Voices from Russia

Friday, 14 November 2008

Media Blame Game against Russia Begins To Backfire

Filed under: EU,mass media,politics,Russian,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00


Recently, a slew of articles have been popping up in the Western media concerning Georgia’s claims that it was acting in “self-defence” when it unleashed an artillery attack on Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, on the morning of 7 August. The Independent wrote, The timing of the Georgian attack, as of the arrival of the first Russian reinforcements two days later, coincides for the most part with the original Russian version”. The “original Russian version” was that it was acting in self-defence after Georgian forces killed hundreds of innocent people, as well as a dozen Russian peacekeepers in a sneak attack.

Here’s an editorial from a Boston Globe editorial (“Reckless Georgia”), “The OSCE monitors on the ground when the attacks occurred admit that they ‘heard nothing that would confirm Saakashvili’s claim that Georgian artillery attacks on Tskhinvali were in response to the shelling of ethnic Georgian villages'”. However, the most devastating salvo against Georgia’s claims comes from the international rights organisation Human Rights Watch, which reported that Geor­gia, according to testimony from hundreds of witnesses, acted with “indiscriminate use of force”. A BBC report followed up the charges when it discovered evidence that Georgian forces may have committed war crimes “when its tanks fired directly into an apartment block and how civilians were shot at as they tried to escape the fighting”. Such behaviour is a direct violation of the Geneva Convention.

The question must be asked how the western media, in an age of lightning-fast satellite imagery, not to mention on-the-ground reporters and witnesses, got the story concerning the breakout of the Georgian war so wrong? The on­ly answer can be the inherent bias of the Wes­tern media machine. After all, even in the earliest moments of the war, before Russia had initiated its “excessive” counterattack, the Geor­gian side was freely defending its actions on CNN and BBC, whilst the best the Russian side could hope for was a non-biased western commentator to plead its case. Nevertheless, the bogus reporting on the five-day Georgian war is certainly not the only case of the Western media jumping the gun in its compulsive desire to paint Russia as a global bogeyman.

Consider the recent case of Karina Moskalenko, the lawyer who represents the family of Anna Politkovskaya, the journalist who was killed inside the elevator of her Moscow apartment building two years ago. Before travelling to Moscow from her present home in Stras­bourg, France for pre-trial hearings in the high-profile murder case, Ms Moskalenko claimed that she found traces of mercury in her car. The Western media immediately jumped on the story, never once presenting a possible alternative explanation to the extremely damaging claims that Russia was responsible. The Los Angeles Times wrote, “Karina Moskalenko, who’s represented some of the Kremlin’s harshest critics, says she fell ill after finding a mercury-like substance in her car. Colleagues suspect political motives”. Boom, just like that, Russia is once again guilty as charged without the benefit of a fair trial, not to mention judicious reporting.

How many people know the outcome of this story? Certainly, very few. David Johnson, the editor of Johnson’s Russia List, which compiles articles on Russia on a daily basis, wrote in an accompanying memo to one of his e-mailings, “After press coverage around the world of Karina Moskalenko’s accusation that Russian authorities tried to poison her family with mercury, the French police report that stated that such was not the case has had almost no coverage”. So, who was the ruthless “assassin” responsible for trying to poison Ms Moskalenko? All evidence from the French police points to the previous owner of her car, who admitted that he accidentally broke a barometer inside the vehicle. Isn’t it strange that not a single journalist ventured to question all of the possible causes for the “poisoning” before penning their venomous theories? Or, should the public be satisfied with the implied conclusion that the police are just plain smarter than journalists?

Now, that the Western media has been found severely wanting on two of the latest scandals involving Russia, could media negligence also be responsible for denying a fair trial in the Litvinenko case? When a high-profile crime is committed in a local area, the defendant’s lawyers may request to have the trial held at a distant location in order to guarantee that the criminal proceedings are not tainted with emotion and prejudice. Given the immediate flow of information (true or otherwise) in this age of instantaneous communication, can Russia, or any other countries for that matter, escape the knee-jerk conclusions of the media? Moreover, can a victimised na­tion be compensated in a court of law for damages resulting from a negligent and even slanderous press? The economic losses alone that Russia has suffered since November 2006 as a result of reckless reporting would probably make an oligarch blush. Russia deserves a fair trial.

14 November 2008

Robert Bridge

An American in Moscow

Moscow News



Medvedev says that Kiev Uses the Stalin-Era Famine to Divide Russia and the Ukraine


President Dmitri Medvedev (1965- )

President Medvedev accused Kiev of using the Stalin-era famine to drive a wedge between the Ukraine and Russia and urged efforts to forge a common position on the tragedy. In a letter to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko released by the Kremlin on Friday, President Medvedev said Kiev’s position meant he could not attend any event to commemorate the famine, known [to Ukrainian nationalists] as the “Golodomor”, in the Ukraine due later this month.

“The Ukraine has used the tragic events of the early 1930s to achieve its political ends”, Mr Medvedev said, adding these efforts are “aimed at disuniting our nations, which for centuries were linked by historical, cultural, and spiritual bonds, special friendship and mutual trust”. Mr Medvedev suggested that the two countries should start seeking common approaches to the events, and invite experts from Kazakhstan, Belarus, and other ex-Soviet states affected by the famine to join the effort. “At the moment, however, I do not believe my participation in ‘Golodomor’ commemoration events is possible”, Mr Medvedev said.

