Russian, Chinese, and Iranian government and state media accounts and outlets covered well-trodden ground last week, with each country returning to familiar topics or themes. For the third straight week, Russian government officials and state media cast doubt on the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, characterizing the situation as a politicized rehash of the Russophobic “Skripal hoax” and accusing Germany of non-cooperation with Russian officials. Official Russian accounts also continued to voice support for embattled Belarusian president Alexander Lukasheno, accusing the United States of hypocrisy in its coverage of the protests in Minsk and elevating claims of Western involvement in those protests. Finally, the Julian Assange extradition trial in the UK prompted Russian state-directed media to renew its years-long defense of the Wikileaks founder, including claims that he is a victim of political persecution and assertions that his charges are an attack on press freedom. Chinese government officials and state media waded into the controversy over the Disney film “Mulan,” using the controversy to rehash Beijing-friendly talking points on the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang province. Similar denials were voiced by RT talking head and former UK Member of Parliament George Galloway, who defended China (and Disney) against “one of the greatest hoaxes in modern times” in an RT America segment. Beijing’s messengers also continued their criticism of U.S. tech policies targeting China, with #CIFTIS (China International Fair for Trade in Services) and #5G appearing among the top 10 most-used hashtags last week. Iran, meanwhile, focused its condemnation on the normalization of relations between Bahrain and Israel. Tehran-linked accounts followed the patterns observed in their coverage of the United Arab Emirates’ recognition of Israel: harsh condemnation of what Tehran views as a betrayal of Palestinians and of Muslim solidarity, along with amplification of other parties condemning the move, including Western validators otherwise unfavorably disposed towards Iran, like Amnesty International. Finally, Iranian messengers used the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the United States to remind readers of Saudi complicity in the attack, as well as President Trump’s links to the Saudi regime.
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