The Voice of Russia(n Lies)
The chart above, prepared by the Committee to Protect Journalists, shows that only two nations on this planet, Iraq and Philippines, have more unsolved murders of journalists than does Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which ranks #3 in the world in nominal and #8 in the world in per capita butchery of members of the press. Russia’s rate of savagery in this regard is 50% higher than Mexico’s, which comes in just below it at #9, and it has twice as many unsolved murders as does Mexico. Russia moved from #9 last year to #8 this year. Amazingly, with little room to do so, it’s getting even worse as time goes by.
But you would never know this from reading or listening to the “Voice of Russia,” the Kremlin’s own paid propaganda network. It is one of the very worst, most unreliable and dishonest sources of information about modern Russia in the world. Because of outrageously dishonest reporting from the likes of VOR, Russians and Russophiles have a warped, distorted, neo-Soviet view of themselves and, like the infamous Emperor with his “new clothes,” fail to realize that in reality the entire world is appalled by them.
Look, for example, at the shameless lies VOR told about the recent visit to Moscow by human rights delegations from the United Nations and the European Union.
When PressTV reported on the remarks of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, it stated that she “flayed” Russian “president” Dima Medvedev’s record on human rights and quoted her as follows:
His efforts are appreciated but not advanced sufficiently to be described as a success. There are still too many problems in the sphere of human rights. I fear that the often brutal and illegal methods used by federal and local security and law enforcement agencies in the North Caucasus in the past have aggravated the situation by alienating many people.
So she called Medvedev a brutal failure. The UN’s own website clearly stated that Pillay had made it clear Medvedev was not doing enough to protect human rights.
And as for the EU representative? He was even more withering in his condemnation of the Medvedev regime. Werner Schulz, German Green Party, stated: “President Medvedev has promised to fight legal nihilism, but Russia has been under a long reign of legal cynicism. One third of complaints to the European Court of Human Rights are cases concerning Russia.”
So Medvedev is not just a brutal failure, he’s a criminal and a liar.
Now compare all that with Voice of Russia’s report. None of the language quoted above is even reported, much less set forth in the text. Instead, the VOR report ignores Schulz entirely and states that Pillay “expressed her gratitude” to and “warmly welcomed” Medvedev for his work on human rights and merely “urged Moscow to ensure better the security of human rights activists and journalists.” Needless to say, VOR did not mention the statistics that show Russia is one of the eight worst abusers of journalists on the entire planet. Someone who relied upon VOR for information about this major international visit would have no real idea about what occurred.
You have to hand it to VOR: It truly lives up to its name as the voice of Russia. It perfectly reflects a country that ranks among the worst in the world for corruption, a society so fundamentally craven and dishonest that it no longer even knows what “truth” means. It is a country that has chosen to be governed by a proud KGB spy and immerse itself totally in self-delusion, just as it did in Soviet times. The result is a society which is, if anything, even more doomed to failure and even more morally repugnant than the USSR.
The stupidity of the Russian people never ceases to amaze us: Without full information, good decisions can’t be made. This is the lesson of the famous story about the “Emperor’s New Clothes.” Yet, Russians have never learned this simple lesson, and always seem to act surprised when their leaders, and they themselves, are confronted with the crippling results of their bad decisions, namely national failure and collapse. If the people of Russia don’t wise up soon, they’ll go the way of the dodo.
Philippines number is somewhat inflated. Most of them were really practically accidental victims of a single crime, a bizzare massacre in 2009.
The Big Taboo: Confronting Russia’s Human-Rights Abuses
By SIMON SHUSTER / ST. PETERSBURG – Fri Feb 25, 5:15 pm ET
In any discussion of human rights with Russian officials, there usually comes a point when their jaws clench, their eyes go cold and an uncomfortable pause ensues. That’s when you know you have hit a taboo. The experience was no different for Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, who spent six days last week navigating the subject of rights abuses in Russia. Her visit was part of a twofold confrontation – last week also saw a resolution in the European Parliament on the rule of law in Russia – but both efforts provoked little more than bristling denials and silence from officials in Moscow.
Pillay’s ability to simply discuss Russia’s human-rights problems was often stymied by the maze of taboos she encountered. The treatment of heroin addicts turned out to be a non-starter, while gay rights seemed too touchy to even mention. But farthest out of bounds were issues surrounding the North Caucasus, particularly the region of Chechnya, widely seen as a black hole of rights abuses on Russia’s southern border. (See “Russia’s Troubled Caucasus: Five Years After Beslan.”)
