Happy to say that after 2 incredibly busy, productive weeks in Moscow, I’ve finished filming for my special new documentary about the city, the first in a series of exclusive, independent documentaries about Russia, in the context of the World Cup 2018. Here’s a teaser –
Why is this series necessary? Well, at this time, with the World Cup coming up and the eyes of the world soon to train on Russia, rather than Russian politics even, what have we been told about Russia by the media? Well, there was Simon Reeve’s BBC hit-job last year, following on from Reggie Yates similar one, aimed at the yoof market. Then, any number of negative western media reports, of course the BBC’s ongoing campaign to show you only negative about Russia.
While in Moscow, I had a look at this theme, in this exclusive report, about ‘Russian hooligans at the World Cup 2018’, as in British media, versus reality.
So, that’s why! To present Russia as it really is. As this historic World Cup dawns on us, to show you the reality of Russia beyond the propaganda. And what will be the result? Several, professional documentaries, freely available to all, on my YouTube channel. And, not only that, regular video blogs, to bring you along for the journey!
Of course, video blogs are just a part of it, to keep you updated. There must also be professional documentaries – this isn’t just video blogging but a serious project, with production that should even better the propaganda rivals – despite being done on a fraction of the budget – this is all completely crowdfunded, independent, journalism. And on that note, here’s my thanks to some of those who’ve supported –
The photos chosen by the western media echo the words, with Navalny always portrayed in handsome, striding, heroic form….
Der Spiegel gush on… ‘He is also a gifted politician, something even his opponents acknowledge, and, as journalists joke among themselves, the best journalist in the country.’ There’s not even the slightest attempt to inject the least objectivity into the piece, as it goes on ‘Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, a man with all the charisma of a file-folder’. …
Meanwhile, when it comes to writing about Navalny, for the western media there’s seemingly no need to support any statements about Navalny – again Der Spiegel – (but you can find similar across the spectrum of western media,
In 2013, the Kremlin allowed him to run for Moscow mayor, hoping he would embarrass himself…
Where’s any evidence that was the Kremlin’s intention? In any case, Navalny did run for mayor of Moscow in 2013, and actually did pretty well – coming second, with 28% of the vote. But, despite what the western media may lead you to believe, it’s all been downhill since then.
Not that Navalny’s plunging popularity as a politician at the polls has any bearing on the west’s coverage of him, with Politico blaring in August of 2017 that he was the ‘man who could beat Vladimir Putin at the polls‘. Actually, this is the favourite theme of the west’s, that somehow in a ‘fair election’, Navalny would win, no matter what the actual polls from Russia, and Russians, say.
There are two more key points to bear in mind. Navalny has indeed organised mass rallies in Russia, his biggest one being the anti-Medvedev, Russia’s Prime Minister, on March 26th, 2017. That rally was positioned as an ‘anti-corruption’ action, aimed at Medvedev, with allegations of his having accrued mass wealth. Tens of thousands did turn out for this, across Russia. Medvedev’s popularity is far lower than that of Putin, and the theme of anti-corruption proved a rallying call. (Pictured, St Petersburg)
Yet, in western media, we were told of these protests as ‘anti-Kremlin’, even ‘anti-Putin’, as here, the New York Times – biggest demonstration in five years against President Vladimir V. Putin.The Washington Post took a similar theme. This simply wasn’t the case, Putin wasn’t on the ticket here.
Navalny did recently hold actual anti-Putin demonstrations in Russia. The result? A smattering of protests across the country, and a planned provocation in Moscow. Navalny had asked, and been denied, permission to hold his demonstration in the city’s central Pushkin square, then march along Tverskaya Street (which leads directly to Red Square, Tverskaya pictured).
The refusal to hold the meeting there was entirely unsurprising, given that this is the centre of the city, and any mass meeting, down main city thoroughfares, would either shut off an entire central section of the city, cause mass chaos, or both. Previously, as in 2015, Navalny had held a, sanctioned, meeting in the less central, but far more appropriate area of Marino, in the south of Moscow.
