We were of course delighted to see the wonderful Nicolai Petrov of the Carnegie Center publish an op-ed in the Moscow Times that makes a perfect bookend for our editorial condemning the Valdai charade. We hope he’s right when he says that even the Valdai participants themselves are getting creeped out by the immorality of it all.
Amid all of the events surrounding Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia these past few weeks, I nearly forgot that the latest session of the Valdai Discussion Club was about to begin. The club was launched five years ago and is one of the Kremlin’s most successful public relations projects. This time it took place in Rostov-on-Don, Grozny and Sochi.
The Atrocity Called Valdai
Russia has established a tradition of offering an all-expenses-paid luxury trip to the Kremlin for a pack of foriegn Russia-watchers so that they can hobnob with the nation’s highest official, feel like bigshots “in the know” and learn the “truth” about Russia. So naturally this year, the crowd at the “Valdai Discussion Club” (which we’ve previously exposed for the nasty little Potemkin village of collaborators that it is — and very rarely to its participants dislose the extent of financial benefits they received when they write about their experiences) hung out with Vladimir Putin at his palacial compound in the resort town of Sochi.
What’s that, you say? Putin isn’t Russia’s highest official? That “honor” belongs to Dmitri Medvedev, the man who didn’t attend the Olympic games this year in Beijing, either? The Valdai Club didn’t spend any time with the prime minister last year or the year before?
Welcome to neo-Soviet reality, dear friend.