BBC standards are extremely destructive in the fight against russian propaganda

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If we give facts and misinformation equal coverage, people will see only grossly distorted reality, said Evgen Tsybulenko, professor of International Law and lecturer at the Tallinn Technical University, in the interview with

“I will say a very unpopular thing: in the fight against russian misinformation, the so-called ‘BBC standards’ not only do not work but are extremely destructive. It’s good to look for the ‘truth in the middle’ if we have two normal opinions. But if we provide equal coverage for truth and misinformation, which these standards require, then in the middle people will find not the truth, but a grossly distorted reality. Unfortunately, this is happening more and more often,” said Tsybulenko.

Imagine, he says, that all russian media day after day report that the Earth is flat, and the Western media report that the Earth is round, but also mention that according to russian media the Earth may be flat. “What will be the result of “the truth in the middle” approach? That the Earth is a cube? This is exactly what happens with information on Ukraine. And given the fact that Ukraine is constantly present on russian channels, and on the western ones only occasionally, the situation becomes critical,” Tsybulenko believes.

According to him, another problem is pseudo-neutrality. “For example, the definition of ‘military aggression of russia against Ukraine’ is considered non-neutral and is practically not used. But the ‘conflict in Ukraine’ is considered neutral. Although, the first is an official definition of numerous international legal instruments, and the second – is a pro-russian manipulation that eliminates the culprit from the definition. And this is exactly what the kremlin is seeking by spreading narratives about the ‘civil war in Ukraine’.”

Finally, says Tsybulenko, I want to remind you that the criminalization of war propaganda, as well as any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred, which constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, is a duty of any legal state. “This follows directly from article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the core human rights instrument. Accordingly, the fulfillment of the requirements of this article cannot be regarded as a violation of freedom of speech, by definition,” summarizes Tsybulenko.

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