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Russian FM warns foreign media against manipulating facts

February 17, 2014, 18:59 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Lavrov said sometimes different media had shown “pictures of what was happening in Iraq 10 years ago but passed it off as what is happening in Syria today”
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Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

© EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

MOSCOW, February 17. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday called on foreign media to avoid juggling with facts.

“There are many facts that prove the presence of absolutely deliberate attempts to form a certain public opinion, a certain information picture, and [media] do not shun manipulations and blatant lies,” Lavrov said.

The foreign minister was answering a question from foreign journalists how the Russian authorities’ hosting of the Olympic Winter Games in the southern resort of Sochi and support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad could go together.

Lavrov said sometimes different media had shown “pictures of what was happening in Iraq 10 years ago but passed it off as what is happening in Syria today.”

“Some Middle East and Persian Gulf television corporations gained notoriety for such reporting from the scene,” he said without elaborating.

British media reported in May 2012 that the BBC used a photograph from Iraq to illustrate the situation in Syria, which has been engulfed in a civil war since 2011, with more than 100,000 people killed and millions displaced.

Lavrov did not explain which Middle East and Persian Gulf media he meant.

The Russian foreign minister also cited the example of unnamed Western media showing confusing pictures from Ukraine, which has been hit by anti-government protests.

“The pictures are very serene: peaceful opposition activists demand justice, demand order, whereas the savage authorities suppress them using force,” he said. “[But] in reality, a huge number of facts are revealed of what is going on in Ukraine.”

Lavrov said some Russian and Arabic-language TV broadcasters “show in detail which forces the Ukrainian authorities and opposition deal with.” He described those forces as “explicitly extremist, anti-Semite.”

Ukraine has been hit by anti-government protests since the country’s authorities refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union at a summit in Vilnius in November 2013 and opted for closer ties with Russia instead. The protests have often turned into riots.

“The same is happening regarding the Olympic Games,” the top Russian diplomat said. “But taking into account the huge number of athletes and fans, it has been nearly impossible to lie recently.”

Russia is hosting the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi on February 7-23.

“When [countries] try to use their dominating position in mass media to incite blatant untruth, to make reality meet their geopolitical interests, this does not inspire respect for states involved in that,” Lavrov stressed.

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