EDITORIAL: Alexei Pushkov, Neo-Soviet Liar

EDITORIAL

A New Low for Russian “Journalism”

Why is Alexei Pushkov smiling?

We did not imagine we would be called upon to comment on the arrest for sexual assault of former IMF chairman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, but a shockingly unprofessional op-ed about him in the Moscow Times gives us no choice but to do so.

In a profoundly ironic moment, the article accuses the U.S. of arresting Strauss-Kahn based on false charges in order to serve its own “propaganda” interests, yet the article was written by Alexei Pushkov, who hosts a political show on Kremlin-controlled television and earns his living as a professor of diplomacy at a state-controlled university. He is also a regular columnist for state-sponsored propaganda outlet Russia Today.  Not once does he pause to alert readers to his own potential propaganda bias.

And it’s clear why Pushkov wants to make this attack:  In the service of his Kremlin masters, he wants to deflect attention from the Kremlin’s outrageous misconduct in the Magnitsky and Khodorkovsky cases. It would be one thing if he at least told the truth about DSK in attempting to offer his propaganda, but his text is loaded with lies and misinformation that would make Stalin proud.

The basic errors of journalism in Pushkov’s essay are so many and so shocking that they recall the era of Soviet “journalism” when pro-government lies were policy.

Let’s start with the thesis that the U.S. arrested Strauss-Kahn. It didn’t.  DSK was arrested by the State of New York and charged with a crime which the U.S. government has absolutely no authority to prosecute.  Pushkov doesn’t understand this because he is ignorant and illiterate, and like most Russians has no idea of the vast differences between the American and Russian legal systems. Russia has no concept of federalism, but America does.

Pushkov states that “the prosecution itself acknowledged that it did not trust the testimony of the 32-year-old woman who claimed Strauss-Khan sexually attacked her.”  That’s a lie.  The prosecutors publicly said that they are convinced the victim is telling the truth about the assault, but that her questionable past will make it very hard to convince a jury that is so.

What’s more, Pushkov totally ignores that a new accuser has come forward in France to allege that Strauss-Kahn brutally raped her as well.  He has to, because it’s pretty hard to claim that the French are engaged with the Americans in a conspiracy to advance American propaganda at the expense of a prominent French citizen.

Pushkov states that “investigators have found no forensic evidence whatsoever that a non-consensual sexual attack occurred.”  A second lie.  In fact, the victim sustained serious injuries in the attack and that is the main reason the prosecutors themselves believe her.  But by the time of a trial, the jury could not see those injuries live and in person the way the prosecutors did because they would have healed.

Pushkov states that “the worst blow to her case was the taped telephone conversation she had with an incarcerated man in which she discussed how they could benefit financially fr om accusing the wealthy Strauss-Kahn of raping her.”  That’s lie #3.  The victim never filed a lawsuit and never made any demand on Strauss-Kahn for money.  By filing criminal charges, she made it impossible to easily settle such a claim, because DSK could not make the criminal case disappear just by paying the victim money.

Pushkov asserts that the “perp walk” takes place because ” the people have a fundamental right to see on television who has been charged with a serious crime” and he condemns it on this basis. But that’s not why it takes place.  The perp walk is meant to show victims of crime, in this case female victims of sexual assault who rarely come forward to complain about their mistreatment, that even the most powerful and famous among us are subject to justice.  Here again, Pushkov betrays a fundamentally ignorant understanding of the basic precepts of the American legal system, yet he is ready to judge that system.  It’s typical Russian idiocy.

Then Pushkov condemns the judge in the DSK case, accusing him of”clearly acting on emotions and not evidence” in deciding “that Strauss-Kahn should be kept in pretrial detention alongside hardened criminals instead of being freed on bail.” And he attacks the cops who were “all too quick to arrest Strauss-Kahn.”  But Pushkov totally ignores the fact that DSK was only arrested and denied bail because he was on an airplane about to flee the country when the accusations against him were made.  Had the judge and police not acted, many months of investigative time would have been lost while they struggled to extradite DSK from a foreign land. What other country would have acted any differently?

