Prestigious newspapers have day after day given him front-page coverage; media organisations from the BBC to CNN have devoted countless hours of their peak-time broadcasts to the case of this supposedly ‘courageous’ fighter valiantly fighting in Valdimir Putin’s Russia against corruption, for fairness, human rights, the rule of law, and suchlike guff.
Navalny saga: the propaganda soap opera that’s never off the air
We begin with the latest instalment of the never-ending Navalny saga. On 20 August 2021, while travelling by air from Siberia to Moscow, Navalny suddenly fell ill. The Russian doctors who attended him found no evidence of poison in his system, attributing his illness to metabolic shock from possible misuse of his own medicines for diabetes and depression, possibly combined with too much alcohol consumption.
Instead of continuing his treatment in Russia, Mr Navalny’s family and supporters insisted on his being treated abroad. Days later, having been airlifted to Berlin and admitted to a military (!) hospital, the German authorities announced that they had found in his body signs of poisoning by a deadly nerve agent called Novichok.
The German authorities and their laboratories have never presented any evidence for this claim that could be subjected to independent verification. Most egregiously, Russia has been denied access to the alleged data for verification. To add insult to injury, the authorities in the west have condemned Russia for failing to conduct a criminal investigation into the alleged poisoning.
Novichok is a deadly agent. Such is its toxicity that if indeed Navalny had been subjected to it, dozens of people travelling with him in the flight from Siberia, as well as those in the hotel where he stayed, would have been affected also. Yet no one was.
The authorities in Berlin have not been able to give any explanation for why this might be. One can only conclude that they are in the business of fabricating evidence – hence their refusal to share their data with the Russian Federation.
For five months, Navalny stayed in Berlin as a guest of the German government, attracting the attention of the most powerful machine for spreading lies, falsehoods, half-truths and deception that goes by the name of news media in the centres of imperialism, being portrayed as a victim, allegedly of Putin’s authoritarian rule.
During his supposed recuperation, Navalny managed somehow to find media resources purportedly to make phone calls to a Russian secret service member, who, we are told, confessed to a plot to assassinate Navalny – a plot which Navalny, not unexpectedly, claimed had originated with the Kremlin authorities at the highest level. Russia has dismissed this absurd claim as a fake.
These accusations were instantly amplified by the imperialist media and the political and ideological representatives of several imperialist countries – big and small – from the US, Britain, Germany and France to their junior flunkeys such as the Netherlands, Scandanavian countries and Australia.
Mr Navalny has been nominated for the Nobel prize; he has been described as the present-day Nelson Mandela; in an anonymous editorial in the ‘progressive’ Guardian, it was stated that Navalny’s “bravery needs backing”.
The Nord stream 2 project to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany should be scrapped, stated the European parliament on 6 January, the day of Joe Biden’s inauguration as the US president (thereby opening the European gas market to the much more expensive US gas exports!)
A corrupt and unpopular racist
As a matter of fact, Navalny is not a brave fighter against corruption, let alone Russia’s Mandela. He is a thoroughly corrupt, racist and nationalist nasty piece of work. He is a thoroughgoing and unpopular flunkey of imperialism, a Russian version of Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó, ready to sell his motherland for thirty pieces of silver.
The imperialist powers are doing everything they can to use him to get President Putin’s government either overthrown or voted out. Mr Putin, of course, is not a socialist, let alone a Bolshevik, but, unlike his perpetually drunk and thoroughly corrupt predecessor Boris Yeltsin, he defends Russia’s national interests and is an impediment to imperialism’s attempts to colonise Russia and dominate the rest of the world. Hence the visceral hatred with which he is met in the imperialist countries.
On returning to Russia from Berlin on 17 January, Navalny was detained and subsequently jailed for two-and-a-half years for perfectly good, legal reasons – for having mockingly breached his parole licence terms. He is a convicted felon, found guilty of fraud and embezzlement in 2014 in relation to a timber company called Kirovles. His jail sentence was suspended on condition that he report to Russia’s prison authorities – a condition which he has repeatedly breached.
As a matter of fact, he has been treated very leniently for someone who was proved to have embezzled something like a quarter of a million pounds; had he committed this crime in the USA or any western European country, it is unlikely he would have got away with a suspended sentence.