This time, he rejected all three alternatives offered by the city to him, (alternatives to Pushkin square, and Tverskaya Street), and pushed ahead with holding the demo there, knowing that while police may let it happen, he would surely be detained on arrival, as he was. Much to the delight of the western press, ever ready to conflate ‘detained’ with ‘arrested’ in his case –
Navalny tweeted his way through it as usual, and was soon released. Btw, what tweets Navalny sends too, here – “I have been detained. This means nothing. You are not rallying for me, but for yourselves and your future.” Oh, the martyrdom….
Of course, for the western media, Navalny’s meetings always attract thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands, and we are always told that his supporters are the cream of Russian society, the new intelligent generation of Russians, and so on. Photo here, typical of photos presented as Navalny supporters.
A new generation in Russia is suddenly waking up and taking to the streets to protest corruption in the country. (Spiegel again)
ABC – Step aside, Vladimir Putin — a new generation is rising
Well, firstly, let’s have a look at a photo of how the recent, January 28th, meeting was portrayed in the western media, here, CNN –
However, a drone view is less flattering, with around a thousand there, and in their number, simply masses of western journalists, who it seems all many of them do is emerge from their Moscow apartment to cover anything they can describe as ‘anti-Putin’, and portray it, as above, as a mass movement –
I was there, filmed the demo, and spoke to the pro-Navalny protesters. It certainly wasn’t my impression that this was the ‘cream of the new generation of Russians‘, and so on. But, you can judge for yourselves, all here, unedited –
But, views on YouTube do not equate to political popularity, and many watch Navalny’s videos to argue, disagree, or just to see what he’s saying (and there’s no question he does, at times, call out corruption, and hit on issues which resonate with Russians).
Be it tarnished reputation, or ineligibility, Navalny seems increasingly distant from any meaningful involvement in Russian politics, as a politician. Which made last week’s urging by the British media, that western governments simply must support Navalny, all the more peculiar.
Or, the most obvious, being an aesthetically appealing opponent of Putin, always ready with a vitriolic criticism of Putin to hand, who can be positioned by the west as somehow Putin’s ‘successor-in-waiting’, etc. Rather than the reality of Navalny, which is a still-young, 41, but already damaged goods, spent, political yesterday’s man, turned to YouTubing.
An indeed useful, ‘handsome’ etc, of course, tool, for the west to use in their attempts to stoke problems in Russia…
So the information war is truly on. My plan – to visit each of the 11 host cities in Russia, and make a film from there, in English, and Russian. Not a promo-film. Real, factual reportage, showing you the reality of each city. As you know, all my work is completely crowdfunded, so if you support it, it’ll happen!
And this, my 3rd World Cup by the way, so there’s something to compare!
Last week, the southern Russian city of Sochi hosted the World Festival of Youth and Students, with 25,000+ participants (a new record), and some 5000 volunteers, from 180 countries across the world taking part, in this epic event.
The regional part of the youth festival ran from October 14th to 17th, in 15 Russian regions, during which delegations visited 15 cities where participants took part in wide-ranging discussion, cultural and sports programs.
President Putin was there, speaking English even, there were concerts, mass events, and more. All in all, it seems to have been an epic event. I was sorry not to be able to cover it myself, but, committed to Crimea, and finishing my film, it just wasn’t possible. I was more sorry upon learning that seemingly not one other western correspondent had made the perfectly accessible journey to Sochi – a 2 and a bit hour flight from Moscow.
Yet Sochi, seemingly, with little prospect of finding anything negative to report there, the masses of Moscow-based western correspondents clearly didn’t deem it worth the plane fare. I can only apologise again myself for not going, if I’d really thought that not one western correspondent would go to cover this, I’dve had to go. But, live and learn, in this case not to expect even the minimum of the western press in covering Russia.