The world’s media has been pointing at one person following a massive documents leak from a Panama law firm. But that person, President Vladimir Putin, wasn’t even mentioned in the data leak. Sections of the public are not happy at the media coverage.
Pictures of President Putin could be found on the front pages of highly-respected news publications around the globe. TheGuardian and the Mail Online were both at it, despite the fact that in the 11.5 million documents that were published; Putin’s name was not mentioned once.
Newspapers around the globe had plenty of world leaders to choose from: President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko managed to find his way on to the list, as did King Salman of Saudi Arabia. The father of British Prime Minister David Cameron was also among those mentioned. Despite these high-profile figures, the majority of the international media decided to accuse Putin of corruption. And even if the article itself was not about Putin, the cover picture suggested otherwise.
— Lloyd (@Lloyd_O_M) April 4, 2016
After several hours, Putin’s pictures were removed from the front pages of a number of top internet publications, such as the Guardian and the Independent, which could have been down to the storm of criticism on social media, at the hypocrisy of publishing the photo of someone who was not even named in the report.
@businessinsider: You state that Putin isn’t listed yet you proceed to use his photo. Western anti-Putin propaganda machinery in full swing!
— Mothibi Phosa II (@Mothibi_Phosa) April 3, 2016
“You state that Putin isn’t listed yet you proceed to use his photo. Western anti-Putin propaganda machinery in full swing!”Mothibi Phosa II commeted on a Business Insider article.
A Facebook user accused the BBC of “anti-Russian propaganda” and complained that “Joseph Goebbels had less biased news articles,” in regards to the fact that the BBC published an article about Putin, despite the Russian leader not being named.
— Андрей Адаменко (@drone012) April 3, 2016
One user asked why the Independent was using a photograph of Syrian President Bashar Assad alongside President Putin, when neither man was mentioned in the trove of documents.
In response, another Twitter user stated: “Because they don’t want to blame ‘friends’ like King Salman or Poroshenko…”
— Independent US (@IndyUSA) April 3, 2016
One Twitter user said it was “tiresome” that Putin was being linked with everything, while mainstream media was ignoring that “Cameron has been linked.”
Another Twitter user accused the BBC of being the “British Brainwashing Channel” for not mentioning David Cameron, while wondering whether this was “against national interest?”
— thoemser (@thoemser) April 3, 2016
The smear campaign against Putin comes a week after his press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that the Western media intended to launch a new slander attack against the Russian president, while he also expressed regret that reporters’ professionalism is often “sacrificed to political demands.”
“Another piece of spin, which is claimed to be sensational and objective, will happen in the nearest days. We have received some excessively-rich requests that, however, in their form were more like questions at an interrogation,” Peskov said.
He explained that the letters contained some personal questions about Putin, as well as questions about the Russian president’s family, his childhood friends and some businessmen.
“They are repeating themselves. ‘Is it true that the amount of your personal accumulated wealth is about US$40 billion?’ ‘Is it true that you possess gigantic residences, mega-yachts and other assets?’
On Sunday, Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) released the biggest leak in journalistic history, posting 11.5 million documents from a Panama law firm online and providing “rare insights into a world that can only exist in the shadows.”
SZ said it received the law firm’s documents a year ago from an anonymous source who “wanted neither financial compensation nor anything else in return.”
The German paper obtained further documents in an investigation that followed, involving “400 journalists from more than 100 media organizations in over 80 countries.”
The Panama papers were also supported by USAID, the United States Government agency which is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid, and Open Society, which is backed by billionaire George Soros.
In an opinion piece published in February, Soros tried to prove that Putin was working “to foster the EU’s disintegration” by flooding the continent with refugees, allegedly as a result of the Russian military’s foray into Syria where it has dealt a lethal blow to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) forces.
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