27 May 2017
Moscow: 20:27
London: 18:27

Consular queries:  
+44 (0) 203 668 7474  
info@rusemb.org.uk  

 

AMBASSADOR'S ARTICLES

22.12.2016

Why the elites blame post-truth politics for their failures, by Ambassador Yakovenko for RBTH, published 22 December

Establishment leaders in Europe and America need a reality check and to address voters' genuine concerns in a globalized world.

The year 2016 has seen truly epic failures of mainstream politics and media, most significantly at the British EU referendum and the American election. In both cases seasoned analysts could not see beyond their Westminster or Capitol bubbles and foresee the outcomes. Enraged as they were, they chose to blame outside forces, often pointing the finger at Moscow, which supposedly has more influence on Western voters than home politicians.

More generally, they blamed their failures on “post-truth politics”, ie, assuming that new-wave politicians (and their line-up crosses the Cold War divide in the Euro-Atlantic) run fake news stories and take advantage of a total breakdown of trust in elites and their institutions. Indeed, progressively, we have been seeing the last of established politicians, and institutions falling into disarray and irrelevance.

Such a viewpoint treats the voters with disdain, and this attitude tends to be taken by the same people who vow to “save democracy”. Would it not be fair to say the voters are disgruntled and reject the mainstream because they want change and the elites cannot deliver it, not because they are “seduced” or fooled? After all, how one can fool a person so easily?

The journalist Tim Dickinson fittingly called “fake news” lazy language. It’s about throwing actual misinformation in one heap with inconvenient truths. So, today the job of the ancien regime establishment in the West has boiled down to name-calling rather than dealing with real issues. Mainstream media and politicians engage in fakes and emotional excess no less than those they accuse.

I learned a subtle difference between the two sorts of “fake news” from a data scientist at the traditional “digital BBQ” at the embassy. A number of websites rooting for Donald Trump in novel ways actually existed, but they were set up, sometimes very far from America, to capitalize on the volume of Internet traffic. In other words, supply followed the demand, not the other way around – this was the thirst for change, for a gasp of fresh air.

Needless to say, these facts ruin the narrative of “Russian propaganda threatening Western democracy". None of the academic experts and journalists I spoke to believed those accusations. It’s just inventing a bogeyman to deflect attention from real flaws of policies, presented to the electorate as alternative-free. Policies and politics have become average, lowest common denominator: they don’t rock the boat but neither do they solve problems. A real debate of real issues was suppressed through political correctness and the newspeak, meant to deny reality. All genres became boring with no appeal to imagination.

Instead of drawing sensible conclusions, the elites engage in scaremongering. For example, The Economist writes that contrary to the initial post-Cold War expectations, Western politics is moving in Russia’s direction. There is no analysis of why this convergence is supposedly on Russia’s terms.

Of course, conformism, of which Alexis de Tocqueville warned, could ensure stability for a while, but nothing is forever. That is why I welcome Niall Ferguson’s words of repentance in The Sunday Times, where he explains why he had allowed petty considerations to have the upper hand over his intelligence, scholarship and instincts.

The Syrian crisis proves that wars cannot be won in the virtual reality of media space. Truth on the ground still matters. Therefore I believe there is nothing new in what is being described as “post-truth”. As Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying, “you cannot fool all the people all the time”. And another great American said the only thing we had to fear was “fear itself”.

It is not deception or fear that wins the argument, it is the ability to boldly recognize and address the problems. We in Russia, did that 30 years ago. The Western elites seem to be still living in denial.

Alexander Yakovenko is Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom. He was previously Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.




LATEST EVENTS

15.05.2017 - There can be only political solutions on the Korean peninsula (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

There is no doubt that what we are living through in present is one of the most dramatic developments on the Korean peninsula showing that the threat of confrontation is moving into its hottest phase than ever before. The belligerent rhetoric coupled with reckless muscle-flexing has led to a dangerous situation where one careless step can lead to the most terrible consequences.


11.05.2017 - The OPCW investigation of Khan-Sheikhoun chemical incident: how credible? (Article by Ambassador Yakovenko for The Daily Telegraph)

Unfortunately, there is still no proper reaction by the OPCW to the alleged use of sarin in Khan Sheikhoun of 4 April. The work of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) to Syria is shrouded in secrecy. What is clear is that it continues to operate in a remote mode, using Internet data mostly concocted by the radical elements of the Syrian opposition, including the notorious “White Helmets”. From the scarce information one can gather that the samples taken from those injured or dead were tested in the OPCW-licensed laboratories in Britain and Turkey and established to be sarin or sarin-like substance. However, the samples were not taken at the site of the incident, but, it appears, in the Turkish territory, to which the injured and the bodies of the dead were taken. Hence the basic principle of the investigation, that of the chain of custody, hasn’t been observed. There are no answers on that from our Western partners. As there is no clear evidence that those people were from Khan Sheikhoun and not from somewhere else.


