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Archive for February, 2011

The Politics of Conspiracy: The Case of the North Caucasus.

Posted by democratist on February 28, 2011

February 28th 2011,

A mere twelve hours after Democratist published an article suggesting Medvedev’s speech in Vladikavkaz last Tuesday was a new iteration of the nomenklatura’s historical use of conspiracy theory for domestic control, Pavel Baev from Jamestown has penned his own superb article entitled “The Kremlin Spins Conspiracy Theories Explaining Revolutions Away.”

Among other things, Baev notes that last week’s speech marked the public unveiling of a new theory, of a supposed relationship between Russia’s worsening problems in the north Caucasus, and the recent wave of unrest in north Africa;

“Medvedev tries to reinvigorate the siloviki by sacking mid-level police generals and even a deputy director of the FSB; he has also replaced the head of Karachaevo-Cherkessia for poor efforts in economic development, while tensions in this republic still remain manageable (, February 26). These cadre reshufflings make little difference in the administrative system based on converting power into profit, while Medvedev’s personal inspections of airports and train stations only demonstrate that no efficient defense against terrorism could be invented (Novaya Gazeta, February 26). It is the growing understanding of futility of the two-track strategy of buying stability and exterminating rebels that feeds the official readiness to subscribe to the preposterous “American-Turkish conspiracy” (Vedomosti, February 25).”

The idea of a Turkish-American conspiracy in the north Caucasus is indeed preposterous; the obvious reality is that the Kremlin has failed miserably over a period of more than a decade in its attempt to “pacify” the region.

 But, as we wrote yesterday, the emerging danger (as demonstrated by historical precedent) is that Putin and Medvedev themselves will soon come to genuinely believe in what is essentially a self-serving and exculpatory Macédoine of falsehood and quarter-truth: Medvedev’s speech raises the spectre of the FSB falling into the established pattern of pandering to the Kremlin’s fears of foreign plots, and of discovering “proof” of this involvement in the ongoing series of terrorist attacks that they have repeatedly demonstrated they are too inept to prevent.

Either way, this development does not bode well for Medvedev’s “modernization” strategy. As Baev also suggests, it is likely to strengthen the hand of those in the nomenklatura who distrust the West, and, combined with a rise in oil prices, may finally come to mark Russia’s return to the “petro-state” development model.

Posted in Conspiracy Theory | Leave a Comment »

Dimitry Medvedev and the Autonomous Power of Lies.

Posted by democratist on February 27, 2011

27th February 2011,

Democratist was not especially surprised to hear President Medvedev’s comments in Vladikavkaz last week suggesting that outside forces are plotting a revolution against Russia.

The idea that the US is plotting to unseat the current Russian government (or its allies) in order to get its hands on Russian oil has been making the rounds in the Russian domestic media since at least the 2003 “Rose Revolution” in Georgia, and gained intensity after the “Orange Revolution” in late 2004 (indeed, a great deal of such propaganda was promoted domestically within Ukraine at the time as part of Yanukovich’s unsuccessful election campaign; Democratist remembers reading Russian-language articles accusing Yukashenko’s American-born wife of being a “CIA Colonel”). The trend has seen a major renaissance since the recent revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the middle East.

These conspiracy theories continue to circulate despite (or more likely because of) the fact that democracy promotion is has been an openly admitted, and highly successful aspect of US foreign policy for many decades, and has been pursued quite openly by organizations such as NDI and Radio Free Europe, and through international organizations such as the OSCE (of which Russia is a member-state, and as such has agreed to abide by democratic norms such as the holding of free and fair elections by signing the 1990 Copenhagen document).

The rationale behind the promotion of the “Colour Revolution” conspiracy theories (whose central defining motif is to ascribe an unwarranted role in these revolutions to the CIA, George Soros, the Bilderburg group and so on, and to play down the role of popular sentiment and mobilization in the countries concerned) is an unwillingness to accept the appeal of democratic governance for people in autocratic states generally, and of the applicability of the democratic model to Russia specifically. The need for the continued promotion of such a view of the world is dictated by the Russian elite’s unwillingness relax their grip on power, or allow themselves to be put to the test of a fair election (regardless of how popular the opinion polls may claim they are).

So what is the historical background to such conspiracy theories (in the Russian context) and who how do they circulate and gain currency?

