Embassy demarche on the UK anti-Russian activity in the information sphere

On 10 March 2021, the Embassy undertook a demarche to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office regarding the leaked FCDO-related documents that reveal a large-scale campaign being performed by the UK Government aimed at exercising systematic influence on the Russian-language media space.

According to the documents, the FCDO has for several years been commissioning well-paid projects in Russia and neighbouring countries, officially aimed at supporting Russian-language “independent media” and “ensuring media balance”. In fact, they were instrumental in carrying out London’s tasks of breaking the audience away from Russia-based and local Russian-language information sources. It has to be made clear that this was not about promoting healthy media competition but rather supporting only those media which advance British and Western political views.

The openly declared aim of the campaign is to reduce the influence of Russian media among the Russian-speaking population (for example, in the Baltic states) and even to diminish their Russian identity and their adherence to shared historical roots with compatriots in Russia. All of this is done under the slogan of fighting “Kremlin propaganda and disinformation”.

These documents also uncover more hidden goals, namely to weaken the Russian state and to activate certain content in support of anti-government protests inside Russia. Suggestions are made to increase tensions and unrest around the Navalny case, to influence the protests in Belarus and to encourage anti-Russian sentiments in Ukraine, Moldova and North Macedonia.

Such activities of the British authorities cannot be considered in any way as encouraging freedom of speech and expression. Disguised as fight against misinformation, it is in reality obviously aimed against the Russian Federation.

The Embassy has expressed its deep concern to the British side with regard to these programmes, which form part of the UK’s general policy of vilifying Russia in the international arena.

A distinct aspect of these projects is work with Russian journalists, as well as with nominally foreign media outlets that are in fact focused on the Russian audience. We brought to the attention of the British side the fact that such activities are regarded by Moscow as a gross interference in Russia’s internal affairs and an intention to destabilise the political situation in our country. We have demanded full disclosure of all information about the projects carried out under the auspices of the FCDO that affect the Russian media space and the legitimate interests of Russian media in terms of unobstructed broadcasting in neighbouring countries.

The response of the British side cannot be called constructive. We were told that London does not comment on documents that have not been officially published by the UK Government. We are therefore forced to state that this only reinforces the impression that the British side conducts systematic work in the information sphere against the Russian Federation.

The Russian side will work on further measures to respond to this situation.

10 March 2021; 17:45

 

All documents can be found here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1bQttUXYj2ZsMVajJXWsE5vqoZ10RqTki?usp=sharing