“Worst are the lies”

by Karl-Jürgen Müller

She was born in Russia and has lived in Germany for a long time. The war in Ukraine is a tragedy for her. But she also does not expect anything good for the future of Germany and Europe. No one can really prepare for what is to come, she says. It is certain that the previous prosperity will suffer massive losses. She is very worried about the hostility towards everything Russian. “But worst are the lies,” she says, and she means especially the way the war in Ukraine is reported and assessed here in the West.
  The concerns expressed by this woman should make us all think. They relate to the war in Ukraine, our dealings with her home country Russia, but also the future of the country she lives in today.

Those who witnessed the public event of Robert Habeck, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, in Bayreuth about a fortnight ago on the TV screen got a taste of what it will mean when our politicians demand more and more cuts and renunciations from the citizens, but at the same time there is a growing realisation that it is not Russia that is responsible for this decline, but that it is largely homemade, the result of a policy in the interest of a few, but not in the German and European interest.

The Western narrative

Yes, what will happen when more and more citizens realise that the monotonously presented narrative that all Western states – including Switzerland1 – are engaged in a decisive battle for law, freedom and democracy, against autocratic rule, lawbreaking and violence, is revealed as a lie and bursts like a bubble? That in Ukraine (and elsewhere in the world) there is no “holy” war being waged for the values of the Occident, but that the previous, deeply unjust and Western-dominated world disorder is up for debate – even if the outcome of this confrontation is still uncertain today and no one can say for sure what lies ahead for humanity in the months and years to come?
  It is very likely that the citizens, who rely only on our Western media, will continue to suffer their own decline for some time and try to convince themselves that all this serves a good cause, the cause of the above-mentioned narrative. Very likely it will look different for those who inform themselves more broadly and diversely. Even if the increasing censorship in our states tries to prevent exactly that. A censorship that aims to intimidate people so that they censor their own thinking and also no longer dare inwardly to ask critical questions.
  The “other” media also includes Russia’s media. It is not a matter of believing all that one sees, hears and reads there to be true per se – especially since the country is at war. But looking and listening with an alert mind is worthwhile. Not because you know how to see things afterwards. But because completely new questions arise, questions that are not at all a topic in our media, but which are extremely important in order to really understand what happened in our world in the 20th and present 21st century and why we are where we are today.

Understanding Russia

Those who are open to the voices of the other side also begin to examine more closely, to research and develop truly viable answers. Last but not least: understanding the other side. Yes, understanding Russia is not an offence, but perhaps the only viable way to change course after all and not let the war escalate further.
  Understanding Russia also means getting away from the snapshot and thinking and researching historically.
  What has happened that today – unlike in the years around 1990 – we can no longer hope for peaceful coexistence and an era of a world of solidarity, but have to acknowledge a world in radical upheaval with many distortions and full of dangerous conflicts? What happened that in December 2021 Russia almost ultimately demanded that the USA and NATO pay attention to its security interests? And, when this was in vain, intervened militarily in Ukraine. Convincing answers to these and other important questions cannot be found in our media. I wonder if more answers can be found in Russian media? One example that offers a number of answers is the four-part video contribution by “Pravda” entitled “Der unbekannte Putin” (The Unknown Putin) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcaiUZK7Sho, accessed 1 August 2022), which is largely unknown to us in the West. In the Soviet Union, “Pravda” was the best-known newspaper of the CPSU, after 1991 it had a chequered history, today it is a Russian medium among others owned by an internationally diversified joint-stock company.
  The video has a total duration of almost two and a half hours. It was made shortly after 2010, the original Russian sound is translated by only one German-speaking speaker (which does not make it easy to distinguish between the questions and answers in the numerous interviews) and deals with Vladimir Putin’s reign from 2000 to 2010, but also goes back to the 1990s, to the time of Boris Yeltsin’s presidency, in its analyses of Russia’s problems.

“The unknown Putin”

The content of the video is not intended to be reproduced here. However, it is worth mentioning that processes are being discussed that are hardly ever discussed here in the West, but which are of great importance for further developments after 2010: The information war of the West, above all of the USA, against Russia started right after 1991, i.e., already during Yeltsin’s presidency, but above all with the beginning of Putin’s presidency. US officials and intelligence officers who sat in Russian ministries in the 1990s and helped determine the work of the Russian government and worked on the Russian legislative texts of those years. The attempts by the West and Western oil companies to exploit the country’s energy reserves for outside interests through a law on “Production Sharing Agreements “2 and to make Russia pay for this exploitation. The attempts of Russian oligarchs with close ties to the West to take possession of core areas of former Soviet industry – only to ruin them by means of supposed reformers and reforms3 so that Russia would be reduced to the status of a supplier of resources – which the West needs. The attempts to dismember the country step by step from its external borders by means of nationalist movements and by means of separatism (for example in Chechnya) and to destroy its ability to defend itself. The scandalising misuse of deaths and assassinations to pillory Russia and the Russian government internationally without any solid evidence, thus also diverting attention from key political issues. The building of an “opposition” in Russia that does not make any constructive proposals for the country, but does a lot to win the country’s youth over to its side with “events” and to weaken the country with attacks on its system of values. All in all, this is an attempt to decompose Russia over the years.
  However, the topic is also the widely unknown efforts of the Russian government and especially the country’s president to counteract this in many areas – hence the title of the video.
  All this and much more comes up in the video, came up ten years ago. And since then – I think most people in Russia would say – these attempts at decomposition have not abated.

In the search for truth

Is this all just Russian propaganda? The issues raised in the video are too serious to pass over with such defensive reflexes! Particularly at a time of a monstrous image of Russia as an enemy, there is a duty to seriously investigate the Russian point of view – if one wants to ascertain the truth. The truth, however, will have to be put on the table in order to overcome the current situation and start an honest new beginning in international relations. Even if we are still a long way from that at the moment.
  In its issue of 19 July 2022, Current Concerns prominently featured South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor. Here, within one country, there have been irreconcilable positions for centuries, great injustice – especially by the country’s white elites – and crimes of all kinds from all sides. “Truth Commissions”, set up by the then President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela in 1996 – years after the end of apartheid – did not have the task of accusing people and bringing them to court, but rather to contribute to reconciliation through a publicly accessible debate that would serve to establish the truth and provide compensation to victims of injustice and violence.
  Even though there has been much justified criticism of the practical implementation of the idea of finding the truth – its work in South Africa was terminated in 1998 – the idea that rapprochement and reconciliation presuppose seeking the truth and also making it public is once again posing itself today: this time not domestically, but with a view to the present world disorder and with a view to the search for a new, real world order. Yes, we are still a long way from that and no one can say at present how the current struggle will continue and end. But every individual, every citizen, can make the claim to contribute to finding the truth with the means at his or her disposal – even if it is only for himself or herself and the people with whom he or she has to deal in everyday life.  •

1 Numerous Swiss media commentaries on 1 August used this narrative to argue for a break with more than 200 years of Swiss history and now in this way for a rapprochement with NATO and the EU and thus an end to neutrality.
2 cf. for introduction https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Production_sharing_agreement
3 In this context, the video refers to the book by John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hitman from 2004, which is also known in the West and is also available in Russian.

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