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19 Jan, 2021 12:47

‘Degraded’ US falling short of its own democratic standards & has no right to lecture others, says Russian parliamentary speaker

‘Degraded’ US falling short of its own democratic standards & has no right to lecture others, says Russian parliamentary speaker

Russia’s top MP has warned that Moscow, long talked down to by the West over the state of its political system, must resist following the example of the US in allowing unelected tech tycoons to censor non-mainstream voices.

Speaking at the opening of the new parliamentary session on Tuesday, Vyacheslav Volodin said that, while Americans have sought to lecture other nations about the application of democracy, “it is now clear to everyone that the US itself does not have these standards.”

“We will not allow those who oversaw the degradation of their political system to talk to us in a condescending tone, when it has resulted in the infringement of fundamental rights and freedoms of [their] citizens,” he added.

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The parliamentarian added that the American electoral system was archaic and unaccountable, and that there is “a deep internal split in [their] society, which comes from the hostility that has been unleashed across the country.”

However, Volodin slammed steps taken by American social media giants to cut back on what they deem to be extremist speech online. These, he argued, were misguided and are more of a threat than a solution.

According to him, the conversation about social media censorship “is especially important for us today so that such lawlessness – and it is impossible to call it anything else – on the part of American social networks doesn’t repeat itself in Russia.”

At the same time, he warned that moves by Western digital giants also pose a threat to freedoms in Russia. “If they behave so brazenly and unceremoniously in their own country, how will they behave… towards other countries?”

Volodin’s comments come amid an escalating row over decisions by a number of US networking conglomerates to ban or suspend outgoing American President Donald Trump from their services. Sites including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have barred Trump over fears of incitement to violence after the storming of the Capitol building in Washington earlier this month.

However, the move has drawn criticism from world leaders concerned with the precedent set by unelected online tycoons setting the standards for free speech. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the banning of Trump was “problematic,” while a number of Russian politicians and commentators have said it contravenes basic rights of free expression.

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