Russia and the Muhammad Cartoons

Last Thursday was “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.” The Rationalitate blog reports:

As you may or may not have heard, tomorrow is Everybody Draw Muhammad Day, which has pissed off half the internet and even got Pakistan to block Facebook. I think the most recent trigger was a (double) episode of South Park that either displayed or mocked the image of the prophet, but I’m not really sure. What I have found interesting about this whole controversy is its possible origin: more than one former Russian spy has claimed that it’s a ploy by the Russian secret services to drum up anti-American resentment, as part of a broader campaign of active measures dating back to Soviet times.

This all sounds pretty outlandish, but here is what Thomas Bogart, a historian at the International Spy Museum and Oxford Ph.D. recipient had to say:

Contemporary active measures are not confined to Russian soil. In fact, the recent controversy over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad may well have been choreographed by the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service. The evidence is circumstantial but compelling. For one, Kalugin says, the KGB has a history of using Danish journalists to plant disinformation in the Western press. And Flemming Rose, the Jyllands Posten cultural editor who commissioned the cartoons in 2005, happened to serve for several years as a correspondent in Moscow where, Kalugin observes, he published a spate of obviously government-sponsored, anti-Chechen articles. According to Litvinenko and journalist Adlan Beno, Rose also happens to be married to the daughter of an ex-KGB officer. This does not per se make Rose a Russian agent, of course, but Russian intelligence may well have availed itself of this “in-house” connection to influence the Danish journalist. “This guy may have been used,” Kalugin says.

As the cartoon controversy spread across the globe, scores of brand new Danish flags turned up mysteriously all over the Middle East just in time to be set ablaze by enraged demonstrators at internationally televised protests. Predictably, Muslim anger quickly turned toward the West at large. “Some obscure Danish newspaper [prints these cartoons], and all the sudden across the Western world, everybody knows what’s it all about. Who organized it? Who ignited the process?” asks Kalugin, identifying a top suspect himself: The SVR. It wouldn’t have been the first active measure of this kind. When a Jewish militant went on a rampage at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in 1981, the KGB planned to stage an anti-American Muslim rally in New Delhi, says Kalugin. At 5,000 rupees, the proposed operation was ridiculously cheap.

Kalugin is not alone in suspecting Moscow’s hand behind the recent cartoon controversy. Says Peter Earnest, a former senior CIA clandestine service officer who served in the Middle East: “As a way of fueling anti-western feelings among Muslims, publishing of cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad in an obscure Danish journal was a no-brainer, if it was done deliberately, particularly if you are prepared to use resources elsewhere to keep the controversy alive and pulsating.” And what’s in it for Moscow? The Kremlin seeks to compromise and undermine the United States and “make Russia look [like] an alternative” international partner to Middle Eastern nations, says Kalugin. Emphasizing the continuity between Soviet and Russian active measures, he concludes: “It’s a tradition, it’s not something new. That’s important to see the pastprojected onto the present—and the future.”

That’s one former American spy (Peter Earnest, director of the museum), one author (Adlan Beno), and two former Russian spies. One of those spies was Alexander Litvinenko, who was assassinated (almost certainly by the Kremlin), and the second was Oleg Kalugin, a very well known former FSB director who supported Boris Yeltsin against the hardliners’ attempted coup early in the ’90s and later turned against Vladimir Putin and is now a well-known critic of the regime and its secret services. And while the article doesn’t directly quote Litvinenko and he died before the article was published, a Salon article written posthumously article also cites his claims of Russian involvement.

While this would be disturbing in and of itself if true, I think the bigger worry is that this is a resurgence of the Russian secret services. They mostly fell into disarray immediately after the collapse of the USSR, but the rise of Putin (himself a former FSB director) has signaled to many that the KGB is back.

44 responses to “Russia and the Muhammad Cartoons

  1. I don’t think Russians are too concerned about whipping up anti-American sentiment — they have the US outperforming them on a daily basis with a million corpses in Iraq and Afghanistan, and counting!

    • The data shows the exact opposite, you ridiculous, lice-ridden liar.

