Blogger and so-called conservative Laurence Jarvik proves himself the equal of any Russophile blockhead with the following gibberish about the Educated Media Foundation, with La Russophobe‘s running commentary in red. Just like the Discovery Institute wackos at Russia Blog, Jarvik is acting in the name of conservatism to destroy its bedrock principles and betray its noblest causes. Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave over this one. It’s just like Martin Luther King said: the ones we really have to fear are not the KGB flunkies like Vladimir Putin but those who pretend to be on our side, like Mr. Jarvik. By the way, we’d love to post a photograph of this nasty little toad and then ridicule his undoubtedly foolish appearance, but despite his claims of being a published author and filmmaker (of books nobody reads and films nobody watches), we can’t find one (so we used the above, which is how we imagine him). He’s so famous that Wikipedia has never heard of him. He’s so widely read that he’s got 15,000 Google hits. Lowly La Russophobe has nearly 70,000. He seems to profess expertise in such areas as the holocaust and public television — how that leads to Russia commentary is anyone’s guess. Apparently, he’s very ambitious. It does not appear, however, that he speaks Russian or has ever lived in the country with whose people he puports to advise America on how to deal effectively.
Mr. Jarvik in evil black, LR in seeing red:
Today’s Washington Post reports that the Russian Government has shut down Internews–recently re-branded the Educated Media Foundation–after arresting an executive carrying some $12,000 in cash at a Moscow airport on smuggling charges:
Authorities targeted the Educated Media Foundation after its head was found with slightly more than $12,500 in undeclared currency at a Moscow airport, an offense that routinely would be settled with a fine, lawyers said. Instead, Manana Aslamazyan, 55, is facing up to five years in prison on smuggling charges. Her organization, previously called Internews Russia, is accused of money laundering — an allegation that Russian journalists and civic activists, as well as Western diplomats, dismissed as absurd.
But to me, the reported protests by Western diplomats appear as feeble as Vice President Cheney’s claims that his office is not part of the Executive Branch. The Post admits, later in the same story, that there was indeed a great deal of funny-money, provided by US taxpayers, flowing through Internews:
According to Interior Ministry documents provided to The Washington Post, the investigation expanded to include suspected money laundering by the foundation. “In order to reveal facts of legalizing (laundering) of money or other property obtained in a criminal way, financial and other accounting documents were taken from the offices,” stated one report. “During the investigation it was revealed that the following money transfers by foreign organizations were made to the bank account of ‘Educated Media’ during the period of December 2006 to March 2007: 70,000 euros from Internews Europe Association (France) and $300,000 from Financial Service Center (USA). However, there is no data on spending those amounts.” Internews Europe is an organization affiliated with the Educated Media Foundation. The Financial Services Center is the U.S. State Department disbursing office that makes overseas payments for U.S. agencies with foreign operations, according to a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman. The $300,000 was a scheduled disbursement from the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to U.S. officials and Aslamazyan. Since 2004, USAID has given approximately $8 million to the Educated Media Foundation and its predecessor organization, Internews Russia. From 1998 to 2004, the United States provided almost $30 million to Internews U.S., some of which was sent to the organization’s Russian arm.
LR: It’s a pity Mr. Jarvik didn’t learn to read when he was in grade (or graduate) school. Perhaps he spent all his time imperiously lecturing his kindergarten classmates about Aristotle using facts he learned from cartoons. And his dishonesty is quite appalling, too. He states that his “source” for the claim that “there was indeed a great deal of funny-money” is the Washington Post. It isn’t, he failed to read his own post. The source of this statement is the Interior Ministry of the Russian Federation, which is ruled over by a proud KGB spy. The fact that this idiot would simply take the word of the Interior Ministry at face value over people who are risking their lives and freedom to resist the rise of dictatorship in Russia (an issue about which he himself is doing exactly nothing except perhaps helping the dictatorship along) instantly discredits him from serious consideration. Is he really suggesting that the Interior Ministry (that’s where the spies and other trained liars are) wouldn’t lie in order to launch an attack on a media entity that was undermining the Kremlin dictatorship? If so, what is this moron smoking — or what does he think his readers are smoking that they’d fail to notice?
I visited the Internews office in Tashkent, Uzbekistan while a Fulbright scholar in 2002-2003. That same year, there was a scandal when the new director of the office published her online diary–and insulted the Uzbek employees of her own organization, while airing dirty linen about sexual hijinks among American expatriates. Her website was eventually shut down and she left the country, but the snapshot of Internews lifestyles was not flattering to say the least. I was particularly struck by an anti-American tone among some of the Internews employees. One Internews executive later told me at a Harvard University conference that he did not consider Internews to be an American NGO–or required to promote American interests–because its office in Paris was funded by European and some non-govenmental sources. I asked him, then why should the US government pay for Internews at all? Eventually the debate became moot–after the Uzbek government shut down Internews.
