Unspoken untruths A pro-Kremlin group's exhibit exposing the fallout of American ‘lies’ is itself embarrassingly inaccurate
On February 18, in a rented space at Moscow's Central House of Artists, the pro-Kremlin group “Network” unveiled a new exhibit called “Where a Lie Leads.” The installation exposes 11 cases from the past 100 years when “outright lies by the United States in the name of democracy” led to “destruction, suffering, and murder.” (For good measure, some of the installations also mock Americans' militarism and consumerism.) Evgeny Feldman, a photojournalist at the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, attended the spectacle, where he noticed that much of the exhibit features misleading imagery and downright false information. Aided by Alexey Kovalev, the man behind Noodleremover.news (a propaganda-busting website that debunks reports in the Russian state media), Feldman reviews the unspoken untruths on display at “Where a Lie Leads.”
At the stand dedicated to “America's occupation of the Far East” (referring to the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War in 1918), the exhibit makes no effort to distinguish between US troops and the armed forces deployed by the other nine interventionist powers. The pro-Kremlin activists also repeat a lie popular on the Internet that US Colonel Charles Morrow confessed to shooting prisoners and later wrote, “We couldn't get to sleep without killing someone that day.”
In fact, an American soldier in Marrow's unit shot and killed a drunk, rampaging Cossack corporal in the White Army. And this wasn't the only time US troops intervened against their own Cossack allies to spare local civilians from the White Army's brutality.
At the stand dedicated to America's intervention in Nicaragua, the caption below a famous photograph by James Nachtwey inexplicably claims it was taken in the 1920s, when in fact it was recorded in 1994. And Nachtwey took the photograph in Rwanda—not Nicaragua.
When it comes to imagery, “Where a Lie Leads” doesn't just play fast and loose—its use of photography is downright stupid. At the stand covering the bombing of Yugoslavia, there is a picture of a soldier kicking bloody civilians lying on the ground. The photograph was taken by Ron Haviv, a full seven years before the first NATO bombs ever fell. (Haviv's photo also shows members of the Serbian paramilitary unit known as “Arkan's Tigers” attacking Bosnian Muslim civilians.)
The same stand also features an image of a woman standing amid the ruins of her home, crying in a kitchen now turned to rubble. But the woman in this photograph (taken by Jean-Philippe Ksiazek) is an ethnic Albanian refugee returning to Kosovo, two days after Slobodan Milošević's forces abandoned the area. Her home had been destroyed by the Serbs—not NATO.
“Where a Lie Leads” also has a stand dedicated to NATO's intervention in Libya, where there is a photograph of a woman biting down on her lower lip, flashing her teeth, firing an automatic rifle into the air. In fact, this photo—taken by Goran Tomasevic—shows a rebel fighter celebrating Gaddafi's retreat from Benghazi on March 19, 2011, five days before NATO took command of enforcing no-fly zones over Libya.
The following video aired on a loop at the exhibit.
All this amounts to factual mistakes, but the very logic of every case [presented by the pro-Kremlin group] is itself questionable.