Aletho News


Russian ambassador tells Britain: you exaggerate your political importance & London has become a haven for Russian criminals

RT | August 5, 2020

If you live in Britain, Russia looms large in political discourse, but for those in Moscow, the UK barely registers. Now Russia’s envoy to London has delivered a few home truths: he says his country has bigger fish to fry.

“I feel that Britain exaggerates, very much, its place in Russian thinking,” Andrei Kelin told the Daily Mail. “The scope and place of Great Britain in Russian politics is not that big. We have other problems of much larger magnitude,” the ambassador said.

The ambassador also dismissed the UK media narrative about nefarious Russian ‘oligarchs’ doing the Kremlin’s bidding in London. Kelin pointed out that, in reality, the British capital has turned itself into a haven for wealthy Russians trying to evade justice back home.

“Oligarchs mean rich people that can influence the president,” he explained. “The last one [oligarch] was about 20 years ago … those wealthy people living here [in Britain], the bulk of these people simply escaped Russia because they were being pursued for tax evasion, fraud and other criminal activities.”

“All of them have left the country just to escape prosecution. If the British authorities will decide to provide us with information about these people or decide to be positive on our demands for extradition, we will only greet this, salute this,” he added.

Back in 2018, Russia’s former prosecutor general, Yury Chaika, revealed that there were 61 Russian criminals living in London who had stolen around $10 billion from their home country. He expressed concern that Britain’s agenda was to pocket the stolen money, quipping, “you can keep the criminals, but return the money. This is our money.”

Kelin once again rejected claims that Russia had somehow tried to affect the results of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2019 parliamentary elections in the UK. According to the diplomat, in all these cases, Russia was not politically interested in any particular outcome. “For us, there is no sense to choose any side,” he said.

“These accusations are invented, if not to say false. These are senseless accusations which we do not understand,” the ambassador added.

Kelin went on to say that, at present, relations between Moscow and London are “close to being frozen.” The UK is “throwing a lot of mud … in our direction,” he added, and this type of attitude “does not provoke much of an appetite for improving dialogue or relations in Moscow.”

August 5, 2020 Posted by | Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Report shows how MI6 was given free hand in 1953 Iran coup

Mobsters running riot on the streets of the Iranian capital Tehran amid a UK- and US-backed August 1953 coup against the country’s first-ever democratic government
Press TV – August 3, 2020

A report shows how an MI6 intelligence officer was allowed to spend as much money as he desired to overthrow Iran’s first democratically-elected government of Mohammad Mosaddeq and restore the Pahlavi regime in 1953.

“My brief was very simple,” said the officer, Norman Darbyshire, according to transcripts censored out of the 1980s Granada documentary, titled “End of Empire,” The Guardian revealed in a report on Sunday. “Go out there, don’t inform the ambassador, and use the intelligence service for any money you might need to secure the overthrow of Mosaddegh by legal or quasi-legal means,” the transcript went on.

The MI6 officer, who died in 1993, goes on to explain that he spent “vast sums of money, well over a million-and-a-half pounds,” adding, “I was personally giving orders and directing the street uprising.”

The Iranian premier, Mosaddeq had played a key role in the country’s 1951 movement that resulted in the nationalization of Iran’s oil industry, which had been mainly controlled by the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), now known as BP.

“[Former British] Prime Minister Winston Churchill opposed the rule of the country’s first democratic leader, Mohammad Mosaddegh, largely because it threatened Britain’s interests in Iran’s oil industry,” The Guardian likewise notes.

In August 1953, the British intelligence agency and its American counterpart, the CIA, initiated the coup by the Iranian military, setting off a series of events, including riots on the streets of the capital Tehran, which led to the overthrow and arrest of Mosaddeq.

The coup, which was followed by the temporary rule of CIA- and MI6-approved General Fazlollah Zahedi, enabled the monarch, Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi’s return from exile in Italy. It also consolidated the monarch’s rule for the following 26 years until the victory of Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, led by Imam Khomeini, which toppled the Pahlavi regime.

Mosaddeq, who was convicted of treason by a court martial after the coup, served three years in solitary confinement and eventually died under house arrest in exile in 1967.

The historic overthrow, though, is still given as a reason for the Iranians’ mistrust of the UK and the US.

The censored transcript of the MI6 officer Darbyshire’s remarks was discovered by Taghi Amirani, a film director, who used it in a documentary that was released last August under the title “Coup 53.”

“Coup 53 now makes a clear case that the British were orchestrating an uprising, going as far as kidnapping, torturing, and paying for protesters to go out on to the streets of Tehran,” The Guardian writes.

