Russia This Week is a weekly review by the MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project, covering the latest Russia-related news and analysis from media in Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.
Cartoon Of The Week
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova is one of the most-quoted Russian officials. She is known for using colorful language when describing Russian foreign policy in her weekly press briefings. The following are Zakharova's quotes of the week from her press briefing:
Zakharova Talks About Russophobia In The UK
"Last week we read British Ambassador Laurie Bristow's interview with a Russian media outlet. This is a good tradition. We can even have a special heading for Mr Bristow's statements. Specifically, he addressed the problem of Russophobia in Britain, saying that he did not know 'a single Russophobe in the UK.' What can I say? Either this is a patent, pardon the expression, 'untruth,' stated publicly or, if he was telling the truth, it is really a sign of his lack of awareness, including historical awareness. There are many articles, published not only in the Russian Federation but also in other countries, including the UK itself, France, Switzerland, Italy, etc., on how a Russophobic lobby has formed in Europe, the United States and elsewhere. Actually, this is a good idea! Maybe we will publish a list of these books. Why should we quote from them, if you can read them yourselves. These books were published in countries other than Russia, including the UK.
"Looking back, I can familiarize Mr. Bristow with the problem of Russophobia in a segment of the British political establishment in a historical context with just a few phrases. Most historians – and I have read numerous studies on this subject – believe that the starting point in the emergence of the phenomenon of Russophobia in the British political establishment and, most importantly, the attempts to use it for political purposes was the defeat of Napoleon I by the Russian Emperor Alexander I. To reiterate: I am quoting historical studies; this is not an official position. But since we hear these statements from British diplomats and today's leaders, we would like to reintroduce them to this historiography.
"So, one of the reasons behind the attempts to impose these prejudices with regard to our country was likely Europe's realization that if the Russians, after liberating themselves, triumphantly entered Paris on March 30, 1814, then nothing would prevent them from doing the same to other countries that might wish to step into Napoleon's boots. In fact, the British political establishment feared, not for their European borders (I don't think this was the reason) but mostly for their spheres of influence in other regions, such as Asia and India. It was in this period that the propagandists made use of one of the most absurd historical falsifications known as the Will of Peter the Great. (Interesting how this resembles today's developments, just one for one!). This document was used as a bogey and a pretense to invade Europe. This alleged document, which was not only mentioned but also quoted in the British media and Parliament, was based on a fake imperial executive order that said that Russia had a divine mission to establish its dominance in Europe and the world as a whole. Incidentally, Napoleon was the first to use this untruth to justify his conquests, but it was Britain that started to exploit it and make a world-level affair out of it. Years later, it was proven fraudulent. But the example itself is very important and shows how propaganda and its methods can justify, as the British did with much success, any absurd political action, including internationally.
"We will not go deeper into detail. Let me give you just another couple of examples. In 1830, Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston was appointed Foreign Secretary. Historians believe that it was Temple who made Russophobia an ideology for use by a segment of the British establishment. Palmerston was the inspiration behind the Crimean War with Russia (1853-1856). This brings to memory an 1854 poem by author Vasily Alferyev published in the Severnaya Pchela (Northern Bee) newspaper:
"Seized with bellicose fervor,
"Palmerston the ancient warrior,
"Stabs Russia on the map
"With his invincible forefinger.
"For centuries, and today too, the British use the same word stock as during the Crimean War, and we see this today in the British press. Look into the archives! You will be surprised.
"There were many British journalists, academics and MPs, who exploited made-to-order Russophobia. It was made to order, regrettably. A case in point is the Scottish journalist, diplomat and politician David Urquhart, who systematically published exaggerated stories about Russia. You can find all this in historical archives.
