Collage © Jan Oberg 2023
The human right to freely seek information is laid down in the American Convention on Human Rights from 1968. Article 13 states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression. This right includes freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds.”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948 states in Article 19 that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 states in Article 19 that: “1) Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference. 2) Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”
Note above the words freedom to and no interference.
I’m not a lawyer, but common sense compels me to believe that such high-level human rights declarations are violated when Western politicians actively prevent you from accessing certain leading Russian media such as RT (Russia Today) and Sputnik.
It’s would seem also to be an interference in your free search for information when you are constantly told that Russia is one big disinformation machine (and never do comparative studies of NATO countries and their disinformation and disinfomation budgets) – which is meant to make you doubt anything coming out of Russia.
There is also the putting up descriptions – e.g., on Facebook – that point out that this is a Russia state media – implicitly meaning, therefore, less trustworthy. The proxy server/VPN Surfshark has even tried to put up a red warning against what it has determined to be fake news. When a number of platforms does the same – such as Flipboard so you cannot flip certain articles – it’s also an interference in your freedom to seek and evaluate information yourself.
In short, they participate in a media war.
And since TFF and I work for the UN Charter norm – Article 1 – that peace shall be established by peaceful means – it’s natural and logical to be extremely critical of those who participate in media wars and do so in ways which violate provisions laid down in fundamental declarations and covenants of human rights like those above.
In addition, one comes to suspect – easily – that those who cancel access to the opinions of the other side in a conflict do not really believe that their own arguments are valid, reliable and convincing.
A reader or two may now think: “Yeah, but so does Russia, China, Iran and all the other ‘authoritarian’ countries. You have, for instance to use a proxy server when visiting or living in these countries.” This is true – at least to some extent but three arguments can be brought forward for them to ponder:
a) the people living in these countries know much much more about the West than vice-versa – so somehow they have access to Western sources;
b) RT as well as leading Chinese media – which I visit daily – have a more decent coverage of what the US or other Western countries do and argue than Western media have of their deeds and arguments;
c) it is the US/NATO/EU countries that pride themselves and champion – without or with violence – the normative universalisation and export of the ideas of freedom of expression, information seeking, opinion-formation, etc.
To not adhere oneself to what one preaches, or advocates, is untrustworthy and smacks double standards: there is one standard for ‘us’ and another for ‘you’. It also smacks psycho-political projection of one’s own darker sides unto the other side: Yes, we may not be perfect but you are much worse…
So, in order to be helpful to our readers – and produce a bit of fairness – we have compiled a list of English-language Russian sites with analyses of Russian affairs and Russia’s international relations. It includes platforms produced in the West that monitor Russian media and Russian affairs – such as Johnson’s Russia List.
It is not exhaustive and we have made no evaluation of the quality of each media – that is up to readers to judge without our interference. You are welcome to suggest other sources to us at gro.lanoitansnartnull@FFT and, finally, the list is not meant to express any priorities:
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Russian Ministry of Defence
Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO)
Russia International Affairs Council (RIAC)
The Gorbachev Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies
RT (Russia Today) – you may need a VPN
Sputnik International – you may need a VPN – explained here by Sputnik
VK – leading social network à la Facebook
This content originally appeared on Dissident Voice and was authored by Jan Oberg.