Trumped-up evidence used in court battles against Russia

The practice of creating fake news and presenting it to the public through reputable media is part of the system of bringing official charges against a particular country, which is being actively used in international courts, Queen's Counsel from Brick Court Chambers Michael Swainston, who presents Russia’s interests in the European Court of Human Rights on the case of Georgia vs. Russia, as well as Kiev-initiated trials, told Izvestia. He considers the trend of using fake news and trumped-up evidence to be a serious threat for the global system of law, peace and security, adding that the contents of precarious videos and online pictures should be taken with a grain of salt. One picture can replace a thousand of words, but all words in this case may turn out to be a lie, he added.

Swainston has compiled evidence in a 160-page report about fabricated packages, groundless statements and doctored photos being dished up as ‘facts’ to be eventually used as a base for charges against Moscow, Izvestia writes. In the document, he proves that the strategy targeting Russia with the help of fake news and their numerous publications involves social networks, prominent media outlets and reputable international structures. Discrepancies and direct contradictions regarding the August 2008 events in South Ossetia and the Donbass conflict are used as examples in the report. Summing it up, the British lawyer stressed that lawyers and judges cannot allow using propaganda as evidence. Disputes can only be effectively settled if the guarantees of neutrality and transparency are observed in fact-finding, otherwise the court’s findings are no longer credible, which is threatening for the whole system of international law, Swainston emphasizes.

The national legislation of the majority of states envisions responsibility for fabricated evidence and attempts to package fake news as facts, Azhdar Kurtov, a political analyst and expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, told the newspaper. He agrees with Swainston that such cases of twisted facts undermine the efficiency of the global legal system. However, international organizations, particularly the European Court of Human Rights, have no mechanisms to investigate such manipulations, which is why any falsifications unveiled bear no threat of consequence for the guilty side, apart from a lost case, Kurtov explained.