On August 10, various Indian media, including The Times of India reported that Russia supported the Indian government’s controversial decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The stories cited the “Russian Foreign Ministry briefing on Friday” (August 9) with direct quotes. In the Times of India article, one of the quotes has the Russian Foreign Ministry saying that the move was “carried out within the framework of the Constitution of the Republic of India.”
In the video segment of the report the Times of India host repeated the claim saying, “I am quoting.” The outlet’s national affairs editor Sprinjoy speaking via phone about the alleged Russian support said, “If you have seen the statement closely, it says that what is happening in Jammu and Kashmir, the reorganization is part of internal affairs of India.” The text portion of the report says the Russian Foreign Ministry comment came “in response to questions from the media.”
However, the transcript of the August 9th briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova published on the ministry’s official website has no mention of this issue.
On August 14, four days after the Times of India story was published, Russian media reported a phone conversation that took place between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Pakistani Foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi, specifically mentioning Russia’s official reaction to New Delhi’s decision.
“During the conversation, the situation in South Asia was discussed against the backdrop of worsening relations between Pakistan and India after the decision made by New Delhi to change the legal status of Jammu and Kashmir," a Russian Foreign Ministry statement on the phone conversation read.
"The Russian side emphasized the need to de-escalate tensions and that there was no alternative to resolving differences between Pakistan and India on a bilateral basis by political and diplomatic means. Representatives of Russia to the UN adhere to this consistent position."
Nothing was included in the statement which might suggest Russian support for the Indian government’s latest action or its constitutionality.
Prior to that, the most recent item on the Russian foreign ministry’s website mentioning Kashmir was from March 7, 2019 - an interview with the director of the Ministry’s department for arms control - during which there was a question about whether Russia would suspend arms sales to India or Pakistan due to unrest in Jammu and Kashmir. Nothing resembling the quote found in the Indian media is given.
Despite this, the claim and unconfirmed quotes have already impacted the coverage of the issue. In the international reactions section of the Wikipedia page about the revocation, the suspicious quote about the move being in accordance with the constitution is found, and there are two Indian media outlets that were cited as the source of the quote, one of them being the Times of India article mentioned previously.
The Indian government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019. The territory has been the subject of a dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947.
The Times of India did not respond to Polyraph.info query submitted through its website. The Russian Foreign Ministry did not answer to the request for a comment.