Reprinted from Sputnik
British news media this week lapped up claims of Russian President Vladimir Putin as a "sinister gunslinger." Shamelessly, scurrilously, a pile of news outlets claimed that the Russian leader's manner of walking is due to years of training with firearms as a KGB officer.
Labeling Putin's characteristic walk as "a gunslinger's gait" the intent is to make the Russian president appear as a shady, unscrupulous "strongman" who has a penchant for toting guns. Dredging up the former Soviet secret service KGB -- described as "the feared Cold War agency" -- only adds to the purpose of demonizing.
It is no coincidence that the latest media "campaign" -- what else do you call it when so many outlets run the same story? -- came in the same week that Putin was about to deliver his annual press conference to international journalists on major world events.
It is almost laughable that so-called independent "news" media could give prominence to this non-story. The interesting point though is to study the logistics of how the information was published, the timeline and the sources. For in that, what becomes clear is how Western news media are politically servile.
The concerted way the British press ran with the tawdry story points to a politicized agenda -- and in particular orchestration by the American Central Intelligence Agency.
First, let's look at the "story" for what it's worth. To pick out one example, the British tabloid Daily Mail ran this headline: "How Putin's KGB firearms training skills left him with sinister 'gunslinger's gait.'"
Several other British newspapers, such as the Daily Express, Daily Star, The Mirror and Daily Telegraph, as well as the state-owned BBC, all ran similar headlines. Notably, too, all the reports were written in very similar style, sharing the same wording and "talking points."
The original source of the claim was a supposed scientific paper published on Monday in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) by a team of European neurologists. The lead author of the paper was named as Professor Bastiaan Bloem based at Radboud University Medical Centre in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
Bloem and his colleagues speculate that Putin's body posture while walking is a result of training from days as a KGB officer. They write:
"We propose that this new gait pattern, which we term 'gunslinger's gait,' may result from a behavioral adaptation, possibly triggered by KGB or other forms of weapons training where trainees are taught to keep their right hand close to the chest while walking, allowing them to quickly draw a gun when faced with a foe."
Furthermore, the medics go on to "substantiate" their KGB weapons training hypothesis by claiming that they noticed the same walking style in four other senior Russian officials: Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, former defense ministers Anatoly Serdyukov and Sergei Ivanov, and a highly ranked military commander Anatoly Sidorov. All are said to display "gunslinger's gait" while stepping out.
Trouble is that premier Medvedev has never served in the military, never mind the KGB. Anatoly Serdyukov was also not in the KGB.
But that ridiculously unscientific methodology does not deter Professor Bloem and his colleagues from presenting their paper in a serious medical journal. One wonders how the BMJ even let it be published based on such ropey "science."
Now here is where it gets interesting. The paper was published in the BMJ on Monday, December 14. Within hours it was then made into a story and published on Tuesday by the US government-owned news outlet, Radio Free Europe (RFE). It is well documented that RFE has close ties with the CIA, and has served as a propaganda outlet since the heady days of the Cold War back in the late 1940s and 50s.