As David Aaronovitch recounts in some detail in his excellent Voodoo Histories: How Conspiracy Theory has Shaped Modern History (2009), the various incarnations of the Russian secret service have had a lengthy record of both creating and promoting conspiracy theory to influence the world view of the Russian people for their own political ends.

A good early 20th Century example (which we have mentioned before) is the so-called Protocols of the Elders of Zion; a forged document supposedly describing how senior representatives of the Jewish community were plotting to achieve world domination, which was in fact cooked-up by the Okhrana (secret police) in the early 1900’s as a weapon to bolster tsarist autocracy against reformism (many reformist politicians were Jews). The Protocols later became a favorite of Hitler’s, and were added to the secondary-school curriculum in Germany in the 1930’s, eventually making a contribution to the genocidal mentality that led to the holocaust.

Another example of the NKVD’s (as it was by then called) handiwork can be seen in the Moscow “show trials” of the late 1930’s. At these trials a number of senior Communists were coerced into implicating themselves in a complex series of conspiracies apparently intended to derail Soviet industrialization and overthrow Stalin in favour of the exiled Leon Trotsky. Needless to say (as was later admitted) no such plots ever existed; they were invented by the NKVD in order to consolidate Stalin’s grip on power, provide excuses for the numerous shortcomings of the first 5-year plan, and (significantly) to pander to Stalin’s own deep personal paranoia. As Robert Conquest has described in The Great Terror (1968/1991), many millions died in the subsequent purges.

Other historical examples of the KGB promoting conspiracy theories, both domestically and abroad (e.g. in relation to the Kennedy assassination) abound. Those interested can read The Mitrokhin Archive (1999) for more details.

In contemporary terms, as Democratist has noted before, a considerable proportion of the work of Russia Today seems to be aimed at the promotion of similarly exculpatory or self-serving mythologizing such as the work of Daniel Estulin. Conspiracy theory continues to play an important role within the Russian propaganda pantheon, and has been a central element in official attempts to propagandize the “Colour Revolutions,” and now more recent events in the middle East .

For Democratist, the continuing potential danger of state-promoted conspiracy theory is obvious. As we see in Voodoo Histories they have been a contributory element in at least two of the greatest atrocities of the twentieth century and (combined with the official promotion of Russian nationalism) continue to be an important tool available to the nomenklatura for the control and pacification of their own people, and the sowing of confusion and division abroad.

But the greatest danger of the state promotion of conspiracy theories in this way is that (as we appear to be witnessing in Medvedev’s recent speech) eventually the elite will almost inevitably come to believe in their own lies: Going back to The Mitrokhin Archive, Christopher Andrew notes that many among the KGB senior ranks still fully believed in the existence of Zionist/capitalist plots into the 1960’s and 1970’s. Separately, Andrew recounts how the KGB sought to play to the Kremlin’s (illusory) fears of western invasion in their intelligence reporting in the early 1980’s. This resulted in tensions over the 1983 NATO Able Archer ’83 exercise that may well have brought the possibility of nuclear war closer than it had been at any time since 1962.

Posted in Russia - US Relations, Russia Propaganda, Russia Today | 2 Comments »

Anna Chapman and United Russia: Inevitable Bedfellows.

Posted by democratist on February 23, 2011

23rd February 2011,

According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, United Russia has selected Anna Chapman as a candidate for the Volgograd region for the Duma elections.

Who would have guessed that Chapman would have had such a future in front of her, given that she failed so spectacularly in her first career as an SVR “illegal”?

Well Democratist for one.

Chapman is fast becoming a symbol of everything that’s rotten about the political system in contemporary Russia; a place where sub-saharan levels of corruption (and electoral fraud) mean that media success and political careers can be built on family connections, rather than on any kind of ability.

In Chapman’s case these are the very best sort of connections available; those that link directly to the SVR and to Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin. As Andrew Osborn pointed out in an article in The Telegraph just after Chapman was expelled from the US last July, her father Vasily Kushchenko is almost certainly a veteran KGB/SVR man of long-standing, and a good friend of Sergei Ivanov (with whom he worked in Kenya back in the Soviet period).