"I will not even speak in detail about the early 20th century. Another glaring example, along with the Peter the Great Will, is the use of outright fraud like the famous 'Zinoviev letter.' On October 25, 1924, the Daily Mail published a document signed by Communist International head, Grigory Zinoviev, his deputy Otto Kuusinen, and Arthur MacManus of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), which hinted that the CPGB was preparing for an armed uprising with active help from abroad. Just the same practices, the same story! It caused a major diplomatic scandal. But the British knew full well that it was a fake, an invention. These are not myths. I am referring to history, to archives. In the 1990s, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook ordered the declassification of some archives. The world learned that the so-called 'letter' was a conscious provocation intended to fan anti-Soviet hysteria and bring the Tories to power. Today the UK is using exactly the same tricks as it did over the last two or three centuries. I am referring to historical archival documents that are freely available.
"If Mr. Bristow thinks that these examples are too remote and that all these Russophobic statements are a thing of the past, while nothing of the kind can happen today, I will give him a couple of quotes from recent history, although just one is enough.
"Speaking in Houston, the U.S., in 1991, ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said this: 'According to the estimates of the world community, it is economically feasible for only 15 million people to live in Russia.' If someone can say that there was nothing like this statement, we will only be too glad. Regrettably, however, documents prove that she did make this statement. How do you like that? And what should the other 130 million do? How can we fail to call these statements what they are, 'Russophobic'? I do not even want to mention the 'evil empire' hoax that was actively promoted and used by MPs, politicians and journalists. You all know about this. In 2015, another British PM, David Cameron referred to Russia as the UK's 'main national security threat.' Mr. Bristow, do you know about all these statements? I won't even talk about Russophobic statements by Theresa May and Boris Johnson.
"It is always important to refer to what is close to the hearts of the people in a given country. I will quote from a study entitled, 'The Genesis of Russophobia in Great Britain,' which was published by Harvard University Press in 1950. The author, John Howes Gleason, writes: 'Russophobia is a paradox in the history of Great Britain. Within the United Kingdom there developed early in the nineteenth century an antipathy toward Russia which soon became the most pronounced and enduring element in the national outlook on the world abroad.' And this is just one quote. This study is available in English, you can buy the book. More than that, the author asks why Russophobia became a persistent British sentiment.
"Gleason was not the only one to ask this question. An analytical website, Global Research, published an article titled 'Hating Russia is a Full-Time Job' contributed by ex-CIA officer Philip Giraldi. I do not think that CIA officers are generally inveterate Russophiles. But Giraldi asks the same question: 'Who is driving the hostility towards Russia?' His answer is: 'There are a number of constituencies that, for one reason or another, need a powerful enemy to justify policies that would otherwise be unsustainable. Defense contractors need a foe to justify their existence while congressmen need the contractors to fund their campaigns. The media needs a good fear-mongering story to help sell itself and the public also is accustomed to having a world in which terrible threats lurk just below the horizon, thereby increasing support for government control of everyday life to keep everyone safe.
"Russophobia, in a general sense – and I am talking about other countries, not just Britain– is needed to promote their national policies. As far as Salisbury is concerned, this is what's happening. Apart from other things, they needed this story not only to deal with domestic issues but also to enable Theresa May's government to show that the UK is in the forefront of foreign policy activities. If crises cannot be settled, they should be created. This is a classic example.
"I would also like to remind the British ambassador of the practical manifestations of the petty Russophobia that we see, in addition to political statements. There are many. I will mention one that was simply disgusting.
"One was a 2016 Penguin ad in the London Tube with quotes from world classics. Of all Russian writings, they chose a quote from Ivan Turgenev's Fathers and Sons. The problem is, the quote, remarks by Yevgeny Bazarov, was taken out of context and distorted: 'Aristocratism, liberalism, progress, principles… useless words! The Russian man does not need them.' The ad does not explain that the quote was not complete, that Bazarov just pokes fun at borrowed words that have equivalents in Russian, that Bazarov is a nihilist and denies all values accepted by society, and that his life ends tragically… In all evidence, this was to show that Russia is a source of notorious historical threats. Why is this being done?
"Mr. Bristow, we're waiting for your next statement. We like them."
