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Russian Embassy Trolls Cameron, Doesn't Fool Anybody

  • Anna Shamanska

The new leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, is regarded by supporters as a passionate champion of the left and an antidote to politics as usual, and derided by critics as a fringe politician reminiscent of Labour's days in the political wilderness.

The new leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, is regarded by supporters as a passionate champion of the left and an antidote to politics as usual, and derided by critics as a fringe politician reminiscent of Labour's days in the political wilderness.

Russia's embassy in London has been known to troll.

It might send a "Good morning!" tweet with an attached photo of a sunrise in "location: Crimea, Russia," the Black Sea peninsula that most of the world regards as part of Ukraine but which Moscow forcibly occupied then annexed in March 2014.

It might suddenly announce that Russia and China have signed "landmark agreements on oil and gas supplies" and show the "Russian bear" and the "Chinese dragon" sharing coffee atop the "Power Of Siberia" gas pipeline, with a squawking American eagle ineffectually banging a "sanctions" drum underneath.

Or it could decide -- as it did on September 14 -- to try to exploit British Prime Minister David Cameron's interpretation of what Jeremy Corbyn's election as leader of the Labour Party means for Great Britain:

The message was retweeted more than 8,000 times and "favorited" well over 4,000 more.

Some sympathized with the Russian Embassy, or at least acknowledged its wryness:

There were compliments like "priceless" from a local Labour councilor in Essex and "Spot on! Hit the proverbial nail on the head. LOL."

But most of the responses appeared to hint at Russian officials' hypocrisy for any of a number of reasons.

There was the sheer breadth of the list of "threats" that Vladimir Putin's Russia has identified in the past:

But perhaps more damningly, @BDStanley highlighted the absence of a credible opposition in a country where independent television has been all but wiped out and other media muzzled, dissidents are jailed on spurious charges or assassinated, and pro-Kremlin thugs are seemingly allowed to commit political violence at will.

Another user echoed that sentiment:

Another user, humorist Brian Sack, noted that Cameron's remarks were downright airy compared to perceived wrongdoing on Russia's political landscape:

Some recalled the fate of former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Aleksandr Litvinenko, who died in agony from radioactive poisoning in London, where he had lived in exile and authored books accusing Russian authorities of committing terrorism and assassination in their own country:

The assassination of Russian opposition leader and fierce Putin critic Boris Nemtsov just outside the Kremlin walls came to mind for some:

Jeremy Corbyn was elected on September 12 to lead the British Labour Party. He is regarded by supporters as a passionate champion of the left and an antidote to politics as usual, and derided by critics as a fringe politician reminiscent of Labour's days in the political wilderness.

Corbyn has been a staunch critic of NATO, blaming the transatlantic alliance's "expansion...into Poland and the Czech Republic" for "particularly increased tensions with Russia" just one month after Moscow completed its military occupation and forced annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. In that piece, titled NATO Belligerence Endangers Us All for Morningstaronline.co.uk, he described NATO and the European Union as having "become the tools of U.S. policy in Europe." But "the resurgence of Russia and the enormous economic power of China are ending" what he called "two decades of unipolar U.S. power."

"The overall issue is still one of the activities and expansionism of the post-1990 United States," Corbyn wrote, further adding that the "long-term effect of the behaviour of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, backed by the EU and the British government, is to divide the world."

Russian Ambassador to the U.K. Aleksandr Yakovenko congratulated Corbyn on his Labour victory, saying he hoped "for positive change in terms of debate, including on our relations."

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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