      World opinion of the US is rising rapidly, while Russia is still viewed negatively by the vast majority of nations. Russia has no allies, while the US presides over the formidable NATO coalition.

      Oh and, guess you missed it, but the US is withdrawing from Iraq, unlike Russia in Chechnya allowing it to be a free and independent nation state.

      • Keep on living in your fantasy world, little girl.

        No serious thinker or writer will even suggest that world opinion of the US is rising even tepidly — that’s just your wishful thinking, coming from an emotional, hysterical female like you.

        Oh, and guess you missed it, but the US has been claiming year after year that they will be withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan, they lie constantly – there will be a permanent military presence in both countries for years to come, unless a colossal miracle occurs.

        And the US is attacking Pakistan with drones on an almost weekly basis — ask the Pakistanis about their opinion of the US.

        Ask the Palestinians about their opinion of the US, the chief benefactor and supplier of arms to the criminal state of Israel which attacks them on a daily basis.

        You are living proof that no American female should ever be taken seriously as a thinker or writer.

        • Also, don’t forget about the Vatican-sized US embassy in Baghdad which will serve as a colonial outpost for the US violence planners.

          • Oh by the way, bag lady, drawing cartoons is virtually nothing compared to the deliberate US destruction of mosques, e.g.:

            Listen to your fellow brain-dead Americans hoot and howl like the hyenas that they are.

            • Dima wrote;

              Listen to your fellow brain-dead Americans hoot and howl like the hyenas that they are

              Poor Dimasha;
              This comment above shows how stupid, desperate, and truly alarmed you poor russians are – but whatever you say NOTHING will ever change the fact that russia is a third world country, with aging nukes and dying population that desperately trying to get back the status of a super power – CAN YOU GET MORE PATHETIC THAT THAT??? deary read my lips – IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN – TRY TO LIVE WITH IT!!!!

              • Karen Grobowski-Blassberg

                Go wrap yourself in the Israeli flag, matzo-ball-eater!

                • Nicole Kidman, VD

                  Well put, KGB!

                • What, nothing about Rothschild and Goldman and Sachs and their his cohort of Jews robbing the world blind? Not even anything about their misshapen noses? Nothing about war crimes of Madeleine Albright? For a good Russian anti-Semite like yourself that’s quite disappointing. You should really take some lessons from Mr. Dima

                  • Karen Grobowski-Blassberg


                    make sure to clip your cock and all of your sons’ cocks just to kiss more israeli kike ass

                  • Voice of Reason


                    Estimates of the proportion of males that are circumcised worldwide vary from one-sixth[57] to a third.[58] The WHO has estimated that 664,500,000 males aged 15 and over are circumcised (30% global prevalence), with almost 70% of these being Muslim.[8] The WHO estimates prevalence in the United States and Canada at 75% and 30%, respectively.

      • Givi Hachikian

        World opinion of the US is rising rapidly only thanks to the magic of Obama, whom you call traitor. And don’t mention Kalugin, former KGB general and a son of NKVD officer, in your posts. The name of this “expert” can only cause a laughter.

  2. Voice of Reason

    This is old news. Everybody in the Republican Party knows that all free-speech journalists are paid Kremlin spies. All pro-Obama journalists should be tortured Guantanamo Bay in order to save the American freedoms!

    • I am not a Republican and have never been one, but I wonder who in the Republican Party is in favor of banning free speech?

      • Voice of Reason

        RV, only a paid Kremlin stooge like yourself can deny that all Danish cartoonists and journalists are paid Kremlin stooges. Just read what our brilliant leader writes: “KGB has a history of using Danish journalists to plant disinformation in the Western press.

        Don’t you understand: only Russian spies would draw cartoons of our great Prophet Mohammed!

        She continues: “As you may or may not have heard, tomorrow is Everybody Draw Muhammad Day, which has pissed off half the internet and even got Pakistan to block Facebook.

        See? This “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” is organized by the commie KGB-owned Comedy Network and by Putin himself, but noble Pakistani authorities are valiantly fighting these Russian spies by blocking Facebook.

