedonia is not having a laugh. But no – this is how they think. The referendum asked people if they wanted to change the name of the country so as to be able to resolve a dispute with Greece and move towards EU and NATO membership. The vote was high – about 90% in favour – but the low turnout (36%) meant that the result was not binding.

There are the usual unsubstantiated claims about “Russian meddling”. There is the usual reliance on claims by US officials. As usual “allegations” are treated as facts. And a smattering of Facebook posts (which could, as far as the article evidences, be by anyone at all) are cited as evidence of Russian interference.

But what is really surprising is how they manage to keep a straight face when after all these (vague and unsubstantiated claims) of Russian “interference” they calmly discuss how the US spent USD 8 million trying to “bolster” the yes vote.

The vote – to move towards NATO and EU membership – was not binding on the government because the turnout was only 36%. But in a nice show of Western progressives true attitude towards democracy – they report that “The paradox is that, whatever their country is called, a large majority of Macedonians support EU and Nato membership, according to a recent survey”. The source of the survey is not mentioned. So; the referendum abjectly failed to achieve the desired result despite a massive US/EU attempt to “bolster” the result . This was blamed on Russia – simply based on a series of allegations and claims by Western officials. But – not to worry – a survey said that Macedonians want NATO and EU membership so, hey ho, lets press on anyway.

Russian meddling does seem to have a purpose. The story (true or not – in this world of media narratives it makes no difference) of Russian meddling allows progressives to blame Russia for any failure of their “democratic” political projects – it isn’t that some of their domestic audiences are beginning to tire of the Western political project.

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/