At last, Pushkov loses control completely and lets his propaganda motivations become absolutely clear. He writes:

The U.S. media were also disgraced. Although they love to proclaim themselves the most objective, independent and fairest in the world, there are hundreds of cases besides the Strauss-Kahn incident that prove the opposite. Remember, for example, how the U.S. media unanimously supported the NATO bombing of Belgrade in the late 1990s. Or how they so eagerly signed onto the U.S. government’s assertions that Saddam Hussein had nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Or how, as if by command from above, the U.S. media attack a newly designated enemy of the United States, such as Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein or Moammar Gadhafi.

Belgrade? Really? That’s what this is all about, proving that the U.S. was wrong to defy Russia and invade Belgrade?  And wrong to prosecute Milosevic, and wrong to defy Russia and pursue Gadhafi?

The hysterical, inane statement that U.S. media “unanimously” supported the NATO attack on Serbia (apparently, NATO is just the lapdog of the U.S. in this idiot’s ignorant, illiterate, paranoid neo-Soviet view) can be belied by anyone familiar with Google.

But even more utterly crazy is Pushkov’s attempt to prove the quality of U.S. reporting about DSK by citing Maureen Dowd.  Apparently Pushkov is not aware that Dowd is an op-ed opinion columnist, not a reporter.

Then Pushkov attempts to explain his “propaganda” campaign.  Apparently, the U.S. had a vendetta against DSK and wanted him out, so it invented false charges of sexual misconduct when it could not achieve his ouster by standard political means.  Pushkov writes: “The Strauss-Kahn arrest corresponded in a curious way with the fierce political battle in France for the presidency and the future of the dollar as a reserve currency and the future of IMF policy.” And that’s it. No further explanation.  Not a single quote from DSK indicating that he would push to drop the dollar as a reserve currency or alter IMF policy in any way that would be harmful to the United States.

And then Pushkov publishes three of the most extraordinarily mendacious paragraphs about Russia that we have ever seen in print:

Russian journalism, despite what people say and write about it in the United States, is much more distrustful of statements made by authorities. Largely because of the Soviet legacy, Russians are more skeptical than Americans of the government’s version of events. On the whole, Russians better understand that there are two sides to every scandal. In this sense, Russian journalists seem to be more open-minded than U.S. journalists, who are all too eager to believe that a “God-fearing maid,” thanks to America’s democracy, stood up to one of the world’s most powerful men.

From the very beginning, Russians viewed the allegations against Strauss-Kahn with great suspicion. Likewise, most Russians do not believe for one second that John F. Kennedy was killed by a lonely maniac. Or that the reason the United States invaded Iraq was because Saddam Hussein supposedly had weapons of mass destruction. It would seem that both Russian media and society have a better ability to put together facts and come up with logical conclusions from the story that is unfolding.

Similarly, Russians also do not believe that former President Boris Yeltsin was a “democrat” whose rule benefited the country, although this is the official version that is eagerly supported by the West. It was telling that when President Dmitry Medvedev unveiled a statue in Yekaterinburg in February in honor of Yeltsin, only a handful of local citizens were present for the ceremony. The Russian media have a number of weaknesses, but political correctness is certainly not one of them.

Simply breathtaking! While claiming that Russians are better informed than Americans by more suspicious reporters, Pushkov does not mention one single fact about Russia’s current rulers, Putin and Medvedev, that Russians or Russian reporters have been suspicious about.  Instead, he points to Boris Yeltsin, as if there is nothing about Putin or Medvedev that could give rise to suspicion.

Pushkov’s rantings are simply psychotic, and fully neo-Soviet. But there is a big difference now:  Unlike in Soviet times, no iron curtain prevents the world from seeing through his ridiculous lies.

28 responses to “EDITORIAL: Alexei Pushkov, Neo-Soviet Liar

  1. I have a nice one here:

    http://www.rferl.org/content/Russian_Scholar_Warns_Of_Secret_US_Climate_Change_Weapon/2114381.html

    It must be very comfortable to have someone to blame fore everything that goes wrong.

    Perhaps the U.S. also have a secret weapon which makes a country corrupt and its leaders short and crazy?

    • I think you should also discuss whether Putin is Antichrist at this site, just the right place to discuss all sorts of these “nice ones”.

  2. I think the topic here is not Putin’s position in the pantheon, but the Russian habit to blame the West and especially the U.S. for everything…

    • Your attempt to picture this as “the Russian habit to blame the West” is a hate-instigating generalization, not unlike “the blacks’ lack of academic abilities” or “the Jewish greed”. If a loony or a person with an agenda in Russia makes a statement similar to what you quote above, this is not more indicative of “the Russian habit” to do anything than a Western loony’s starting a blog suggesting that Putin is the Antichrist (e.g. http://putinantichrist.blogspot.com/) is indicative of “the Western habit to demonize the Russians”.