Ukrainian President Yushchenko declared that 2008 the year to commemorate the “Golodomor”, which some in the country’s leadership insist was an act of genocide against the Ukraine by the Soviet authorities. Estimates vary widely as to the number of deaths in Ukraine caused by the forced collectivisation of the early 1930s, along with devastating purges of Ukrainian intelligentsia, religious leaders, and politicians under Stalin. Some sources cite figures of over 7 million. Moscow rejected Kiev’s interpretation of the tragedy, saying that besides the Ukraine, the famine also affected different ethnic groups in vast territories in the North Caucasus, the Volga region, central Russia, Kazakhstan, western Siberia, and the southern Urals.

The United Nations General Committee refused last month to include the “Golodomor” on its agenda, supporting Russia’s recommendation to exclude the famine from the UN session. The European Parliament adopted a resolution in October declaring the famine of 1932-1933 as a crime “against humanity”, but, it stopped short of using the word “genocide”. In July 2008, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe also condemned the famine without recognising it as an act of genocide. The leaders of Poland, Georgia, and the Baltic States officially announced they will attend a forum on the famine in Kiev on 22 November, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said last week. Other “Golodomor” commemoration events are scheduled for 17 through 22 November.

14 November 2008



Editor’s Note:

The so-called “Golodomor” story is a phoney and ginned-up falsification of Galician Uniate khokholi (I am speaking only of the loudmouths in this respect). It is supported only by Uniate-financed fronts in the Galician diaspora, and no decent and thinking person would support such bilious rot. Yes, there was a famine in the early 30s, but, it was spread throughout the Soviet Union, the result of collectivisation. This propaganda spits on all the victims who happened not to be Ukrainian.

If you hear anything saying that the Russians planned the “Golodomor” to exterminate Ukrainians, disbelieve it, and say it loud! Such sorts deserve no quarter!


200 Days in Antarctica

Filed under: Russian,science — 01varvara @ 00.00


A Russian research vessel is on its way to the Southern hemisphere. The crew of the Academik Fedorov, which set sail on 5 November, will spend 200 days in Antarctica carrying out experiments and projects as part of a federal program to explore the World Ocean and as a part of the final stage of the International Polar Year.

45 research stations from 28 countries are working in Antarctica throughout the year. There are about 4,000 thousand researchers resident in the summer and up to 1,000 in the winter, and Russia is one of the old-timers, having opened its first polar stations in the mid-1950s. After a 20-year lull that followed the post-perestroika years, extensive exploration of Antarctica resumed in 2007. This year’s 200-day mission brings together experts from 27 research institutes of Russia, Byelorussia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Germany, Poland, the United States, and South Korea.

Sergei Baliasnikov is a spokesman for the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute of the Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring Agency. “The scientific projects to be conducted in the Antarctica will focus on the study of natural processes and phenomena in near-Earth space, the upper, free, and lower atmosphere, sea and continental ice cover, water and bottom sediments, the earth’s crust, and the biosphere of the planet’s southern hemisphere. As the conditions in Antarctica are similar to those on Mars, the research might prove significant to scientists planning to visit the red planet”.

There will be a unique experiment at Novolazarevskaya station to practise searching for living organisms on the polar caps of Mars and Europa, Jupiter’s satellite, which will be carried out by Russian microbiologists, palaeontologists, and chemists jointly with their colleagues from NASA research centres. At the “Vostok” polar station, researchers will continue a project to explore a sub-glacial lake hidden below a four-metre cover of ice. As big in size as Lake Ladoga, the lake was discovered through radar probing. The extreme conditions of the sub-glacial lake, high pressure, absence of light, specific gas composition of the water, and the low content of biological material, make it perfect for practising life search technologies on ice-covered planets and moons of the solar system. Mr Baliasnikov says the research will contribute greatly to Earth Studies. “Antarctica is rich in mineral resources and is pollution-free, which makes it a strategic reserve of humanity in terms of developing new resources and obtaining pure drinking water”, he said.

10 November 2008

Voice of Russia World Service


There’s Many a True Word Spoken in Jest


As we all know, there is many a true word spoken in jest. If a joke is about the most acute problems of today, it usually bears a special meaning. The USA is not an exception here. Russia has always been famous for its anecdotes and aphorisms about the most pressing issues. The quantity of jokes and their sharpness depended on the gravity of the situation. When people felt safer and more secure, the number of jokes decreased immediately. Recently, America has taken the lead in terms of anecdote telling. Such a great number of jokes and gallows humour have never been seen there before.

Of course, the reason is quite prosaic. The tendency became apparent as soon as George W. Bush earned his second term in office, and the peak was seen during the recent election campaign. Mr Bush’s mistakes and slips of the tongue had long become an ordinary thing for Americans. Mr Bush’s policy inspired criticism and mocking amongst his opposition. Today, to see a sticker on a windscreen saying “we have earned so many enemies that now are unable to get rid of them” is not a rare thing in the States. Here is a fresh anecdote, “Bush calls Obama to congratulate him on the victory. Obama thanks him and says his victory would have been hardly possible without Bush’s active support”.

Humorists also paid their attention to Mr Obama himself, his Republican rival John McCain, and Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, a person who received the most extensive coverage in satirical pieces. A very recent joke was played on a nationwide scale. 1,200,000 copies of a fake edition of the New York Times were released, and it was dated 4 July 2009! The title said, “This issue contains only that news we’re so eager to inform you about: the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the withdrawal of US troops from there, an investigation into the policies of the Bush Administration, a drop in unemployment”, etc. All this news was written on 14 pages. Even after realising that it was a joke, Americans were very glad to read it from cover to cover.

The problem is that Americans are fed up with Bush-style rule. In view of the current financial chaos, Americans have very few reasons for optimism. They are just expecting their newly-elected leader to change the situation for the better. When their anecdotes are no longer so sad, that will be a good sign of improvement. In other words, jokes reveal the quality of life.

14 November 2008

andrei-ptashnikovAndrei Ptashnikov

Voice of Russia World Service


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