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Friday, 20 July 2007

Russian attitude to the UK [Lurks]

As of writing interesting things have happened in the ongoing saga ofthe poisoning of Alexander Livinenko and the subsequent escalation oftensions between the UK and British governments. I don't have much toadd to that which isn't self evident by the news coverage but I wastaken by this particularpiece in the English-language Kommersant, a Russian onlinenewspaper which gives a pretty good insight into Russian thinking onthe ground.
I immediately noted this except from the opening paragraph:

"In essence, London has begun an information war aimedat convincing the European Union to voice more decisive support forthe UK in its conflict with Russia."

That's clearly absurd. The British government simply doesn't have theability to mobilise the British press for any such aim, our pressdoesn't work like Russian press does and I think they'd do well toremember that.
Yet for the seemingly out of place headline the whole article ispretty well written and isn't hysterical or overtly toeing someRussian propaganda line. However it does seem to make that commonmistake I see with a lot of commentary out of Russia. Their assumptionis basically that because a particular story is in 'the British media'then it forms the basis of a British campaign, in this case todemonise Russia and obtain sympathy from the rest of Europe to actagainst Russia. It is, of course, complete and utter nonsense. Thereis no united front of British media.
Here's a relevant bit:

"This diplomatic stance by the British authorities iscurious, given that the leaks to the press came from MI6 and the RAF,both government entities. In any case, these leaks achieved at leastone goal: they helped consolidate British publicopinion..."

The central idea here is that if the British press found out about anydevelopment concerning Russia from a governmental agency, then theleak of this information must be the result of an underhand policy ofthe British government. This is of course utter nonsense. We have anactive free press in this country and they have a great many sourceswhich wont be official lines of communication. Of course that doesn'tmean these *weren't* deliberate leaks, but Kommersant infersthat this could only be the case.
I found the article interesting because it seems a pretty well writtenand thought out analysis albeit with one or two common Russianmisconceptions about how things work in the West. Then it seems tohave been sexed up with the hysterical headline (Britain sounds AirRaid Warning) and with a claim that it's all part of a propagandacampaign. You can almost see the copy coming in and then being editedin this way by the newspaper fearful of their position in the tenuousRussian media industry.

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