Pride and Prejudice in Modern Geopolitics
Pride and Prejudice in Modern Geopolitics
Joint press-conference of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell which took place on 5 February 2021 attracted particular attention of Western media. A whole avalanche of criticism came down on J.Borrell for being “bested” by Lavrov (“Bested by Lavrov, Borrell faces fury in Brussels”, Politico), for passively “standing by” as Russian “Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, called the EU an “unreliable partner” and accused European leaders of lying about Alexey Navalny’s poisoning” (“Borrell stands by as Lavrov calls EU ‘unreliable partner’”, Politico).
Apparently, the Western mainstream media, in their majority, regarded the results of Mr.Borrell’s visit to Moscow as a humiliation and then started their search for the reason why could it ever happen. Some put the blame on the infamous “Russian propaganda”, (“Top EU Diplomat Accused of Falling Into Russian Propaganda Trap”, Voice of America), others believe that Mr.Borrell got tied up in knots and then “outplayed” by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov (“EU chief's Moscow humiliation is sign of bloc disunity on Russia, say experts”, The Guardian).
However, such emotionalism is hardly understandable. EU believes that its pride was hurt, and, true, that is barely enjoyable, but it doesn’t explain or justify all the criticism against Josep Borrell. In an attempt to pour balm into wounds, the EU seems to be desperately looking for a scapegoat and Mr.Borrell just might be the best candidate this time. However, the way we see it from our alternative viewpoint, the problem is not with Josep Borrell himself – anyone in his place would’ve yielded the same result from that February visit to Moscow, if they’d spoken to Russia from the same positions as he did.
In our view, one of the reasons behind EU’s perception of Lavrov-Borrell talks as “humiliation” is simple. It’s all because the talks went not exactly as planned and the plan was to give Russia a scathing rebuke for imprisoning Alexey Navalny and arresting the pro-Navalny protesters. Russia itself was supposed to stand still like a guilty schoolboy and get an earful. It appears that EU sincerely believed that it could lecture Russia on democracy and human rights, while obviously resorting to double standards and hypocrisy, and Russia itself would just be having it. It happened in the past, but this time – it didn’t. Instead, Russia proposed the EU to look at itself in the mirror before mentoring anyone else. That is considered a “humiliation” in Western mindset.
The Western mainstream media were busy counting the numbers of protesters apprehended by Russian police, in an obvious attempt to describe the situation in our country as the reign of police brutality while covering it all with contrived concern over the respect for human rights in the Russian Federation. Throughout the protests there was only one remarkable episode that remotely resembled that very “police brutality”. It was when a policeman kicked a woman in the belly during the protests in Saint Petersburg. You know what happened next? That policeman came to visit that woman in hospital, brought her a bunch of flowers and conveyed his sincere apologies. Did anything of the kind happen during, let’s say, the yellow vests protests in France or during the protests against lockdown in the Netherlands? The answer is “no”. The yellow vests protests cost 11 people their lives. How many people died during the pro-Navalny protests? None. Yet the West is more concerned about human rights and police oppression in Russia. Josep Borrell or any other EU official did not (and will not, there is no doubt) travel around Europe demanding punishment for France, the Netherlands or Poland. And we don’t even mention systematic police brutality in USA which sparked BLM. Josep Borrell or any other EU official will never threaten to impose sanctions against a country from collective West. For example, did EU even considered introducing sanctions against the US after American police’s intervention to suppress the so-called “Storm of US Capitol”? No? Why? Oh, right, those were not “protesters”, those were “domestic terrorists”, how could we forget. Besides, EU has no time for that, it might be too busy developing a strategy to oppose Mr.Navalny’s jailing (“West needs a strategy to oppose the jailing of Alexei Navalny, Financial Times). The West has no time to deal with its own problems, it is overwhelmed by concerns about human rights elsewhere.
