Anti-Russian obsessions of EU do not represent people’s will – expert

April 15, 2014   ·   0 Comments


© Collage: Voice of Russia

What does an average European think about Russia, President Vladimir Putin and the situation in Crimea? Even anti-Russian Western journalists agree that their writings do not always reflect their readers’ opinions about Russia. For example, the article “How Putin Divides Us,” published by the German journalist Bernd Ulrich in Die Zeit magazine , attracted a lot of attention in both Russia and Germany, despite repeating a lot of anti-Russian stereotypes. The author acknowledges that “if the polls are not wrong, two thirds of German citizens, voters and readers, speak against the opinion of four fifths of the Western political class – against the government, a great majority in Parliament and most of the media.” This means that at least two thirds of Europeans refuse to see the Russian action in Crimea as “occupation” and “aggression” – the terms used by four fifths of Western Europe’s political and media establishment.

A quick look at the readers’ comments to any of the recently published anti-Russian stories shows that, in fact, most Europeans like Russia. But they do not see their opinions mirrored in the mainstream media. Moreover, some European citizens secretly wish they could also join the Russian Federation, since the EU has become an economic and moral fiasco.

A huge majority of European politicians and mainstream media are caught in the grip of anti-Russian obsessions. “L’obsession antirusse” is the title of Olivier Zajec’s article in the French monthly newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique.Olivier Zajec points out that European media tend to treat the latest events in Ukraine and the Crimea as the “ultimate battle between Good and Evil”, supplanting analysis by moral crusades. Nothing can annoy a thinking European reader more than this kind of approach.

Good versus Evil

Needless to say, the dangerous Russian bear, incorporated by President Vladimir Putin, is evil, while the EU likes to present itself as democratic and enlightened, respectful of freedom and human rights. “From time to time, the Russians sink a nuclear submarine for the mere joy of polluting the Barents Sea and wait for a possibility of inciting an illegal referendum in their neighbourhood to revive the USSR.”

Olivier Zajec continues with a short survey of the history of “L’obsession antirusse” in Europe, which did not begin in the 20th or 21st century, but can be traced back to the epoch of the Renaissance, when European travellers to Russia described the inhabitants as “barbarians”. According to the French analyst, each following century invented its own folkloristic clichés about Russia, culminating in the latest whimsy comment that “this barbarian state is governed by Cossacks, semi-Mongols and epigones of the KGB who plot shady intrigues in the icy waters of egoistic calculations”, Olivier Zajec said to Bernard-Henry Lévy.

There is no doubt that modern Libya is a much more dangerous and bloody place than Muammar Qaddafi’s “People’s Republic» ever was. So, the people who called Qaddafi an “autocratic dictator” failed to deliver anything better. Meanwhile, the same kind of language is used to demonize the Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the German newspaper Die Welt we can read about “Putin’s violent act, Russian aggression, Russian hunger for power” (04.04.2014, pages 1 and 2). Die Welt appears to be truly obsessed with Russia. In one and the same issue of this weekly, about half a dozen articles, concocted by different writers, deal with the frightful régime in the Kremlin.

“Führerbunker” slogans and censorship

European newspapers and television appear to be using the same slogans when describing Russia. We might wonder in which “Führerbunker” of the world these terms were minted, then spread around as marching order of the day. Dmitry Kiselyov knows the answer. In an interview with Izvestia,the General Director of the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency in Moscow explains that “all Western news agencies impose a point of view. They shape the dominant narrative and tell audiences what and how to think”.

‘Russia and the West have reversed the roles. We are a beacon of free speech now’ – Dmitry Kiselyov

It is a fact that not all European journalists believe in what they write. They must bow to dictates if they want to keep their jobs. Censorship and pressure are augmenting at a frightening rate in the EU. Dmitry Kiselyov mentions “colleagues who have worked for the BBC for 25 years and now want to come to work” in Russia “because they can no longer take all the anti-Russian nonsense, hatred and censorship.”

France has also become a rather harsh country for independent minds. Dmitry Kiselyov says, “I get calls from Paris telling me that there are stop lists for people who are banned from French TV – people who used to be frequent guests in the past and were prominent culture figures in France. Western journalists often tell us that they work under real censorship. So, it is quite normal when people want to work in Russia, which they see as an alternative, a source of balance and parity.”

In Dmitry Kiselyov’s opinion, “EU officials openly disrespect freedom of speech. It is in effect a betrayal of European values. This presents a dramatic turning point in Western civilization – to say that we no longer need freedom of speech or believe it is a core value.” It seems odd that in Europe, the so-called cradle of democracy, journalists are targeted and freedom of speech has been abolished.

Sympathy for Russia, dustrust of the EU

In Germany a recent poll of the TV channel ARD revealed that almost half of the Germans want friendship and peace with the Russian Federation: 49 percent of the German population would like to see their country acting as a “mediator between East and West”. Especially those voting for the Social Democrats, Green Party or Left are openminded towards Russia. In East Germany, the former “Deutsche Demokratische Republik” (DDR), even 60 percent want good relations with Russia. The older generations of the former DDR all speak and write Russian, they learned it as first foreign language at school.

Many people in Germany do not see their views represented in the press. So they start blogging. There is a group in Berlin which calls itself “Anti-imperialistische Solidarität”. They publish texts that are positive for Russia. Recently, they translated into German the entire, long speech of President Vladimir Putin welcoming Crimea’s entry into the Russian Federation. These anti-imperialistic German bloggers in Berlin send their emails with, not some Western company.

One more reason for Europeans’ refusal to be afraid of Russia is the extreme unpopularity of Russia’s main critic, the European Union. From Germany to the UK, more and more people are viewing the EU bureaucracy as a problem, not as a solution to Europe’s problems. In France, the vote against the EU Constitution several years ago and the popularity of anti-EU parties now show the decline of the pan-European illusion. In Great Britain a majority of citizens want to leave the EU, rather sooner than later. The British Prime Minister David Cameron promised a referendum on the matter in 2017, should he be re-elected next year.

Meanwhile, people in the EU don’t forget that the current trouble in Ukraine started because of Western pressure on former President Yanukovich to sign an association agreement with the EU. All the subsequent turmoil and violence are for everyone to remember. Europeans were never asked if they were in favour of this agreement with Ukraine, after all. “If Europeans were asked whether they wanted integration into the EU of one more country resembling Rumania, Bulgaria or Greece, they would most surely say no, ” Bernd Ulrich writes in Die Zeit.

Borders keep moving back and forth. The European Union extended its territory eastwards, now the Russian Federation is doing the same westwards. “Westwards, ho!” used to be the North American pioneers’ battle cry, as they shot down Indians to push their frontier further to the West. The Russians need to kill neither Indians nor any other human beings. People in Crimea wanted to join them out of their own free will, not only because Russia is a much better place to live in than Western mass media describe it, but also because the Ukraine is a lot less democratic than those same media want to make us believe.

Maybe, in twenty or thirty years, more European countries will also want to join the Russian Federation? Some former Soviet republics want it already. In fact, this is a secret wish of quite a few European citizens. But hush! Do not say it aloud! The EU censors might cut you down to size.

By Olivia Kroth, France based journalist and author of four books


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