02.05.2017 - Investigation into Khan Sheikhoun: rules-based order tested by Western scheming (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

There is still no proper reaction by the OPCW to the alleged use of sarin in Khan Sheikhoun in Syria on 4 April. Unfortunately, the work of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) to Syria is shrouded in secrecy. What is clear is that it continues to operate in a remote mode, using Internet data mostly concocted by the radical elements of the Syrian opposition, including the notorious “White Helmets”. From the scarce information one can gather that the samples taken from those injured or dead were tested in the OPCW-licensed laboratories in Britain and Turkey and established to be sarin or sarin-like substance. However, the samples were not taken at the site of the incident. Hence the basic principle of the investigation, that of the chain of custody, hasn’t been observed. There are no answers on that from our Western partners. As there is no clear evidence that those people were from Khan Sheikhoun and not from somewhere else.


28.04.2017 - UK is blocking independent international investigation into Khan Sheikhoun incident (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On April 18, in response to a statement by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on British experts at Porton Down lab having analyzed some samples taken at the site of the chemical incident in Khan Sheikhoun, we have asked the Foreign Office to provide us with the information on its unilateral investigation. In particular, we requested information on what kind of samples and where were taken and whether the OPCW’s key requirement of chain of custody was observed during the collection of evidence. If the British side had access to the scene of the incident, why wouldn’t it provide such an access for the OPCW experts? We have not received any reply so far.


31.03.2017 - Liberation of Mosul: a new catastrophe? (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

We are deeply concerned over the deteriorating plight of the civilians in Mosul, who are paying an excessively high price for their liberation from terrorists. We have seen devastating consequences of the first phase of the military operation in the eastern districts of Mosul, where the Coalition applied doubtful tactics to push terrorists out of the city. Those efforts led to deplorable results: at least 1,500 civilians were killed and over 160,000 were displaced. During that brutal fighting about 60 percent of administrative buildings, 90 percent of transport infrastructure, 15 percent of residential buildings and 30 percent of schools were ruined.


06.03.2017 - The growing Russian economy is increasingly open for business (article by Ambassador Yakovenko for The Daily Telegraph, 6 March 2017)

Tough challenges, including weak global growth, low energy prices and Western sanctions have been used by the Russian Government as incentives to make difficult, but sound decisions to keep our economy in shape. Most of the problems have been overcome, and we have adapted to the new, tougher trade and economic environment, that some call deglobalisation.


21.02.2017 - Remembering Ambassador Churkin (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

Work in New York, at a mission to the United Nations differs a lot from any Embassy. Especially so for a mission of a nation-permanent member of the Security Council. The last ten years, when Vitaly Churkin represented Russia at the UN, undoubtedly where the most busy and strenuous, given the War in Iraq, intervention in Libya, the crises in Syria and Ukraine. On all these issues there were serious differences between major powers, which increased demand for multilateral diplomacy. On many occasions those were non-stop, marathon sessions aimed at reaching consensus, finding some common ground as a basis for international action.


03.02.2017 - MEPP: inter-Palestinian conference in Moscow (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

On 15-17 January in Moscow there was held an inter-Palestinian informal meeting organized by the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Representatives of the main Palestinian organizations were present, including Fatah, Hamas, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, the Palestinian National Initiative, the Palestinian People’s Party, the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, the Palestinian Democratic Union and others.


03.02.2017 - Deal is straightforward yet Kiev drags its feet (by Ambassador Yakovenko for FT)

Sir, The latest flare-up in eastern Ukraine is just more evidence of the Kiev government choosing war over reform (Letters, February 1). It has been dragging its feet over implementation of its part of the Minsk 2 accords reached by the Normandy Four two years ago.


01.02.2017 - Crimea and Minsk Agreements: what the British media would not tell? (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The recent escalation in eastern Ukraine is again presented in the British media as Russia’s attempt to wage a proxy hybrid war against Kiev’s pro-western leadership. For fear of an eventual improvement in Russia-US relationships they pray for the sanctions against Russia to stay unless the Minsk Agreements are implemented as well as a punishment for the “Russia’s annexation of Crimea”. Let me set the record straight on that.



all messages