Two Chechen wars followed by a creeping, decade-long insurgency have made torture and extrajudicial killings commonplace across the region, while rule of law simply does not apply in many areas, rights activists say. Yet when Pillay tried to raise some of these points with Prosecutor General Yury Chaika on Monday, the conversation hit a wall. “‘Nothing is going on in the North Caucasus. Everything is fine there now,'” Pillay recalls Chaika saying. “Those kinds of answers killed the dialogue,” she adds. “We couldn’t take it further.” (A spokesman for the prosecutor general declined to comment to TIME on the closed-door talks.)
It was only on the last full day of her trip, Friday, that Pillay heard a truly candid statement from an official about the North Caucasus – and it took the form of an outburst. As she participated in a panel discussion on human rights at the Mariinsky Palace in St. Petersburg, a Chechen activist named Umar Djumaliev took the microphone and launched into an appeal so frantic, Pillay had trouble understanding it. “He was not a scheduled speaker,” she recalls, in an exclusive interview with TIME. “He just spoke up, and he was so angry and upset that he could hardly get his point across.” (See the dangers of doing business in Russia.)
Reached by telephone, Djumaliev, who is the chief of staff for the Chechen rights ombudsman, tells TIME he had been trying to ask Pillay to investigate war crimes committed in Chechnya between 1994 and 2000, when Russia fought two brutal wars in the republic. He was asking for help with locating the bodies of the 5,000 Chechens he says disappeared without a trace, and with identifying the bodies of some 3,000 others buried in mass graves across the region. “How can the souls of the living or the dead have peace if we don’t find the bodies?,” he asks.
But for all the courage it took to grab that microphone, Djumaliev knows what taboos to avoid. He is, after all, an activist employed by the Chechen government (one of the reasons he is shunned by the independent activists in Moscow) and he will not discuss abuses committed in his region since 2000. That was when Vladimir Putin first became Russia’s president and installed the Kadyrov family to control Chechnya by any means. Asked about Ramzan Kadyrov, the bull-necked leader of the region who denies all the allegations of torture and repression that activists level at his regime, Djumaliev gives a nervous laugh before reciting: “He is the greatest human-rights activist we have.”
Even among Russia’s most senior officials, it is common to hear these kinds of sycophantic and seemingly deluded remarks. The mountains of the North Caucasus are now officially touted as the next tourist hotspot – like a less expensive version of the Alps – even as gunmen ambush civilians and police on an almost weekly basis. Last December, Putin, who is now prime minister, even deadpanned that Russia has “some of the most humane courts in the world,” knowing full well that their conviction rate hovers around 99%. (See the rash of attacks on Russian human rights activists.)
Putin did not take the time to meet with Pillay last week, leaving the job to his junior partner in the country’s ruling duo, President Dmitri Medvedev, who saw her for twenty minutes out of the four-and-a-half hours Pillay had blocked off for a possible meeting on Tuesday. “So I’m afraid there wasn’t much discussion,” she tells TIME.
An attempt to force the issue was made last week in the European parliament. On Feb. 17, one week before Putin travelled to Brussels for a series of talks with E.U. officials, the chamber passed a resolution condemning his government for a spate of rights abuses, including unfair trials, harassment of the opposition, and inaction in the cases of several murdered journalists. An earlier draft had gone so far as to suggest travel bans and sanctions against Putin and his top lieutenants.
The proposed sanctions were later scrapped, and human rights were not publicly raised during the Brussels summit on Thursday. But at a press conference with E.U. President Manuel Barroso that day, Putin hinted at his annoyance over western meddling in parts of the world that may not share western values. “One must give people a chance to decide their own fate and their own future,” Putin said when asked to comment on the uprisings in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. “You cannot just superimpose onto other regions of the world what is comfortable and familiar.”
Pillay expected that kind of response. Given Russia’s pervasive culture of denial, finger-wagging over human rights will only make its officials clam up or lash out. “So I did not sit there pontificating top-down,” she says of her talks with officials last week. But her more motherly approach – asking questions about the Russian mentality and invoking the universal declaration of human rights – didn’t seem to get her any further. “I wouldn’t say that I got answers that were really forthcoming, or loads of promises that we’re going to change this and that… But it is a long-term process,” she says.
Perhaps her worst disappointment came on Thursday, when she met with students at the Moscow State University of International Relations. She saw none of the idealism she had encountered even in places like the Gaza Strip and apartheid South Africa, where she grew up. Instead, the student’s mostly seemed to parrot the Kremlin line: one of them wondered whether homosexual rights were all that necessary, while another asked why the International Criminal Court had “interfered” in Sudan by indicting its president for crimes against humanity.
“It was a huge surprise to me, a shock,” says Pillay. “The young people have been so dulled by the propaganda here.” And perhaps it’s little wonder. Most of them were in grade school when Putin came to power, the perfect age to learn what can and cannot be discussed.