For those who do not know about Ivanov, he was Minister of Defence between 2001-2007, and has served since then as Deputy Prime Minister. Ivanov (just like erstwhile Gazprom Chairman Dimitry Medvedev) almost certainly owes his career since 2000 to his relationship with Putin (who Ivanov has known since he met him at a KGB training institute in Saint Petersburg the mid 1970’s).

Since Kushenko is apparently another good friend of Ivanov’s, and the Russian media (such as REN-TV) has become little more than an appendage to the state bureaucracy, it is hardly a surprise that Chapman managed to get fast-tracked onto a  media career within a few weeks of her return from the US, and has now got herself onto the United Russia ticket.  

Her candidacy is further evidence that, just as Mikhail Gorbachev stated in a news conference he gave on Monday, United Russia has become a “bad copy” of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; a ruling party/rubber stamp largely stocked with the appointees of those who really wield power.

Posted in Elections, Russia Propaganda, Russian Espionage | Leave a Comment »

Wikileaks and the broader foreign policy context.

Posted by democratist on February 22, 2011

22nd February 2011,

Democratist has been thinking a bit more about the implications of last year’s various Wikileaks disclosures, and Western information integrity more broadly.

What Assange has helped create is basically a form of journalistic sourcing, albeit enabled by the internet and therefore on the grand scale. He himself comes across as eccentric, but this is far bigger than one man; the technology exists, and Wikileaks seems fairly uncontrollable under existing media laws in most democratic countries. 
Freedom of the press is a critical check on government and a sine qua non of an open society. But leaked documents can be used to betray human sources, or techniques which provide information that may be used by governments to bolster the cause of democracy and their national interests. Once the information is out, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle; journalists may edit it to remove names, but sophisticated hostile governments can (presumably) eventually hack into the journalists’ computers to discover the information they did not make publicly available.

Democratist believes that in reacting to Wikileaks (and similar future imitators), Western governments have to put the principle of freedom of the press above that of their own information integrity. It is the job of governments to safeguard their information, but if they are unable to do this they will have to live with the consequences. Once the information is released into the public domain, there are clearly legal limitations to the actions governments can take, and the imposition of additional restraints on the press are unlikely to serve the cause of liberty. It is better to concentrate on protecting those who may have been exposed, and the introduction of additional safety measures for the most sensitive information, rather than going off on legally questionable witch-hunts (although in clear-cut cases where it can be proved that existing laws have been broken, prosecutions should follow). 

Democratist does not consider the Wikileaks cables to have been a major cause of the recent uprisings in MENA (although they may have been a contributory factor), but the Wikileaks saga does appear to be symptomatic of a broader international technologically driven shift in power in terms of availability of information and organization away from the state towards the press and people. Democracies have less power in relation to their populations than autocrats, so autocrats have far more to lose from this trend (and probably have a higher proportion of disgruntled potential “leakers”); and since no one can afford to shut off the internet for too long if they wish to run a successful modern economy, their room for manoeuvre may be limited (they are unlikely to be able to block information as effectively, or for as long as they wish).

While much of the leaked information has so far come from the US, Democratist suspects there will be plenty more from countries that lack democratic legitimacy, and are therefore less stable, so the impact of future leaks will be much larger for these countries than the West. Ensuring and respecting freedom of the press at home will therefore also have positive foreign policy implications, because hostile autocracies will not be able to accuse the West of hypocrisy when the focus falls on them, and their attempts at media and internet crackdowns will further delegitimize them in the eyes of their people.

Posted in Autocracy and Innovation, Democratization, Egyptian Revolution, International Political Economy, Jasmine Revolution, Western Foreign Policy, wikileaks | 1 Comment »

Russia: FDI and the forthcoming elections.

Posted by democratist on February 18, 2011

18th February 2011,

Democratist was fascinated by Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin’s speech in Krasnoyarsk yesterday.

According to Kudrin FDI into Russia fell to  $12-14 billion last year, the third successive year of decline since 2008.

“Direct foreign investment was one and a half times lower,” Kudrin said, “This is not much. In the best years it reached $27 billion.”

And he also stated that this has had a negative impact on President Medvedev’s “modernization” effort, and is holding back economic growth. “We will see in the coming years a stable growth of around 4% and above. However for Russia this – the level of a mid-ranking economy – is insufficient,” he said. “We need a significantly higher growth rate of 6-7%.”

