Staunton, March 1 – In the face of the cocaine scandal, “the official Russian position is to deny everything,” Kirill Martynov says; but it is doing so in a way that justifies speaking of a new phenomenon “post lies” as the most effective means of countering what it has promoted before “post truth,” a media state in which everything appears equally probable or improbable.
The Novaya gazeta commentator says that one should pay attention to the fact that “our officials always begin by asking” in response to any questions about what Moscow is accused of doing, “like the hero Arnold Schwarzenegger plays in the film ‘Red Heat’ ‘What is your evidence?’” (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2018/02/27/75638-dognat-i-perevrat).
After these officials are presented with the facts, they respond with striking speed in every case: “This still doesn’t show anything.” And that pattern shows, Martynov says, that “while the entire world is discussing what is post-truth … Russia again has proceeded along its own special path.”
“We have invented the post lie, known also as ‘the denial.’ In which any event can with confidence be called invented if one wants to and if the bosses firmly insist on that,” the commentator continues.
Against this, “both rational arguments and obvious facts are powerless;” and because they are, “all our present-day geopolitical greatness is being built on that basis.” Once again, the West is lagging behind: it investigates reports of any problems rather than simply denying everything from first to last.
Among the most recent examples of this latest Russian innovation, he suggests are these:
· “Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin first praised on the Internet his ‘relative Roman’ and then took down his own tweets and declared that he never had such a relative and that the journalists had invented everything.”
· “’The liberal democrat’ Duma deputy Leonid Slutsky has been publicly accused of sexual harassment of journalists but says ‘Never. Not true’ and then nothing else happens. After all you’re not in America.”
· “Officials speaking of the doping of Russian sportsmen say that the latter never used drugs and if something did happen, then by accident and without any connection to the intentions of Russian officialdom.”
· “And the most horrible and traffic – from Syria we have left twice and then suddenly in February an unestablished number of Russian citizens die there. What do the officials say? The traditional ‘there are none of ours there.’ That is ‘it isn’t us.’”
Compared to such statements, the behavior of Deripaska to take his critics to court “instead of issuing a total denial” looks “almost European, Martynov says.
“The flowering of the Russian culture of the post lie began with the well-known events of 2014 when first there were no soldiers of ours in Crimea and then they were awarded with medals for their actions there.”
Since then, Russian officials appear to have taken a certain pride in their ability to lie and engage in this kind of denial, often insisting that Western officials do the same but that Russians do it better and more effectively. “Look,” they say, “how clever we are: we lie even better than America does.”
In the US, when charges are made, there are institutions to investigate them even if they involve the most senior leaders of the country. These institutions represent “the immune system” of the American system: “if an event occurred, that means, it occurred and all circumstances about it must be established.”
In Russia, on the other hand, Martynov says, “it is possible to deny the fact of any illness.”
The commentator concludes with a warning: “In general, it is very difficult for two such different ethical systems – the domestic and the imported one – to survive on one planet. Apparently, one of them will with time win. Which one would you place your bet on?”