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New Delhi: After a so-called Russia-backed digital outlet asserted that Kashmir was becoming the “new Palestine”, the Russian embassy in India distanced itself from the broadcast and reiterated the official position that the volatile region was a bilateral dispute between New Delhi and Islamabad.
On Friday, a Berlin-based digital video organisation, Redfish Media, had tweeted the trailer for a new documentary on Jammu and Kashmir that spoke about the Indian Union Territory “fast becoming a settler-colonial state”. The video titled “Kashmir: Palestine in the Making’, is scheduled to be streamed on February 11 at 9:30 pm IST.
Two days later, the Russian embassy in New Delhi issued a statement, asserting that two points need to be emphasized. There has been no official response from the Indian government.
On Sunday, the Russian embassy described Twitter’s description of Redfish as affiliated to Moscow as “misleading”. The statement added that the application of the label “does not make it automatically related to any state support”.
2nd ➡️ #Russia‘s official position on the issue of Kashmir & our principled stance on non-interference in bilateral disputes remain unchanged. The solution should be found between India & Pakistan only, it should be based on the achieved agreements ➡️ https://t.co/Gm3oOWjdaM https://t.co/DgI4glvtuR
— Russia in India 🇷🇺 (@RusEmbIndia) February 6, 2022
While stating that Redfish has an independent editorial policy, the Russian embassy “hoped” that the yet-to-be aired documentary takes a “balanced” approach to the subject. “The channel functions independently with regard to its editorial policy. However, it is hoped that the complexity and historical background of this and other regional issues will be given due understanding and balanced approach, which is expected from any professional media,” the statement said.
After the tweet announcing the Kashmir documentary was posted, Redfish had followed up with another one on Saturday to state that the documentary also includes perspectives from the “BJP in Jammu Kashmir”.
In response to the unwarranted controversy over our Kashmir documentary trailer: We assure our community that the full documentary is balanced and includes the perspectives of all stakeholders, including the BJP in Jammu Kashmir and Kashmiri activists. pic.twitter.com/rsQFySLQEi
— redfish (@redfishstream) February 5, 2022
The Russian embassy also reiterated that Moscow’s traditional stance on Kashmir – non-interference in bilateral disputes – remains “unchanged”. “The solution should be found between India and Pakistan only, and it should be based on the achieved agreements, including the Simla Agreement of 1972 and the Lahore Declaration of 1999,” it added.
The Russian embassy’s brief statement comes in the backdrop of the ongoing tensions with the West over apparent military build-up on the border of Ukraine.
India had abstained from the vote on whether the UN Security Council should go ahead with the planned discussion on tensions in Central Asia. During the UNSC discussion on Ukraine, India had stated that the legitimate security interest of “all countries”, implying Russia’s anxieties about NATO expansion, should be taken into account to find a diplomatic solution. The Indian statement had also not mentioned the reported movement of Russian troops.
Redfish had been labelled as a “Russia state-affiliated media” on Twitter since August 2020. Protesting the tagging, Redfish claimed that it was “100% editorially independent & no proof otherwise, nor critique of our work challenging the mainstream & representing the oppressed”.
The media organisations had claimed that its documentaries were produced “in collaboration with people involved in grassroots struggles worldwide to build an alternative to the ruling capitalist system”.
According to Twitter, state-affiliated media are defined as “outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution”.
Redfish had long been in the spotlight of Western media for allegedly being a vehicle of Kremlin propaganda. A 2018 article by the US news website, The Daily Beast, had claimed that Redfish wasn’t as independent as it asserted as its report were the “product of an in-house team of staff correspondents and producers, most of whom last worked for Russian government media”.
An annotated map on Redfish’s website showed that the subjects of the majority of its documentaries were related to Europe and North America. The website had previously broadcast three documentaries related to India on topics of ‘saffron terror’, workers’ rights and big Pharma. There were no documentaries on Russia or China listed on the site.