(Mid.ru, June 15, 2018)
Quote Of The Week:
According to anonymous but influential Nezygar telegram channel Moscow vetoed British FM Boris Johnson visit in case Britain get to play-off of the World Cup:
"Despite the tenuous agreement between Russian and British diplomats about Boris Johnson's arrival for the British national team's game (in the event Britain makes it to play-off) the Kremlin has vetoed his arrival. Boris, in Moscow's view, is an intrusive element. Moscow has made it clear to London that the format of direct contacts should be altered. From now on, it's only the President [Putin] and Theresa May. One on one. The Kremlin and the MFA await a reciprocal measure from the Foreign Office [together] with a change of British rhetoric."
(Ria.ru, June 19, 2018)
In The News:
Kommersant: Russia To Side With Europe, China In Global Trade War
"Russia has decided to take part in the global trade war, which is gradually gaining momentum. Taking cue from China and the European Union, Russia will raise tariffs on imported U.S. good in response to Washington's protective measures concerning steel and aluminum supplies, Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin said. The tariff row is unlikely to fade away until the elections to the U.S. Congress scheduled for November, Kommersant writes.
"Other countries have announced tit-for-tat measures as well. China filed a WTO complaint and increased duties on U.S. imports worth $3bln. The EU, Canada and Mexico published their own lists of increased tariffs after Washington extended its steel and aluminum duties to them on June 1.
"'According to WTO rules, the countries affected by unjustified trade restrictions have the right to take tit-for-tat measures without waiting for the results of considering their WTO complaints,' the paper quotes Sergei Afontsev, Head of the Economic Theory Department at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, as saying. 'Concerning U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, that's what India did a few days ago, the relevant EU's decision is expected. Russia follows the global trend."
"If the U.S. is willing to begin a dialogue, the parties could discuss the mutual damage, but this estimate can take two or three years, he pointed out.
"The trade war between the U.S. and China is a very real threat, the expert went on to say. 'To date, both parties seem to be willing to raise the stakes by increasing duties and extending them to new groups of goods. Where the limits of such escalation are and whether they exist at all is a big question,' Afontsev stressed, adding that this is a fundamentally new situation in global trade."
(Tass.com, June 20, 2018)
Alleged Trump's Crimea Remarks At G7 And Russian Reactions
According to the U.S. media, diplomatic sources reported that U.S. President Donald Trump said over dinner with other world leaders at the G7 summit in Canada that "Crimea is part of Russia because everyone there speaks Russian." The White House did not confirm nor deny the report.
Russian lawmaker and former Prosecutor of Crimea Natalya Poklonskaya stated: "Today they are afraid of commenting on their president's statement about Crimea, namely that Crimea is Russia's territory. This is an obvious thing and making a sensation or pretending to be deaf and mute is the reaction of cowards… We invite U.S. President Donald Trump to visit Crimea where he would make sure that his statement was right."
Poklonskaya added that after this trip Trump "would show the whole world that he is an independent and decent politician and the first person in America who knows what the words 'democracy,' 'justice' and 'courage' mean."
(Tass.com, June 15, 2018)
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated:
"There's been so much fake news that I would prefer not to make any comment on, because we just do not know how true the reports are. Neither you nor we attended the G7 meetings behind closed doors. We are not in the position to judge the authenticity of such reports."
(Tass.com, June 15, 2018)
Zakharova said: "The Russian Federation has repeatedly stated at all levels that the subject of Crimea's status is closed. We hear lots of questions about this. Some of the comments are absolutely anti-Crimean and offensive to the people of Crimea. At the same time, there are comments in line with reality and calling to accept it, including by visiting Crimea to personally see this reality.
"I would like to reiterate what has been numerously stated at all levels. The topic of Crimea's status is closed. Once again we would like to draw your attention to the fact that if there are any doubts regarding the status of Crimea, you should refer to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Commenting on what has been said or discussed behind closed doors and through various information leaks is a thankless job.
