“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
— Queen Gertrude, Hamlet, Act III, Scene 2
Vladimir Frolov, a Kremlin stooge we’ve exposed multiple times in the past, has spewed forth yet another wildly dishonest bit of propaganda in the pages of the Moscow Times, this time in regard to Russian aggression in Georgia. The pathetically desperate manner in which the Kremlin’s flunkies have jumped on this very minor vein of reporting, simply because it isn’t 100% pro-Georgia, is the best possible indication of just how very weak Russia’s position really is. There’s simply no excuse for the MT’s editors to have allowed so many gross misstatements to appear on their pages, and the only explanation we can think of is that they are using Frolov as a way of appeasing the Kremlin, in the hope of avoiding the axe as long as possible. That is shameful, and a betrayal of everything the MT has stood for. We condemn it. Here is the full text, with our running commentary in boldface.
A day after he sent Russian forces into South Ossetia to repel the Georgian army, President Dmitry Medvedev responded to mounting Western criticism by saying the truth was on Russia’s side and that, eventually, it would become apparent to the whole world. That day has finally come, and Russia is vindicated. Its story has not changed and is holding up, while Saakashvili’s version is collapsing. Medvedev’s credibility is rising.
LIE #1: Russia’s “story” was that Georgian forces killed 2,000 civilians in Ossetia and that they razed a city to the ground. Both claims were false.
LIE #2: No opinion polls in the West show that Medvedev’s crediblity is rising. No nation in the West has suggested it will consider recognizing Ossetia or Abkhazia.
Recent media reports from the Caucasus have questioned Tbilisi’s account of the war. Articles in The New York Times and The Washington Post found that the shelling of civilian areas in Tskhinvali began far earlier than Georgia had alleged. Monitors from the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe said Russian forces entered South Ossetia about eight or 10 hours after Georgia started shelling Tskhinvali and attacking the positions of Russian peacekeepers.
LIE #3: The OSCE information was not a formal report by the agency but merely a series of leaks. Those leaks did not assert that the OSCE knew when the shelling started, and subsequent statements by OSCE officials made clear it did not have the resources to make any such determination. The only finding adverse to Georgia that is contained in the Western reporting is that Georgia needlessly killed some civilians (less than a dozen according ot the leaks) by using artillery in a reckless manner.
Saakashvili has been exposed as an aggressor and a reckless gambler, who exploited the goodwill of his Western allies and even tried to set them up for a confrontation with Russia. Western leaders are now learning that he lied to all of them. Saakashvili’s arguments for attacking South Ossetia are falling apart, particularly when he invents Russian troop movements that never took place.
LIE #4: There is no evidence that Saakashvili was an “aggressor.” Amnesty International has formally concluded that Ossetia was shelling Georgia before the war began, and concluded that Russia did nothing to stop the shelling, accusing Russia of human rights violations. Moreover, several human rights groups have concluded that Russia was guilty of inflicting civilian casualties in Georgia by misusing artillery, exactly the same way Georgia allegedly did.
Last week’s testimony by Georgia’s former ambassador to Russia has been particularly devastating. It now appears that Saakashvili and his underlings underestimated Medvedev’s resolve. They thought he would never send the Russian Army into Georgia. Medvedev’s toughness came as a surprise to them.
LIE #5: Toughness? Was Hitler also showing “toughness” when he razed Stalingrad?
Saakashvili has lost credibility with his Western supporters. President George W. Bush’s administration, angered by “the Georgian tail wagging the American dog,” has now pulled its support for Georgia’s Membership Action Plan in NATO. President-elect Barack Obama is likely to be much more demanding of Tbilisi. Saakashvili may be on his way out.
LIE #6: The Bush administration is lobbying actively for MAP status. This man is pathologically unable to tell the truth.
Russia has learned that the best PR strategy is getting the truth out early. In August, the Kremlin showed poor news-management skills. The decision not to allow Western media immediate and unfettered access to the devastation in Tskhinvali was a strategic blunder. Tbilisi’s fabrications would have collapsed much earlier had Western reporters been able to interview the victims in Tskhinvali and OSCE monitors right after the cease-fire. The Kremlin should also have put forward an official spokesman for Medvedev with excellent English skills to debunk Saakashvili’s lies live on CNN.
LIE #7: BBC reporter Tim Whewell has visited Ossetia and interviewed these “victims.” He concluded that those “victims” inflicted far more systemmatic damage to ethnic Georgians than the Georigan army did to them, that the damage inflicted on Tskhinvali was minimal, and that there is no clear evidence that undermines any of the central claims made by the Georgian government. Like the human rights groups, he merely concluded that Georgia could have been more careful with its artillery.