LINDSAY Mackenzie’s rant against Russia ("Time to fight back against latest attack in Putin's propaganda war", Agenda, The Herald, December13) is as depressing as it is partisan.
In reporting the European Parliament’s approval of the ill-conceived resolution to counter Russian "propaganda", Mr Mackenzie fails to note its terms threaten censorship of the very press freedoms it accuses Russia of abusing.
The Russian Government, it claims, is employing “multilingual TV stations … social media and internet trolls to challenge democratic values, divide Europe and gather domestic support”, and demands measures to tackle the perceived Russian threat.
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But of the resolution’s key inflammatory element – bracketing Russian media outlets such as RT and Sputnik with ISIL/Daesh hate propaganda – there is no mention.
Neither was the less than overwhelming vote itself referenced – 304 MEPs for, 179 against with 208 abstentions, with most support coming from conservative and right-wing factions.
Mr Mackenzie also trembles at Sputnik opening an office in Edinburgh. So what if a Russian news outlet is here?
The subtext of the sneaky Russian moves, he claims, "is that the Western media cannot be trusted and that the BBC is as biased" - the implication being that our newspapers and TV outlets are beacons of impartiality and journalistic integrity.
Examples being a certain English-based tabloid branding Nicola Sturgeon "the most dangerous woman in Britain", Mr Mackenzie?
Or the BBC's Scottish independence referendum coverage? Perhaps the thousands of Yes supporters demonstrating outside Pacific Quay days before the vote were waving their placards in gratitude?
Furthermore, any scrutiny of the proposer, Polish right-wing MEP Anna Fotyga, and her motives is also absent.
Ms Fotyga is a member of the right-wing Conservative Law and Justice Party, whose leader and Polish president Lech Kaczynski was killed along with Polish parliamentarians and top officials in a plane crash near Smolensk in 2010. Mr Kaczynski's brother Jaroslav, Law and Justice Party leader, has always suspected – without a shred of evidence to counter official findings that the crash was a tragic accident– that the Kremlin was somehow involved in bringing down the plane.
Furthermore, Nato member Poland counts among the EU’s strongest critics of Russia’s role in Ukraine, meaning Russo-Polish relations are unfortunately far from cordial, with Ms Fotyga among those most opposed to improving relations with the Kremlin.
Ms Fotyga justified her resolution by saying “hostile propaganda and disinformation directed against our societies by both Kremlin and non-state actors such as Isis is a fact”.
Mr Mackenzie also omits criticism of the vote from the International Federation of Journalists and European Federation of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ). This week (December15 & 16), the EFJ, the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ) and the EU delegation in Russia is meeting in Moscow for the fourth and final meeting between EU and Russian journalists. In a conciliatory letter to Russian news agencies, IJF president Philippe Leruth said the IFJ and the EFJ “don't believe that censorship, harassment and demonisation are the right answers to counter so-called propaganda. The resolution carried by the European Parliament won't help promote this dialogue.”
Amen to that.
46 Catherine Street, Gatehouse of Fleet.
WHAT a bunch of hypocrites we residents of the UK are. We fulminate at the horrific situation in Aleppo and rail against the Syrian regime and its Russian allies. We claim the moral high ground as we watch that city descend into hell. The misery, starvation and death we see as nothing to do with us or our political representatives. Oh how convenient to salve our consciences.
But how conveniently we ignore the humanitarian disaster which is being played out in Yemen. Our allies the Saudi Arabians seem intent on "bombing the country back to the Stone Age". Let us all ignore the fact that the weapons of murder were manufactured and sold to the Saudis by UK companies and approved for export to Saudi Arabia by our Government in Westminster and let us not ignore that many of them are actually manufactured here in Scotland. As evidenced by our Prime Minister soliciting trade with the Saudis, the message is very clear that as long as it makes profit for our country we have no moral responsibility.
We take this to its logical extreme when even ordinary voters justify the possession of nuclear weapons which are designed to ill vast numbers of civilians as a reasonable defence strategy. I am afraid we would need very powerful binoculars to even catch a glimpse of the moral high ground.
22 Templeton Crescent, Prestwick.
DONALD Trump’s choice of Exxon Mobil’s Rex Tillerson as his presumptive Secretary of State (“Trump confirms choice of ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson as secretary of state”, The Herald, December 14) should be welcomed by all who wish to see international tensions defused. After the feckless Obama years when so many foreign heads of state were viewed as enemies, the cosmopolitan Mr Tillerson will bring a much-needed dose of reality and common sense.
It is expected that the usual suspects in the Senate will oppose his nomination on the absurd grounds that he knows Russia and has a working relationship with Vladimir Putin. But the fact is Mr Tillerson has spent the past 40 years making contacts in the most troubled parts of the world and is exactly the kind of diplomatic dealmaker America needs at this juncture.
Rev Dr John Cameron,
10 Howard Place, St Andrews.