The poisoning of ex-double agent Sergey Skripal and his daughter is being investigated and no evidence has been made public. However, one thing has been proven beyond doubt – it’s OK to say anything about Russia and Russians.
The last week has provided an opportunity for a mass unloading of theories and often ill-informed bile to be unloaded on anything connected with Russia. In the current climate, it is apparently deemed acceptable to make almost any accusation.
One of the most common phrases used in the British media and politics in recent days has been variations on the following sentence: “Of course, we shouldn’t make accusations until we’ve seen the evidence, but…” Jon Snow from the last season of Game of Thrones provides the best response to that: “Everything before the word ‘but’ is horseshit.”
The Salisbury story is a great opportunity for self-declared Russia experts (for that please read critics) to unload their criticism, free of being pulled up on their inaccuracies. Last week, various MPs stood up in the Houses of Parliament and appeared to blame Vladimir Putin for terrorist atrocities at Beslan, and in a Moscow theatre, and talked about declarations of war. Yet it’s only Russians who are accused of making outlandish statements.
However, only in the British parliament in recent months has an MP ordered the removal of a Russian spy from the visitors’ gallery, only to realize it was actually an American tourist. With all this in mind, here are some other examples of perspectives being lost in the mainstream media.
The Times, hypocrisy anyone?
In a story about how RT could be taken off TVs in the Houses of Parliament, The Times criticized RT for giving “…substantial airtime to a claim that the Skripals were potential drug abusers who had fallen ill after taking fentanyl, an opioid ‘responsible for 60 deaths in the UK last year.’”
Around the same time, The Times’ main story on the Salisbury incident started like this: “A major incident was declared at a hospital when people fell ill after being exposed to a dangerous substance thought to be the synthetic opioid fentanyl. One woman and a man were taken from a shopping center in Salisbury, Wiltshire, to the city’s district hospital in a critical condition due to a suspected fentanyl overdose.” Will The Times be removed from parliament then?