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FAKE NEWS: The US is making up the "Protasevich scandal" as a diversion to divert attention from accepting Nord Stream 2

Rusia Belarus Romania
©EPA-EFE/ROBERT GHEMENT  |   A Romanian civil rights activist woman holds a cartoon-placard, depicting Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko (R) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L), while protesting in front of the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in Bucharest, Romania, 30 May 2021, to demand the release of dissident Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega, who were captured on May 23, in Minsk, after the Lukashenko regime redirected a RyanAir plane, flying on the Athens-Vilnius.

According to a fake narrative published in Romania, the arrest of Belarusian journalist and activist Roman Protasevich by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk is just a diversion staged by Washington to distract attention from waiving sanctions on the construction of the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

NEWS: “What strikes any lucid observer about the forced landing scandal in Belarus is the speed of Western reactions and instant verdicts, including severe sanctions, at a time when the facts have not yet been established.

Even a dictatorial regime like Lukashenko's should enjoy a least a bit of a presumption of innocence until the major elements are established, after which there is free rein for any sanctions. But there is a good chance we are actually witnessing not a genuine outrage of the big chancelleries, but a diversion of proportions, meant to cover what should be an earthquake for Washington.

Breaking news leaked the other day, on May 18, on the Axios.com website, based on reports by two reliable sources at the White House: the Biden administration lifted, without any warning, the sanctions imposed on the company that builds the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, between Russia and Germany. The United States has also lifted the sanctions on Matthias Warnig, a former intelligence officer in East Germany, director of Nord Stream 2 AG - the company behind the project - and one of Vladimir Putin’s trusted allies. The decisions are included in a report on Russian sanctions, drawn up by the Department of State and submitted to Congress, which would be debated in the coming period.

“Critics say the pipeline is a major geopolitical prize for the Kremlin”, the BBC notes, adding in a article last week that the head of US diplomacy met with his Russian counterpart at an international summit in Iceland on Wednesday, an occasion for Sergei Lavrov to declare that Russia and the United States had “serious differences”, but should work together “in spheres where our interests collide”.

In turn, Blinken said Biden wanted “a predictable, stable relationship with Russia”. Earlier, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had said that reports of the impending US sanctions waiver were a “positive signal”. In the meantime, the Ukrainians keep shouting that Nord Stream is Russia’s “most dangerous geopolitical project”. Who should listen to them?  

The president who has figuratively buried all his opponents in the last three decades needed a mega show with a teenager with pimples on his face that, God forbid, was threatening his supremacy.

A story quickly spiced up by the media with KGB agents who probably identified themselves on the plane directly with their secret service IDs, otherwise it is not clear how they were discovered so quickly ", inpolitics writes.

And an instant reaction of protest and indignation from European chancelleries, the same ones who fell silent when, in 2013, the plane of the Bolivian president was hijacked in Austria for the Americans to get Snowden.

Belarus's diversion covers the US's giving up on flexing muscles in front of Putin in relation to a truly crucial matter, especially for Europe, and allows for a much smaller spectacle, in which the scapegoat is a cardboard dictator and Putin is admonished only indirectly, as his guardian. The little one cries a little and then everything is fine.

The meeting on June 16, in Geneva, will go smoothly, and the Nord Stream might be inaugurated just about the same time.

The big question is what new Yalta-Malta type of sharing could take place there and, in particular, what prize Biden will receive from Putin in exchange for green-lighting his big political-economic bet, the Russian-German brotherhood gas pipeline”, inpolitics.ro writes.

NARRATIVES: 1. The West orchestrated the arrest of Roman Protasevich 2. The United States is weak and ready to give in to Russia before the Biden-Putin meeting in Geneva on June 16. 3. The United States and Russia are once again sharing their spheres of influence in Europe, turning the Europeans into objects of negotiation.

LOCAL CONTEXT / ETHOS: On May 23, a Ryanair aircraft was ordered to land immediately at Minsk airport, escorted by a MiG-29 fighter jet belonging to the Belarusian Air Force. Belarusian authorities used as a pretext an alleged bomb threat by the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas.