      • If this was only about a loony Russian individual, we could dismiss this. But there exists a persuasive body of evidence suggesting that the anti-American and anti-Western hatred is widespread in Russia, including the highest levels of power.

        • Russians have one of the most racist cultures in history, rivaling the Boers of South Africa or the Germans of the 30’s and 40’s for racist bile, as shown by AT’s constant racist attacks on non Russian ethnicities.

          • Manfred Steifschwanz

            What about the Amurrrkans and their “Manifest Destiny” insanity?

          • Andrew, you are a liar. Please provide a link or a full quote from my post proving that I have ever made one single “racist attack” against any ethnicity on the face of this planet. Your inability to do this exposes your lies with respect to your other generalizations.

      • Although this is a bit late I hate supporters of fascist regimes. This obviously means YOU. Take your anti-American thoughts and shove them up your #@*! See how that feels and remember Americans are a great and powerful people that will never deny any other American their rights.

  3. I confess that I don’t have any statistic but I’ talking to people from many countries but there is no place where I could observe a higher acceptance of conspiracy theories than Russia. I share this opinion with writer Vladimir Voinovich, by the way.

    The “antichrist blog” is also funny, but are you sure that this is made by a Westerner who really believes this? Looks more like a spoof to mock the russophobes.

    • How is this different from publicizing statements like “I am acquainted with a lot of women, and none of them is really good at math”; “I know lots of black people, and they are more interested in sports than in sciences”; “I am talking to people from many countries, but there is no place where I could observe more philistine people than in Jewish communities”?

      You can find plenty of blogs like the Antichrist one. You can even find a number of books claiming that the end of the world will be kick-started by Russia going to war with Israel (e.g. http://www.joelrosenberg.com/epicenter.asp). Conspiracy theories are commonplace, and the Russians are not more susceptible to those than other nations.

  4. Conspiracy theories are commonplace, indeed, but in most countries they are popular among outsiders who have no influence at all. In Russia, the whole establishment adheres to this point view. Have you seen Leontiev’s “Great Game” series? Yesterday I saw a piece on Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess in the Russian news, I think it was RTR. They claimed he was killed by the British in his prison in Spandau because they wanted to pervent him to tell the world that the Royals supported Nazi Germany.
    Conspiracy theories are commonplace, but in Russia they are mainstream.

    • Sure, and women cannot excel at math. RTR has chosen the tabloid format, which admittedly includes the discussion of conspiracy theories, to gain market share. Most news programs did the same during their early years or to prevent a decline. Making judgements about Russia based on the RTR programming or on pravda.ru is the same as to judge about Britain based on something like this http://www.mirror.co.uk/ or to judge America using this CBN.com.

      Either you are too stupid to understand something as obvious as this (which I don’t believe) or you are attempting to rationalize a stereotype.

      • Well AT, you frequently resort to typical racist stereotypes when describing Caucasians, Finns, Poles, and other victims of Russian imperialism, be it white or red or the current type of grey imperialism.

        • Andrew, are you trolling? You lied at least three times about my remarks.When have I ever resorted to any racist stereotype? Liar!!

          • I guess, your anti-Semitic remarks directed to me don’t count. Or even more anti-Semitic outbursts of your Swedish associate (and you never said anything condemning him or even disagreeing with him).

            • A quote please. This is hilarious given that my mother is Jewish.

              • First, we don’t know if you are telling the truth about your mother.

                Second, even if it’s true that proves not much. I’ve seen enough anti-Semites among my own people, some call them self-loathing Jews.

                Third, I don’t know how else to characterize your not so oblique reference to my “race.”

                And fourth, when your fellow Swedish Russia-lover goes on and on about Zionist being Nazis and about the necessity to destroy Israel etc., we haven’t heard a word from you, not a single word of even a mild disapproval.

