Logo
Cover

The Russian Foreign Ministry on the Navalny protests

Nach den dummen Versuch #Russia einmal mehr zu diskredidieren hat sich jetzt die Sprecherin des russischen Außenministerium Maria Sacharova zu Wort gemeldet. Das wird auch langsam Zeit, diese Heuchelei und Verarsche von Rassisten muss endlich aufhören!

The Russian Foreign Ministery and the Navalny Protests

We have noted the well-orchestrated, almost synchronous and very similar statements by Western politicians on the unlawful actions in this country and other domestic Russian issues.

Many politicians, primarily Western officials, practiced their beautiful literary writing skills, but their phrases were all very similar. Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde wrote: “A healthy and vibrant opposition should be welcomed.” It must have an opportunity to freely criticise the authorities, she added. Foreign Minister of New Zealand Nanaia Mahuta said: “Civil society and political opposition must be able to operate freely – these are essential elements of democratic societies.” Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said that what happened merely confirms the feeling of the last few years that Russia is moving away from the community of democratic states. There were many others. I will repeat that all of this was well orchestrated. I didn’t even mention statements by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas who really outdid himself.

In a recent statement, the Group of Seven foreign ministers demanded that Russia free those who were detained for implementing their right to free assembly on January 23, 2021. We have already published our answer to this on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

It is strange to hear these statements from countries where the police do not hesitate to use riot control weapons (batons, teargas, water jets and rubber bullets) against civilians that turn out for democratic protests, whether a demonstration by the yellow vests or a storm on the Capitol, not to mention the numerous clashes where local task forces scatter representatives of civil society that protest against coronavirus restrictions in most of the Old World countries.

In their own countries our Western partners explain forced restrictions of civil rights and freedoms by the need to ensure “national security interests” whereas in Russia they call the same actions “suppression of peaceful protests.”

Based on various estimates, about 14,000 rubber bullets were fired at protesters and about 2,500 people were injured during the yellow vest actions in France in 2018-2019. Over 12,000 people were detained, the majority of which were put behind bars. And this was in France alone.

Berlin should be reminded of their sharp, almost aggressive reaction to protests in Germany, including the breach of police lines at the Bundestag building by coronavirus sceptics in Berlin in August 2020. These protest actions were unanimously and resolutely denounced by the German political establishment, including the top national leaders. President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called them “repulsive.” Spokesman for the German Government Steffen Seibert pointed to “an abuse of the right to demonstrate.” Many German politicians made statements like this.

German law enforcement bodies cracked down (as in subsequent similar cases) on demonstrators by using teargas and detaining about 300 people. All these videos are accessible and can be watched if you so wish.

Or take the Netherlands. They devote more attention to Russia than to any other county. Speaking about riots in the Netherlands on Sunday, Acting Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “This has nothing to do with protest, this is criminal violence and we will treat it as such.” So, what happened? Thousands of people came out into the streets demanding that the government alleviate its tough measures on countering the COVID-19 pandemic (almost a total lockdown) and cancel the night curfew. What was the outcome? Robbed shops, burned cars and bike barricades. The police took tough riot control measures by resorting to batons, teargas and water jets to scatter the protesters. As a result, over 250 people were detained and a major investigation was launched to identify those involved in the protests.

Why don’t the Western bloc (NATO and the EU) countries condemn each other? Why hasn’t the Group of Seven issued a single statement in response to the events in the Netherlands, Germany and France? Have you heard anything? I haven’t. I haven’t heard or read anything. Why? Because there are no such statements. They never criticize each other, they never even comment. However, there are comments by the Dutch authorities. Thus, Minister of Justice and Security of the Netherlands Ferdinand Grapperhaus said: “Shocking images of riots, looting and arson are circulating. This has nothing to do with demonstrating against the coronavirus measures. This is simply criminal behaviour.” He was not alone in crudely denouncing the right of his compatriots to rallies and protests. Eindhoven was the hardest hit by the riots. “My city is crying, and so am I,” Eindhoven Mayor John Jorritsma told reporters on Sunday night. He described the rioters as “the scum of the earth,” adding: “I am afraid that if we continue down this path, we’re on our way to civil war.”

The scattering of peaceful demonstrations counts only to the east of the EU. This is stunning hypocrisy!

I suggest that our Western partners, who are so concerned about democracy in Russia, might want to focus on their own problems. We have said this many times – behind closed doors in the past and now for the record. Resolve your own problems – you have amassed a lot of them. Take care of your own citizens and the preservation of democracy at home. It is better to cooperate than to criticise. There are a great many areas for potential cooperation, and lots of problems.

If you are so concerned about freedom of expression, show due attention and respect for this tenet by observing the rights of Russian journalists abroad.