Your problem here Robert is the fact that outside the self-opinioned Western cesspit — to wit, in places such as the Muslim countries, China, and Russia — Western drivel amounts to nothing more than precisely that. Non-western peoples usually have little problems interpreting this silly prattle absolutely correctly as “Do as we say and not as we do”. To add insult to injury, I’m a Westerner myself so the standard inarticulate tantrums here are entirely inappropriage. Sorry.
So you hate and despise universal human rights, but why won’t you move to “places such as the Muslim countries, China, and Russia”?
Or just Russia, as “even in places like the Gaza Strip and apartheid South Africa, where she grew up” the people are not as brainwashed into fascist thinking as in Russia, according to Pillay.
As a matter of fact, I really had to think twice to come up with a satisfactory answer to Robert’s question above — especially its first part regarding my stand on “Universal human rights”. But it didn’t take me too long, after all. In short:
Yes, I honestly do despise “Universal human rights”; it is exactly the same kind of mendacious, despicable verbiage such as “White man’s burden”, “Freedom and democracy”, “War on terrorism”, and so on and so forth. Doesn’t liberate anybody; just the opposite. The fewer people that buy into Western preposterous bluster, the better. Simon Shuster’s article is most encouraging in this regard.
For the time being, I cannot muster enough energy and will-power to move abroad.
Your comment defines drivel Manfred.
To use your twisted parlance, can you explain why these ”Non-Western” peoples so desire a move to the west whilst the reverse is non-existent?
What planet are you on?
Sure, lad. If we, as is common practice in the Western corporate media, omit the merciless oppression required to keep the West clothed, fed, and prosperous at the expense of the global majority in the Third World, it’s an easy choice indeed: To starve or not to starve.
Can you please explain why ever-lasting peace, limitless freedom and happiness failed to materialise globally once the USSR and the Warsaw Pact were gone? You should know that this was the big, big promise put forward during the Cold War by the powers that be in the West.
One thing is dead certain: The West’s ruling elite has no illusions about its own popularity worldwide. Unless, of course, you’re honestly suggesting IMF, CIA, and NATO are being run by the world’s downtrodden and destitute.
Aucune réponse encore à mes judicieuses questions… Est-ce qu’elles étaient trop difficiles? Touché.
Well floppy, we did have a major decrease in international terrorism once the USSR stopped funding groups that killed thousands, however now the Russians are funding terrorist organisations like Hamas and Hezbollah we are seeing the same old cycle.
In spite of much preposterous Western bluster, Randy Andy — possibly without knowing it — does have a point here; a very important one at that. However, given that the Western petty bourgeoisie doesn’t approve of profanities such as “class enemy”, it substitutes a multitude of pejoratives for it, “terrorist” being today’s default choice.
So if we cut to the chase, what Andy says above amounts to the following dead right observation/conclusion:
As the USSR collapsed, the oppressed Third world suddenly became totally defenseless against Western imperialist expansionism, its aspirations for liberty and national sovereignty — with or without Soviet aid — coming to a most brutal halt. In bourgeois parlance-by-platitudes, this duly translates to “a major decrease in international terrorism”.
Conversely, as Putin eventually had Russia’s national sovereignty restored while US imperialism went from one disaster to another, the global balance of forces is gradually becoming more facourable to national liberation aspirations again. Analogously, this translates to “resurgent terrorism”. Hamas and Hezbollah proves the point masterfully.
Apparently, for the “former” KGB fascists such as “Manfred Steifschwanz I’m a Westerner”, the despised “The West’s ruling elite” of “merciless oppression” of the Third World nowadays is a nonwhite woman from South Africa with a biography like that:
Judge Pillay was an attorney and conveyancer of the High Court of South Africa from 1967 to 1995, and was appointed acting judge of the High Court in 1995. In 1967, she became the first woman to start a law practice in South Africa’s Natal Province, providing legal defence for opponents of apartheid. She exposed the practice and effects of torture and solitary confinement on detainees held in police custody, and successfully established the rights of prisoners on Robben Island.
In 1999, she was elected Judge President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which she joined in 1995, having been elected as judge by the General Assembly; her four-year term with the Rwanda Tribunal was renewed in 1998. Since 2003, she has served as judge on the International Criminal Court.
She co-founded the Advice Desk for the Abused and ran a shelter for victims of domestic violence. As a member of the Women’s National Coalition, she contributed to the inclusion in South Africa’s Constitution of an equality clause prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of race, religion and sexual orientation. Judge Pillay participated in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda’s groundbreaking jurisprudence on rape as genocide, and on issues of freedom of speech and hate propaganda. She is also co-founder of Equality Now, an international women’s rights organization based in New York.
(While Putin and Kadyrov are champions of “the world’s downtrodden and destitute”.)