A Russian journalist accused by British media of ‘spying’ on a UK cyberwarfare facility told RT he never intended to get inside, adding it was the base guards who actually spoke to the Russian TV crew first.
Russia’s Channel 1 crew indeed visited Berkshire, where the 77th Brigade is based, to make a report about it, the channel’s the UK Bureau chief Timur Siraziev told RT. However, the Russian journalists were open about their job, and never tried to snoop on the facility.
A routine episode in the work of pretty much any journalist has caught excessive attention of almost every major UK media outlet, after the British Army issued a special warning calling on soldiers to under no circumstances talk to the Russian journalists and to immediately call the police if they see one.
The unusually harsh reaction to a simple news report quickly prompted the British media to squarely assume the Russians were “spying” on what turned out to be a secret UK military facility tasked with conducting psychological influence and information operations on the web.
“We were recording a standup using a [large] professional camera. We never tried to get into the base’s territory, as the Daily Mail puts it. We just approached [the entry checkpoint], introduced ourselves and explained what we were doing there,” Siraziev told RT.
The journalists also officially requested a comment from the British Defence Ministry about the facility activities prior to their visit to the base, but received no reply. The Russian crew did not actually need any special permission to record outside the facility, as it is a public area. In fact, the crew did not even plan to come anywhere near the entrance or talk to the military, Siraziev explained.
“There was no word about recording. We were just driving by when we heard someone at the checkpoint calling us out. We turned around and introduced ourselves,” he said.“If not for this, we would not have come. We did not need that conversation.”
The journalist also said that the situation in general did not seem suspicious to the crew, as they have filmed near UK military bases before and were often approached by the military or police, who asked them to show their ID.
The British Army, however, apparently had a different view of the situation. The brief encounter the Russian journalists and the guards, which actually took place in late November, even caught attention of the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who somehow decided it was a reason to remind the British people that his ministry takes “the security of our bases and personnel incredibly seriously” and called on the vigilant citizens to immediately “report “anyone acting suspiciously.”
‘Orwellian propaganda machine’
The actions of the Russian crew might in fact look much less suspicious than the activities of the base they were reporting about. It is not only the ‘pesky Russians’ that are concerned with it, either. A piece that appeared in Scotland’s The National following all the British media frenzy about the ‘snooping Russian journo’ actually warned that the 77th Brigade stationed at the base is involved in nothing short of “Orwellian mind control.”
“The 77th Brigade is not a bunch of techies who are advising on cyber security. This is a military formation designed to take warfare behind the designated enemy’s psychological, media and cultural front lines,” wrote The National’s columnist George Kerevan.
The Scottish journalist openly admits he is not a big fan of the Russian government but still says he is much more concerned about London “using the Kremlin as an excuse to create their own Orwellian propaganda machine.” And all the fuzz around the Russian report is apparently nothing but a “bid to divert the story towards Russia and away from 77th Brigade itself.”
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