That horrible Russia


ONLY 2% of all news from Russia in Western media is positive. That is based on the study by Russia Today (RT) agency, which I also write opinion pieces.

The West for many Russians is the Group of Seven member nations — Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, France and the US. In total, the media in these countries would account for about 82,000 publications, and their articles are very reachable in Asia.

The 2%, by all standard, is a shocking figure. There are a lot of differences between the “positive” Italy, “neutral” France, and the US, where only 0.2% of news about Russia is positive or in a simple calculation — one in 500 articles.

The survey though does not differentiate between “fake” and “true” news. What the folks from RT wanted to know was what kind of a general picture of Russia an average Westerner would be getting daily.

Some people say selective truth is more powerful than lies. I was told that, back in the 70s when I began my career in a very communist newspaper the Pravda in Moscow.

My question to my mentors then: “What exactly is propaganda?

Does that word mean that you have to lie to your audience?” Their answer: “No. You just have to select the bits of truth that are fitting your original concept, and ignore the rest.”

That is how you get a totally incongruous picture of Russia as a 98-carat horror and evil. Needless to say, there is not a single nation in the world that fits such description and the real Russia is not even remotely like that.

There is a website that is based in Moscow, thriving on the daily translations of foreign media’s long reads about Russia.

For many Russians, they know what are written about the country, and beyond dismay and derision are totally divorced of our civilisation.

In a survey in 2008, 52% of the respondents believed Russia is a European nation. In a recent survey conducted by the same

Levada-Centre showed that only 37% of the same opinion.

The results show a worry that began in the late 17th century when Russia’s elites began to westernise themselves and the nation. Such a stark reminder, even two of my friends wrote commentaries about the RT’s study.

Victor Marakhovsky said the West is leaving the Age of Enlightenment and falling back to hysterical medieval worldview.

He commented on the illiterate and sick prophet of doom Greta Thunberg who is preaching the end of the world. What is amazing, Marakhovsky said, a lot of people are listening to her.

And then, you have the portrayal of Russia as Satan, living in hell and dreaming of dragging the whole world down to the pit.

And a lot of people have accepted that myth. The West now is forced to swallow the same propaganda about China.

The Soviet Union lost its ideological battle with the West due to the futile communist attempts to isolate Russians from the real information about life in Europe and the US, said a friend, Anton Krylov.

He said now the West is doing essentially the same, trying to isolate its public from the real Russia or real China. The end though will be simple: They will lose.

My concern is the role of global media in what seems to be 98% scam.

The day of reckoning would come to the media which originally was meant to bring knowledge and wisdom to everyone.

The basic fundamental of the media freedom is under threat as we are facing an unaccountable globalised community, mindlessly creating dangerous myths about everything.

And it is not about Russia or China. Any nation and specific groups of people can become the victim of a global media campaign.

The question now is what can be done.

The first attempt to de-monopolise the Western media started in the 60s. The similar mantra you would hear today about creating an alternative global media network, powerful enough to counter foreign propaganda.

While there is a strong argument here, the danger here is to construct another false reality — a very posit ive perspective against a totally negative one.

What is more pertinent question here is who has the right to be called a journalist, and especially a media manager, with the knowledge and skills required by these people.

Fundamentally, you have to employ the best and the brightest in this very sensitive profession. That will spur a veritable revolution, which will impact and improve societies instead of trying to destroy mankind.

Dmitry Kosyrev is an author of 8 novels and a book of short stories, as well as a columnist for 2 Moscow publications. Orientalist by education (Moscow University), he has a special love for Malaysia.