Roman Protasevich, a Belarusian activist and journalist, a fierce critic of Lukashenko's regime, living abroad in Poland, where he coordinated the Telegram NEXTA channel, which released numerous videos showing the abuses committed by the Minks regime against its opponents, was aboard the Ryanair aircraft flying on the Vilnius-Athens route.

Protasevich is accused of orchestrating the protests that broke out in Minsk in August 2020, after Lukashenko won again - the opposition and the West say that as a result of rigging - the presidential election. Moreover, Lukashenko said the 26-year-old was a terrorist who allegedly fought in the Donbas alongside the Azov battalion, which includes Ukrainian nationalists and foreign mercenaries. The Azov Battalion is a unit of volunteer fighters whose members have been accused of Nazi sympathies.

After the arrest, the Minsk regime released a video showing Protasevich, with injuries to his face, admitting the accusations made against him. The video, however, has been vehemently criticized as being made under pressure and threats.

In parallel, the Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office announced that it was conducting an investigation into Belarus' violation of international law in this case, and the Polish Attorney General ordered an investigation on suspicion of committing the crime of “using deception and threat to gain control of the aircraft and detain its passengers”.

Following this incident, Russia prepared a series of narratives which it aired using the "whatabout" technique. More precisely: even if a dictator from Belarus did that, the USA did it too, with the president of Bolivia, whose plane was forced to land, when it was believed that the former CIA analyst, Edward Snowden, was on board the plane. The Russian MFA spokeswoman Maria Zaharova and former Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, as well as other Russian officials have spoken about this.

In fact, Veridica.ro wrote about this Moscow narrative used to blame the West for the Protasevich episode.

In other words, the incidents with Protasevich and Snowden as protagonists would be similar, which means that the reaction of the West is disproportionate. The West is therefore in no position to teach Belarus, and, in extenso, Russia, any lessons on this topic.

The conclusion subliminally induces the idea of a redistribution of the spheres of influence in Europe at the forthcoming Biden-Putin meeting in Geneva on 16 June. Moreover, attempts are being made to promote the idea that the USA and Russia are negotiating their interests behind the Europeans’ back.

PURPOSE: In order to divert attention from the incident, Russian propaganda has created conspiracy narratives about this event. The West is blamed for this incident and attempts are being made to find mitigating circumstances for the dictatorial regime in Minsk.

WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The author makes a series of speculations, without bringing any argument in support of these theories There are also clear recordings in which Belarusian officials admit that they sent a fighter jet and forced the landing of the aircraft with Protasevich on board.

Tadeusz Giczan (NEXTA) wrote on Twitter that employees of the Belarusian secret service, KGB, were on board the aircraft, instigated a confrontation with the flight crew over the Belarusian airspace, a situation in which the pilots had to request support. Hamas denied any involvement in the incident, and the company that owns the portal from which the threatening e-mail was sent showed that the message was sent after the plane had already been intercepted.

Not only did the US not show weakness in its relationship with Russia, but it tightened its grip on it after Joe Biden took power. Moreover, Washington has initiated a rebuilding of traditional transatlantic ties, which deteriorated during Trump's term.

Tags: Russia, USA

  • Publication / Media:
    Inpolitics.ro
  • Date of publication:
    26/05/2021
  • Language / Target audience:
    The Romanian public
  • Key narrative:
    The US is making up the "Protasevich scandal" as a diversion to divert attention from accepting Nord Stream 2
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5 minutes read
  • According to a fake narrative published in Romania, the arrest of Belarusian journalist and activist Roman Protasevich by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk is just a diversion staged by Washington to distract attention from waiving sanctions on the construction of the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
  • NARRATIVES: 1. The West orchestrated the arrest of Roman Protasevich 2. The United States is weak and ready to give in to Russia before the Biden-Putin meeting in Geneva on June 16. 3. The United States and Russia are once again sharing their spheres of influence in Europe, turning the Europeans into objects of negotiation.
  • PURPOSE: In order to divert attention from the incident, Russian propaganda has created conspiracy narratives about this event. The West is blamed for this incident and attempts are being made to find mitigating circumstances for the dictatorial regime in Minsk.
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