Russia’s official media is reporting that Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his government to use the word “terror” to describe the United States, the European Union and other Western nations in a bid to counter Western propaganda.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Russian president “is determined to combat the propaganda of the West in all its forms and manifestations.”
Russia’s State Duma, which is largely controlled by Putin’s government, passed a law in November to tighten controls on what could be said in state media.
“There is a big difference between saying something ‘totally’ bad, and saying it ‘is totally’ bad,” Peskov told a news conference.
“And the first is totally bad, the second is absolutely bad.
There are plenty of examples of both.
But the main difference is this: The first word is used to describe what is bad and the second word is not used to express good.”
The move came just weeks after the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling on Russia to investigate whether Russian authorities had engaged in extrajudicial killings of political opponents and journalists in recent years.
“The United Nations calls on the Russian authorities to investigate the death of Sergei Magnitsky and the subsequent prosecution of Sergei Prokofiev,” the council said in a statement on November 15.
“In the meantime, the Russian Federation should refrain from further politicizing the issue of human rights, particularly in the light of the recent death of Russian human rights defender Sergei Magnitksy.”
Peskov said Russia has a special mission to investigate alleged human rights violations by the Russian security services and foreign actors.
“We have not made any decision about the special mission yet,” he said.
Peskov’s comments came after US Vice President Joe Biden said he had “never seen” Russia’s government use the term “terror”.
He also said the Kremlin’s decision to use “terror”, in a move that is being called “cyber terrorism”, was “very worrying”.
“The Russian government must be very careful about using the term ‘terror’,” Biden told ABC’s This Week.
“Terror is a very important word, it’s a very useful word to describe, but I have never seen it used that way.”
US lawmakers also reacted angrily to Peskov.
“This is another sign of Russia’s increasing willingness to use ‘terrorism’ to justify its actions,” Senator John McCain, a Republican, told reporters in Washington.
“It’s an unprecedented step.
It’s very worrying, and we’re going to look into this further.”
Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution asking the State Department to investigate claims by Russian officials that US military forces had been used to kill pro-Kremlin protesters in the US and in Europe in retaliation for sanctions imposed by the US.
The House passed the resolution after a hearing by Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who said he was concerned about “Russia’s use of the term terror” to justify the killing of pro-democracy activists.