“This coup shaped not only western relations with Iran for 60 years, but changed the Middle East. Imagine if there had been a democracy there,” Amirani was quoted by the paper as saying.

Experts say the upheaval, known in Iran as the 28 Mordad Coup, was aimed at making sure the Iranian monarchy would safeguard the West’s oil interests in the country.

The MI6 and CIA’s role was first revealed in a 1985 news story by The Observer, The Guardian’s sister paper, but the report was suppressed. Nor did the “End of Empire” series get to feature either Darbyshire or his testimony.

August 3, 2020 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

Alleged war crimes by British Special Forces in Afghanistan set to have major repercussions

Members of the Special Air Service and its sister unit, the Special Boat Service, were active in Afghanistan during the British military presence in the war-torn country.
Press TV | August 2, 2020

New evidence has come to light that British Special Forces in Afghanistan routinely committed war crimes by shooting dead unarmed civilians.

The fresh material follows an investigation by BBC Panorama which focuses on the concerns of the Special Forces top brass that the units under their command were routinely killing unarmed men and women as part of their operations.

At their height, the operations, dubbed the “night raids”, occurred on a virtually nightly basis and were ostensibly targeted at senior echelons of the Taliban militant movement.

The new documents – held by the courts – were recently released to the solicitors Leigh Day as part of an active case at the High Court, which is set to rule on whether allegations of unlawful killing by British Special Forces were originally investigated properly.

The original complainant in the case is Afghan national, Saifullah Ghareb Yar, who claims four members of his family were “assassinated” by UK Special Forces in the early hours of February 16, 2011.

The case is of seminal importance especially in the light of the British government’s consistent refusal to properly investigate alleged war crimes committed by British troops – both regular and Special Forces – in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The situation has deteriorated to the point that the International Criminal Court (ICC) intervened back in November 2019 by stating its willingness to investigate the British military for the first time.

The ICC’s intervention has been widely interpreted as a major embarrassment to the British government and military alike.

August 2, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Anti-Semitism payouts are an ‘abuse of members money,’ trade union warns Labour Party

RT | August 1, 2020

Britain’s Labour party is dishing out “substantial damages” to staffers who accused the party of anti-Semitism. However, new Labour leader Keir Starmer is facing backlash for this tactic of handling the issue.

Labour’s opponents have long accused the party of anti-Semitism, and a BBC documentary last year promised to shed light on these accusations. In it, seven former party members and a host of Israel advocates claimed that the party had stymied investigations into anti-Jewish sentiment within its ranks. The party condemned the documentary as “biased,” and accused the former members of having “personal and political axes to grind.”

These former members then sued the party, which agreed last week to pay “substantial damages” in the hundreds of thousands of pounds to settle the matter.

Starmer has made stamping out anti-Semitism a top priority, but the party’s most influential backers don’t agree with handing over cash payouts.

“It’s an abuse of members’ money,” ‘Unite’ leader Len McCluskey told the Observer on Saturday. “A lot of it is Unite’s money and I’m already being asked all kinds of questions by my executive. It’s as though a huge sign has been put up outside the Labour party with ‘queue here with your writ and get your payment over there.’”

With 1.2 million members, Unite is Britain’s second-largest trade union. It is also the Labour Party’s largest donor, and has coughed more than £7 million for the party since the start of last year. A withdrawal of its funding would leave the party at risk of insolvency, especially considering the more than 30 anti-Semitism lawsuits it may still have to settle.

McCluskey told the Observer that there is “no doubt” that his union will demand a review of the money it donates to the party. “It would be a mistake if anybody took Unite for granted,” he remarked. “I think that would be a mistake.”

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 10 Comments

Poll shows minimal support for Labour Party’s call to ‘urgently review’ RT’s media license

‘Prefer to use my own judgement’

RT | July 30, 2020

A letter from Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens to communications regulator Ofcom demands that RT’s media license be reviewed, but a poll shows the party itself doesn’t want censorship, but to make their own decisions.

The poll, conducted by Labour Grassroots, finds only 26 percent of Labour supporters feel the party should pursue having the media outlet’s license reviewed by a third party.

While another 19 percent did not answer either way, 55 percent of the 620 respondents said no.

And though those 55 percent believe RT is biased, many commented that the bias makes them no different from other media outlets and there is still value in the coverage.

“I watch for the interviews. They are very balanced and fair. The interviewers ask a question, allow a full answer and then ask follow up questions. Very good and far better than the equivalent on the BBC,” one respondent said.