Let us quote Minister Lavrov in this regard: “If you are so concerned about human rights and the treatment of protesters, it is necessary to also look at the images we gave our Swedish colleagues as well as to Brussels on the eve of the current visit. Look at them. They show how a policeman drives his jeep over the demonstrators lying on the ground and many other things. The entire world saw footage how a young woman was squeezed against the wall by a stream of water from a fire hose in the Netherlands, after which she left the place covered in blood. We had nothing like this. The police were repeatedly attacked during the recent demonstrations in Russia but did not use any special force. Demonstrators used teargas against the police”. Russian Foreign Ministry made a whole video dedicated to police brutality which systematically manifest itself in Western countries. We will leave a link here: (https://is.gd/DkOg1g). Have a look, it’s worth watching. Once you finish, you will ask yourself the same question as we are stating here: what could Josep Borrell possibly answer to that?
Another objective for Mr.Borrell’s visit to Moscow seemed to be demanding for Alexey Navalny’s release. Looks like it’s a whole trend these days: the Western politicians and institutions keep demanding Russia to violate its own law, just because they want it to, and release Alexey Navalny, an ordinary Russian citizen, from jail. We noticed that the West does not care about any other imprisoned Russian national as much as it does about Mr.Navalny. Not even close. The West is trying to make an image of a “political prisoner” for him, yet the reasoning behind his arrest and imprisonment is quite clear. It was explained by Russian Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN). Alexey Navalny was found guilty of a crime by the court’s decision (fraud case involving French cosmetics company Yves Rocher. The company itself, by the way, issued a media statement where it says that “In 2012 Russian authorities summoned the representatives of “Yves Rocher Vostok” for interrogation, as part of the investigation of the activities of “Glavpodpiska” company which belonged to brothers Oleg and Alexey Navalny. The leadership of “Yves Rocher” was to answer the investigators’ questions and while doing so, the leadership discovered several important and corresponding indications of a possible fraud”. According to court’s decision, Mr.Navaly was obliged to register in FSIN office at least 2 times within month until the end of suspended sentence on 29 December 2020. Because of his medical condition he was allowed not do so for more than 2 months, but according to an article published in “Lancet” journal, by 12 October Mr.Navalny overcame all the after-effects of his illness, had no obstacles to fulfill his obligations, yet failed to do so. Alexey Navalny was warned that he would be apprehended upon the arrival, that’s exactly what happened and should’ve happened according to law. Yet the West can’t reconcile with that. It demands Russia to discard its own law to “support democracy”. How can violating the law – criminal law - ever support democracy?
Speaking of “political prisoners”, how is the West doing? Again, a quote from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: “There are many cases in Europe where the courts are suspected of passing politicized verdicts. Notably, the case of three prisoners in Spain who were sentenced to 10 and more years in prison for organising referendums in Catalonia. The judicial authorities in Germany and Belgium urged the Spanish leaders to revoke the sentences for these three Catalonians. This is what Spanish government authorities replied: “You know, we have our own judicial system. Don’t even think of calling into doubt the decisions that we adopt in our courts under our laws.”. And that’s not the only example. Who is Julian Assange if not a political prisoner?
Getting back to our question, what could Mr.Borrell possibly answer to Mr.Lavrov against such background? We don’t assume the role of J.Borrell defenders here, but he really is not to blame. He wasn’t humiliated by Russian Foreign Minister, it’s the West that feels humiliated, because Russia had the audacity to invite it to look in the mirror. “Humiliation” which the Western media talk about has nothing to do with Minister Lavrov saying or doing something in an impolite or undiplomatic way. Apparently, in the Western mindset, anytime someone points it to its own flaws or dares to object to its judgement it counts as a “humiliation”.
In conclusion, we would like to share a quote from J.Borrell’s speech: “Russia has not fulfilled the expectation of becoming a modern democracy”. If “modern democracy” means letting the criminals go free just because the West told you so, then, yes, Russia has failed. If it means overthrowing legitimate governments in “pursuit of democracy”, then, again, Russia has failed. Finally, if it means imposing your will, your values, your point of view on other states, while completely disregarding their point of view, their values and their national interests, then Russia failed once more.
The thing is that Russia believes that this is not what modern democracy should be. The West has the prejudice against everything non-Western. For decades, it has been convincing itself that it should “lead the world”. The West and the West alone can tell good from bad and has the right to mentor everyone else. “Democracy” is just a convenient tool for the West to impose its will on others, a pretext to interfere in everyone’s business. However, one can’t expect to get far with this logic of self-exceptionalism where democracy is rendered to a mere trigger to feel “humiliated” when someone disagrees with you. Russia believes that democracy deserves much better than this.