Analysis by Mădălina Mihalache*
On 21st of May 2018, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the British Parliament published a report called “Moscow’s Gold: Russian Corruption in the UK”, which represents a document that describes how British Parliamentary Members have declared that people connected with Kremlin have laundered money in London as part of a Russian strategy to destabilize the internal system based on global rules. Thus, invoking national security reasons, they have requested the government to take action against these activities and to sanction the culprits.
These accusations have been twisted by the Russian propaganda as being part of a more complex anti-Russia campaign in Great Britain and in this context, a week later, the counter-attack was initiated through the platform Sputniknews.com. An article was published on the 26th of May 2018 which talked about cultivating a state of fear in the West towards Russia’s economic prosperity.
Cum a ripostat propaganda rusă
Sputniknews.com’s response to the United Kingdom against the so-called anti-Kremlin campaign was to reach out to a so-called professor Dr. David William Norris, who taught at a college in Birmingham, to express his opinion about the attitude of the British authorities towards Russia. If in the beginning he is presented as a professor, later in the article he receives various titles, such as expert, after he is also an analyst, becoming a rather confusing situation, given that his area of expertise is not even mentioned. This kind of missing information can be easly clarified by a simple internet search. In this case, there is no information that could confirm the existence of this analysist.
He seems to be a false expert whose credibility and reputation obviously cannot be discussed because his existence is uncertain. In the article, he is asked about issues that are of major international interest in the present, like the Skripal case and the sanctions against the Kremlin regime by the United Kingdom. His opinions, surprisingly or not, are in total accordance with the Russian propaganda.
Moreover, he reaches a point where he plays the “aggresor” role against his own “national values”, the goal being to induce anti-Western feelings among the public through this article by criticizing his own government. He declares that, after poisoning Serghei Skriapl, the British authorities had infringed international law and the way they communicatied was undiplomatic and impolite. He praized the Russian Ambassador in the United Kingdom for his attitude during the whole investigation, admiring him most of all for the friendship he had shown at every press conference.
However, the “fake expert” is not the only technique used in the narration for disinforming the public. Another element which brings even more attention to his declaration and questions his veridicity is the use of the term “rusophobia” in two contexts. The first is when he speaks about the paranoid rusophobia as being the primary cause behind the sanctions imposed by the British authorities against Russia. In the second occurence, he brings into discussion the Western rusophobia based on the Western’s fear of an “economic prosperous Russia, able to compete with the rest of the world, even to execede its limits and to dominate essential areas, like energy”.
Clearly these declarations are a bit exaggerated coming from the British expert. However not when it comes to using a method used by the Russian propaganda to disinform, more precisely the “sinecdochically”, a figure of speech which implies an exaggeration and over generalization mixed with “erroneous labeling” usually used in narrations about “rusophobia” manifested in Western countries, as one can see in the present article.
Sputniknews.com exposes itself
If these arguments were not convincing enough that we are tacking with a false narrative, then the proposal would be to see how did Sputniknews.com exposed itself.
Between the period 21.05.2018-23.05.2918, three days earlier when the article was published, the same Spunik posted two articles that had tackled the subject of the so-called rusophobia among the British and the West. This time though, the term was mentioned by a press representative from the Russian Embassy in London and, after, by Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.
Paradoxically, it seems that the existence of the so-called rusophobia is invoked very often by Russian officials, who do not hesitate to use it as an argument for supporting their arguments. Under these conditions, the false expert’s statements from the analyzed fake news, the one who considers that the West looks troubled by Russia’s economic prosperity as well as suffering from paranoid rusophobia, seem to be rather the words of a specialist in pro-Russian propaganda.
Pay attention to phantom experts!
As a short conclusion, there is no surprise in calling a so-called foreign expert, being a normal practice in the controlled media trusts, a practice which is not the only one, but it is part of a whole “arsenal” of manipulation techniques owned by the pro-Kremlin propaganda. Sputnkinews.com, one of the main voices used by the regime in Moscow, has a lot of experience in promoting articles based on invoking fake experts, but mostly false statements and declarations. Claiming to be “a modern news agency”, it has been founded on the 10th of November 2014 by a Russian press group Rossiya Segodnya. The main headquarters are in Moscow, although the editorial board has offices in the whole world, and their radio shows are streamed in over 30 languages.
*Mădălina Mihalache is a member of the Internship LARICS 2018.