It’s rather telling that the main player over at that infamous Russophile propaganda screed Russia Blog is Charles Ganske, who until recently had never set foot in Russia, doesn’t speak a word fo the language and has never lived there. Such a person is the perfect patsy for the Kremlin’s malignant forces to manipulate into spewing forth its line of garbage. As far as La Russophobe knows, he’s the only such utterly unqualified person in the entire Russia blogosphere — and the sad thing is that he’s more credible than Russia Blog’s actual boss, the shameless Kremlin shil Yuri Mamchur. Russia Blog continues therefore, as the following episode clearly shows, to be an embarrassment and an insult to the intelligence of everyone in the Russia-watching world, and anyone who relies on it for information about Russia is, quite simply, a fool.
Take, for instance, the following statement from Ganske in a June 24 post:
In a recent interview with the Financial Times, the exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky admitted funding Kasparov’s coalition, prompting Other Russia spokesmen to deny ever having taken money from him. Mr. Berezovsky added that he would no longer fund Other Russia because it had proven to be ineffective.
Notice, first, how late Russia Blog comes to this story, which La Russophobe (and others) reported long ago.
Then, notice that while Ganske links to the Financial Times story, he doesn’t link to the Other Russia statement so that readers can judge it for themselves. It’s here. This is either gross incompetence or blatant propaganda. Either way, it disqualifies Russia Blog from being taken seriously. He does, however, link Berezovsky’s name to Russia Blog’s own report about criminal charges being filed against him by the Kremlin. Is this Russia Blog’s idea of “fair and balanced” reporting about Russia? You bet it is.
Then, notice how Ganske ignores the actual content of the Other Russia statement, which was not limited to merely a denial of recieving funding from Berezovsky. In addition, they pointed to not one but two different recent instances where Berezovsky launched scathing attacks on Other Russia, once in the Russian press and once on his blog. Other Russia also directed readers, in English, to the formal statement of Garry Kasparov in Russian on his website regarding Berezovsky.
Now granted, since Ganske doesn’t speak a word of Russian, he couldn’t read any of those three texts, so perhaps he can’t be blamed for not knowing what they say. But that fact alone ought to disqualify him from daring to opine about matters of this type, and, more important, he actually doens’t have any excuse because Other Russia explained clearly in English what they were, and surely an institution as mighty as the Discovery Institute could afford a translator for poor little Charlie if they wanted one, coudn’t they? And one wouldn’t need to speak Russian in order to simply read the dates of the reports involved. The Financial Times story was reported on May 30th. The Russian media account of his attack on Other Russia came out a week earlier, on May 23rd, and Berezovsky’s own blog launched its attack on May 28th. In other words, before the Financial Times story came out, Berezovsky was on record bashing the entity he was supposedly funding as a tool against the Kremlin. In none of these written statements did Berezovsky claim he was providing financial support to Other Russia, and Ganske links to no such statement. To the contrary, Berezovsky’s statement on its face meant nothing more than that he would no longer align himself ideologically with Other Russia, since he found the group too disorganized.
Ganske also ignores the fact that Berezovsky’s statement, as we’ve previously pointed out, contains no detail whatsoever about the extent or nature of his support, and no substantiating evidence. Issues of translation could easily have plagued such a discussion, and Ganske would, of course, be in no position to judge them. Where’s all this alleged money going? Is Other Russia paying protesters? Sending them on expensive junkets to exotic places, the way Nashi is doing? And speaking of Nashi, when was the last time Russia blog criticized THEIR funding, or that of any other pro-Kremlin cabal?
The context of this mischaracterization is important: It’s an attack on Garry Kasparov personally, Other Russia generally, and indeed upon the whole idea of opposition politics in Russia. In other words, it’s a hatchet job that might just as well have been written by the Kremlin. Read the post for yourself: Whilst attacking all those who are currently raising their voices against the Kremlin, just try to find one single word of praise in the post for anyone, anywhere, who could be considered a Kremlin critic. It’s fine to express displeasure for the current opposition, but if you never express approval for any alternative opposition then you are helping the Kremlin to consolidate its power by wiping out all rivals. Search Russia Blog’s archives and just try to find one post devoted to criticizing Vladimir Putin or complimenting one of his opponents. Of course, Russia Blog has every right to be a Kremlin shil if it wants to, but it doesn’t have the right to pretend it’s somehow moderate in the process. It doesn’t have the right to lie to its readers. Russia Blog can bash Boris Berezovsky all it likes (in the one-sided, black-and-white manner that it decries when applied to Russia itself), but that won’t change the fact that Berezovsky has done more, and risked more, to directly challenge the Kremlin’s hold on power than any other person alive. That fact that Russia has to rely on those of Berezovsky’s ilk to do this job is a sad commentary on the depths to which modern Russia has sunk, but it’s a reality we have to face. Even if the whole world agreed that Vladimir Putin was a great leader of Russia, he should still have more open opposition than he does — and in fact, the whole world knows Putin is a criminal dictator.
The long and the short of it is: If the Wall Street Journal had reported an item about Vladimir Putin like the Financial Times reported on Boris Berezovsky, Russia Blog would have been among the first to claim bias, misrepresentation and Western ignorance. But when the story is one that fits neatly into Russia Blog’s pathological agenda, then suddently the Financial Times can be relied upon without question no matter what Other Russia actually says. It’s exactly this kind of laughable hypocrisy that brought the USSR down, and Russia Blog and its ilk are now seeking to foist the same thing on Russia. In other words, they are surely its true enemies.
This blog, by contrast, though it supports Other Russia and generally all forces opposed to the Kremlin’s malignant, troll-like occupants, has not hesitated to publish serious criticisms of those forces, including Garry Kasparov, when that was deserved. Search as you may, you’ll never find posts praising opposition forces in Russia on Russia Blog, much less posts directly attacking Putin, and so its criticism of certain members of the opposition can only strike the informed reader as childish and ridiculous, as neo-Soviet as you can get.
Here’s another doozie from clueless at best, dishonest at worst, Ganske:
During his recent visit to Moscow, Discovery Institute President Bruce Chapman found that Novaya Gazeta and other newspapers critical of the Kremlin were sold out at the newsstands he visited. Clearly, many Russians are willing to support an effective “loyal opposition.”
Now, sucking up to the boss is all well and good. But if La Russophobe is not mistaken, Mr. Chapman doesn’t speak a word of Russian either, and therefore probably doesn’t know how small Novaya Gazeta‘s print run is compared to Russian’s population. He also probably doesn’t know that anti-Kremlin materials are routinely confiscated and destroyed by the authorities. Given all that, it’s a just a bit shall we say “unscientific” to base a conclusion about the size of Russia’s opposition on the availability of papers on newstands — and Mr. Chapman didn’t even make a scientific study of those newstands, just his own bizarre anectodal stories. It’s the same sort of childish drivel we’ve come to expect from Russia Blog.
Beyond that, Ganske’s statement is simply demented. Novaya Gazeta is the “loyal opposition”? Is that why Anna Politikovskaya got killed, because she was too loyal? This kind of nonsense is what happens when virulent pro-Kremlin propaganda is mixed with virulent ignorance of basic realities about Russia that can only be obtained from first-hand experience.