Moscow expresses “grave dissatisfaction” with Indian media; Blame for “distorted” coverage of Russia

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The Russian Embassy in India recently used social media to criticize the country’s media for its coverage of the Ukraine crisis and the situation in Kazakhstan. The embassy accused the Indian media of painting a distorted picture of the situation in these two countries.

Kazakhstan is one of the five Central Asian republics that gained independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is a large country that covers an area the size of Western Europe and has huge reserves of oil, natural gas, uranium and precious metals.

Kazakhstan’s natural resources have helped it build a strong middle class, as well as a significant number of ultra-wealthy tycoons. Despite this, the financial difficulties are quite severe in the country, with the average national monthly income being just under $ 600. The banking system is in crisis, thanks to non-performing loans, and petty corruption is widespread in the country.

The current crisis is rooted in protests against rising fuel prices that began on January 2 following a rise in fuel prices in western provincial areas. However, the protests, fueled by long-standing public grievances over inequality and corruption, quickly spread across the country, reaching further into major cities.

This included Almaty, where riots broke out as protesters clashed with police and torched government buildings. Following this, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who blamed the unrest on “bandits and terrorists”, authorized the use of lethal force, ordering shootings to kill to restore public order.

File Image: Poutine and Modi

Official records indicate that more than 160 people have been killed and 5,000 arrested in the worst incident of violence since Kazakhstan’s independence. Local media reported that the Home Office said early estimates put the value of the property damage at around € 175 million.

More than 100 businesses and banks have been attacked and looted and nearly 400 vehicles have been destroyed, the ministry added.

The President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Kemelevich Tokayev, also called on the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CTSC) to send troops to restore order in the country.

The alliance complied with the request and sent 2,500 troops. Speaking to Kazakh television Khabar 24 the same day, Dauren Abayev, deputy head of the country’s presidential administration, said CSTO troops were sent to protect government buildings and would not be directly involved. in operations against demonstrators.

However, the dispatch of these troops raised fears that Moscow would use the opportunity to strengthen its influence over Kazakhstan, which has so far strived to maintain a careful balance between Russia and the West.

File: Internal troops of the Ministry of Interior (Russia) (494-19) .jpg - Wikimedia Commons
File Image: Russian Soldiers

The coverage of the situation in Kazakhstan so far has turned out to be a poor lens for Russia. The country even raised the issue of allegedly distorted Indian media coverage through its embassy in New Delhi.

The demand for the external hand of Moscow

On Friday, January 7, the official Twitter account of the Russian Embassy in India tweeted a link containing “certain important facts” which they claim have escaped the attention of Indian media in their coverage of the developments in Kazakhstan.

In the statement attached to the tweet, the embassy said Russia had “closely followed the rapidly deteriorating internal political situation” and the rise in violence in Kazakhstan from the start.

He further called Kazakhstan a “friendly country” with which Russia has a strategic partnership and noted that Moscow viewed recent developments in the Central Asian Republic as an externally-provoked attempt to undermine security and to the integrity of the state. He claimed that this external provocation included the use of “trained and organized armed groups”.

He said that Russia only supported the decision to send peacekeepers to Kazakhstan which was taken by the Collective Security Council after President Tokayev asked for help.

Moscow’s support for the move, the statement said, was in line with its commitments to the CSTO. “In addition, the deployment of CSTO peacekeeping forces is only possible when an agreement is reached among all member states. And this is exactly the case, ”he added.

The embassy also clarified that the peacekeepers that were temporarily dispatched to Kazakhstan on January 6 consisted of contingents from Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in addition to forces from Russia.

According to the statement, the only task of the forces sent to the country was to secure “important state and military installations, as well as to help the local authorities to stabilize the situation and bring it back within the legal framework”.

He went on to note that the forces are not participating in any military action and are not involved in eliminating terrorists. These things are taken care of by the Kazakh security forces. In a pointed comment, he said the peacekeeping mission should not be confused with the deployment of combat units.

Two days after the publication of this statement, the Russian Embassy in India again turned to social media, this time posting from the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Facebook account to challenge Indian media on their coverage of the Ukrainian crisis.

The first paragraph of the article read: With deep regret we noted that some #Indian media have again attempted to impose a distorted picture of the situation around the Ukrainian internal crisis and to reverse #Russia’s approaches. on the issue, including by broadcasting scandalous statements by officials of #Ukraine.

The embassy stressed that Russia is not threatening anyone and is showing maximum restraint in handling the crisis. His post said that Moscow had no intention of fighting the “brother Ukrainian people” or promoting a military solution to the problem.

File: Kazakhstan Flag Map.png - Wikimedia Commons
File image: Kazakhstan Flag Map.png – Wikimedia Commons

He alleged that the Ukrainian army had been at war for 8 years against its own people. In 2021 alone, the Ukrainian defense forces had violated the ceasefire 1,923 times and used more than 4,000 mines and artillery shells of various calibers, causing numerous civilian casualties and “damaging residential buildings and buildings. infrastructures “.

The statement in the mail also accused the United States and other NATO countries of openly supporting Kiev’s militarist aspirations by supplying them with arms and sending military specialists there. The embassy alleged that Washington has spent more than $ 2.5 billion for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces since 2014.

“NATO member states are systematically turning Ukraine into a military foothold against Russia, building their bases and using its territory for military exercises,” the post said.

In what is seen as an attack on the media, the embassy said it was “completely ridiculous” that charges were brought against Moscow, saying it is concentrating defense forces near its borders and preparing for some kind of combat action.

The embassy stressed that the path of confrontation is not Russia’s choice, but rather left to its partners.

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