Michael Averko: media campaign against Russia perfectly demonstrates West’s ambiguity
25 September 2015. PenzaNews. The ongoing large-scale defamation campaign against Russia by the Western media is a shining example of the ambiguous policy adopted in Europe and the United States, suggests Michael Averko, New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic, in his article titled “Increasing the propaganda against Russia” published in the foreign media.
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“In some influential to relatively influential Western circles, it appears acceptable to: a) believe that Russia needs to pay a price for Crimea, when the examples of Kosovo and northern Cyprus suggest otherwise; b) give disproportionate inaccurate accounts of extreme Russian nationalists, while downplaying the nationalist anti-Russian variant; c) highlight the LGBT situation in Russia, while being mum on the LGBT issue when the US president visits Saudi Arabia and Lithuania,” the author explains.
He points out that the negative attitude towards Russia in the Western majority forms under the influence of the overall mood in most news sources, while anti-Russian ideas are particularly prevalent among those citizens of Europe and the US that have superficial interest in the related events.
“The tag on Russians at large having a limited knowledge of events related to their country can be easily applied to its naysayers. A case in point relates to [international journalist, author of numerous articles in Russian and foreign media sources] Eugene Bai’s commentary. His opinions are indicative of the kind of minority Russian perspectives that have been favored at such outlets as Newsweek and The New York Times,” Michael Averko suggests.
From his point of view, the aforementioned journalist’s article “What Is Behind The Kremlin’s Sensitive Response To Obama’s Speech?” published by Russia Direct in late January 2015 features all signs of an opinion piece dedicated to reinforcing this bias.
“The introductory header says a ‘historic inferiority complex,’ with the follow-up stating that this manner ‘was formed after the fall of the Soviet Union.’ Either way, both characterizations constitute psychobabble. Role reversal could reasonably argue a superiority complex among Russia’s detractors, which has a level of arrogance, ignorance and hypocrisy. This attitude seems to believe that it’s in the right, without looking at the full picture,” Michael Averko writes, adding that such publications appear in the foreign media on an all too regular basis and often feature an overly provocative style of writing.
He also points out that the news sources that publish opinions and facts that contrast with the general worldview of the heavyweight Western media companies are often accused of being “trolls” and political shills.
Moreover, according to Michael Averko, European and American experts are greatly overestimating the scope of RT, the international television network funded by the Russian government.
“Those familiar with the Anglo-American 24/7 TV news media scene know that RT hasn’t hired away well established Western TV personalities who command high salaries in their field,” the New York based independent analyst points out.
From his point of view, the scope of the Russian TV company is significantly smaller than that of other international state-funded media corporations.
“Al Jazeera has hired a good number of seasoned North American TV and radio professionals, whose respective salary levels are most probably greater than what RT has tended to offer. In short, RT doesn’t come close to having the same track record as Al Jazeera,” Michael Averko claims.
He also suggests that the numbers of experienced Western journalists employed by RT are significantly smaller compared to its competitors, while such professionals as political commentator Thom Hartmann and talk show host Larry King work both with RT and with other networks on a contractual basis.
“Overall, RT’s presenters, reporters and hosts typically appear younger and less experienced in terms of media employment experience than those of numerous Western TV news networks – thereby suggesting a lower pay scale. […] Upon further review, one can find additional evidence that indicates that RT isn’t the recipient of greater funding than its main Western competitors,” the author concludes.
At the same time, he suggests, the scale of the propaganda against Russia keeps growing, while those who speak in favor of improving relations with Moscow attract harsh criticism in the West.
According to Michael Averko, a clear example of the ambiguous policy adopted by the Western countries is the response of the EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic to the joint Russian-Serbian-Belarusian military exercise “Slavic Brotherhood 2015” held in early September this year. Shortly before the beginning of the previously announced campaign, the European Union official warned Serbian authorities against participating in it, as that would “send a wrong signal” to the international community.
“For the likes of Kocijancic, Western military activity in the former Communist bloc isn’t provocative, unlike when Russia, Serbia and Belarus announce a planned military exercise,” the independent expert claims, noting that this kind of criticism sounds particularly ironic from an EU spokesperson.
In his opinion, such actions follow the line of the anti-Russian stance in the EU that became apparent in 2014, right before the ousting of the previous head of Ukrainian state.
“Prior to his overthrow, [the former Ukrainian President Victor] Yanukovych and Russia sought joint Russian, Ukrainian and Western talks on how to best develop Ukraine, at a time when Ukraine’s population was closely split over viewing the EU and the Russian involved Eurasian Union. The EU and the Obama administration opposed this three-way approach in preference to a zero sum game option that sought to limit Russian involvement,” Michael Averko notes.
Nevertheless, he stresses, the new Kiev government, even after losing its support in Europe on account of corruption allegations, continues to address Russia with provocative statements.
“In a way, this unreasonable position comes as no surprise, given how Russia related issues are frequently covered in Western mass media,” the New York based independent analyst suggests.
In the meantime, he points out, the US and Europe maintain an ambiguous policy towards the population of Crimea and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics through ignoring the opinion of the local public majority and hushing the tragic consequences of the conflict in Ukraine’s east.
“Numerous polls in the Donbass show negativity towards the Kiev regime. That region’s close historical and cultural ties to neighboring Russia make it perfectly understandable why the Kremlin is concerned with what happens there. Some on the Kiev regime side have openly spoken of an Operation Storm like action in the Donbass. The aforementioned Croat military operation saw the ethnic cleansing of at least 150,000 Serbs from Krajina in 1995 [the Republic of Serbian Krajina, self-proclaimed state within the territory of Croatia that existed in 1991-1995]. In the event of such an action in Donbass, the Russian government would be perceived as weak for letting it happen,” the author writes.
Meanwhile, he recalls, Latvia saw the opening of a new NATO Strategic Communications (STRATCOM) Center on August 20, 2015, the opening ceremony marked by several high-rank politicians, such as the President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite and US senators John McCain, Sheldon Whitehouse and John Barrasso, expressing their support for a concerted Western effort to combat “Russian propaganda.”
However, in the analyst’s opinion, such steps will push the West further away rather than closer towards the objective.
“This advocacy is an overkill to the already overhyped imagery about a perceived evil seeking to misinform many. Downplayed in that mindset is the effort for an evenhanded approach in understanding the differences of opinion on Russia related matters,” Michael Averko thinks.