“I am sure that RT is careful not to cause too many ripples with the Russian government. But that also applies to the BBC and the British government,” added another.

Yet another said as a “big boy,” he preferred to make the decision about where he gets his news, rather than the government.

“I know RT is effectively state run. However, as a big boy I prefer to use my own judgement rather than having a media outlet censored.”

Of those polled, 68 percent also believe RT provides useful media coverage.

In Stevens’ letter to Ofcom, it was claimed that RT has dangerous “political influence.” The charge was based on a report by the Intelligence and Security Committee, which called out social media companies in the UK for “failing to play their part” in suppressing “disinformation” from RT.

The report claimed RT helped influence UK politics in favor of Russia, like interfering with the Brexit vote, but failed to give any examples.

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Foreign Interference in Elections: Is it Real or Just Political Noise?

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | July 30, 2020

A recently concluded British Parliamentary inquiry has determined that Russia may have interfered in the 2016 Brexit referendum, which resulted in the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union. But, ironically, it also concluded that Russia might not have interfered given the fact that the British government never bothered to try to find out if there had been any attempt made by the Kremlin to manipulate the voting.

The Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee is reportedly perplexed by the lack of official interest in what might have been a foreign intelligence operation that had major impact, all too plausible given that it is assumed that Moscow would have welcomed Brexit as a first step that will eventually put an end to European political and economic unity.

So, no one knows if Russia or anyone else interfered in Britain, which is perhaps just as well as inquiries into voting in the U.S. also in 2016 have likewise created nothing but confusion and no smoking pistol. And, of course there is a question of definitions of interference. Millions of pounds were spent on advertising by those pro- and con-Brexit, just as billions were spent in political adverts in the United States. Much of the “information” provided in that fashion was deliberately misleading, often fearmongering, both in the U.K. and the U.S., suggesting that the problem is much bigger than one country’s possible attempt to influence the vote, if that even took place.

There were similar claims about Russian generated fake news and “a massive hacking attack” in the French presidential election in 2017, while Germany’s Federal Election was notable for a lack of any identifiable Kremlin interference in spite of warnings from some observers that Berlin would be targeted.

So, while claims of Russian interference in elections are fairly common, they are difficult to prove in any serious way. And one should recognize that the “victimized” governments and political parties have strong motives to conjure up a foreign enemy to explain to the public why things are going wrong, be it for coronavirus fumbling or for general political ineptitude. To be sure, as the allure of blaming Russia has faded China is increasingly being targeted by American politicians as a scapegoat, indicating that there must always be a foreigner available to blame for one’s problems.

The most recent nugget to come out of the U.S. Congress on foreign interference in elections originates with Adam Schiff, the sly head of the House Intelligence Committee. In an interview with MSNBC, Schiff revealed that U.S. intelligence has obtained information suggesting multiple nations could be trying to meddle in the 2020 U.S. elections, to include feeding or “laundering” possible disinformation through Congress.

Schiff explained how various nations use different tactics to get “fake news” messages through to the American voters. Some governments openly support a particular candidate or policy, while others like the Chinese provide misinformation during their trade negotiations with Washington. He observed that “The Russians may get involved in hacking and dumping operations or social media campaigns. The Iranians may have their own tactics and techniques like the North Koreans may have theirs.”

letter signed by Schiff, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Mark Warner, D-Va has asked for a counterintelligence briefing for Congress regarding foreign efforts to interfere in the upcoming election. It includes “We are gravely concerned, in particular, that Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November.”

Democratic Party presidential candidate presumptive Joe Biden also has confirmed that he has received briefings about Russian alleged plans to interfere in November saying “The Russians are still engaged in trying to delegitimize our electoral process. China and others are engaged as well in activities that are designed for us to lose confidence in the outcome.”

Of course, there are a number of things to say about the claims that other nations are possibly planning to meddle in the voting. First, the list of possible players being presented by Schiff and others is all too convenient, kind of like a Congressional dream list of bad boys. Russia pops up because of longstanding claims about it, but China is a new entry in the game because it all ties up into a neat package, including the “Wuhan virus” and its challenges both to American economic supremacy and to U.S. naval power in the South China Sea. And of course, there are Iran and also North Korea.

One should ask what exactly China, Iran and North Korea stand to gain by attempting to “interfere” in the election? What message could they possibly be sending and what would be the mechanisms they would use to get their points of view across to a skeptical American public? In a campaign that will undoubtedly cost hundreds of billions of dollars in advertising and other “messaging,” what exactly is the possible place of Iran and North Korea?

