The Sweet Little Ways of Neo-Soviet Disinformation
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?
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:
A trial batch of 100 million counterfeit roubles may already be circulating in the Russian South. At least, that is what a Georgian website asserts.
This Georgian site states that “under the cover of humanitarian assistance shipments by US Navy vessels, a delivery was made of weapons to reinforce the Georgian Army and – for the Georgian special services – of printing equipment for the production of Russian banknotes.”
The foreign intelligence service’s plan was for the Georgian secret service to destroy the economy of the Northern Caucasus by flooding it with counterfeit roubles.
That the West wants to dismember the Russian Caucasus is hardly news: European and transatlantic specialists have been trying to implement separatist ideas in South Russia for the last 15 years. Including by economic means. However, up until now, these rich sponsors have confined themselves to pouring quite legal funds into dubious opposition projects.
“Take Ingushetia, for example,” said a Komsomolka source who works for the Russian special services. “A small handful of people claiming to represent the ‘voice of the Republic’, suddenly – just after receiving Western grants – go on demonstrations. These grants are paid entirely officially. So why would Americans try to spread counterfeit money when they already have an easy legal route to send any amount of money in. Yet counterfeit money is cropping systematically in the Republic and the whole Caucasus. But not in amounts that could do actual damage to the economy there. And just look at the site reporting it: it doesn’t so much as publish a phone number or even an email address.”
The site is indeed a strange one. According to Komsomolka’s IP department, it was registered in Munich in February 2008 by one Eteri Kakabidze. The site claims to have Georgian and English versions but the buttons for these click though to empty pages. In other words, the site, while claiming to be a Georgian news site, is intended solely for a Russian-speaking audience. It clearly is not authoritative. On the other, it’s pretty well suited to the purpose of waging information warfare against Russia.
Well, well, well. What fun. The article is evidently not meant to be read to the end; it is, after all, intended for the moronic readers of Komsomolka (and the dumbing down of any who may still have a scintilla of intelligence left). Its purpose will have been served by the headline, subhead, and the description of the evil underhands tricks being played by the West along with its humanitarian shipments.
Old hat, but why would one expect neo-fascist Russia run by ex-KGB spooks to invent new tricks. The standard KGB disinformation ploy from way back was to get some Western backwater paper or fellow-travelling news source to print disinformative rubbish which could the be ‘re-printed from a Western source’ in the Soviet press, which no one would believe without such a seeming confirmation of authenticity.
There is, however, a novel bit in the tail of this article; changing times and technologies have to be accommodated a little. So I love the modest disclaimer that the source used to create the headline appears ‘not reliable’ and that Komsomolka’s IP department traced it to this Kakabidze person. What a paper and what an editor: to make a headline out of an acknowledge unreliable source!
I an not particularly internet-savvy but it took me no more than 5 minutes with WHOIS and Google to find out rather more than Komsolmoka’s IP boys and girls:
Kartli.org [IP address 18.104.22.168] is hosted in California by DreamHost, a cheap web-hosting service. The kartli.org domain is registered to Eteri Kakabidze, with a mis-spelt Munich address clearly transliterated from the Russian and a Russian phone number. The sponsoring registrar is the Russian domain name registration centre.
Created On:08-Feb-2008 10:05:09 UTC
Last Updated On:23-Apr-2008 09:45:19 UTC
Expiration Date:08-Feb-2009 10:05:09 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:ANO Regional Network Information Center dba RU-CENTER (R148-LROR)
Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Registrant Name:Eteri Kakabidze
Registrant Organization:Eteri Kakabidze
Registrant Street1:Munhen, Vilyam shtrasse, 2
Registrant Postal Code:928333
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
That the website is in Russian only is of interest in any serious analysis but only a disadvantage from a neo-sov propaganda viewpoint. (I therefore can’t think why the Komsomolka hack thought to point this out as it only weakens his story, but perhaps that is why he is a Komsomolka hack). Yes, the links to the Georgian and English pages lead to empty pages. The obvious explanation is – why bother when the intended audience is Russian? And it must be a bit too much like hard work to translate all the site’s stuff into Georgian (FSB bit short of trusted native Georgian speakers, perhaps?) and English.
And so on to the site owner. A Google search for Eteri Kakabidze returns a first page hit:
This is an interesting as it points to Osinform. It turns out that Osinform, the official South Ossetian website belonging to the IR State Radio and Television Corporation of the Republic of South Ossetia, is running the story as well, quoting its source as kartli.org. The contents of this quadrilingual website is easy to guess and even nastier and sillier than Komsomolka (e.g. articles The Stealth Genocide, Georgian soldiers were shooting down women, old people and children in South Ossetia, Iran condemns actions of Georgia and is ready to assist, etc).
The fact that the South Ossetians were running with the piece puzzled me for a while. Then it occurred to me that my initial assumption that this laughably silly report was just another totally incompetent disinformation ploy by neo-fascist Russia in its campaign to whip up anti-Western sentiment amongst its less worldly-wise citizens was perhaps wrong.
Perhaps a better explanation is that the story has been planted as a rather more subtle move by Kokoity’s South Ossetian thugs in the bandit enclave to avoid being rumbled for having printed loads of counterfeit roubles prior to being overrun by Russia.