Disinfo: Western criticism of the Navalny case is interference; Russia doesn’t mess with other countries’ affairs

Summary

The topic of Navalny seems very important for the West, but Brussels doesn’t seem to understand that Russia says very little about the domestic issues of other countries. There are accusations of interference in Catalonia’s pro-independence process or in the election in the Netherlands, but it is ridiculous to try to find this kind of excuses, which are a bunch of lies and the fruit of double standards. But it is necessary to sell a different story in the media, be it smearing the vaccine, alleged aggressions, or domestic political issues where every country must take its own decisions because otherwise, it would be a true interference, which would be much more serious.

Imagine that Russian diplomats took part in demonstrations in support of Catalonia’s pro-independence movement or a rap singer sentenced to jail. Western media see it as normal that diplomats and journalists, who should have a concrete mission of negotiation or reporting, take the side of a blogger because Navalny is not even the real opposition in Russia, something that is always hidden by media. Russia is accused of doing the same when it is false.

Disproof

This is a mix of several recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about Russia’s innocence of any misdeed in contrast with Western interference in Russian domestic affairs. There is massive evidence of Russia’s interference in other countries’ affairs, including electoral processes in the US, France, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, or in Catalonia’s pro-independence process.

Contrary to the claim, European diplomats weren’t taking part in pro-Navalny demonstrations but were only present at the spot, which is compatible with their status as foreign diplomats, and even the videos shared by Russian state media showed the diplomats were merely outdoors at the time of the demonstrations.

By accusing Western media and diplomats of taking sides, pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives aim to deflect any criticism on the handling of the Navalny case. This criticism is not tantamount to interfering in Russia’s domestic affairs but a legitimate stance in regard to human rights and the rule of law in the country. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the charges against Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny are politically motivated and arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable.

See other examples of these disinformation narratives, such as claims that Navalny is a NATO agent provoking a colour revolution in Russia; that German elites have decided that Russia needs to know its place; that the EU diplomats who participated in the actions knew that they were interfering in Russian affairs; that the EU is systematically destroying its ties with Russia; that the West is trying to make Russia “obedient” and “comfortable”, and that is trying to eliminate Russia as a geopolitical actor under the pretext of “human rights”; or that in 2021, Russia will remain the perfect scapegoat.

This disinformation message appeared in the same TV programme as the claims that “Western criticism of Russia is due to Russophobia” and that “Borrell couldn’t criticise Russia because Europe needs Sputnik V”.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 232
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 05/02/2021
  • Outlet language(s) Spanish, Castilian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: EU, Spain, The Netherlands, Russia
  • Keywords: Josep Borrell, election meddling, Catalonia, Alexei Navalny, Destabilising Russia
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There is no repression in Russia

The Kremlin denies that there is repression in Russia, only police measures against those who break the law in unauthorised protests. During pro-Navalny demonstrations, arrests were made after the policemen were attacked by some violent elements.

Disproof

The claim is false. Although some participants in the pro-Navalny protests in Moscow in January 2021 were violent, there is evidence that the police acted with excessive force against largely peaceful demonstrators. The massive number of arrests (around 5,000 on the first week of protests in 85 cities) shows that not only those who acted violently were arrested. Also, there was a preemptive crackdown on activists and students ahead of the first demonstration.

These actions have been defined by Amnesty International as an attempt to silence criticism, and according to this organisation’s country profile, those attempting to exercise the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly faced reprisals, ranging from harassment to police ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest, heavy fines and in some cases criminal prosecution and imprisonment. A similar assessment is found in the Russian chapter of the Human Rights Watch World Report 2021.

Navalny doesn't reveal his sources unlike of Assange and Snowden

Unlike Assange and Snowden, Alexey Navanly doesn’t reveal the sources of his documents.

Disproof

Disinformation campaign to discredit Alexey Navalny claiming that he does make serious investigations or provides questionable pieces of evidence.

The FBK organisation (Foundation for Combating Corruption) is a Russian non-profit organisation based in Moscow established in 2011 by activist and politician Alexei Navalny. Its main goal is to investigate and to expose corruption cases among high-ranking Russian government officials.

NATO and the EU want to contain and destabilise Russia through Navalny and the “opposition”

The statements of NATO and EU countries about the situation regarding Alexei Navalny is a coordinated information campaign that represents a global attempt to contain Russia and interfere in its internal affairs.

Disproof

Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Alexei Navalny , aiming to frame criticism of his arrest and the crackdown on protests as foreign interference.

Contrary to the claim, this criticism is not “a global attempt to contain Russia” but a legitimate concern about human rights and the rule of law in this country. The European Union condemned the arrest of Alexei Navalny and demanded his immediate release. In 2019 the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the charges against Alexei Navalny are politically motivated and arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable. As a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights, Russia undertook to secure a number of fundamental rights and freedoms to everyone within its jurisdiction.