Disinfo: Western governments are censoring Russian media while criticising censorship in Russia

Summary

Media material published in Russia is openly censored in Western countries. It is strange that such overt censorship is carried out with the silent endorsement of the governments of the most prominent Western powers and non-governmental human rights organisations, who at the same time amplify myths about tight censorship and widespread violations of freedom of expression in Russia.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative claiming that the West censors Russian media. The claim has been neither critically challenged nor counterbalanced in the article. The West does not impose censorship. The European Union as a whole is committed to respecting the freedom and pluralism of the media as well as the right to freedom of expression - which includes the right to receive and impart information without interference by public authority. This commitment is enshrined in Article 11 of the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights. According to Reporters Without Borders, the freest countries in the world in terms of press freedom are predominantly the United States, Canada and European countries, including Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, etc. Russia takes 149th place out of 180 countries, as of the 2020 World Press Freedom Index. Reporters Without Borders writes in its report on Russia's media landscape:

"What with draconian laws, website blocking and Internet cuts, the pressure on independent media has grown steadily since the big anti-government protests in 2011 and 2012. Leading independent news outlets have either been brought under control or throttled out of existence. As TV channels continue to inundate viewers with propaganda, the climate has become very oppressive for those who question the new patriotic and neo-conservative discourse, or just try to maintain quality journalism. (...) Murders and physical attacks against journalists continue to go unpunished – even if campaigns can achieve victories in the face of absurd accusations by the authorities, as in the case of Ivan Golunov, an investigative journalist released in June 2019 after being arrested on a trumped-up drug trafficking charge."

According to Freedom House, all western European and North American countries are "free" with a rating over 90 out of 100 on the index. All EU countries have a score of 70 or higher. On the other hand, with an index score of 20 out of 100, Russian Global Freedom Status was marked as 'not free'. Read similar cases alleging that Western governments impose censorship and silence dissidents and that the West cannot cope with freedom of opinion.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 215
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 06/10/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Arabic
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Russia
  • Keywords: Anti-Russian, Censorship, Freedom of speech, Media
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The US is introducing extremists in the protests in Belarus

The US Department of State is introducing extremists into the protests in Belarus, using dirty methods to destabilise the situation in the country, according to Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). By working with the Belarusian opposition, the US is trying to increase the activity of radical nationalists. The “fighters for a renewed Belarus” – extremists, that is – are being trained in Poland, Georgia, Ukraine and the Baltic countries with the help of CIA and Pentagon instructors affiliated with US NGOs.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about Belarus, colour revolutions and the US presence in Europe. See other examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives in Belarus, such as claims that the EU reaction to Lukashenko’s victory is an example of Western double standards; that the same lack of democracy and repression is present in EU countries that criticize them in Minsk; , and that the Ukrainian secret services may have planned terrorist attacks in Belarusian territory; that the West wants to prepare another Maidan in the country; or that Belarusians, Ukrainians and Russians are one single nation.

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is a Russophobic and anti-Orthodox tool

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) is still a tool for occupation and assimilation in the hands of the Western world; in particular, Rome. […] with its help, Russophobic and anti-Orthodox sentiments are constantly stimulated in [Ukrainian] society. Through such geopolitical hybrids as the UGCC, Ukraine continues to stimulate the population in the right way in order to occupy territories with claims to “its” Crimea and Donbas.

Disproof

This is a conspiracy theory about religion in Ukraine, alleging that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is promoting anti-Russian sentiments in Ukraine and is a tool of Western occupation of "canonical" territories of the Russian Orthodox church. There is no evidence that the UGCC is pursuing a Russophobic or anti-Orthodox policy. According to the law of Ukraine "On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organisations", it is one of the religious organisations in Ukraine having equal rights with Orthodox and other churches. It can carry out activities within all territory of Ukraine, including Crimea and Donbas, which are internationally recognised as parts of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was established in Ukraine in 1596. Its parishes were located in all major cities from Kyiv to Lviv. The Metropolitan was located in Kyiv until 1806 when, under the pressure from the Russian empire, it was forced to move to Lviv. In 2005, the Metropolitan relocated back to Kyiv. It is based on the principles of peace, trust, mutual understanding, solidarity, and respect. See earlier disinformation narratives alleging that the US State Department is trying to eradicate the Orthodox church, that the US government is trying to eradicate Christianity, and that the Orthodox world splits over the "Ukrainian question".

Ukrainian nationalists will be sent to fight in Nagorno-Karabakh

Kyiv is planning to send the ultra-right [nationalists], who received combat experience in Donbas, as a “hidden PMC [private military company]” to the Caucasus.

Disproof

Conspiracy theory with no evidence given. Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the recent escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. There is no confirmed information that Ukrainian nationals are going to take part in the resumed military escalation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Originally, this information was published on the Telegram channel "Legitimnyi" which, according to the media, is famous for spreading rumours and hoaxes. The Ukrainian Ministry for Foreign Affairs declared that Ukraine supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan but calls on the parties to the conflict to resolve the disputes by peaceful means. See other recent disinformation cases on the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region: that the escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan is directed against Russia, that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict favours US interests, and someone wants to divert Russia from Belarus and Syria, or that the US planned the turmoil in Belarus and the rise of tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh a year ago.