There is also a lack of “realism” in the Schiff comments. By far the country that interferes the most in U.S. politics is Israel. Israel and its domestic Lobby initiate legislation relating to the Middle East and Israeli diplomats, lobbyists and soldiers all have free access both to Capitol Hill and to the Pentagon. If a Congressman dares to speak up against the Jewish state’s crimes he or she is smeared in the media and eventually forced out of office by a well-funded pro-Israel opponent. No other country gets away with all that. As it is highly likely that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be pulling out all the stops to reelect Donald Trump in November, why isn’t the Jewish state included on Schiff’s list?

And then there is the tantalizing bit about concerns over disinformation being “laundered” through Congress. It is difficult to imagine what exactly Schiff is referring to as the corrupt gasbags in Congress already constitute one of the world’s biggest sources of false information, second only to the fully coopted U.S. mainstream media.

In any event, if some countries that are accustomed to being regularly targeted by the United States are taking advantage of an opportunity to somehow diminish America’s ability to meddle globally, no one should be surprised, but it is a politically driven fantasy to make the hysterical claim that the United States has now become the victim of some kind of vast multi-national conspiracy to interfere in its upcoming election.

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

Sky News Miss the Story

By Craig Murray | July 27, 2020

Sky News are today carrying the story that Nicola Sturgeon attended a meeting with Salmond’s former Chief of Staff, Geoff Aberdein, about a historic sexual allegation made against Alex Salmond on 29 March 2018, several days before she claimed to parliament that she first heard of it. It will prove in the long term still more significant that this meeting also contradicts Sturgeon’s claim that it was Alex Salmond who first told her of the existence of the allegations.

This all appears to come as news to James Matthews, the Sky reporter. The extraordinary thing is, that both he and I sat through the testimony under oath on this point of Geoff Aberdein at the Alex Salmond trial.

On 8 to 9 March 2018 … had contacted him to say she was involved in a process of looking at complaints about Alex Salmond. He had spoken to Kevin Pringle and Duncan Hamilton by conference call to discuss this. On 29 March 2018 he had held a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament to discuss this. On 2 April he had attended a further meeting in Sturgeon’s home.

Matthews obviously thought it of no significance – but then again, it was defence evidence and Matthews, in common with the entire mainstream media, reported virtually zero of the defence evidence. Today’s Sky News article helpfully gives links to the headlines of their Salmond trial stories:

As you will see, lurid allegations from the prosecution witnesses – lurid allegations which were untrue – were prominently featured as the headlines. You will search those reports in vain for detail or even a bare outline of the defence case. The verdict is treated as a shock, and then we are straight in to stories querying the verdict.

Matthews and all the MSM hacks came for a hanging. They thus missed the real story, which is of a conspiracy at the highest levels of the Scottish Government to frame Alex Salmond. This finally seems to have penetrated even James Matthews’ thick skull. Had he been paying attention to the defence evidence, he could have published today’s article two months ago.

This relates to the single allegation in the Salmond trial which was about a real incident which actually happened, as opposed to a fiction, a distinction the jury appears to have made by finding only this one “Not Proven” and the others “Not Guilty”. Salmond stated it was a case of working very late together and drinking, getting intimate and going a bit too far with a cuddle. At the time he made a formal apology through a civil service process, which was accepted, and given the choice of transfer the official continued to work closely with him.

The separate official who contacted Aberdein about weaponising this initial Salmond allegation is somebody extremely close to Nicola Sturgeon and very senior in her office. She first contacted Aberdein on 8-9 March – almost a full month before Sturgeon claims she first knew of the allegation.

Anybody who knows how Sturgeon operates would find it extremely improbable that a senior member of her office would be undertaking such discussions without her knowledge. It is simply impossible that the staff member would then go on to arrange a meeting with Sturgeon herself on the subject, without Sturgeon’s prior knowledge and agreement. So we can be extremely confident that Sturgeon knew about the allegation before 29 March, and very probably before 9 March.

It seems from the Sky article that Sturgeon’s defence is to call Geoff Aberdein a liar.

A Scottish government spokesperson told Sky News that Ms Sturgeon does not dispute that the 29 March meeting took place but refutes the suggestion that it involved discussion of the Scottish government’s Salmond inquiry.

This may be difficult for Aberdein as at the 29 March meeting the only other person present was the senior official from Sturgeon’s office, a person whose truthfulness I am by no means alone in holding in great doubt. But in his sworn evidence Aberdein stated that he had a teleconference to discuss the development with Duncan Hamilton and Kevin Pringle, both persons of considerable probity.

