A couple of days ago the head of the editorial office for culture and arts in our prestigious paper Dagens Nyheter, Bjorn Wiman, drew attention to Russian journalists who suffer violence and murder. The column focused on the atrocities directed towards women, but the author made one small miscalculation. He claimed as a fact that â€œfemale journalists are particularly vulnerable to repression against independent media in Russiaâ€.
As proof of this statement he pointed to a survey showing that female journalists have to endure threats and hatred on the Internet three times more often than their male colleagues. But in the next sentence he wrote that women constitute 80 percent of the journalists in Russia. In other words: if the attacks were distributed regardless of gender, one would expect women to be four times more affected than men, not just three times. Bottom line: male journalists are particularly vulnerable to repression in Russia.
Apart from this mishap in the text, itâ€™s an important topic. There are way too many journalists murdered in Russia, and way too few attempts by western media to investigate and understand these deplorable events. One canâ€™t avoid the suspicion that this obscurantism is intentional, opening for readers to intuitively believe that Putin lies behind it, after all.
When the almost daily mass shootings occur in the US, media is not just interested in the misdeed itself but also in the perpetratorâ€™s background and motives. But when Russian criminals are brought to trial for murdering journalists, the western interest for them is low. The court proceedings are usually open to journalists, but anything substantial is seldom reported. Itâ€™s as if we want people to think that every such event is a show trial serving to send some scapegoats to prison to protect the real culprits higher up (accusations never accompanied by any evidence).
Anna Politkovskaya was murdered ten years ago. She had been very critical towards Putin over the war in Chechnya, and – ergo â€“ Putin gave the orders for her assassination! That seems to be a widespread opinion in western circles. And yes, if Putin wanted to hurt himself to the maximum, that would be plausible. It suffices to see the damage done to Russia by this murder as it is. The Russian justice system, on the other hand, seems to have evidence that a Russian oligarch – Boris Berezovsky – hostile to Putin and living abroad, instigated the murder of Politkovskaya, which at least appeals to elementary common sense.
The most recent high-profile murder was that of Boris Nemtsov. Here the distinguished Dagens Nyheter openly speculated that Putin was responsible, and if that by any chance couldnâ€™t be proved, still â€œhis name will forever be tied to this murderâ€. This is our elevated defamation activities in action! The premise for that view â€“ that Putin is stupid beyond the comprehensible â€“ is something our propagandist perhaps are too stupid themselves to grasp (or more sinister: they expect their readers to be).
Looking for motives to murder Russian journalists one canâ€™t avoid thinking about false flag operations. But there are evidently terrorists and loose cannons, with or without Chechnyan connection, enough to cause all kinds of problems. We donâ€™t know very much about these subjects here, and it would call for some investigative journalism, had our media not been so definitely restricted to dumb propaganda whenever it comes to Russia.