Say what you like about Russian President Vladimir Putin , but his latest criticism of the United States for its treatment of the Capitol “rioters” is right on the money. The criticism followed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s similar claim that the Capitol “rioters” were being “persecuted” by the US government. Speaking at a business forum in St Petersburg last week, Putin questioned why US protesters making political demands were called rioters but “rioters” making political demands in other countries were inevitably labelled “protesters”, however violent. “They weren’t just a crowd of robbers and rioters,” he said referring to the Capitol rioters, “Those people had come with political demands.” Trump supporters stormed the US Congress on January 6 to disrupt a session to certify Joe Biden as the new president. About 500 of them have been arrested, with some being held in solitary confinement. The US has always condoned, encouraged, and even funded and trained anti-government groups in countries to which it is hostile under the guise of promoting democracy and human rights. We in Hong Kong have learned all about that in recent years. This doesn’t mean the US would tolerate domestic anti-government groups, especially during a change of regime from Donald Trump to Biden. It is for the same reason that Biden has declared that domestic terrorism is the greatest threat to US national security. How’s that different from other countries’ security responses? What is perhaps worse is the role played by the liberal press in helping to go after the “rioters”. Major US newspapers and TV networks published high-resolution photos and graphics of many of the suspects, and disclosed their identities, especially the leaders and organisers. Most were subsequently caught by law enforcement or turned themselves in. In other countries, such media exposure and public condemnation of political protesters would have been portrayed by those same US newspapers and networks as state-sponsored persecution or forced confessions. Likewise, those people would have been identified as “protesters”, with the subtext that they were making legitimate political demands, whatever they were. Many of those Capitol “rioters” turned out to be ordinary Americans, such as nurses, teachers and small business owners. But the liberal press was shocked that such an average slice of the American population could try to stage “a coup” by answering to the call of an outgoing president who claimed to have been cheated in the election.