Opinion » Columnists
Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Russia Today vs. Pravda (The Truth)

Russia Today responds to Pravda’s recent article true to form, as expected and bang on cue, with a snide, derisory tone more befitting of a schoolboy rag and a worryingly low editorial standard. And this publication claims it survives through its subscribers’ subscriptions?

In response to the article posted in this column on June 15th, where we accused this online publication (controlled from, where else, Washington and the Czech Republic) of being unnecessarily pessimistic in its reporting of Russia, looking only for gloom and doom stories and presenting what anyone who knows Russia today will see as warped, biased and wholly subjective nonsense presented as “news”, Russia Today comes back with an infantile attempt to claim that it is the Man, the one and only with access to what is really happening in Russia today. No, really. How anyone actually pays for this defies logic. Either Russia today is playing with those foolhardy enough to be convinced to part with their hard-earned cash or else its readership has more money than sense, since they can read Russia’s real news here on Pravda, if they choose, for free.

Now that Russia Today has decided to take the bait, let us expose this so-called publication for what it really is. In response to some pieces which became more shocking as time went on, in which Russia Today filled page after page of “(dis)information” for their subscribers with insolence against President Putin, claiming that Russia is corrupt, claiming that the media is controlled by the Kremlin, claiming that there was a clamp-down on NGOs, claiming that the government in Russia is neither impartial nor democratic, or insinuating such lies, I felt compelled to write an article stating the truth. After all, that is what PRAVDA means in Russian.


For a start, anyone who claims that the Russian media is controlled by the Kremlin has no idea whatsoever what they are talking about and as for the notion that any publication that states this can actually charge people to read it, would be utterly risible if it wasn’t so sad.


The fact of the matter is, and here it is in Pravda for free – nobody has to pay to read this – that the Russian media is totally free to write what it likes, given that it reports the truth and not some warped propaganda from the West about Russia’s dwindling energy resources, or some other nonsense about energy blackmail, Chechen “freedom fighters” or how terrible the economy is.

The Russian economy is so terrible and the markets so volatile that in the last year they have risen 150 per cent. A trifle more than those in Washington, eh? And as for their darling Chechen freedom fighters, what they and their ilk can do was patently clear in Beslan. Could it be that Russia Today would claim that this was a successful military operation?

As expected, Russia Today wholly misinterpreted the recent laws passed by the DUMA about NGOs in Russia, and evidently did not even bother to read the legislation (if indeed anyone at this publication understands Cyrillics. Oh sorry – the Russian script). The laws regarding NGOs detailed the responsibilities of the State and outlined the role to be played by these organizations for the first time. Rather than clamping down on them, Russia’s Government was defining laws to protect the NGOs and lay out clear guidelines as to who and what they were and could do.

As for Russia’s Government, for some reason President Putin enjoys popularity rates which are double those of Russia Today’s Bush and his regime which is so popular the world over that its members are greeted with boos and slogans anbout being mass murderers, as they creep, cowed and embarrassed, with feeble smiles, from armoured vehicles to heavily guarded venues, when they dare step off an aircraft, that is.

But let’s get down to the core issue here. Russia Today is a symptom of the disease which is the West’s hangover from the Cold War, because to have the identity of an “us”, they need a “them”. Creating a “them” is easy to do in Russia’s case what with so many years of Cold War propaganda about Russians eating babies, about Russian food being a boiled egg floating in water, about Russian women having moustaches and about Russian men being three sheets to the wind on vodka before lunchtime. Easy to believe for the gullible, create the negative image and the marketing bait is taken, hook, line and sinker. Get someone to believe what you want and you can sell him package after package of nonsense. In Russia Today’s case, it seems they even pay for it.

But what happened after the Cold War ended (when it never even started)? People saw that after all, Russians were normal people, that they prefer to laugh than to cry, the mass tourism packages opened Russia’s cuisine to the visitor, who was able to see first-hand that it is a wonderful country with nice, friendly people – some problems, like everywhere else – massive resources...oh! Massive resources. So the big plan is to aid and abet terrorists by creating “nationalism” issues, using NGOs to do the dirty work, along with a whole host of “agencies” and try to gain access to Russia’s vast energy and mineral wealth, is that the case?

But the Russians, if anything, are not stupid and neither is President Putin. If nobody won the Cold War, then Russia iscertainly winning the post-Cold War, the Third Millennium is definitely in the Kremlin’s lap. We have a US/UK alliance that goes globe-trotting slaughtering thousands of people in illegal wars, breaking international law and then claiming they are defending themselves, making ludicrous comparisons between 9/11 and Baghdad. Talk about chalk and cheese!

We have a regime in Washington which is worryingly universally regarded with a seething and sullen hatred (take for instance the fact that George Bush had to scuttle out the back of Number 10 Downing Street on his state visit to London, the home of his main ally. Must be popular there) and we have a Kremlin which stands for the basic three Ds, the principles of democracy, namely discussion, dialogue, debate. We have a Washington which does not bat an eyelid about breaking international law, breaking the Geneva Conventions, committing war crimes, breaking the UN Charter, lying about WMD and then claiming Baghdad was behind 9/11. If Russia Today and its paying readership believe that, then how about the fairies at the end of the yard? Or the golden rabbits in the forest that speak Aramaic and started some weird sect in the Mid West?

We have a Kremlin which insists on using the UN Security Council for crisis management – that is why it was constituted after all, we have a Kremlin fighting international terrorism on its doorstep, the leaders of which cavort with Western officials in European capitals.

So as Russia wins the Third Millennium, what has Washington left? Now that everyone has seen that Russians love their children too, now that Moscow is seen as the guy in the white hat, they can only stoop to bottom-of-the-barrel propaganda, childish inuendos about how terrible Russia is (no, really) and publications like Russia Today. The nearest they get to breaking news, is breaking wind.

If people want to pay to read an unprofessional, cobbled-together bag of lies, that’s their prerogative. But just don’t claim it is anywhere near the truth.

Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY

PRAVDA.Ru

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