Early on the morning of February 1st a report appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Asia’ page and in the updates section of the ‘Middle East’ page under the headline ‘Bi-2: Russian anti-war band leaves Thailand for Israel’.
Written by Patrick Jackson, who describes his job as writing “breaking news for BBC World Online” and tagged ‘Israel’, that report fails to explain why a Russian anti-war band would be leaving Thailand “for Israel”.
Readers are told that:
“An anti-war Russian-Belarusian rock band says all its members have left Thailand for Israel after fears they would be deported to Russia.
Bi-2 had been playing in a Thai resort popular with Russian tourists when members were arrested for unauthorised shows.
Human rights activists urged Thailand not to deport them for fear they would be persecuted in their home countries.
Now the band says it is on its way to Tel Aviv in Israel.
The band’s frontman, Yegor “Lyova” Bortnik, has already arrived in the Israeli city, Radio Free Europe reports.
On its Facebook page, the band announced on Wednesday: “All the musicians in Bi-2 have successfully left Thailand and are heading to Tel Aviv. Details tomorrow.””
The band’s Facebook page to which Jackson links is in Russian and therefore does not provide further information to the majority of readers of the BBC News website. Those who bothered to click on the link to the Radio Free Europe Facebook account would find a video which includes the statement “last year, they left Russia and settled in Israel”.
The Times of Israel explains:
“While two members of the band have only Russian citizenship, others are dual Russian-Israeli citizens, one holds dual Russian and Australian citizenship, and Egor Bortnik, known by the stage name LevaB2, is an Israeli citizen exclusively.”
The Times of Israel also reports an aspect of the story which is not mentioned at all in the BBC’s account:
“After a harrowing week in Thai custody, Russian alternative rock group Bi-2 is headed to Israel, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
The move comes after an unprecedented effort by the Israeli diplomats, who intervened to prevent the self-exiled band that has several dual Israeli-Russian members from being sent back to Russia in what amounted to an extradition attempt by the Russian government — though the artists had committed no crime. […]
The Israeli consul in Bangkok intervened on behalf of the Israeli citizens and said that they would be deported to Israel. An agreement was reached, but the next day the detainees were visited by Russian diplomats who announced that the deal was off and that the Russian government insisted the band members were only to be deported to Russia — and sent there by a direct flight.
On January 30, Bortnik, who does not have a Russian passport, was the only band member who flew back to Tel Aviv. He later published an Israeli flag on his Instagram stories. The rest of the group’s fate was decided on January 31 and they were put on a flight to Israel. […]
Exiled Russian politician and human rights activist Dmitri Gudkov, who is a friend of the band, told The Times of Israel that the incident in Phuket is part of an organized campaign by the Kremlin set into motion just in time for Russian presidential elections.
“Russian authorities plan to arrange a show trial to intimidate anti-war musicians and other representatives of creative professions who previously emigrated against the backdrop of the war and are now performing around the world, to demonstrate that they can get anyone abroad,” said Gudkov.
Gudkov hailed the work of the Israeli Foreign Ministry — and specifically that of Israeli diplomats in Thailand.
“I cannot praise enough the Israeli diplomats, and especially the Israeli consul in Bangkok and the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
In other words, the reason why members of “[a]n anti-war Russian-Belarusian rock band […] have left Thailand for Israel” is that Israeli diplomats intervened to ensure their safety. The BBC, however, chose not to inform its audiences of that part of the story.