LR: Hmmm, that’s odd. One minute this screwball is telling us that EMF is the corrupt pawn of the United States, and the next minute he’s telling us they hate the United States. Apparently, he’s suggesting that the Russian government shut down a bunch of America haters and thereby did us a big favor? Maybe it’s just La Russophobe, but that doesn’t seem to quite make sense. What’s more, some people might say that attacking EMF in Moscow today based on something that occurred in Tashkent a long time ago is a bit unfair. Other people might say libelous. Even worse, some might say, is to totally ignore EMF’s fantastic reputation in the Moscow journalism community among Russians, previously documented here on La Russophobe. We reported:
Four major Russian journalistic organisations – the Russian TV Academy, the National Association of TV and Radio Broadcasters, the Russian Union of Journalists, the Glasnost Defence Foundation – sent letters to the Russian General Prosecutor’s office, asking to consider the reputation of Manana Aslamazyan, her contribution to the development of the TV industry and making the request that such a relatively minor infraction not be considered grounds for the opening of a criminal prosecution.
He also totally ignores the statements of respected international organizations like the Committee to Protect Journalists in support of EMF. Notice too how this weirdo manages to drop the fact that he was a Fulbright scholar, although it’s totally irrelevant to his text. That tells you quite a lot about his so-called “mind.” Meanwhile, his claims of brilliance ring hollow indeed. His blog has received less than 2,000 profile views whilst LR has received over 5,000 and only 19 blogs have linked to it according to Technorati (over 140 have linked to LR). The blog is not in the top 6 million in terms of traffic as measured by Alexa, whilst LR is in the top 600,000. Seems he has good reason for all that Russophile bitterness. Perhaps, of course, he’s just a misunderstood genius but on the other hand . . . hmmm . . . maybe LR should be applying for one of those there Fulbright thingys . . .
Considering how Americans would react if an international journalism program paying cash to American reporters were discovered to employ staffers smuggling cash into the country, funded by the Russian government, one cannot be surprised at the hostility this Internews scandal has provoked from the Russians.
LR: Again, this is simply libelous, the crazed rantings of a demented Russophile shil. It’s outrageous, flatly, that Mr. Jarvik doesn’t care to mention the amounts of money in question, which as La Russophobe has previously reported are de minimus. A reader observes:
Internews is completely transparent in how it operates. They never made any secret of the fact that USAID and State provide some (but not all) of their funding so how can it be “funny money” when there’s nothing secretive about it? Then there’s his weird assertion that the only reason for the U.S. government to spend money on NGO’s is to promote American interests. Presumably he thinks a free thinking and independent news media in Russia is not in America’s (or Russia’s) interest. He also skips past the fact that it is legal to take $10,000 into Russia undeclared meaning that Manana is accused of “smuggling” $2500. I doubt that would even pay their office rent for a month in Moscow let alone buy Internews anything sinister. By the logiv of the Kremlin and Jarvik if a “Washington Post” employee failed to declare excess caviar on a flight back from Baku then the entire newspaper could be shut down for “smuggling”.
What’s more, the word “smuggling” implies that some type of pattern of activity had been discovered, and there’s not a shred of evidence that is so. Mr. Jarvik should be ashamed of these loose, inflammatory, irresponsible statements, and should issue a retraction and apology.
Here’s an interesting excerpt from a profile of Internews founder David Hoffman in the Johns Hopkins alumni magazine:
As he contemplates Internews‘ future, Hoffman confronts paradox. He believes that media need to be independent of government control. Yet 80 percent of his organization’s money comes from the U.S. government. Hoffman insists that Internews turns down money from any source if it carries a requirement to promote an American geo-political agenda, but he knows perception can hurt Internews. “In the Middle East,” he says, “training sessions often begin with discussion of whether Internews is really U.S. propaganda, or the CIA.” As he looks at the increasing consolidation of media ownership in the U.S., and the Bush administration’s efforts to influence and even package the news reported to the American public, he calls Internews‘ support for independent media in this country “the great undone.” Yet while support for Internews has been bipartisan, Hoffman believes political conservatives have been stronger supporters than liberals. “Free media tends to be a libertarian concept,” he says. “Liberals are more accommodating to state-run media and state institutions generally.”
So, according to Hoffman’s own testimony, the US taxpayer is getting the worst deal imaginable from Internews, the worst of both worlds–money spent without any support for the American geo-political agenda, yet generating a public perception of a CIA operation. Which is the situation I saw in Uzbekistan, and matches what the Central Asia executive for Internews told me at Harvard. In other words, it is the official party line at Internews.
LR: Again, Mr. Jarvik displays serious reading issues here. The text doesn’t say that Internews “generates a public perception of a CIA operation,” it says it works to dispel that crazed perception among the paranoid folks it deals with. If every entity that the world’s lunatics think is connected to the CIA is thereby disqualified from talking and/or acting, America-friendly NGOs will all go out of business. If LR didn’t know better (and she doesn’t), she’d think Mr. Jarvik was on the Kremlin’s payroll. Indeed, she challenges the dear reader to explain how this article would have been different if it had been written by the Kremlin itself.
