Both journalists retweeted a photograph posted by Russian journalist Alexey Venediktov on Monday. While Venediktov's original caption ("Moscow is ready for Russia Day") was clearly sarcastic, the US journalists' tweets were as serious as they get.
Sputnik and RT broadcaster Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan published screenshots of the journalists' posts on her own account, as the original entries were subsequently deleted.
"Fake news from FT.com and NYT bureau chiefs. They're saying that these are barricades against Navalny."
There was a simple explanation for the "blockade." The last day of the Times & Epochs festival in Moscow coincided with Russia Day celebrations, held on June 12. What the foreign journalists were eager to expose as acts of regime oppression were no more than historical reenactment prop.
"Different epochs will be intertwined in the streets and parks in the integer historical performance. Muscovites and tourists will walk around the center from one era to another, go to the parks to see a Catherine the Great's cavalcade, a combat of Roman legions with barbarians or a camp of the Russian Imperial Army," the festival's organizers explained on their website. Alas, not a word about fencing the Kremlin off from protesters by installing actual wartime fortifications.
While it is true that more than 150 people were detained during Moscow's unsanctioned opposition rally, none of the participants of the rally had to climb over so-called Czech hedgehog, or anti-tank obstacles.
And here's what downtown Moscow really looked like on Russia Day.
If Mr. Buckley and Mr. MacFarquhar were to report on Russia Day celebrations in Moscow, they would undoubtedly have used this photograph as the evidence that the Oprichnina, the political police from the era of Ivan the Terrible, had been brought back to life to control the opposition.
The young age of the protesters didn't stop the oppressors.
Большим спросом на праздником, организованном властями Москвы, пользуется пыточная pic.twitter.com/NCeUWBbZMw— Здесь Шепелин (@ilya_shepelin) June 12, 2017
Soldiers walking by the military vehicles rolling down the streets of the Russian capital. Notice the razor-sharp bayonets on the soldiers' rifles? Those are definitely meant for protesters.
Have finally arrived at WW1 section. Can't imagine how this thing would fair against those sandbags down by the Kremlin pic.twitter.com/bkTS7bDy2e— Andrew Roth (@ARothWP) June 12, 2017
Some clashes turned violent.
Twitter users called foreign reporters out for their biased coverage of the events taking place on the same day in Moscow.