I was deeply shocked, indeed shaken, on Friday evening when I was shown a new letter from the Crown Office, denying the existence of a document relevant to my own defence which I know for certain to exist and to be held by the Crown – it was one of those documents, proving the wider conspiracy, excluded from the Salmond trial by the judge as “collateral evidence”. I am now just as shocked by the above Scottish government statement about the 29 March meeting. Lies, evasions, sophistry and denials are perhaps to be expected from politicians, but they are being communicated by civil servants, which says something about the degree of corruption in Scotland today.

I am very sorry, but Scottish politics are about to get very dirty indeed. The degree of penetration and influence by the UK security services behind these events must not be underestimated.

July 27, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 1 Comment

Everyone Lost in World War II

Tales of the American Empire • August 16, 2019

Hitler had sent Winston Churchill peace offers several times in 1940, proposing that Germany withdraw from occupied areas except for traditional German regions that were seized after World War I. Churchill should have accepted this offer, but he was an arrogant, selfish, bumbling, alcoholic, psychopath whose actions destroyed Europe and the British Empire.

July 26, 2020 Posted by | Book Review, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 9 Comments

Fossil Fuel “Subsidies” In The UK

See the source image

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | July 25, 2020

It has often been claimed that the UK is one of the leading subsidisers of fossil fuels in Europe. But I have always had great difficulty in getting hold of the actual numbers which form the basis of such claims.

Fortunately, Bruce Everett’s study, which I published earlier, includes a full spreadsheets of his workings, including detail of the OECD’s estimation of subsidies. Detail is here.

The following table summarises what the OECD call subsidies in the UK:

OECD Fossil Fuel Subsidies 2015 £m
Tied Oil Scheme 1205
Reduced Rate of VAT 4249
North Sea Tax Breaks 137
Exemption from CCL 727
Inherited Coal Liabilities 232
Total 6550
  • The tied oil scheme essentially applies to oils which are not to be used for fuel, for instance lubrication. This cannot be regarded as a subsidy for fossil fuel, as it merely applies the same tax treatment as alternative products, such as synthetic oils.
  • Reduced rate of VAT mainly applies to the rate of 5% which is charged to domestic users of gas and power. Again, this is not a fossil fuel subsidy, or even taxation foregone, as it applies to all sources of power including renewables. There is no law or precedent that says energy should be taxed at the full rate of 20%, and many other goods are zero rated, as energy used to be.
  • North Sea oil tax breaks are not subsidies either – they simply define what expenses are allowable and when they can be claimed against corporation tax. Such breaks are common across many industries, and even after allowing for them, overall corporation tax rates on oil and gas producers remains substantially higher than other businesses.
  • Exemption from the Climate Change Levy – businesses pay the levy on purchases of electricity, gas and coal, but there are certain exemptions, such as use in CHPs, non fuel use and not used in the UK. Also intensive energy users can claim partial exemption if they sign Climate Change Agreements, committing them to reducing emissions of CO2. The bottom line, of course, is that the CCL is an extra tax on fossil fuel use, so any “exemption” cannot be regarded as a subsidy.
  • Finally, inherited coal industry liabilities. When the coal industry was privatised in the 1990s, there were massive liabilities outstanding dating back decades, for instance for workers’ compensation claims and environmental clean ups. As part of the sale, the state retained responsibility for these liabilities. Once again, these are not “subsidies”, merely a cost associated with coal production many decades ago.

Bottom line is that there are no subsidies for fossil fuels in the UK.

July 25, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Economics | | Leave a comment

UK ‘Educational’ Site Tells Students What to Think About Russia & ‘Ruthless’ Putin

Sputnik – 25.07.2020

British media and some UK officials have long been obsessed with seeing a trace of the “Kremlin’s hand” in all developments in the world and accusing Russia and its president Vladimir Putin of all possible evils.

Following the 2018 Salisbury scandal that resulted in a new low in the relationship between London and Moscow, it’s far from surprising that British media have remained deeply critical regarding Russia and its president.

Now, a UK government-backed website is set to ‘educate’ British students about “ruthless” Vladimir Putin, accusing him of “outrageous criminal conduct both at home and overseas”.

The media website in question is The Day, which was founded in 2011 by  former Executive Editor of the Daily Mail Richard Addis. It is currently working with UK schools and colleges to raise the “critical literacy skills” of British children by helping “explain current affairs in short articles” and it just published a damning hit piece on Russia and its president.