        You with your inability to understand humor and sarcasm should have no problem getting a job with the Pakistani and Iranian governments.

        • I think I asked a question about the Republican party and about your evidence of its opposition to free speech

      • RV,

        I am fully convinced your IQ does not exceed 80, even on your field day.

        You do not understand even the most elementary sarcasm.

        I should not be surprised, because you were unable to answer my simple question regarding Chomsky’s standards in a previous blog article.

  3. Oh well,
    with Comrades ‘Dima’ and ‘Voice of Unreason’, and their fellow mindless/liar agents dominating the comments under this excellent article, I won’t even attempt to counter their Kremlin blather.
    What’s the use?
    They are programmed to not listen, but only to SPOUT.
    Why lower myself, to their gutter level?
    When these perpetual Putler internet trolling goons, are allowed to keep posting their nonsence-propaganda, what truths or news can viewers gain, from reading any of their crap?
    All we read is the same old repetitious Kremlin propaganda line of bull and we hear their familiar theme song: “America is totally no good, and Russia is always wonderful!”
    Give us a break! comrades!

  4. When insurgents fire repeatedly at American and coalition forces from inside a mosque those people are considered combatants and the mosque now becomes a legitimate military target.

    • When Americans fire repeatedly at civilians and civilian infrastructures in foreign lands, the Pentagon and World Trade Center become legitimate military targets.

  5. When Russians purposely target civilians as they do in Chechnya and purposely murder journalists they are considered terrorists.The evil empire [Russia]lives

    • Most of the people being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by insurgents are the Iraqis and Afghans.In fact that is where most of the civilian casualties come from,unlike civilians in nations occupied by Russia who are murdered by the drunken Russians themselves

      • Voice of Reason

        civilians in nations occupied by Russia who are murdered by the drunken Russians themselves

        How many civilians in “in nations occupied by Russia” have been “murdered by the drunken Russians”, say, in the past year? In fact, how many civilians in “in nations occupied by Russia” have been murdered by any Russians, in the past year? Now contrast that with the number of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq murdered by Americans and Brits in the last year.

        • Terror in the Baltic States

          Stalin was still afraid of the power of Britain and France, but on June 14, 1940, Paris fell to the Nazis. On June 17th and 18th, hundreds of thousands of Red Army troops crossed the frontiers and took over the Baltic States.

          Between July 14th and July 17th, “elections” were held in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

          Stalin had so many Baltic Communists killed in purges in 1936 and 1937 that he had trouble finding candidates. However, the Communist majorities were 92.8%, 97.8% and 99.19% respectively. Finally on August 5th, the Supreme Soviet very generously agreed to admit the three republics as constituent members of the U.S.S.R. In this way three independent, prosperous and civilized countries vanished from the map of Europe.

          Stalin was now in a position to implement 0 R D E R N 0. 001223. During the first year of Soviet occupation of Estonia more than 60,000 persons were killed or deported (on the night of June 13-14, 1941 more than 10,000 people were removed in a mass deportation). During 1941-1944 the Nazis occupied Estonia.

          Before the Soviets returned in 1944, over 60,000 Estonians managed to escape from the country. In 1945-1946 Stalin deported another 20,000 people. On March 24-27, 1949, 70,000 more persons were deported. These were mainly farmers who resisted collectivization.

          In Lithuania, on the night of June 14-15, 1941, 30,455 members of the Lithuanian intelligentsia (national guard, civil servants etc.) were deported to Siberia. When the Germans advanced in 1941, Stalin had the approximately 5,000 political prisoners still held in Lithuanian jails executed. When the Nazis took over, approximately 170,000 Jews were exterminated. Before the Soviets returned in 1944, approximately 80,000 Lithuanians managed to escape, but 60,000 were deported to Siberia. In 1945 – 1946 approximately 145,000 Lithuanians were deported. Another 60,O00 were deported in March of 1949 because of collectivization.

    • Voice of Reason

      Most of the people being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by insurgents are the Iraqis and Afghans.In fact that is where most of the civilian casualties come from,unlike civilians in nations occupied by Russia who are murdered by the drunken Russians themselves. When Russians purposely target civilians as they do in Chechnya and purposely murder journalists

      It’s the other way around: it is Russian journalists like Politkovskaya, living in Russia, who get murdered by Chechens.

