An unconfirmed report from a regional Russian news website has driven some British tabloids into a world war three frenzy.
It managed to send some media outlets into overdrive using scaremongering narrative and images about the seriously aggressive Russia and how ‘Big Bad Vlad’ secretly wanted to nuke them.
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The allegations were based on a claim that Russian officials had been ordered to leave the West their families.
Based on anonymous sources, it has since been denied by the Kremlin. Still some British media outlets jumped at a chance for a little Russia-bashing exercise.
“Russia ‘urgently recalls officials’ families living abroad’ as WW3 threat looms,” said the headline of the Daily Star, which apparently was the first British newspaper to report the story.
What’s he planning? Vladimir Putin ‘recalls relatives of officials living abroad’ https://t.co/2f7XMuAcq6 pic.twitter.com/x8mmpUNvxb
— Daily Star (@Daily_Star) October 12, 2016
The publication has a picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin glancing angrily with an explosion in the background. Another picture shows Putin and a map of Europe, with Russia painted red with the sickle and hammer symbol of the Soviet Union apparently bombarding European nations with nuclear missiles.
The newspaper cites Russian political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky as saying that the alleged evacuation of family members is part of Russia preparing for a big war with the West. The report ties the move with resent civil defense training in Russia, which drew unexpected attention in Britain despite being annual and not out of the ordinary.
The Daily Mail reported the story in equally apocalyptic words, mentioning Russia’s suspension of a deal with the US on how to dispose of excessive weapons-grade material. The move doesn’t affect Russia’s nuclear deterrence and was meant to express Moscow’s rebuke towards Washington for not sticking to the terms of the pact.
Russia orders all officials to fly home any relatives living abroad https://t.co/Py5oaVQ6y6 pic.twitter.com/JXMtH0GGjW
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) October 12, 2016
The claim of a looming exodus of Russians was initially published by znak.com, a news website based in Yekaterinburg in the Urals. It cited five unanimous officials, who said they had been “unofficially recommended” by the Kremlin to bring home their relatives living abroad.
Students studying in foreign universities should ask for transfer to Russian universities to continue their education, the report said. Elderly relatives would have to spend their retirement in Russia rather than in the West, it added. The punishment for not following the alleged recommendation would be a stall in career.
When asked about the report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was the first time he had heard about the alleged pull-out of officials’ family members.
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