Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Russian and Chinese government propaganda on Libya?

There have been reports from the Voice of Russia Radio of almost half the casualties being soldiers – without specifying how many soldiers were rebels and how many Gaddafi loyalists.The Chinese Xinua news agency also reported in the early stages of the protests in Benghazi that two policemen were hung by rioters and the managing director of a hospital was tortured to death by them (1) – (2).

It’s possible that these reports are true or closer to the truth than other media, but we also have to remember that these governments have their own ulterior motives and that most of the media in China and Russia are controlled by the governments of one party states with rigged elections. If Gaddafi survives then Libyan oil and arms contracts are likely to move from American and European firms to Russian, Chinese and Indian ones. Gaddafi has already started talks with the ambassadors of these countries on this (3). So there’s even more likelihood of their reports containing propaganda than those of the western media.

Xinua news agency have not been exactly unbiased on the causes of riots in Chinese occupied Tibet and Xinjiang, or on police responses to them. There’s no reason to think they’re more unbiased on Libya.

We also have to take account of the fact that Russia Today (RT) and Voice of Russia Radio get most of their funding from the Russian government – and that Russian journalists critical of their government often end up murdered, like Libyan journalists have in the past under Qaddafi, or having their legs and skulls broken (4) – (5). If you watch RT’s coverage of Chechnya for instance you’ll get the impression that the Russian government and their client thug Kadyrov in Chechnya are very humane democrats, with all killings in the country being the actions of “western forces” or terrorist groups. In fact Kadyrov, like Russian forces under Putin, kills anyone who defies his rule in order to keep the main oil and gas pipeline from the Caspian to Moscow under Russian control. Kadyrov has said that he approves of “honour killings” and worse than this many supposed “honour killings” are actually kidnappings followed by rape and murder, then presented by police as an “honour killing” (6). Russian forces along with Kadyrov’s  have tortured, murdered and raped their way across Chechnya for the last 25 years (7) – (9). When Russian journalist Anna Politskaya wrote articles about Putin and Kadyrov’s involvement in this, she was poisoned and when she survived that, shot dead. After the murder of human rights activist Natalya Estemirova, who was investigating the killings of women in Chechnya, Kadyrov said that she was a woman who “never possessed any honour, dignity or conscience” (10).

You will struggle to find out any of this from Russia Today or Voice of Russia coverage, which includes nothing but Kadyrov and Russian government officials condemning the killings, mixed with fawning interviews of Kadyrov telling them that all human rights activists are after is money and that all murders in Chechnya are caused by agents of the US, years after the US ended all support for Chechen rebels to get Russian support for UN resolution 1441 on Iraq (11) – (12). RT and Voice of Russia are the propaganda arms of the Russian government.

(1) = Voice of Russia 23 Feb 2011 ‘Libya riots kill 111 troops, 189 civilians’,

(2) = Xinua news 19 Feb 2011 ‘Two policemen hanged in Libya protests’,

(3) = Xinua news 14 Mar 2011 ‘Gaddafi urges Russia, China, India to invest in Libya's oil sector’,

(4) = 08 Nov 2010 ‘Russian journalist beaten unconscious outside office’,

(5) = 10 Dec 2010 ‘Russian journalist cleared of slander in road controversy’,

(6) = St. Petersburg Times 03 Mar 2009 ‘Chechen President Kadyrov Defends Honor Killings’,

(7) = Human Rights Watch 13 Nov 2006 ‘Widespread Torture in the Chechen Republic’,

(8) = Human Rights Watch 13 Aug 2009 ‘Killing with impunity in Chechnya’,

(9) = Human Rights Watch 09 Mar 2000 ‘Rape Allegations Surface in Chechnya’,

(10) = See (6) above

(11) = Russia Today 27 Jan 2011 ‘The US should leave the Caucasus alone – Chechen leader’,

(12) = Guardian 24 Sep 2002, 'Russia lifts objections after Chechen 'deal'',,,797846,00.html

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