18:14 GMT03 August 2020
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    British media and some UK officials have long been obsessed with seeing a trace of the “Kremlin’s hand” in all developments in the world and accusing Russia and its president Vladimir Putin of all possible evils.

    Following the 2018 Salisbury scandal that resulted in a new low in the relationship between London and Moscow, it's far from surprising that British media have remained deeply critical regarding Russia and its president.

    Now, a UK government-backed website is set to 'educate' British students about “ruthless” Vladimir Putin, accusing him of “outrageous criminal conduct both at home and overseas”.

    The media website in question is The Day, which was founded in 2011 by  former Executive Editor of the Daily Mail Richard Addis. It is currently working with UK schools and colleges to raise the “critical literacy skills” of British children by helping “explain current affairs in short articles” and it just published a damning hit piece on Russia and its president.

    Presumably joining Osama bin Laden and other terrorists and pariahs, Vladimir Putin was branded “the most dangerous man in the world”.

    According to the publication, the Russian president himself orchestrated attacks on former spies Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Skripal, and was  apparently responsible for the death of “a passenger plane full of civilians” in Ukraine.

    The article asks its young readers whether the “shameless” Russian president “can be stopped” at all in his evil activities. These unsubstantiated claims, which are purportedly proffered to enlighten British students about what is going on in the world, may sound ridiculous to those aware of all the details surrounding the aforementioned cases, particularly the poisoning of former GRU agent Sergei Skripal. There are just too many inconsistencies in Britain’s allegations that it was Russian agents who came to Salisbury to fatally intoxicate the man in his daughter, including the absence of eye witness accounts, lack of video footage confirming the alleged acts and even the well-being of Skripal’s neighbours and those who were involved in evidence-collection after the poisonous attack.

    However, this did not stop ex-UK PM Theresa May from jumping to the conclusion in March 2018, before any investigation was launched, that it could have been no one else but Russian agents who attacked Skripals at their home in Salisbury that spring.
    A police officer stands guard outside of the home of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, in Salisbury, Britain
    © Sputnik / Denis Voroshilov
    A police officer stands guard outside of the home of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, in Salisbury, Britain

    Other allegations mentioned in the article, in a matter-of-fact fashion, include Russia’s meddling and collusion with then-Presidential candidate Trump during the 2016 US presidential election, which were not supported by Mueller Report after a two-year of investigation. The piece even discusses Russia’s alleged interference in the Brexit referendum and the UK’s 2019 general election, notions that were rejected by the UK Electoral Commission and doubted by PM Boris Johnson.

    “So, as the invasion of Crimea showed, nothing can be done to bring his rogue state to heel,” the article goes on, ignoring the results of the 2014 referendum in Crimea, which wholeheartedly voted to join Russia following a violent political coup in Ukraine. 

    In the end of the damning piece, young readers are asked whether Russia should be expelled from the United Nations and are suggested a number of fun activities – such as making a collage of the Russian president “playing hopscotch”.

    The Day was among the news services that partnered with the UK government’s Commission on Fake News and the Teaching of Critical Literacy Skills in Schools several years ago to conduct surveys about the ability of British children to identify fake reporting.

    In 2018, the commission effectively concluded that “only 2% of children and young people in the UK have the critical literacy skills they need to tell whether a news story is real or fake”. Therefore, it recommended that the government engage with schools and families more deeply to tackle this issue, suggesting that media organisations should play a vital role in this battle against “fake news”. 

    And The Day took the call. The media service tasks itself with selecting “the most important news of the day”, with journalists writing their analysis and publishing pieces for schools around the world, not only the UK, apparently. It is not clear, however, how the website's stories on Russia referring to Vladimir Putin as a “toxic” or “terrible” politician are linked to the website's declared goals. 

    However, The Day’s stories are sent to partner schools to then be presented by teachers in class and discussed by students at home with their families.

    “… to help readers ask good questions rather than believe they have the answers”, Editor in Chief Addis notes.

    English-speakers are thus set to learn about all these highly disputed allegations about Russia and its president in a form of them being treated as factual evidence.

    Anti-Brexit demonstrator Steve Bray holds a placard as he protests outside Downing Street in London, Britain, July 21, 2020
    © REUTERS / HANNAH MCKAY
    Anti-Brexit demonstrator Steve Bray holds a placard as he protests outside Downing Street in London, Britain, July 21, 2020

    Meanwhile, following the most recent developments, it became a trend for British media and officials to “blame Russia for everything”, in an apparent need to distract the public from other more vivid problems, including the ongoing stalemate in Brexit negotiations and rising number of COVID-19 cases. In addition to the Russiagate hoax, Moscow was also recently accused of spying on the UK’s COVID-19 research, despite Russia itself being in the last stages of trials of its own anti-coronavirus vaccines. Russian researchers also have an official contract with British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca over joint efforts to produce the Oxford vaccine, so the claims that Russia is “stealing” efforts to combat the virus seem even more dubious.

    The British Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has just concluded in its 50-page report that “Russia poses a significant threat to the UK”, while slamming the national government for turning a blind eye to these security issues, even though it “had not seen or sought evidence of successful interference in UK democratic processes”.

    It now seems that in case of Armageddon or a zombie apocalypse, The Day would also blame Russia and Vladimir Putin personally.

    Tags:
    Vladimir Putin, Ukraine, Salisbury, United States, United Kingdom, Russia
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