First of all, I’d like to begin with a disclaimer. The Soviet Union is not on trial. It is a state entity that has not existed since 1991 and in 2018 most Russians as well as many other former Soviet citizens are able to recognise the best and worst traits of the USSR, just as people around the world can recognise the good and bad traits of past governments. Nor is modern Russia on trial in a formal sense, in respect of the Sergey Skripal incident, as in order for there to be a trial, there needs to be a suspect and an arrest of such a suspect. This has not happened.
What is on trial in the broader sense, are the very things the west once prided itself on (rightly or wrongly), especially vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. Here are just some of the stereotypes (accurate or inaccurate) that western leaders made a habit of throwing at the USSR and how they stack up against what the west does today.
1. “There is no free and fair press in the USSR”
Today, foreign media outlets operating peacefully, legally and economically benefiting western societies by paying tax and employing local people, are under attack from western governments that claim to be free. Whether RT which in the UK is being threatened with a revocation of its broadcast licence or RT’s US services which the government stated can be removed by cable providers in what would normally be a breech of contract, the broadcaster formerly known as Russia Today is being harassed by western states just as any dissident organisation would be in a tyrannical society.
Furthermore, RT employees in the US have been forced to register as foreign agents with the government, even though most of these individuals are themselves US citizens. Finally, in 2017, RT’s business bank accounts in the UK were temporarily frozen in a move which is all the more ominous as the UK government is a major shareholder in the parent company of the bank which suspended RT’s accounts.
Prior to RT being on the chopping bloc, Press-TV was barred from UK airwaves in 2012, while China’s media outlets are already under threat in the United States.
There is hardly a free press in western nations when the state arbitrarily removes, threatens to remove and financially and politically harasses media outlets who are simply doing their job as journalists and commentators, just as those on western state-funded outlets do on a daily basis.
2. Public proscriptions
Western politicians have called on their colleagues to cease appearing on RT, while there have been calls to blacklist journalists who are associated with RT from all other outlets. This is not dissimilar from the USSR’s Zhdanov Decree of 1948 which proscribed the popular Soviet composers Aram Khachaturian, Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev. While the composers were later publicly rehabilitated, in the west, one still waits for a day when those associated with RT will be rehabilitated in such a way.
3. Lack of due process
Many commentators in the west have lambasted the USSR, particularly during the 1930s and 1940s for operating so-called “show trials” where those with political beliefs that were found to be objectionable by the state, were condemned in politicised trials while not allowed to defend themselves.
This week, the UK government has found the Russian Federation guilty of state murder, with the Foreign Secretary of the UK even accusing the Russian President directly. This has all been done without evidence, without a formal police investigation and without a trial. As a result, 23 Russian Embassy employees are being kicked out of the country, all without any due process.
4. Accusations of treason
The US forcing employees of RT to register as “foreign agents” is symptomatic of changes of treason levelled against North American and European citizens who work for, with or in association with RT. This also blurs the lines between journalism, free speech and espionage – three unrelated concepts. Far from being spies working for foreign governments, as for example Sergey Skripal did, those who speak on RT do so publicly. They are merely there to present information and analysis based on publicly known facts. It is in fact, the opposite of espionage.
There is nothing treasonous about amplifying public information and offering one’s opinions on that information, unless of course one is living in a tyrannical society.
5. “Only party loyalists have comfortable lives”
There are no poor people in the US Congress, UK Parliament or those throughout most of Europe. Likewise, a media elite working for organisations like CNN, BBC, New York Times etc,. tend to live a lifestyle where they rub shoulders with the proverbial 1% – those who hold the majority of the wealth in western societies.
In a western world where the gap between rich and poor is growing and where wages stagnate while the cost of living rises, one is seeing a real life gap between an elite who are increasingly connected with one another and everybody else who is largely left with the scraps the 1% leave behind. Is there a party elite in the west? Of course there is, just because they don’t all have special identity cards, they are nevertheless, easily identifiable.
6. Political distractions from pressing issues
The west often accused the USSR of focusing on politicised issues linked to events outside of the country, in order to distract from more pressing issues at home. It ‘just so happens’ that as the Skripal affair is being blown out of all proportion the following is happening
–Donald Trump has declared an international trade war with China being the main target.
–The US and EU are in the early stages of a trade war of their own.
–Radical Kurdish terrorists have been attacking civilian mosques in the heart of Europe.
–Humanitarian corridors in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta have proved the western myths about the conflict to be false as terrorists are being neutralised while civilians are receiving aid.
–The incoming head of the CIA used to run illegal torture chambers in Thailand
–An unknown group in the UK has called for the mass murder of Muslim civilians
–Iran has extended an olive branch to Saudi Arabia while Riyadh threatens to build a nuclear weapon
–In the UK, the opposition Labour party has been leading in all major polls
–Donald Trump’s new Secretary of State looks set on tearing up the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal), while pressing a firmly anti-Palestinian line
These are all the news items that western citizens are being distracted from in the wake of the Skripal incident, a crime that is ultimately an issue first and foremost for local police, not for the United Nations
It is pathologically absurd to say that the Russian Federation is a threat to the peace and security of Europe or North America. If anything, because of Russia’s commitment to the fight against Takfiri terrorist groups in Syria, including Daesh (ISIS), al-Qaeda and their fellow travellers, there is a strong argument to be made that Russia is actually protecting the peace and security of those in Europe and North America.
Overall, the real poison that effects every man and woman in the west, is the creeping totalitarianism of governments which is matched only by their total economic incompetence.