Presumably joining Osama bin Laden and other terrorists and pariahs, Vladimir Putin was branded “the most dangerous man in the world”.

According to the publication, the Russian president himself orchestrated attacks on former spies Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Skripal, and was  apparently responsible for the death of “a passenger plane full of civilians” in Ukraine.

The article asks its young readers whether the “shameless” Russian president “can be stopped” at all in his evil activities. These unsubstantiated claims, which are purportedly proffered to enlighten British students about what is going on in the world, may sound ridiculous to those aware of all the details surrounding the aforementioned cases, particularly the poisoning of former GRU agent Sergei Skripal. There are just too many inconsistencies in Britain’s allegations that it was Russian agents who came to Salisbury to fatally intoxicate the man and his daughter, including the absence of eye witness accounts, lack of video footage confirming the alleged acts and even the well-being of Skripal’s neighbours and those who were involved in evidence-collection after the poisonous attack.

However, this did not stop ex-UK PM Theresa May from jumping to the conclusion in March 2018, before any investigation was launched, that it could have been no one else but Russian agents who attacked Skripals at their home in Salisbury that spring.

Other allegations mentioned in the article, in a matter-of-fact fashion, include Russia’s meddling and collusion with then-Presidential candidate Trump during the 2016 US presidential election, which were not supported by Mueller Report after a two-year of investigation. The piece even discusses Russia’s alleged interference in the Brexit referendum and the UK’s 2019 general election, notions that were rejected by the UK Electoral Commission and doubted by PM Boris Johnson.

“So, as the invasion of Crimea showed, nothing can be done to bring his rogue state to heel,” the article goes on, ignoring the results of the 2014 referendum in Crimea, which wholeheartedly voted to join Russia following a violent political coup in Ukraine.

In the end of the damning piece, young readers are asked whether Russia should be expelled from the United Nations and are suggested a number of fun activities – such as making a collage of the Russian president “playing hopscotch”.

The Day was among the news services that partnered with the UK government’s Commission on Fake News and the Teaching of Critical Literacy Skills in Schools several years ago to conduct surveys about the ability of British children to identify fake reporting.In 2018, the commission effectively concluded that “only 2% of children and young people in the UK have the critical literacy skills they need to tell whether a news story is real or fake”. Therefore, it recommended that the government engage with schools and families more deeply to tackle this issue, suggesting that media organisations should play a vital role in this battle against “fake news”.

And The Day took the call. The media service tasks itself with selecting “the most important news of the day”, with journalists writing their analysis and publishing pieces for schools around the world, not only the UK, apparently. It is not clear, however, how the website’s stories on Russia referring to Vladimir Putin as a “toxic” or “terrible” politician are linked to the website’s declared goals.

However, The Day’s stories are sent to partner schools to then be presented by teachers in class and discussed by students at home with their families.

“… to help readers ask good questions rather than believe they have the answers”, Editor in Chief Addis notes.

English-speakers are thus set to learn about all these highly disputed allegations about Russia and its president in a form of them being treated as factual evidence.

Meanwhile, following the most recent developments, it became a trend for British media and officials to “blame Russia for everything”, in an apparent need to distract the public from other more vivid problems, including the ongoing stalemate in Brexit negotiations and rising number of COVID-19 cases. In addition to the Russiagate hoax, Moscow was also recently accused of spying on the UK’s COVID-19 research, despite Russia itself being in the last stages of trials of its own anti-coronavirus vaccines. Russian researchers also have an official contract with British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca over joint efforts to produce the Oxford vaccine, so the claims that Russia is “stealing” efforts to combat the virus seem even more dubious.

The British Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has just concluded in its 50-page report that “Russia poses a significant threat to the UK”, while slamming the national government for turning a blind eye to these security issues, even though it “had not seen or sought evidence of successful interference in UK democratic processes”.

It now seems that in case of Armageddon or a zombie apocalypse, The Day would also blame Russia and Vladimir Putin personally.

July 25, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

Russia Report… A Triumph of Orwellian Bombast

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | July 24, 2020

The sensational headlines screaming on the front pages of British newspapers this week showed that the parliamentary Russia Report was a triumph of bombast.

The Daily Mail led with “Damning Russia Dossier” while The Times heralded “MI5 to get more powers” and “Tough new laws will combat threat of Russian spies”. The Times also splashed its front page with a large photograph of Russian President Vladimir Putin seemingly lurking behind a curtain, which just goes to show how much British journalism has descended into cartoonish trivia.

