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The US and EU efforts to silence Russian news outlets through enforcing the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and launching the East StratCom unit to counter so-called Russian propaganda evoke strong memories of George Orwell’s “1984,” Eric Van de Beek, editor of Novini, the Netherlands’ geopolitical magazine, has told Radio Sputnik.

Sputnik: What do you think about the establishment of the unit countering the so-called Russian propaganda and what exactly is it understood by propaganda and who has the authority to decide such things, Eric?

Eric Van de Beek: Yes, this unit is already with¬†us since¬†2015, it’s the East StratCom, Latvia. The EU Parliament adopted a resolution to¬†tackle Russian propaganda by enforcing the East StratCom among¬†other things. The European Federation of¬†Journalists (EFJ) and also the International Federation of¬†Journalists (IFJ) have spoken out¬†against this resolution. I fully support what they said. Their president, Philippe Leruth of¬†the IFJ issued a statement in¬†which he said he did not believe that censorship, harassment and demonization are the right answers to¬†counter so-called propaganda. Rather he said that he believes in¬†ethical journalism, self-regulation, media pluralism and media literacy to¬†face it. Also Ricardo Guti√©rrez, [General Secretary] of¬†the EFJ, complained that the authors of¬†the EU resolution have not even consulted the EFJ although it’s the main journalist organization in¬†Europe.

READ MORE: Moscow to¬†Respond to¬†EU Allocation of¬†Funds to¬†Counter Russian Media¬†‚ÄĒ Lawmaker

Sputnik: Now if we look at the European countries top freedom of press ratings can those ratings be trusted and how impartial are Western nations in their news coverage do you think?

Eric Van de Beek: Well, I think it’s impossible to¬†rate the freedom of¬†press, it is fake science. I’ve done research on¬†the methodology used by¬†the two main ranking organizations¬†‚ÄĒ it’s Reporters Sans Fronti√®res based in¬†Paris and also Freedom House which has offices in¬†New York and Washington. You can look at¬†the article I recently wrote for¬†Russia Insider and titled “Press Freedom in¬†Russia.” The thing is, both ranking organizations based their concluding only on¬†questionnaires filled out¬†by experts. It’s totally unclear who these experts are and how the questionnaires have been filled out. I asked for¬†the raw data but¬†I received nothing of¬†importance. Also both Reporters Sans Fronti√®res and Freedom House are funded by¬†state actors and state-fund NGOs. One might ask: Why are state actors so keen on¬†financing ranking organizations? Could it be there is a political agenda behind¬†it? Of course, things would have been totally different if Reporters Sans Fronti√®res and Freedom House were grass-root organizations managed by¬†journalists like, I’ve just mentioned, the European Federation of¬†Journalists. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

As for¬†your question how impartial the Western media are in¬†their press coverage, if the Western media, and I stress, if the Western media and especially if the European media are as¬†free as¬†the rankings indicate than¬†certainly this freedom hasn’t led to¬†a diverse or ‘pluriform’ media, at¬†least I do not see much diversity in¬†the Western mainstream media. For example, you won’t find a paper supporting the Syrian [Arab] Army in¬†its struggle to¬†get rid of¬†ISIL [Daesh] and al-Qaeda nor will you find papers defending the reunification of¬†Crimea with¬†Russia. You only find such opinions in¬†the alternative media. In these media the articles are written by¬†citizens and journalists, like¬†me, in¬†their spare time without¬†earning a penny, that’s the case.

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Sputnik: And specifically, Eric, how biased is East StratCom do you think?

Eric Van de Beek: It’s totally clear to¬†everyone [that] the East StratCom is very biased, it is fully committed to¬†countering Russian ‚Äėfake news.’ Why this obsession with¬†fake news from¬†Russia? It’s clear there is a political agenda behind¬†this.

Sputnik/ Evgenya Novozhenina

Stand of the Sputnik news agency, news websites and radio broadcast service. File photo

Sputnik: And who is benefitting from¬†tarnishing Russia’s image and in¬†what way do you think?

Eric Van de Beek: Well, it’s guessing, of¬†course, but¬†many actors are benefitting from¬†demonizing Russia, NATO for¬†one. NATO needs Russia as¬†an enemy to¬†maintain its relevance; secondly, the arms manufacturers and cyber-security industry; thirdly, those in¬†Brussels desperately trying to¬†keep the EU together by¬†designating a common enemy. And last but¬†not least those forcing regime change in¬†Russia, those who think they would financially profit from¬†Russia if the country surrenders to¬†the global elites like¬†it did in¬†the 1990s under [Russian President] Boris Yeltsin.

READ MORE: US Media in¬†Russia Promote Opposition Exclusively¬†‚ÄĒ RT Editor-in-Chief

Sputnik: And finally what is your take on¬†Washington’s pressure on¬†the Russian media as¬†in the case with¬†FARA and what perspective do such steps, do you feel, put the freedom of¬†speech into¬†question?

Eric Van de Beek: I think it’s the most disturbing in¬†the US and also it now seems in¬†the EU we are rapidly moving towards¬†George Orwell’s “1984” with¬†the Ministry of¬†Truth suppressing the freedom of¬†information. As I see, RT and Sputnik very much contribute to¬†the diversity of¬†the international media, they are, maybe, selective in¬†their reporting but¬†so is the BBC, CNN, Euronews, or Al Jazeera. People should have access to¬†all these channels to¬†enable them form their own opinion on¬†all things.¬†


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Source: Sputnik News