"The U.S. officials have themselves refused to comment on this. There are many reliable and unreliable leaks. We only work with facts. Once again I would like to reiterate that Russia's position on this matter has not changed."
(Mid.ru, June 15, 2018)
Reactions To The U.S. Decision To Quit The UN Human Rights Council
Commenting on the American decision to quit the UN Human Rights Council, Deputy FM Gennady Gatilov said: "I remember full well the Council's work during the years 2006-2008 when the U.S. boycotted its work. I can't say the Council lost out something due to it. I don't think that it will lose out now as well. Moreover, I hope that upon the American departure, there will be less politicization, double standards and confrontations in the Council's work."
(Ria.ru, June 20, 2018)
Gatilov commented further on U.S. reasons to exit the Council: "We should look at the broader picture. We are puzzled by the arguments employed by the State Department leadership to explain to put it bluntly the dramatic measure– they talk about inability to work in the same format with [countries] that are perpetrators of human rights violations. Moreover, the Secretary of the State and the permanent representative said that the US is quite a model of human rights protection. Many countries would hardly agree with that. "
Gatilov concluded his criticism of the American action by observing that it's hard to define the step as hypocritical: "Not a single state in the world is free of human rights violations. In the U.S. such [violations] are systematic and massive in character. Moreover, during the years of U.S. work in the Council, we became convinced that their criticism of human rights violations in other countries is selective, politically motivated and full of double standards".
(Ria.ru, June 20, 2018)
Valentia Matvienko, Federation Council speaker, said: "This tendency is very dangerous, it leads to erosion of international institutions and could produce chaos. There is nothing good in this… I want to tell to the U.S.: We don't have a different globe for you – it's our common planet [Earth]".
(Ria.ru, June 20, 2018)
Senator Konstantin Kosachev:" Whatever stands behind the decision, as usual the rhetoric is skyrocketing. This decision demonstrates Washington's weakness rather than strength. The strong, who are confident in their positions, continue to prove their correctness regardless of the situation, including when they are in minority." "The emotions are understandable. The US, as is known, contributes a great deal to the UN budget, while the voting -time and again– turns to be not pro-American but fair and objective."
(Ria.ru, June 20, 2018)
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated: "This is not the first zigzag in our American partners' policy. It is the second time in the history of the UN Human Rights Council (established in 2006) that the United States has recused itself from this vital UN inter-governmental body that is in charge of multilateral cooperation in human rights.
"When the U.S. re-joined the Council in 2009 after the first episode of its 'voluntary absence,' many got the impression that our American colleagues learned the lesson and closed the boycott chapter forever. As it turns out, we were mistaken. Once again, the United States caused serious damage to its own reputation as a human rights advocate and demonstrated negligence not only to the Human Rights Council but the entire United Nations and its institutions.
"We are surprised by the trite and brazen cynicism of our American colleagues, who are stubbornly refusing to admit huge human rights problems in their own country while endlessly trying to rehash the Council to fit in with their own political interests (and these interests only) – the Council in which, they claim, there is no room for 'notorious violators of human rights.'
"The U.S. attempts to force an extremely specific understanding of human rights on other states is a grave deviation from human values and civilized conduct on the international stage. The Human Rights Council, like the whole United Nations system, is committed to serving all member states rather than one specific country or a group of countries. If the United States worships democracy as the only possible form of statehood then why are they denying the international community the right to have democracy in international relations?
"We were not surprised by the United States' withdrawal from the Human Rights Council. The withdrawal from UNESCO and now the Council confirms that Washington is willing to cooperate only with those multilateral bodies and only on those issues that serve the interests of Washington itself. The same happened with UNESCO. We have seen massive pressure from American 'diplomats' in the Human Rights Council (diplomats are expected to use the art of diplomacy rather than force and fighting) – specifically, there is an example of the US delegation in the UNSC. Look what our Western partners are doing in other bodies directly linked with the UN, such as the OPCW. This is colossal pressure. The Skripal case alone demonstrated their desire to rehash the organization to meet their own imaginary and absurd needs. This is one small example.