                • RV, you do not know if anything I say here is true. The same refers to any statement of any other poster. I am not considering myself Jewish, as I am culturally or religiously not Jewish. But many of my friends are Jewish and I visit Israel quite often. I “loathe” no ethnicity. In fact I cannot say that I “loathe” or “hate” anyone. The reference to your “race” was, if you read it carefully, made to expose your not-so-oblique references to representatives of another “race” (here I used the term liberally, not unlike Woody Allen in “Scoop”). Even in this capacity, you managed to take a reference to your race as an insult. Then you are somehow surprised that statements of these blog’s commentators about “Russian typical this” and “Russian that” are somehow provoking strong reactions from Russians.

          • Hmmm, well AT, do you remember your comments about “Chechens all being slave traders” or “barbarians”, that Georgians “deserved” to be victims of ethnic cleansing etc?

            You are a lying little prat AT.

            • Jesus Christ, guys, just stop talking to him. It’s not that hard, really.

            • Well, your memory does not serve you right, Andrew. Slave trade was common in Chechnya under their Islamist regimes. It was also widespread in Ancient Greece and Rome, in the United States before 1861, serf trade was perfectly legal in Russia until the same year. Pointing this out is not racism. And no, I’ve never wrote anything to the extent that ALL Chechens are slave traders. Many of them, however were. So where is racism in this statement? Next you will accuse me of being racist against Ancient Greeks based on this post, right, liar?

              I also explicitly said that “barbarity” and “atrocities” were perpetrated by representatives of all ethicities in Chechnya in response to Robert’s postings that cast Chechens as helpless innocent victims and Russians as bloodthirsty barbarian perpetrators of atrocities. In fact you provided these statements of mine recently here. Re-read them carefully.

              I never said Georgians “deserved” ethnic cleansing. I said that they created a country which Abkhazians and Ossetians were so desperately to leave, they decided to fight for this, and atrocities were committed in the process — again by representatives of all ethnicities. I stated there should be a solution to prevent further sufferings of people of all origins who suffered in the conflict, which includes both ensuring the independence of S.Ossetia and Abkhazia and some form of ensuring the rights of the displaced people.

              I also pointed out that Georgians have also been cornerstone of Russia leading Russian armies and being military heroes (e.g.Bagrationi, Chavchavadze, Kantaria), participating in governing Russia or its parts (another Bagrationi, a number Ordzhonikidzes, Beria, Dzhugashvili, Shevarnadze), being Russian mafia bosses (Gela Kardava) or oligarchs (Bendukidze) or creating the Russian culture (Danelia, Kiakbidze, Tseskaridze, Gomiashvili, Chkhartishvili).

              I lamented the fact that the Georgian culture, once prominent throughout the Soviet Union, is shrinking into an unimportant phenomenon as Georgia itself looks more and more like the Congo on the Black Sea. Is this “being racist against the Georgians to you”?

              A liar is a liar is a liar.

      • AT, it is trivial to say „never generalize, all people are the same, they all need to eat, drink, sleep and trying to find typical patterns in a certain group means just stereotyping them”. Of course there are stereotypes about all nations, some of them are complete bullshit, but many of them are based on real observations.

        Doing business in several countries I have met the following patterns in Russia:

        Corruption on third world level
        Extreme unreliability
        A habit of blaming others for the own mistakes
        (And add to it a legal system that does not allow you to enforce your legal claims)

        Of course you can say that I just was unlucky to meet the wrong people, you have rotten apples everywhere etc, but my personal experience concedes with what other people who did business say, there are business consultants lawyers who’s job it is to help Western companies who have problems in Russia, business associations discussing these problems.

        Are they all stupid or rationalizing stereotypes?

        • Well, I am really sorry about your business experience. Russia is an emerging market with problems typical of emerging markets. It’s not for naive investors. I have encountered similar problems in all the BRICTS countries, yet I am not considering any ethnicities living there as naturally predisposed to lying, engaging in corruption or exercising less than optimal business ethics. These problems are not race or ethnicity-specific, they will be in place for a while and, hopefully, will be resolved gradually, as they were in other parts of the world. Saying that business risks in emerging markets are higher than they are in developed countries is to state the obvious. That’s why investors who put their money there expect higher returns. Duh.

  5. Has anyone heard the one about the US started the e-coli outbreak in Germany? A lot of Russians believe it and I bet the state-controlled media started the rumour. No 0ne with any common sense could give it the time of day but a lot of Russians do.

    • Sure, and some Westerners on this blog blame Russians for Breivik’s attacks. …and you do not “believe” or “bet”, you ASSume.

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