Russian embassy slates the BBC for 'spreading cliches' in McMafia


The Russian embassy has slated the BBC, claiming that it is dealing in stereotypes in its new crime drama McMafia.

The show stars James Norton as Alex Godman, the son of a key figure in the Russian mafia raised in Britain, who is soon reluctantly drawn into a world of crime following his uncle’s murder.

But according to the Russian Embassy, which took to Twitter to voice its annoyance, the broadcaster is guilty of ‘spreading cliches’.

“BBC’s #McMafia depicts Britain as a playground for Russian gangsters. But do you know how many Russian offended there are actually in UK jails?” it asked, before showing a poll of users which appeared to indicate the number is ‘fewer than 10’, though no evidence for the figure is given.

It went on: “Crime rate among Russians in UK is well below national average. Good that our followers are not buying into the cliches BBC is spreading.”

However, according to the Daily Telegraph, the actual figure, per the Ministry of Justice, is 35 Russians imprisoned in the UK since September last year, a figure which is admittedly down from 51 last year.

When asked about the discrepancy with the MoJ figures, the Embassy added: “We base our data on the notifications that the British authorities send us pursuant to their international legal obligations.

“We also double check these notifications since the persons recorded as ‘Russians’ are often not Russian nationals.”

It’s not the first issues of alleged stereotyping that the show has run into.

The group UK Lawyers for Israel has accused the drama of ‘gratuitous slurs’ against Israeli businessmen, taking aim at the character Semiyon Kleiman, a shady businessman and politician played by US actor David Strathairn in the show.

In a statement on its Facebook page, it said: “BBC 1 mini-series, McMafia, uses gratuitous slurs against Israeli businessmen and makes references to Israel which aren’t mentioned in the original book, McMafia, by Mischa Glenny,” they write.

“Furthermore, the mini-series distorts the motto of Mossad which was quoted in the drama, as ‘By deception (sic) we will do war’. The actual motto comes from Proverbs, 24.6 and says ‘For by wise guidance you can wage your war’.

“The use of the word ‘deception’ in substitue for the words ‘wise guidance’ attacks the integrity of Mossad and insinuates that Israel officially sanctions deception in its intelligence activities.”

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