There is sound reason why the British government delayed until this week publication of the so-called Russia Report by a cross-party parliamentary committee. That’s plainly because there is nothing in it that could in any way substantiate lurid claims of alleged Russian interference in British politics.

The 55-page document was neither “damning” nor “devastating” as The Daily Mail asserted. The groundless hype suggests that the headline writers simply were looking for something to sell to readers regardless of facts.

Boris Johnson, the prime minister, received a copy of the report 10 months ago, but decided to postpone its publication until after the general election that was held in December. That delay led to claims that his Conservative government was hiding something sinister. There were procedural hiccups from the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) being replaced with new members. However, now that the report is published any rational reader can see that the real cause of the delay is down to the report being a dud, despite all the breathless speculation. It is an empty vessel, with no evidence or substantive detail. It consists of entirely prejudiced assertions that Russia is “a hostile state” and the UK “is clearly a target for Russia disinformation campaigns and political influence”.

The nine lawmakers on the committee and their nine predecessors acknowledge among their sources for the report the following individuals: Anne Applebaum, William Browder and Christopher Steele. All of them are zealously anti-Russia and are prodigious purveyors of “Russian interference” narratives to anyone who will listen to them. Steele is the notorious former MI6 spy who cooked up the ludicrous “Russia Dossier” for the Democrats to smear Trump with in the 2016 elections. That dossier fueled the bogus “Russiagate” scandal.

Of course, the main sources for the parliamentary committee are British intelligence agencies, MI6, MI5 and GCHQ. Candid admission of all those sources should underscore with redlines that the so-called report is nothing but a propaganda screed. Yet the British media treat it with deference and respect as if it is a credible, objective assessment.

What is rather laughable is the unrestrained prejudice of the authors who are, in reality, propagandists more suited to being frozen in Cold War mentality than offering any kind of “expertise”. They claim Russian politics is “paranoid” and “nihilistic” driven by “zero-sum calculation”. All those attributed defects are merely self-projection by the authors of this report and their sources.

It is rather telling that in place of anything resembling substance of alleged Russian interference, the parliamentarians refer to “open sources” of media influence by Russian state-owned RT and Sputnik. They accuse these media of “direct support of a pro-Russian narrative in relation to particular events”. Oh, how shocking! And the British state-owned BBC does not also do the same?

Again referring to “open sources” – meaning public media reports – the parliamentarians claim that the Kremlin interfered in the Scottish referendum on independence back in 2014. So just because Russian news media featured that subject in its coverage is supposed to be “evidence” of Kremlin interference. The absurd accusation is also a convenient way to smear Scottish pro-independence.

Oddly enough, the report says there was no manifest Russian interference in the 2016 Brexit referendum. Well that’s handy. The Tory government wouldn’t want to smear its ambitions of reviving the British empire, that’s for sure.

The ISC publication is a self-serving dud that is “not worth a penny”, as Russian lawmaker Aleksy Chepa put it.

It is loaded with complacent British self-regard and knee-jerk Russophobia.

The parliamentarians repeatedly rebuke the British government and state intelligence for not taking the “threat” of alleged Russian meddling seriously enough.

A more plausible explanation is because there is negligible Russian meddling in British politics, as Moscow has consistently stated. If the British government and its spooks fail to get excited – in private – about allegations of Russian malfeasance it’s because there is actually nothing to the allegations. Still, the parliamentarian anti-Russia ideologues assume to know better. They are convinced that Britain is a target for Kremlin hostility and they lambast the government and intelligence services for “not making it a priority issue”.

The Orwellian plot thickens when the authors of the boilerplate Russian Report then conclude by urging MI5 to be given more secretive powers to collaborate with social media networks in order to control information in the name of combating a “hostile state threat”. This is a sinister, anti-democratic call worthy of a dictatorship for censoring and blackballing any dissenting views under the guise of “defending democracy”.

One area where the ISC document begins to deal with reality – but only superficially and misleadingly – is on the subject of super-rich Russian expatriates living in London, which is dubbed “Londongrad”. Many of these oligarchs are beneficiaries of looting Russian state assets during the privatization-robbery frenzy under former President Boris Yeltsin. They are not “friends of Putin” as the British lawmakers make out. These shady oligarchs are often big donors to the Conservative party, not because they want to inject pro-Russian influence, but rather because they are typically opposed to the current Russian government and are seeking to destabilize it. If there is any Russian “influence” in British politics it is that which promotes illegal regime-change policies in opposition to the Russian state.

In every aspect the much-vaunted Russia Report is a worthless pile of propaganda. Even a glimmer resembling something real – the Russian oligarchs in Londongrad – turns out to be an inversion of reality. And yet, pathetically, the British media amplify the nonsense with reverence and gravitas.

