On Tuesday, after a Saudi newspaper claimed a Russian diplomat said in an interview that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad is ready to resign, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) said that the situation in Syria has touched off a propaganda war. MID spokesman Mariya Zakharova said, “We’d like to emphasise that the newspaper report isn’t true, and the Russian representative hasn’t given any such interview”. Earlier, a number of western media outlets cited the Al Watan newspaper report. The Saudi publication quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying that Assad’s brother Maher lost his legs in a Damascus explosion in July and that the president may soon resign. Zakharova said, “Regretfully, we have to state that the situation in Syria is becoming an object of a propaganda war, some of whose participants don’t stop short of using dirty tricks. It’s no secret either that some media, which from the very start covered events in Syria tendentiously, distort Russia’s principled position and sometimes even resort to open dezinformatsiya”. A few chief editors have changed at Al Watan in the past year. Some experts describe the publication as a tabloid.
The Syrian conflict has claimed between 14,000 and 20,000 lives since March 2011, according to estimates by various opposition groups and the UN. The West is pushing for Assad’s ouster, whilst Russia and China are trying to prevent outside interference in the country, claiming the Assad régime and the opposition are both to blame for the bloodshed.
14 August 2012