BY JONATHAN FOREMAN
A year after the Russo-Georgian-Ossetian war, the BBC continues to side with Russia. If you read its website or listen to broadcasts,
– It continues to refer to Russian troops in Ossetia and Abkazia as “peacekeepers” even though that was never their real role any more that the Syrian occupation forces in Lebanon were “peacekeepers”.
– It avoids mention of the fact that Russian forces thrust deep into Georgia proper, devastating large tracts of the country, or the Russian maritime assault on Georgia’s ports and small Navy.
– In assessing competing claims as to who started the Russo-Georgian part of the war it fails to ask why the Russians happened to have an armoured brigade up and read to go just across the border the same day that Georgia moved against South Ossetian forces.
This was true even of Ed Stourton’s relatively robust conversations with a Russian spokesman and Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili on Radio 4’s World at One this Friday. Stourton highlighted the refugee crisis that resulted from the conflict – the ethnic Georgians forced out of South Ossetia — and the economic cost of the war, but seemed completely unaware that the Russians invaded Georgia proper.
That the corporation should have a distinct if unconscious bias concerning this conflict as it does others is not surprising. What is surprising is that it should be so strongly anti-Georgian and so keen to give Russian ‘war crime’ claims a fair hearing, no matter how absurd or hypocritical.
Presumably it is not due Russophilia – the BBC has done good, honest work about Chechnya and Kremlin authoritarianism in recent years – but dislike of Georgia. Not only is it a close ally of the United States but it was conspicuous member of the allied coalition in Iraq, a choice that the BBC apparently cannot forgive.