It's childish to call me a Putin apologist. I'm simply showing good old journalistic skepticism, says Bev Turner

Bev Turner in studio

Bev Turner gives her assessment of the media reaction to Alexei Navalny's death

GB News
Bev Turner

By Bev Turner

Published: 19/02/2024

- 17:26

GB News Presenter Bev Turner explains why it's important not to just follow the set narrative when reporting on breaking news

How did Alexei Navalny die? I don’t know. You don’t know. President Biden, Rishi Sunak and David Cameron do not know. And yet, within minutes of Putin’s best-known critic being announced dead, these influential leaders strode upon the global stage to pin the death squarely on Putin.

Such global, lockstep unanimity in the face of zero evidence should worry us all.

Barely-functioning President Biden said that there was “no doubt” that Putin was responsible for his murder. New and enthusiastic UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron was fast out of the traps, "there should be consequences" he said, as though dishing out detentions rather than provoking the Russian President into World War 3.

Every voice in the legacy media lined up to shake their heads at the evil of Putin who must be “held accountable,” “stopped at all costs,” “punished” - pick your cliché - they came thick and fast.

Alexei Navalny

Alexei Navalny died at 47 in prison last week


Anyone lucky enough to have a public voice lazily slid into group-think, unanimously parroting a twenty-year-old narrative that serves greedy Western leaders and bomb-makers: Putin is all bad and the West is all good.

The simple, binary stupidity of such brainwashing would be mildly entertaining if it wasn’t edging us inexorably towards a global conflict hot on the heels of a public debate about the potential need for a conscripted British army of healthy young people.

American broadcast journalist Tucker’s Carlson’s sit-down interview with President Putin has now been watched on X a stunning 205 million times. Carlson allowed Putin to speak for a whole two and a half hours. For anyone who wants to understand the motivations of a man with whom we are currently fighting in a proxy war (which may morph into a real one all too soon) it was compulsive viewing. If you prefer to get your knowledge from tabloid headlines or BBC news I suggest you give it a miss – it might prove all too challenging.

I was reassured by the fact that it offered no real surprises: Putin has been absolutely constant in his ambition since the eve on which he invaded Ukraine: he possesses a sentimental but logical and deeply historical view of the former USSR and the modern Russian identity. To him, at least parts of Ukraine, belong to Russia and Ukraine started the war in 2014.

He acknowledged - with a surprising lack of anger - that subsequent American administrations have meddled in the defenestration and subsequent election of leaders, including Zelensky in Ukraine. He still does not issue claims towards expansionist wishes which underpin all those pearl clutches shrieking, “But he’ll take Poland! But he’ll take Belarus! He’ll never stop!” He might never stop. We don’t know. But raging war based on clairvoyance is a dangerous tactic.

To Carlson, Putin explained his repeated frustration at being rejected from joining Nato. He has watched the borders of member states edging closer to his country on five different occasions. It is impossible to watch his forensically chronological version of events without wondering if opportunities were missed to build bridges with the man who oversees the biggest country on earth, rich with so many natural resources that he doesn’t have the population required to access them. It is also obvious that the longer the Ukraine war drags on, the thinner his patience will become, until we – the British people – become the target of his retaliation.

Sure enough, Dmitry Medvedev - a close Putin ally who served as president from 2008 to 2012 - said today that if a military defeat in Ukraine led to a return to the 1991 frontiers, when the Soviet Union collapsed, it would “lead towards a global war with Western countries using the entire strategic arsenal of our state. In Kyiv, Berlin, London, Washington.” Russia is motivated by what it sees as returning the occupied regions of Ukraine (namely the predominantly Russian-speaking eastern Donbass area) to Russia. The West must really want Ukraine to ‘feel’ more European than Russian in order to commit us to an endless war…In the absence of any firmer incentive, it is no wonder that independent journalists and social media users point towards the Biden family’s long-standing, opaque business ties to the region.

Tucker Carlson and Vladimir Putin

Tucker Carlson sat down with Russian leader Vladimir Putin for two hours earlier this month

Tucker Carlson Network on X

Tucker Carlson also showcased elements of Russian society which he saw on his trip: spotlessly clean parks; a lack of street-crime (albeit it high on financial corruption, no doubt) with their well-maintained transport services and cheap food. He was at pains to say that he makes no assessment of why the country appears well-run, only that there isn’t a city in America that looks and feels as clean and well-maintained.

Biden must have been choking on his liquidised lunch. Putin must have felt some pride. So, forgive me if I couldn’t jump on the murder bandwagon over Navalny. Of course, I feel sympathy for his wife and family but it is possible to experience pity and journalistic skepticism at the same time.

There are effectively three plausible explanations: Putin, emboldened by a bump in the global PR polls, decided that now was the time to see off his main opponent. But this theory casts Putin as thick (and he may be many things, but no stupid person holds onto power for a cumulative total of nearly 20 years). Why would he undo the shift in public perception that he has long craved: to be seen as a well-intentioned statesmen alongside other leading Presidents?

Option 2 is that Biden and other western allies, infuriated by the 200 million people seeing a side of Russia that they have successfully quashed through media collaboration for years, needed an event so headline-grabbing that the world would be reminded: west equals good, Putin equals evil. There is a long tradition of convenient deaths in political history which are difficult to explain as coincidental, including Jeffrey Epstein and Dr David Kelly.

Most likely, perhaps, is that Navalny died of natural causes in bleak prison conditions and Biden et al leapt to make political capital out of this serendipitous turn of events.

Biden was quick to make his pitch for $60 billion more military aid to Ukraine which has been stalled by wavering lawmakers in the House of Representatives. Biden’s begging for the money must make the mothers of Ukraine despair as it will buy the death of thousands more sons on the battlefield. To date, the total of Ukrainian deaths or casualties stands at a shocking 383,000.

Donald Trump responded on his social media platform truth Social, "The sudden death of Alexei Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country. It is a slow, steady progression, with CROOKED, Radical Left Politicians, Prosecutors, and Judges leading us down a path to destruction.”

Vladimir Putin himself has not spoken publicly about Navalny's death but the Russian foreign ministry said it rejected "biased and unrealistic" assessments from the UK about the cause. Is it likely that Russia would wish to turn Navalny into a political martyr at a time when it would inspire the West to further commit to the Ukraine coffers?

There is an anonymous eye-witness account from a paramedic who stated to independent outlet Novaya Gazeta Europe that Navlny may have suffered a seizure, “when a person is convulsing and others try to hold him down but the convulsions are very strong, then bruising appears.” They also said he had a bruise on his chest that would indicate cardiac massage, “So they did try to resuscitate him, and he probably died of cardiac arrest,” the paramedic added, “But nobody is saying anything about why he had a cardiac arrest.”

Navlny’s mother was told her son had died from "Sudden death syndrome" - a vague term for different cardiac syndromes and an unidentified source told state-controlled RT that Navalny died from a blood clot.

In an ideal world, the Russian authorities would turn his body over to authorities trusted to conduct an independent autopsy but in a nation defined by entrenched political positions such an ambition would be impossible: Navalny’s angry family would claim murder regardless of any pathology report (understandably as they are in a war of their own against corruption and injustice); Putin’s men would claim no foul-play but would not be widely believed….and that horrifying vacuum of trust is what scares me the most when a story emerges which draws unanimous conclusions. All that matters is the truth. And truth is only possible through questions – no matter how difficult or unpopular they are.

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