"The UN Human Rights Council was already successful without the United States and will be able to do so in the future.
"Nobody is gloating over the United States' non-participation. That would be a mistake. Instead of using its very powerful and extensive resources for a good cause, the United States is interested only in promoting its own interests. The problem is that these interests are changing and becoming polar opposite in the U.S. If it was a consistent concept that the world would understand then it would be clear why the actions are so harsh – because it is a principled course. But the course is not principled. Look what is happening with Iran and the nuclear deal. And this is just one example. It means these are not principled issues. If the issues are not principled how can they remake the whole world to suit them? Why does the world have to take part in this wavering of the U.S. political establishment?
"The Human Rights Council does have its flaws ant shortcomings (it is not a perfect institution and there are no perfect institutions). However, it has proved its sustainability.
"Russia will continue to actively develop a mutually respectful, constructive and de-politicized dialogue in the Council aimed at promoting and protecting human rights across the world. This is exactly why Russia has nominated itself for the 2021-2023 membership in the Human Rights Council."
(Mid.ru, June 20, 2018)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said:
"We hope that this decision is not final and the United States would reaffirm its commitment to the United Nations, particularly in an important area such as human rights…
"As you know, the United States considers itself to be a champion in this field. But if it were so, Washington would have arguments that would allow it to continue working within the Human Rights Council, particularly with those who promotes initiatives and stances quite contrary to those of the U.S."
(Tass.com, June 21, 2018)
Strange But True:
A criminology textbook recommended for study at the Moscow State Academy of Law designates feminism as one of the main reasons for female criminality. The textbook, published at 2014, enumerates the main factors behind the growth of criminal activity: Broadcasting in the mass media of "the liberated woman model" character whom the text's author clarify is generally a prostitute, murderer, rapist, thief, hard ass businesswoman, but far from a mother to a family, a wife, a sister". Moreover, according to the textbook the idea of equal gender rights leads to moral promiscuity".
"Another factor that should be prominently mentioned - the introduction from abroad of the emancipation ideas to Russia's Russian Orthodox soil, which lead to families breaking up, a decline in the birth-rate and community disunity", states the textbook.
In order to confront female criminal behavior the textbook's authors propose to establish special board school for girls and engage in male and female separate education. Moreover, the textbook proposes to highlight the female family role and forbid presenting the businesswoman model.
One of the motives for female criminal behavior according to the textbook is a lack of access to "fashionable accessories, cosmetics and so on".
(Lenta.ru, June 18, 2018)
News In Brief:
- The chairman of the Russian Federation Council's International Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev, said that a group of U.S. senators representing the Republican Party may visit Russia in early July. (Tass.com, June 18, 2018; read the full article)
- Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Leonid Slutsky said that there is a need to build inter-parliamentary dialogue between Russia and the US and return ties to normalcy. "The lack of contacts between parliaments is definitely abnormal," he said. "I hope that we will eventually overcome the situation and return ties between Russian and US lawmakers to normalcy. We have been working with our US counterparts on a day-to-day basis to implement these plans," Slutsky added. (Tass.com, June 19, 2018; read the full article)
- U.S. President Donald Trump has announced he is directing the Pentagon to establish a new space force as an independent service branch to ensure American supremacy in space. He described space as a national security issue saying he does not want "China and Russia and other countries leading us." According to Lt. Col. Vladimir Evseev, Deputy Director of the Institute of the CIS (the Commonwealth of Independent States), Washington's plans to create a space force stem from Trump's desire to lead the world. (Tass.com, June 20, 2018; read the full article)
- Commenting on the Trump's announcement that the U.S. will establish a space force, Zakharova said: "This is fresh proof of Washington's plans to deploy weapons in space creating the prospect of space warfare. It seems that the U.S. does not intend to give up on its position on the use of force in space (including for deterrence purposes), set out in doctrines prepared under the Obama administration." (Mid.ru, June 20, 2018; read the full article)