Russian state television says Britain and US provoked Hong Kong protests
Accusations from pro-Kremlin media reflect Russia’s growing ties with China after US and EU sanctions
Russian state television has claimed the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong are being organised by Britain and the United States.
In a sign of the Kremlin’s deep antipathy for popular street protest and growing anti-Western sentiment in Russian society, the Rossiya 24 channel regurgitated Chinese reports suggesting that leaders of the Occupy Central movement “underwent special training with the American secret services”.
“The tactics of the protesters exactly replicates the beginning of the ‘orange revolutions’, that were in fact coups,” the channel said, referring to the mass demonstrations that ousted governments in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan during the 2000s.
“What’s more,” Rossiya 24 continued in a broadcast shown on Tuesday and published online, “experts believe that Great Britain stands behind the protests in Hong Kong because it is losing economic benefits that its companies had after the handover of the colony to China.”
It is true that Chinese media have accused the protesters of having ties to the US government. Wen Wei Po, a pro-Beijing newspaper, said last week that Joshua Wong, the 17-year-old Hong Kong student leader, had met frequently with US embassy personnel in Hong Kong and received donations from Americans. He denies the allegations.
Beijing-leaning media have also accused the CIA of infiltrating schools in Hong Kong and claimed Britain has planted intelligence agents in the city’s government, judiciary and chambers of commerce.
Russia has been drawing closer to China as Moscow faces biting sanctions from the United States and the European Union over the Ukraine crisis.
Earlier this month, Rostec, the sanctions-hit Russian state tech company, signed a $10bn (GBP3.7bn) deal with a Chinese coal producer to develop deposits in Siberia and the Russian Far East. A week earlier, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, offered China a stake in Vankor, the country’s second-biggest oil project, which is situated in eastern Siberia.
Other Kremlin-leaning media are rolling into action to shore up Beijing and cast doubt on the origins of the Hong Kong protests.
Komsomolskaya Pravda, one of Russia’s biggest tabloids, said on Tuesday that the “western champions of democracy are supporting the insurgents in unison”. The paper cited the “odious” US state department spokesperson, Marie Harf, as an example.
During large anti-Kremlin demonstrations in Moscow in late 2011, Mr Putin claimed that protest leaders had worked “with the support of the US state department”.
Yury Tavrovsky, a China specialist at Moscow's Peoples' Friendship University, told Voice of Russia radio that America was using the Hong Kong protests as a way of putting pressure on Beijing.
“If the Chinese leaders do not squeeze this spot now it will keep on suppurating and then there will be great bloodshed,” he added. “So the sooner they take decisive action, the sooner this crisis will be liquidated.”