      Russian court orders new inquiry into Anna Politkovskaya murder

      During her fearless reporting career Politkovskaya, 48, reserved her most vicious criticisms for Ramzan Kadyrov – Chechnya’s Kremlin-appointed president. Kadyrov has denied involvement. Over the last three years, however, several other of Kadyrov’s enemies have met brutal deaths.

      Ramzan Kadyrov is an animal and a murderer.

      • Ramzan Kadyrov is an animal and a murderer

        Actually be careful there Voice Of Retardation, he is Putins pet animal and murderer

        As to how many people are murdered in Russian occupied countries, well, more Chechens have died in Chechnya under Russian occupation since Putin came to power, than Afghans have died in Afghanistan since the US went in (with a UN mandated invasion supported by Russia one might add).

        So, Putin is an animal and a murderer.

        • So are all american presidents and officials – war criminals and murderers.

        • Sunshine, tell us about Iraq.

          Tell us about a country that the US indirectly govern instead of a a country controlled by several hundred Taleban branches.


          Don’t post profanity on our blog. Do it again and you’re out.

    • Givi Hachikian

      George Dumas, bastard — you americans killed so many civilians in Afganistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Japan, and everywhere around the world and you dare to accuse Russians now?! You are a LIAR and ASSHOLE!!!

  6. Under Putin’s presidency, authorities successfully restricted Russian and international correspondent travel to the North Caucasus to avoid exposure of human rights violations by the federal forces operating in the region. Press freedom in Russia was further restricted when Putin signed a package of amendments that expanded the definition of extremism to include public discussion of such activity, and give law enforcement officials broad authority to suspend media outlets that do not comply with the new restrictions.Kind of difficult to get unfiltered news under these type of restrictions,don’t you think?

    • Dimasha wrote;

      Oh sunshine. But every single point is applicable to Bush and Blair governments after their countries were hit in 9/11 and the following attacks.

      So, to cite Lavrov, “Who are you to f*cking lecture me?”:D

      so, to cite Lavrov [real names;Onan Onaniants or Karapet Karapetiants perhaps] dorogoy dimasha Lavrov is ‘a tbiliskiy ormiashka – in case you didn’ know it. WHAT A PERFECT LANGUAGE OF SOVIET/RUSSIAN DIPLOMANTS USING FORU-LETTER WORKDS. By the way serosh should be very careful while traveling to Iran again- remember your ‘great’ diplomat griboyedov – the Iranians chopped his head off on his arrival to Iran…….lesson to be learnt.

      • Givi Hachikian

        Vah vah, little pussy, why are you so negative to Armenians?

      • Our little duffer deleted three of my posts in the thread.

        I won’t repeat them, duffer.

        You’ve deleted my responses, and this shows very well you were afraid to continue this discussion.

        Only one thing, on your “Don’t post profanity on our blog. Do it again and you’re out.”

        Profanity. Again. I post it. Ban me whenever you find fit:D

      • “remember your ‘great’ diplomat griboyedov – the Iranians chopped his head off on his arrival to Iran…….lesson to be learnt.”

        It was a response for a Persian princess who got nailed by Stepan Rasin. Vsosala, ryaba kosaja?

        • Griboyedov was actually married to Georgian princess, Nino Chavchavadze.

          He also helped many Georgians out of Persian slavery.

          He also translated numerous Russian classic literature masterpieces to Georgian.

          He also was the idol of Tbilisi society, and a person enamoured with this city.

          After his murder in Persia he was buried in Tbilisi with great honours. He was the first person buried at the would-be cemetery near the St.David monastery, and around his grave the most revered pantheon of modern Georgia was later created.

          And his wife, Nina Griboyedova (Chavchavadze) wrote an epitaph at his grave, “Your intelligence and your deeds will stay immortal in the Russian memory, but what for has my love outlived you?”

          Well, time goes and modern Georgians surely are not the same.

