Monday, September 25, 2017
Lies, Damned Lies and Russian Lies
Updating Benjamin Disraeli and Mark Twain’s three types of lies: There are lies, damned lies and Russian lies.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in his address to the 72nd UN General Assembly on September 21, presented his country’s view of global affairs, which did not have any resemblance to reality. The events Lavrov cited took place but his spin turned them into fiction. With fabrications, twists and misrepresentations, Lavrov kept his fellow diplomats spellbound and wondering what he’s talking about.
There were no reports of anyone walking out on Lavrov like the Russian delegation did before Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, who caustically denounced Russia for its unbridled aggression, took the floor; or like UN Ambassador Ja Song Nam who left the General Assembly Hall before President Trump arrived to speak.
A day earlier, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and Vice President Mike Pence did leave the UN Security Council meeting before Lavrov’s speech. According to media reports, “Pence and Poroshenko held their speeches, and then the President of Ukraine left the room. Pence exited a few minutes later.”
But on Thursday, when Lavrov addressed the 192 other member-states, everyone remained seated.
Lavrov immediately began with his fantasies by reminding his colleagues that in December 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution on “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order,” which stipulated that interference into internal affairs of sovereign states, non-recognition of coups d'état as a method of change of power and the need to exclude from the international communication the attempts of unlawful pressure of certain States on others, including exterritorial application of national jurisdiction are all unacceptable.
That was his opening paragraph. A list of what Moscow had committed against other countries.
He also reminded the audience that member-states shouldn’t impose their will on other nations.
“Sovereignty, refraining from interference into internal affairs, equality of people and mutual respect – Russia has always adhered to these principles and will continue to uphold them,” Lavrov declared brazenly.
It is difficult to respond to such straightforward lies because there are so many examples of Russian interference in the internal affairs of neighboring countries to choose from. Without reaching into tsarist or Soviet communist history, just take any contemporary newspaper and read about Ukraine, Chechnya, Georgia and Syria. All of them have suffered from Russia’s imposition of its will on them.
As I was finishing this blog, true news media reported that Russian Gen. Valery Asapov, who commanded the Russian army in temporarily occupied Donbas as well as in Syria, was killed in action in the Syrian town of Dayr Az zawr. This became the latest evidence of the widespread nature of Russia’s terrorist tentacles.
Some three years ago, President Vladimir Putin thought his governor in Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, would succeed in keeping Russia’s reigns on Ukraine. But he failed and it took a national Revolution of Dignity – the Ukrainian nation’s latest in a long line of rebellions against foreign occupiers – to begin to shed the shackles of Russian subjugation. Russia’s interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine then quickly evolved in the invasion and occupation of Crimea and two eastern Ukrainian regions.
Lavrov complained that the West adopted a policy of “who’s not with us is against us” and is moving NATO toward the Russian border “provoking instability in the post-Soviet space and encouraging anti-Russian sentiments.” He failed to point out that in the case of the former captive nations, they sought membership in NATO and integration in the European Union as the only means to protect themselves against Russian colonialism. Some have reached that goal. Others, like Ukraine, are still waiting for accession.
As for peace talks regarding Russia’s war with Ukraine, Kyiv is not the party inventing lies and tricks to bog down implementation of the Minsk Accords, as Lavrov claimed. The newest example of Russian’s ceasefire violations came at the start of the latest academic year. After agreeing to a truce so that kids could start their schooling, Russian soldiers and terrorists immediately violated the ceasefire and resumed attacking Ukrainian military positions.
Surprisingly, Lavrov did not attempt to disparage the United Nations for declaring Russia to be an aggressor state and occupying power because of its invasion of Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula. The nearly three-year-old Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-17 has claimed more than 12,000 civilian and military lives and created some 1.25 million refugees.
Lavrov bemoaned the demolition of monuments to so-called Russian liberators of Europe at the end of World War II, noticeably omitting references to their raping and pillaging of native populations from Ukraine to the former West German border. He said terrorists, extremists and nationalists destroy and desecrate objects of historic, religious and cultural value with their hatred and intolerance. Indeed, Russia’s colonial administration and occupying army in Crimea have harassed, persecuted, arrested, imprisoned and killed Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians on the peninsula for opposing Russian domination, fostering Crimean Tatar culture and religion, and favoring their return to Ukrainian sovereignty.
Statues of Lenin and Stalin have been toppled by freedom-loving people throughout Ukraine and the former captive nations. However, it would be appropriate if one, just one, monument to Lenin or Stalin should remain somewhere with the inscription “Remember.”
Turning to modern technology, Lavrov continued whitewashing Russia’s crimes by bragging to the audience that Moscow drafted a universal convention on countering cybercrime, including hacking. “We propose to open its discussion as early as during the current session,” the Russian minister suggested.
This he said with a straight face after Russia was caught red-handed hacking into America’s electoral process as well as the elections of several other western democracies.
Lavrov called for global mutual trust without which the world could not implement the important Sustainable Development Goals or the Paris Climate Agreement but Russia’s low level of credibility on any international issue coupled with crimes against humanity are enough to ostracize it from all multilateral events.
Toward the end of his address, Lavrov called on world leaders to educate youth in the spirit of cultural and spiritual diversity, lessons which it surely cannot seriously mentor because of its well-documented examples of hatred of non-Russian, non-Orthodox and non-heterosexual peoples. In this vein, Lavrov mentioned the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students that Russia will host next month. The Government of Ukraine and Ukrainian youth and student organizations in Ukraine and the diaspora are urging governments and young people around the world to boycott the event because of Russia’s chronic litany of lies and crimes.
Recidivist liars do not deserve a break.