For Democratist’s perspective, what is most interesting about these figures is that they cover the period before last December’s release of embarrassing Wikileaks cables which described Russia as “a virtual mafia state.”

Given the near-continuous (and frankly mostly warranted) bad press the Russians have been suffering over the past several months, it seems very unlikely that the much hoped-for Western FDI flows into Russia will recover any time soon.

So, what are the most likely effects of  continually declining FDI on Russian politics? Will Russia, as Kudrin (rather unexpectedly) suggested, decide to hold free and fair elections later this year, and in 2012 as part of a strategy for future liberalization?

Alas, this is unlikely. The nomenklatura has an intrenched fear of “instability.” Giving power away in any meaningful sense is largely anathema for Putin and his former KGB pals, regardless of the lessons that recent developments in Tunisia and Egypt may imply. Their main medium-term hope remains a (continued) rise in raw materials prices.

So while there may be some measured liberalization in the parliamentary polls set to take place in December, Democratist continues to maintain that the regime will probably try to leverage the Presidential elections due in 2012 as method for winning increased international legitimacy by enhancing the (not so far especially successful) illusion of Russia’s “democratic development” through a poll that apparently offers more political competition than was the case in recent years, but in reality whose parameters have been carefully determined in advance.

While the exact form this contest will take may be beyond even our predictive powers, Democratist continues to feel that the obvious choice will be a superficial competition between an emphasis on ”stability” or “modernization”; between Putin or Medvedev.

Posted in Democratization, Elections, FDI, Hydrocarbons, Jasmine Revolution, Russia 2012 Elections, Russian Economy, Russian Politics | 3 Comments »

Autocracy and Innovation: Lessons from Russia and China.

Posted by democratist on February 17, 2011

17th February 2011,

Democratist has just read another interesting article by Stephen Blank over at Jamestown, which serves to once again illustrate our oft-repeated point that autocratic rule and corruption in Russia have had a devastating (and continuing) impact on national research and development, especially over the last 10 years, and that this weakness is in turn seriously damaging the country’s status as an international political, economic and military player.

Blank quotes Konstantin Sivkov (Vice-President of the Academy for Geopolitical Issues, and a former General Staff officer) to the effect that the avionics and technical specifications of China’s new J-20 strike fighter may suggest the PRC will be capable of attaining highly advanced strategic-technological breakthroughs for fighter-aircraft over the next five to fifteen years.

According to Sivkov, while the J-20 does not approach the capabilities of the US F-22, its specifications may imply that China could soon surpass Russia, whose defense industrial sector still relies on Soviet models (Interfax-AVN, January 17). There is no sign, according to Sivkov, of Russia’s defense industry’s capability to keep pace with its peers.

While autocrats (and their apologists) may find comfort in the technological advancements of the PRC, Democratist notes that, despite having recently become the second largest economy in the world, and in many ways the world’s industrial “workshop”, China still apparently lags considerably behind the US in terms of military technology, and is still heavily reliant on espionage and the reverse-engineering of Western technology in an attempt to catch up. Democratist believes that, even with plenty of resources, a lack of democracy, openness, and accountability will make innovation difficult, even for the PRC.

So, while Russian and Chinese espionage certainly pose a threat to US military superiority, it does not appear that either country is currently producing their own military industrial innovations, but are rather seeking to copy those of Western countries. As long as the West can prevent their secrets from falling into the wrong hands for a reasonable amount of time, they seem likely to be able to maintain an innovative advantage over autocratic states for several decades, if not longer.



Posted in Autocracy and Innovation, Russian Corruption, Russian Espionage, Russian Military | 1 Comment »

Napolitano, Wikileaks, and the Absolute Necessity of a Free Press

Posted by democratist on February 17, 2011

17th February 2011,

Back in December we wrote that we did not agree with Wikileaks’ release of several hundred thousand classified State Department cables, on the basis that discretion is, and should remain an important element of diplomacy (but we also acknowledged that there seemed little point ignoring these cables once published).

Our initial position was based on practicality rather than principle, and we did not pay much attention to the legal implications of the case at the time, on the basis that the main focus of this blog is on the politics and international relations of Russia and the CIS, rather than Wikileaks or the US.  