In the end, Vladimir Putin may have done a big favor to the Bush administration by shutting down Internews in Russia. Instead of wasting money on NGOs like Internews, that have harmed America’s interests and contributed to the loss of Russia and the post-Soviet space, the US government will be forced to return to more traditional forms of government-to- government public diplomacy that have a better chance of genuinely improving America’s standing among today’s Russian general public and opinion leaders. In fact, President Bush might consider using this scandal as a reason for closing down Internews entirely, including the lavish Paris headquarters . . . as a gift to the American taxpayer.
LR: This paragraph is one of the stupidest, most asinine things La Russophobe has ever seen in print. Is Mr. Jarvik really enough of a psychopath to believe that this litany of utterly vacuous platitudes is a substitute for the blood, sweat and tears of a real practical organization like EMF spent at ground level in Russia, risking arrest or assasination to save Russia from oblivion? Is he suggesting George Bush is more important to creating benign government in Russia than Anna Politkovskaya? Internews has many person-to-person programs to develop understanding between Russians and Americans, like this one for example. Mr. Jarvik doesn’t have one single specific practical solution for combating dictatorship in Russia, nor has he used his blog to make any significant attacks on the Putin regime (look through his recent posts on Putin for yourself, if you don’t believe LR; he actually spends quite a lot of time simply quoting Putin at length). In fact, this loopy dimwit actually urged President Bush to accept Putin’s alternative offer on missile defense, giving the Kremlin exactly what it wants instead of the thing that drove it to distraction. Is he really suggesting that high-level diplomacy is more effective than person-to-person contact at the grassroots level? Is the US State Department really going to implement some policies that will cause Russians to stop hating Americans, and they’ll then bring down the Putin dictatorship? Is he really saying that we should congratulate a proud KGB spy on shutting down the very last voices of public criticism and opposition in neo-Soviet Russia, so that the country can spiral once again down the toilet bowl of dictatorship and ruin? What has made him hate the people of Russia that much?
Basically, then, Mr. Jarvik appears to be a demented clone of right-wing maniac Pat Buchanan, whose neo-isolationist policies would allow the neo-Soviet Union to grow and consolidate just as occurred with the Bolsheviks. In other words, intentionally or not, Mr. Jarvik would sell the USA right down the river. In other other words, he’s the scum of the earth.
Mr. Jarvik is right. It is not a good idea by USA to provide funds for NGOs in Russia. It is not a humanitarian aid. At least, unless Russia is providing funds for some parallel NGOs or, let say, the Iraq War protesters in the USA.
Ms. Aslamazyan is not that “clean” like she and LR say. I mean smugling.
When one enters Russia he or she gets a sheet of paper, a form to fill out before going to the custom check.
The form is titled “Declaration”.
The text of the Declaration is simple to be understandable even for an idiot. It is in Russian and English languages. It is clearly stated there what to declare, and that any amount more than $10 000 MUST BE DECLARED. And Ms. Aslamazyan, who is on the USA payroll and went to France to pick up the money like she explains from her “debtors-friends”, FORGOT TO DECLARE the very same money. Is she an idiot or she thinks the others to whome she tells this are?
As about 70 000 hits at LR blog web-site, it is not fantastic, it is Kim Zigfeld’s fantasy. There are no so many people in the world living outside of Russia interested in Russian stuff, who would use the Internet to visit this blog’s web-site just to read over and over again how bad Russians, Putin and Sharapova are. For seriously interested in Russia politival life there are a lot of professional, objective Internet sites, like Radio Liberty, or BBC Russian service web pages.
Do at least try to get your facts straight and tell the truth, dear. This blog has received over 110,000 visits and over 250,000 page views in a little more than a year since it was created, far more than any other independent Russia blog in the world during that time. You can ridicule our stats all you like, but in so doing you are ridiculing every other similar institution even more, and you make yourself look like a total fool.
Meanwhile, you apparently don’t realize that your Russophile comment has confirmed the thesis of this post.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Russians say things like the above commenter along the lines of “how would you like it if Russia….?” or “until Russia can….” There is NO LAW against Russia funding an NGO in the United States and there are plenty of foreign NGO’s operating in the U.S. Amnesty International is a UK based organization and is highly critical of U.S. policy and operates unmolested. They are not alone. Transparency International (Germany), Reporters Without Borders (France), and International Crisis Group (Belgium)– all have offices in Washington. Russia could certainly create an Internews style organization in the U.S. if it wanted. The impediment isn’t U.S. law. It’s Russia’s reputation. Who would sign-up to get journalism training from NGO that is funded by a government that is widely suspected of assasinating journalists? NOBODY.