PR and common sense

The more mistakes a government makes in its public relations policy, the more suspicious the public is of anything public officials have to say. This rule was again confirmed, twice over, by the official reaction to the Pakistani abduction claims and the bloody escape of murder suspect Maxim Zhilim. The furor over the abduction controversy was largely prompted by official denials by Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis. But it was already too late. If it was business as usual, people pondered, why did Voulgarakis jump to brush off the claims? Were his remarks a result of ignorance? And did Greek and British intelligence services act as if they were above the law? Public skepticism toward political officials made citizens susceptible to false information over what really happened in the abduction case. A similar thing also happened with the suicide case. Criminal negligence in carrying out the transfer, the murder of the two policemen, and the easy escape were rightly slammed as huge police blunders. It prompted the suspension of the head of the prisoner transportation service in Ioannina as well as the officer on duty. And yet the conservative spin doctors tried to portray the fiasco as a big success. A man hunted by hordes of policemen, half-naked, without sleep or food, barefoot and almost unarmed eventually failed to escape. Unable to stand the cold and the suffering, the man committed suicide. Under such conditions, what would have constituted a failure? Perhaps if the Russian killer, exhausted and with a single bullet left in his gun, had made his way into Albania taking police chief Giorgos Angelakos as hostage. If official explanations defy common sense they invite skepticism and sarcasm.

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