Robert Amsterdam’s blog does not get nearly enough credit for their translations into English from languages other than Russian. Following is his translation from the German of a web posting on neo-Soviet propaganda, which was carried out at our urging. But for the blogosphere, this kind of thing would never see the light of day in English; the item was cited by us last week for its revelation regarding the mistreatment of Russia Today reporter William Dunbar.
The fight for the right of interpretation between Russia and Georgia has broken into a full-fledged battle. It is taking place parallel to the fights on all channels – on television, in newspapers and especially in the Internet.
A familiar, almost hackneyed, quote: “When war breaks out the first victim is the truth”. Yet this insight from US Senator Hiram Johnson of 91 years ago applies for 2008 as well: For five days there was fighting in Georgia and the situation was unclear, more than anything. It is difficult for journalists to confirm statements made by the warring parties and have them verified by independent positions. The hardliners in Russia and Georgia are fighting to influence the opinions in the rest of the world.
An example: Russia’s ambassador in Georgia spread the message that 1500 people died as a result of the Georgian attacks on Tskhinvali in the first night of the war. It took days for aid organizations to gain an overview. A representative from the human rights organization Human Rights Watch mentioned around 200 wounded in the area of Tskhinvali in the Frankfurter Rundschau. No one knows the actual number of deaths, but it is most likely significantly lower than what the Russian side has been saying. The objective was reached; the numbers made their rounds for days, were reported and, so they hope, are now fixed in people’s minds.