Bellingcat

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Russia Today And Their Anti-FSA Propaganda

As many of you no doubt are aware Russia Today, the English language government funded global news channel, has taken a rather strong stance against the Syrian opposition, and it here's a couple of examples of that stance that edge towards propaganda, or just bad journalism.

In this first article Russia Today claimed, before changing the article
Footage showing the results of an alleged massacre in the Syrian city of Hama in April has been obtained by RT. In the video, family members claim opposition rebels committed the atrocity.
The original text can be seen here, and on other similar sites.  Having no doubt watched the actual video they posted online they've now changed the text to this
Footage showing the results of an alleged massacre in the Syrian city of Hama in April has been obtained by RT. Sources say that opposition rebels committed the atrocity.
But still leaving the original text on the Russia Today Youtube page for the video.  So some kudos to them for correcting their mistake, even if it does undermine the main source of the claims made in the article, leaving them to unnamed mysterious "sources".

A more straight forward example is this article, Nothing safe, nothing sacred: Syrian rebels desecrate Christian churches?  Seemingly based off an post from the conspiracy website Prison Planet, it claims the following
Shocking images have surfaced, revealing the alleged desecration of Christian churches in Syria by Western-backed rebels. The pictures, taken by local Christians outraged at the violence, were published by PrisonPlanet.com.

In one of the photos a man who is said to be a member of the Free Syrian Army poses in a stolen priest’s robe while brandishing a looted cross in one hand and a machine gun in the other.  The photos were taken by a Christian woman in Homs, one of the cities most devastated by continued violent clashes between rebels and government forces.

“Everyone knows simply removing these garments from the church is a sin. The priest is the only one who wears them. They even pray before putting them on,” the woman told PrisonPlanet.com.

She added that after the rebels tore the church apart, they went inside to document their violence.
Images show church pews broken apart, with pieces strewn all over the nave. The floor is covered with rubble, and even the altar looks like it has been desecrated.
And it displays this image

But that photograph was not taken by a Christian in Homs, but by the group Lens Young Homsi, and the Russia Today image is their original photograph with the logo trimmed off


There's also a watermark across the photograph that says in Arabic "Lens Young Homsi", in case there's any doubt.  As for the other accusations of the rebels tearing the church apart, this video from inside the church filmed by activists appears to show a hole in the roof from shelling


So it appears that copying posts from conspiracy websites like Prison Planet doesn't really do much for your journalistic credibility.

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at brownmoses@gmail.com

6 comments:

  1. Hi
    It is really nice some people are aware of this propaganda. another instance of this propaganda was accusing the FSA of committing the Houla massacre. that accusation was also published on FAZ. I wrote an article about it. Read it if you like.
    The Russian Misinformation Campaign on Houla Massacre

    https://damascustribune.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/the-russian-misinformation-campaign-on-houla-massacre-en/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! I Feel So Much Better About Arming Shahida Flag-Waving Islamist Lunatics Now!
    abuhatem ‏@abuhatem

    CIA is in southern Turkey to make sure arms given to Syrian rebels doesn't go to fighters affiliated w/ al-Qaeda http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/world/middleeast/cia-said-to-aid-in-steering-arms-to-syrian-rebels.html?_r=2&ref=global-home
    Retweeted by ReginaldQuill

    BTW Reggie, that link to the Cobra Commander...er...Al-Qaeda flag flying over Benghazi footage is from CNN [NOT Russia Today]. I guess the evil Kremlins got to them too.

    http://reginaldquillnotcool.blogspot.com/2012/06/crap-reginaldquill-says-handy-reference.html#!/2012/06/crap-reginaldquill-says-handy-reference.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. This blog post is misleading. It cherry picks only a single photo published on Prison Planet.com when there are a half dozen, including of rifle-wielding men using priestly vestments that they've looted from churches in a mocking fashion.

    It also ignores the videos of gleeful Muslims smashing Christian and Jewish cemetary headstones. Also omits Libyan jihadis murders against black Africans in Libya. @ReginaldQuill and others have no rebuttal for that.

    Quit being dumbed down and cherry picking garbage. @ReginaldQuill makes me want to puke.

    ReplyDelete
  4. According to activist I've spoken to the individual wearing the vestments if a Christian, although without being able to verify that myself I was unwilling to include it in the article, and they also told me the church in the third picture on the RT article was damaged by Assad shelling, but again I was unwilling to include that without solid evidence. Shame Prison Planet and RT won't hold themselves to the same standard.

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  5. Regarding the black "al-Qaeda" flag it should be noted that while it is used by al-Qaeda it's also used by a variety of other groups, violent and non-violent, so unless someone has asked the person hanging the flag their political and religious views a reasonable person could not say for certain that it's an "al-Qaeda" flag.

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  6. Regarding the third image on the Russia Today article I've been told it's Um al-Zennar Church, and this post on the Military Photos forum has a series of videos where the church is shown to be shelled, and then videos of activists touring the church to display the damage
    http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?214268-Syrian-Rebels-Ransack-Christian-Churches&p=6244032&viewfull=1#post6244032

    ReplyDelete