An asset of imperialist disinformation machines
Navalny’s ‘anti-corruption’ organisation, the FBK, is deeply embedded within the west’s vast intelligence and spy network. The Russian intelligence services have released sting video footage showing Vladimir Ashurkov, the executive director of FBK, meeting in 2013 with suspected MI6 agent James William Thomas, who operated out of the British embassy in Moscow. In this clip, Ashurkov can be heard asking for ten to twenty million dollars so as to generate “quite a different picture” on the Russian political landscape.
In 2018, Ashurkov’s name appeared in leaked documents exposing a covert United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office influence network called the Integrity Initiative, operating under the cover of a thinktank by the name of the Institute for Statecraft, which concealed its own location through a fake office in Scotland.
Run by a group of military intelligence officers, it worked through an assortment of media and political influencers to heighten tensions between the west and Russia. Listed among the London cluster of anti-Russian influencers was Ashurkov. The group’s aim was to weaken Russia and do everything to prevent the normalisation of relations between that country and the west.
Several prestigious broadcasters and news agencies, including the BBC and Reuters, cooperate with and receive funds from the British state for their collaboration to destabilise Russia through anti-Putin narratives.
Reuters boasts of having 15,000 journalists in its global network of influencers, including 400 inside Russia. The UK FCO projects were undertaken covertly, and in partnership with self-professed independent, high-profile online media outfits, including Bellingcat.
Claiming to be ‘open source’ journalism, Bellingcat is funded by, among others, the National Endowment for Democracy – a US government entity. Bellingcat’s dirty work apparently included Britain’s intervention in North Macedonia’s elections on behalf of the pro-Nato candidate who went on the win the election.
The BBC, Reuters, Bellingcat and many other media outlets are sponsored, and funded for their dirty work, by the British government through a shadowy government department within the FCO known as Counter Disinformation and Media Development, which operates alongside a collection of intelligence contractors in a secret entity simply known as ‘The Consortium’.
The materials that have come to light through the selfless and honourable work of hackers reveal clearly that the BBC and Reuters, two of the world’s largest and most prestigious media organisations, instead of being independent, impartial and free from bias as they claim, are in fact merely “intelligence cut-outs feasting at the trough of a British national security state that their news operations are increasingly averse to scrutinising”. (Reuters, BBC and Bellingcat participated in covert UK Foreign Office funded programmes to ‘weaken Russia’, leaked documents reveal by Max Blumenthal, Grayzone, 20 February 2021)
BBC and other imperialist media face growing crisis of legitimacy
In its own statement of values the BBC proclaims: “Trust is the foundation of the BBC. We are independent, impartial and honest.” Far from it! The reality is just the opposite of these hollow proclamations.
The BBC is an important propaganda arm of the British state, involved in furthering the interests of British imperialism in particular, and of the world system of imperialism in general. It works on the propaganda and ideological front for the same purposes as Nato does on the military front and the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) do on the economic front.
More and more people in the world, including people in Britain and other imperialist countries, no longer trust what emanates from these supposedly independent media organisations, which are guilty of precisely the practices of which they accuse the broadcasters of Russia and China. Like Ivan Turgenev’s devil, they denounce most of all those sins in which they themselves indulge so shamelessly and with gay abandon.
One of the many projects that this network of imperialist governments, broadcasters, news agencies and magazines are involved in setting up is a ‘YouTuber network’ in Russia and central Asia to propagate the message of Britain and its Nato allies – all in the name of “promoting media integrity and democratic values”. The most prominent YouTube influencer is none other than Alexei Navalny, a previously marginal nationalist figure.
Writing about the activities of the BBC, Reuters and suchlike broadcasters, Max Blumenthal of the Grayzone says: “While they hammer away at ‘authoritarian’ states and malign Russian activities, they have little to say about the machinations of the powerful western governments in their immediate midst.
“Perhaps they are reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them.” (Op cit)
Navalny is presented in the western media as the most important opposition leader in Russia, heroically battling President Putin’s authoritarian rule. He is nothing of the kind. Indeed, he is a nonentity in Russia.
No amount of imperialist lying propaganda can install Navalny in the Kremlin, any more than such a propaganda barrage, hand in hand with sabotage and economic sanctions, managed to install Juan Guaidó as the president of Venezuela.
The contrast between the imperialist governments’ treatment of Alexei Navalny on the one hand and Julian Assange on the other by their various propaganda arms is stark indeed. While Mr Assange is being punished for exposing the war crimes of Anglo-American imperialism during their predatory 17-year-long war against the people of Iraq, which has claimed the lives of close to 2 million people, Navalny, the fraudster nonentity, is being lionised.
Why? Precisely because he is a puppet of imperialism.