Chimes of Freedom
August 10, 2008
As usual, the BBC is twisting and distorting the news coming out of the Georgia region. We keep being told that around 1500 have been killed in Georgia, the inference being that this has resulted from Russian bombing.
Not so, the casualties are in Ossetia.
While the Ossetians claimed over 1000 dead the BBC neither reported this or any newsreel coming out of Ossetia showing the destruction caused by the Georgian shelling of the breakaway republic.
All we are getting is one-sided reports of the destruction being caused by the Russians.
Unlike News 24 which is its international news carrier, the BBC website does make some mention of Ossetian casualties:
"We left our town because the situation there is worse than anything I’ve seen in 18 years of conflict. Houses are being hit by rockets and heavy artillery, aircraft are bombing the roads."
Since yesterday, Russia Today was reporting the complete destruction of Ossetia’s capital by Georgian shelling. Again, the destruction of the Ossetian capital was never reported by the BBC.
Last Friday, RIA Novosti reported that Ossetia was claiming over 1000 dead:
"Over 1,000 civilians have been killed as the result of an attack by Georgia on the capital of its breakaway republic of South Ossetia, the North Ossetian nationalities minister said Friday.
According to the South Ossetian information and press committee, the number of fatalities is estimated, according to preliminary information, at over 1,000," Teimuraz Kasayev said."
Sometime after mid-day today I tried unsuccessfully to access the Russia Today website for further information. Whether this is because of heavy traffic or because the website is being blocked by someone it is difficult to tell. I experienced the very same problem trying to access the RIA Novosti website.
Meanwhile, a BBC News 24 reporter, Lyse Doucet, tried to suggest that Russia had attacked Abkhazia by sending troops into that breakaway republic! That was soon put into doubt by another BBC reporter from Moscow who speculated that the sending of Russian troops into Abkhazia was not an attack but intended to protect its citizens and holiday-makers there.
On Saturday, China’s Xinhua news service reported, "Abkhazia launches operation to force Georgian troops out" and "Georgia defeats Abkhazia’s attacks". And previous news from Russia Today had announced Abkhazia’s attack on Georgia. So was the BBC’s Doucet confused or deliberately confusing the facts?
What is clear, however, is that the BBC is giving carte blanche to the Georgian point-of-view to be aired on its services while nothing whatsoever is being heard from the Ossetian side. The BBC’s repetitive playing of a statement by George Bush, given several days ago, without balancing these against statements from the Russian side indicates where the BBC is coming from.
The contrast between the brazenly pro-US, pro-Georgian views being put out on BBC News 24 and the BBC website is to be noted whilst a more balanced assessment has been published by Richard Seymour of Lenin’s Tomb. He, like me, believes that the BBC is deliberately confusing the issue. I’m sure we’ll get much more of that from the BBC:
"Incidentally, just so that this point isn’t lost in the deliberately confusing reportage. Yes, Russian jets are attacking Georgian targets and killing civilians. Yes, the reported civilian casualties "on both sides" is reported to be over 2,000. What is quite often not stated or just gently skated over in the reporting, so laden with images of Georgian dead and wounded, is that the estimate of 2,000 civilian deaths comes from the Russian government and it applies overwhelmingly to the Georgian attacks on South Ossetia on Friday.
In fact, this is the basis for Vladimir Putin’s claims of a "genocide" against South Osettians by the Georgians (is he deliberately referencing the ICTY judgment about Srebrenica here?). The Georgian side, by contrast, claims 129 deaths of both soldiers and civilians. So, if Russian figures are good enough to reference, why is the source of the figures and their context obscured? Why is being made to look as if Russian forces are behind most of those alleged deaths? Doesn’t this just amount to a whitewash of the actions of the Georgian army in South Ossetia? And why not mention 30,000 refugees too?"