Daily Archives: October 26, 2008

October 29, 2008 — Contents

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 29 CONTENTS

(1)  Essel on Neo-Soviet Disinformation

(2)  EDITORIAL:  Concealing Russian Failure in Ossetia

(3)  Exploding the Myth of Russian Power

(4)  Putin’s Russia and the Western Left

(5)  Luzhkov:  Nationalist Russian Lunatic

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Essel: The Sweet Little Ways of Neo-Soviet Disinformation

The Sweet Little Ways of Neo-Soviet Disinformation

David Essel

The following item caught my eye in the Sunday Komsomolka (Komsomolskaya Pravda). Now we all know this publication is a great source of nasty trash but I would like to nominate this item in particular for a Golden Pooty:

Under the headline (I kid you not!):

Is Tbilisi Preparing an Act of Financial Terrorism in Moscow?

Sub-headed:

According to Georgian news agencies, Georgia, aided by the CIA, may flood the North Caucasus with Counterfeit Roubles

A fine fantasy, but if you can believe this, you can believe anything.

One can then read the following under the byline of Aleksander Kots:

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EDITORIAL: Trying to Hide Russian Failure in Ossetia

EDITORIAL

Trying to Hide Russian Failure in Ossetia

Russia has imposed a Soviet-style crackdown on reporters in Ossetia, largely preventing any foreign journalists from seeing what is going on under Russian rule in the region.  What does Russia have to hide?

Plenty. 

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Exploding the Russian Power Myth

Nicholas Eberstadt, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior adviser to the National Bureau of Asian Research, writing in the New York Times:

RUSSIA is a rising power today, and will be doing a lot more rising in the decades ahead. At least this is what we hear nowadays from pundits, Western intelligence services, presidential candidates and, of course, Russian officials themselves. The Kremlin’s own supreme confidence in this vision of the Russian future was captured nicely by its announcement last year that it expects to be the world’s fifth largest economy in 2020, along with China, India, Japan and the United States. Despite the current global economic crisis, Russian officials are still predicting continuing rapid growth for their nation; Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is even talking of a robust 5.5 percent growth rate for Russia for the coming year.

To international audiences transfixed by Moscow’s military swaggering in Georgia or dazzled by the newfound oil wealth of the Russian petro-state and its billionaires, this notion of an unstoppable Russian ascent may seem plausible, even compelling. To anyone who pays attention to population trends, however, it is absurd.

Russia is in the midst of a genuine demographic disaster from which its rulers have no obvious exit strategy. Although the Russia’s fortunes (and the Kremlin’s ambitions) have waxed on a decade of windfall profits from oil and gas, the human foundations of the Russian nation — the ultimate sources of the country’s wealth and power — are in increasingly parlous straits.

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Putin’s Russia and the Western Left

Two recent items in the American and British press delve into the topic of collaboration between Western left-wing political groups and Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.  It because of just such concerns that we have endorsed John McCain to become the next president of the United States. For some reason, certain so-called “liberals” blithely abandon their principles when dealing with certain dicatators.

First, we bring you Reason magazine’s contributing editor Cathy Young, author of Growing Up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood, writing in on the magazine’s website:

Last Friday, Salon.com columnist and blogger Glenn Greenwald, one of the Bush presidency’s harshest critics, blasted both major party presidential candidates for perpetuating the “blatant falsehood” that Russia launched an “unprovoked attack” on Georgia last August. This, he asserted, was a clear-cut instance of the suppression of legitimate and vital debate in America’s political discourse. It so happens that Greenwald’s charge is blatantly false—and reveals much more about the mindset of the left than about the state of American democracy.

In Greenwald’s view, McCain has championed the false notion of the Russia-Georgia war to further his own neocon agenda, while Obama has “adopted the lie” out of political expediency:

Since all of the major candidates accept the deceitful premise about what happened—that Russia’s “aggression” against Georgia was “unprovoked”—nobody refutes it… The propaganda is just asserted to be true by the political establishment and thus accepted by most of the citizenry, and then becomes the unchallenged foundation of all sorts of dangerous, militaristic policy orthodoxies…

Yet, curiously enough, neither of the presidential debates to which Greenwald links to back up his argument contains the word “unprovoked.” In the first debate, on September 26, Obama called Russia’s actions “unacceptable” and “unwarranted”; McCain spoke of “serious aggression” and criticized Obama for his initial statement urging mutual “restraint,” while Obama denied that his statement was soft on Russia and noted that he had warned back in April about the risks of Russian “peacekeepers” in Georgia’s disputed regions. In the second debate, on October 7, it was much the same (though McCain came closest to Greenwald’s description when he condemned Russia’s “naked aggression”).

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Luzhkov, Nationalist Russian Lunatic

The New York Times offers yet another story about Putin’s Russia which it has translated and published on a Russian ZheZhe blog, where it has also translated Russian comments on the story. This time, lunatic Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov is the topic.  One Russia commenter stated: “It’s painful to read this story. It’s even more painful to read the comments. In the story we are revealed as barbarians, in the comments we reveal ourselves.”

On a clearing in this disputed city, where enemy homes were bulldozed after the conflict in August, Mayor Yuri M. Luzhkov promised this month to build a new neighborhood for the South Ossetian separatists here. Grinning widely before a boisterous crowd, which hailed him as a liberator, Mayor Luzhkov said he would spend more than $100 million on houses, schools and shopping centers. “We are celebrating a great victory — a victory for freedom and independence,” he declared. The pledge was notable for its cost — a sizable sum in this impoverished breakaway enclave of 70,000 — but also because Mr. Luzhkov is the mayor of Moscow, not Tskhinvali. The money is to come from Moscow’s city budget.

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