July 24, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , | 1 Comment

Why the Russia Report tells us more about Britain than anything else

By Johanna Ross | July 24, 2020

The long-awaited UK ‘Russia Report’, whose publication was delayed by 10 months by Boris Johnson, was finally released this week by the Westminster Intelligence and Security Committee, much to the excitement of those keen to demonstrate alleged ‘Russian interference’ in the 2016 EU referendum. However Britain’s ‘Russiagate’ has been something of a damp squib compared to the detailed, long-drawn Muller report across the Atlantic. In fact, anyone who was expecting any detail regarding the allegations of Russian interference would be sorely disappointed.

The reality is that the report contains nothing in addition to what has long been printed in the mainstream press about so-called Russian ‘support’ of the Brexit campaign. No evidence is provided in the report, other than references to ‘open source’ material – in other words, what we ourselves have read online and in print. For example, ‘40. Open source studies have pointed to the preponderance of pro-Brexit or anti-EU stories on RT and Sputnik, and the use of ‘bots’ or ‘trolls’, as evidence of Russian attempts to influence the process.’  So we have an allegation that a media organisation may have a particular editorial line? Shocking! Yes, a glance at the RT and Sputnik websites would confirm that they seem to adopt a position close to that of British newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph or Daily Mail, and that would be correct. RT and Sputnik have a broadly right-wing, conservative editorial line, more in keeping with Russia’s conservative values. Hardly surprising – it’s Russian media after all. Every media outlet has its editorial line. Every. Single. One.

But having worked at Sputnik over the time of the EU referendum, I cannot in any way support the allegation that it was promoting a pro-Brexit position. One of the shows I produced – ‘Brexit or Fixit’ – invited each week a guest from opposite sides of the debate – both Leave and Remain – in order to ensure balance. In no way was I – or anyone else for that matter – encouraged to promote an anti-EU stance. The same cannot be said for the mainstream media unfortunately. It was apparent in the run-up to the election, that the media was firmly in the Remain camp. The balance on the BBC, Sky News and Channel Four, for instance was weighted towards remaining in the EU, in my opinion, and I can say that as a supporter of Remain, not Brexit. Even after the result, Sky News openly ran a campaign for a second referendum to be held – the ‘People’s Vote’ as it would be called. Opponents of the Leave campaign and the Brexit result which followed have been desperate ever since to prove some kind of anomaly took place. It just couldn’t be that the British people voted to leave the EU. And this is where the idea of Russian interference came along, and conveniently fitted the narrative.

Just as in the US, the establishment and liberal elite is completely out of touch with the general population, and has been for years – hence the election of Trump and the bid by Democrats to oust him. Populist governments and their messages have resounded with people, and the media, politicians and expert class have yet to catch up. Russia, in this way has become a useful scapegoat for those who aren’t willing to accept the social evolution which is taking place. It’s Democracy in action, but the establishment can’t hack it. After all, look at the Mueller report – what evidence did that provide of Trump’s supposed links to Putin? Nothing. Zilch. Nichevo. Evidence isn’t really important here. Because the accused has already been found guilty, long ago. Russia hasn’t had a fair trial, and isn’t going to get one – it has been painted as evil incarnate for years now to the extent that even the word ‘Russia’ or ‘Russian’ seems to have taken on negative connotations in the public domain.

It’s sad because it stinks of injustice. The idea that Russia is out to subvert the West really is a hypothesis which has yet to bear fruit. Indeed, a recent fascinating paper by renowned Russia expert and historian Richard Sakwa debunks the idea that Russia seeks to undermine the West. He does admit that it would like to influence it, however. The US and Britain should know something about this, given the desire both countries have had over the generations to spread ‘democracy and human rights’ across the globe, from the Christian missionaries of the 19th century to the modern day Voice of America news agency.

Fundamentally, the Russia report highlights two rather pessimistic facts about British society today: i) our intelligence services are inadequate and need an overhaul but more importantly ii) the British public is so used to being spoon-fed information that it cannot be relied upon by politicians to think for itself when it comes to deciding on how to vote in an election. What on earth does it say about the general public if it is the case that it could be completely manipulated by a particular media campaign, paid for or not by a foreign power? Do our politicians really think we are that stupid? Or do they think we require all our information to be censored, as if we are children? Unfortunately I fear by the time we will have this conversation, it will be too late.

Johanna Ross is a journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

July 24, 2020 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 1 Comment