Pro-Kremlin media is disseminating stories claiming that the British public has criticized Foreign Minister Boris Johnson for his position on the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent in Salisbury. Johnson said that Britain’s “quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin… and his decision to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK”.
Moscow was clearly displeased with the UK calling Russia out on the poisoning and pointing the finger of blame at the Kremlin. As if indignant responses from Russia’s leaders and their spokesmen were not enough, the Kremlin’s propaganda machine decided to manufacture a fake claiming that the British were upset with Boris Johnson and were apologizing to Russia for his hardline position.
“Shame on you Boris”, declared Life.ru.” Boris, shut up!” shouted Zvezda, the mouthpiece of Russia’s Defense Ministry. Ashamed of May and Johnson: British apologize to Russia for London’s accusation, hailed the headline of RIA Novosti.
The source of these fake stories are the alleged apologetic responses that Britons tweeted reacting to the Russian Embassy in the UK tweet of Kremlin spokesman Peskov calling Boris Johnson’s statements a shocking and unforgivable violation of diplomatic norms”.
Among the 237 comments to the Russian Embassy tweet, there is only one apology tweeted in response from the account of a Stef Anthony Coburn. Checking this account through Trendsmap.com, a tool which displays the common and most used hashtags in real time from around the globe, shows this is a British account registered in 2013 tweeting a variety of different topics. Coburn’s tweets clearly show pro-Russian sentiments, he frequently retweets RT and Sputnik stories, Defense Ministry statements, Putin’s quotes, and refers to “the Ukrainian junta which violates the rights of Russians”.
Other accounts whose comments are cited by Russian media periodically retweet the Russian embassy tweets (@jodyhazelgrove, @freethinker3447, @mrxxpity) as well as pro-Kremlin media articles.
Most of the comments tweeted are not even in the UK. For example, the @ Freethinker3447 account, which uses the usual Russian rhetoric in the commentary (“The UK, like the US, always accuses Russia, but they never provide evidence”), writes in Spanish, and most often reposts Sputnik propaganda articles. Freethinker is based in Slovenia, another account is from the US, while yet another hails from Holland.
To claim on the basis of one apology tweet and several non-British accounts that are of dubious nature that all of Britain is apologizing to Russia and feeling that Moscow is being singled out unfairly is even by Kremlin standards clearly a huge exaggeration and frankly, what the British would call downright barmy.