          Giga Bokeria, a leader of pro-Saakashvili party in the parliament of Georgia, demands the body of Griboyedov out of the “too good for him” a cemetery.

          Then our little aaa girlie comes here to say smart things about the “‘great’ diplomat” Griboyedov.

          It seems nowdays all Georgians can do weel is, to forget.

  7. In numerous articles critical of the war in Chechnya, and the new pro-Kremlin regime there, Politkovskaya described alleged abuses committed by Russian military forces, Chechen rebels, and the Russian-backed administration led by Akhmad Kadyrov and his son Ramzan Kadyrov. She also chronicled human rights abuses and policy failures elsewhere in the North Caucasus. In one characteristic instance she not only wrote about the plight of an ethnically-mixed old people’s home under bombardment in Grozny in 1999 but, with the aid of her newspaper and public support, she helped to secure the safe evacuation of its elderly inhabitants. Her articles, many of which form the basis of A Dirty War (2001) and A Small Corner of Hell (2003), depict a conflict that brutalized both Chechen fighters and conscript soldiers in the federal army, and created hell for the civilians caught between them

    • Please stop spamming us with “fresh news” about the articles of Politkovskaja.

      • You mean your advice is to offer utterly vacuous personal thoughts that add no value to the blog whatsoever?

        We’d prefer such advice not be followed.

  8. The world-famous “Hero of Russia” Ramzan K. thinks about the whole controversy in his own “heroic Russian” straightforward way:

    “That cartoonist needs to be buried alive”.

    And oh boy, that “hero of Russia” (“and “president”, and “general”, and “academician”, and what not) actually knows a lot about burying people alive!

    And beating, electrocuting, burning, shooting, beheading them too. He’s also reputed to had some people fed to his fighting dogs, and more.

  9. Using that old NKVD apparatchik Kalugin as a
    refference to obtain truthful information , is
    tantamount to say using that financial
    ” genius ” Greenspan , for advice on how to cure
    our ailing economy . Either case is ludicrous .

  10. PAKISTAN: Stoking Jihadi Anger Against US, Sweden — International Terrorism Monitor — Paper No. 652

    By B. Raman

    While Pakistani newspapers have refrained from playing up photographs of the anti-Facebook demonstrations in Pakistan, some have carried photographs purporting to show protest demonstrations by some Muslims in Mumbai after the Friday prayers. Attention has been drawn to the fact that the Government of India was the first to act against Salman Rushdie’s book “Satanic Verses” in the 1980s. The insinuation seems to be that while India acted against “Satanic Verses”, it has not against Facebook. We should not allow this to make us act against Facebook. Anyhow, since Facebook has already removed the controversial page, the issue should be treated as closed. Mischievous elements in Pakistan are trying to keep it alive to serve their anti-US agenda. Unless this controversy dies down, it has considerable scope for mischief which could overflow from Pakistan and give a fresh impetus to organizations such as the LET. There is a need to closely monitor the goings-on in Pakistan on this issue.

    KGB Active Measures in India

    The April 1992 issue of the Russian newspaper Argumenty i Fakty printed excerpts from a KGB document on funding of active measures operations in India, one of the areas in which the KGB was most active, particularly in the active measures realm. The document stated:

    In accordance with a decision of the CPSU Central Committee, the USSR KGB allocates funds annually for extension of financial aid to controlled organs of the press, public organizations, and individual public figures of India, whose possibilities are utilized for operations and influence in accordance with state interests of the Soviet Union. The 320,000 foreign currency rubles allocated for the indicated purpose in 1985 have been spent. In order to support special operations and measures on consolidation of the results of the official visit by Prime Minister R. Gandhi to the Soviet Union, the KGB requests allocation of 320,000 foreign currency rubles for 1986. Drafts of the decree of the CPSU Central Committee and the order to the USSR Council of Ministers are attached. Please study.

    [signed] V. Chebrikov, committee chairman

    Argumenty i Fakty noted that, “in accordance with this letter funds were appropriated,” according to a December 20, 1985 CPSU Central Committee decree and an order of the USSR Council of Ministers on the same day.

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