Speech at the 54th International Writers’ Meeting at Bled, 10.-13.5.2022
Russia’s new „fake news“ laws
It is not the first time that Vladimir Putin signed the „fake news law“. The most recent one was signed on March 4. in terms of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The law No.31 and No. 32-FZ forbade the „public dissemination of knowingly false information about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.“ Those who offend the law could be jailed up to 15 years. On March 25, Putin added another two: No. 62 and 63-FZ, the new amendments will punish persons who discredit the exercise of the power, carried out by not only the Russian Army, but any Russian institutes outside Russian territory.“
Putin is not only bombing and killing the Ukrainians but also strangling his own people. The voice of war protest died down in Russia, thousands of protesters have been detained or thrown into jail.
The „false information“ is what differs from the official mouthpiece. For instance, „war“ and „invasion“ are taboo words, using these two words could bring you into prison. After the announcement of the new laws, many Russian media have to stop their coverage on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, such as Novaya Gazeta Dozed, Radio Liberty etc. The foreign media BBC, CNN and most of the western news agencies, TV and broadcasters also stop working in Russia. Darkness falls over the country, fear grows in darkness. Yet, darkness/night never had the last word, the dawn is always invincible.
So we heard that editor of Novaya Gazeta Dmitry Muratov, co-winner of 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, said, the newspaper would not report on Russia’s military operations in Ukraine, but the newspaper would going on to report on the consequences of the actions, that would include the economic crisis, the shortage of food, energy, daily living materials and medicines as well as the situation of persecuted dissidents in the country.
The Russian authorities have restricted access to Facebook and Twitter, hundreds of Russian journalists have left the country, and they settled down in neighbouring countries. The civil society has narrowed down in the past ten year anyway, the tendency is continuing. Yet the total crackdown on independent press is still not possible. Person like Muratov is the tiny light in darkness, it will ignite the lamp within the heart of the people.
China’s documentary of „historical nihilism“
Russia and China have signed a variety of media-cooperation agreements over the years and have held a Sino-Russian media forum annually since 2015.(https://www.rferl.org/a/china-echoes-russia-ukraine-war/31745136.html)This made the reports of Russia’s external propaganda amplified on Chinese social media after the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Chinese state media quickly coped with Russian official narratives, equating the Ukrainian government with the Nazi, and matched with the Russian mouthpiece, called the invasion a „special military operation“, instead a „war“ .
In Western point of view the war is a contest between democracy and authoritarianism. Vladimir Putin is a war criminal. However the Chinese officials are making a counter argument. One of a series of editorials in the People’s Liberation Army Daily(Jiefang ribao), the military’s main newspaper, noted that “it was the United States that ignited the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine“,“ the U.S.-led hegemony is at the root of conflicts in Ukraine and elsewhere.“ The newspaper believes that both China and Russia are threatened by a “color revolution,” the Chinese term for an insurgency backed by Western governments.
China refuses to condemn Putin for a war that has killed thousands of civilians and his own soldiers. Despite pressure from other world leaders to use China’s influence over Moscow to help end the crisis, Beijing has done little other than calls for peace. On the contrary, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed China’s determination to strengthen ties with Moscow during his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on 30.3. in China.
China has portrayed itself as a principled bystander to the Ukrainian war, not taking sides but seeking peace. At home, however, China is promoting a campaign to paint Russia as a long-suffering victim rather than an aggressor.
While the world saw pictures of the destroyed Ukrainian cities, dead bodies lying on the street, millions of civilians fleeing to the neighbouring countries, Chinese viewers saw on the state broadcaster CCTV that the Russian soldiers were bringing food and supplies to the Ukrainians in the besieged cities. China’s official Phoenix TV has sent its correspondent to accompany the Russian troops outside of Mariupol. This guy reported the kindness of the soldier and how they were welcomed by the local residents. The common Chinese believe what CCTV told them that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had fled the capital and many Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered on the first day of the invasion.
Recently a Chinese Documentary titled “Historical Nihilism and the Disintegration of the Soviet Union” became the learning materials of China’s officials. In the film, Putin was highlighted as Russia’s hero, holding up Stalin’s status as a great wartime leader and restoring patriotic pride in Russia. The New York Times journalist Chris Buckley has described in his article“ Bristling Against the West, China Rallies Domestic Sympathy for Russia„ (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/04/world/asia/china-russia-ukraine.html?_ga=2.162037109.893628159.1649432282-1639626054.1637572190)
that this documentary shall teach the Chinese cadres to learn the “humiliating collapse of the Soviet Union was the result of efforts by the United States to destroy its legitimacy.„
Across the country, the party organised meetings for officials to watch and discuss the historical documentary. The 101-minute video, which was completed last year, makes no mention of the war in Ukraine, but argues that Russia is justified to be concerned about its neighbours breaking away from the Soviet Union. It says Putin has purged Russia of the political poison that killed the Soviet Union. Now the film is accessible in Chinese social media, so common people can view it easily. No wonder that a fanatic voice supporting the „Russian emperor Putin“ spread out like wildfire on the internet.
Beijing’s intention to show the documentary to its people is to depict the crack down of the Soviet Empire as a fatal historical mistake. It shall be a lesson and warning to the Chinese, such a thing will never be allowed to happen as long as the CCP governs the country. The people should not be seduced by Western liberalism, which led to the collapse of the Soviet Empire and endangers the stability of China. The film praised Putin for restoring the pride and spirit of the Russian people. The tone echoes exactly to Xi Jinping’s propaganda in recent years— „restoring the great Chinese nations’ spirit“. The desperate hunger of power of these two dictators illustrated the image of conjoined twins:Putin and Xi.