In retrospect, this was a mistake: we were disturbed by calls from the more rabid sections of the American right for Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange to be brought to trial as a “terrorist” (and presumably executed if found “guilty”), but until today did not feel we had the required legal expertise, to comment usefully on the matter.

In this regard, we have been delighted to discover this extraordinarily clear and powerful defence of Assange, Wikileaks and the fundamental necessity of freedom of the press as an essential bulwark of a free society, thanks to a rather unexpected source; Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News.

Napolitano’s main points are that the actions of Mr. Assange (and Wikileaks) in releasing the secret documents are absolutely protected by the first amendment to the United States constitution, and that there is a legal precedent in the form of the release of the “Pentagon Papers” by the New York Times in 1971 for the Wikileaks case. Napolitano states;

“In 1971 the NYT obtained a stolen copy of classified defence department documents; a study on US political involvement in Vietnam (the “Pentagon Papers”). When the Times published the report, the federal government wanted to censor the newspaper, and prevent it from printing more of the classified documents. The government, and president Nixon argued that the Espionage Act of 1917 trumped the first amendment, and gave the government the right and the power to censure the newspaper. Fortunately, the supreme court disagreed, and ruled six to three that the first amendment trumps the Espionage Act, and that a free press was absolutely necessary, and was the check on the government.  And so the court ruled, that wherever members of the media come upon government documents of public interest, no matter how secret, no matter how they got them, there can be no liability, civil or criminal, for publishing them. The attacks on Assange are another example of the government trying to quash dissenters. Mr. Assange did not steal these cables, he merely published them; it’s the government’s responsibility to keep their own secrets, and not that of a free, unbiased press. If we allow the governments of the world to label Assange a terrorist, and allow them to shut down Wikileaks, it will be one giant leap towards tyranny.”

Democratist (who is no lawyer) thinks Napolitano makes a strong and logical argument. From our own perspective the most important of the points he makes are on the absolute necessity of a free press as a check on government, and that it is the responsibility of government, and not the press to keep their own secrets. It seems to us that this is a central principle to protect political freedom in the face of oppression, and one which the United States must respect is it wishes to be taken seriously as an exponent of democratic governance.

Posted in Freedom of the Press, wikileaks | 4 Comments »

Belarus 2010: How they cheated.

Posted by democratist on February 14, 2011

14th February 2010,

The Belarusian domestic nonpartisan election monitoring NGO,  Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections has just released their Final Report on the 19th December 2010 elections.

This is an excellent report, that gives considerable detail on the techniques used by the regime to rig the polls (which broadly match our predictions). You can link to it here, or read Democratist’s short summary below.

The main points are;

  • The necessary foundation for democratic elections, in particular regarding the real independence and balance of the election authorities, vote count procedures and effective complaints and appeals process, was not established.
  • 2009 census data provides an indication that 300-350,000 persons who have the right to vote were not included on the voter lists, and that the real number of eligible voters in Belarus during the election should have been 7.4-7.45 million.
  • The complete dominance of state broadcast and printed media by the incumbent, especially during the last two weeks of the campaign period, disadvantaged other opposition candidates who were either not mentioned, or were portrayed in an overwhelmingly negative light.
  • The majority of the national observers were representatives of NGOs and political parties loyal to the regime. Their task was to interfere with activities of independent national observers and journalists. No single complaint has been lodged by these observers, or any election observation report released.
  • The authorities used state administrative resources to coerce voters, especially students and state employees, to vote early. Observers experienced numerous obstacles during early voting, including denial of accreditation and withholding of information on the registration figures.
  • A high number of reported irregularities concerned the inclusion of voters into the list for mobile voting. As a rule, voters were added to the special voter list based on their age and the geographical distance from the polling station (especially in rural areas) rather than at the request of the voter. In many polling stations, the number of mobile voters was disproportionate, i.e. up to 30%.
  • The vote count was carried out in a non-transparent manner. Though most of the observers were allowed to observe the vote count, in most cases the distance from which they were allowed to watch did not allow them to view the content of ballot papers.
  • It is impossible to say whether the ballots in the ballot boxes at the moment the vote count started were the same ballots which were cast by the voters themselves, because during early voting and mobile voting, members of election commissions (which were not independent or pluralistic) and unauthorized persons had access to relevant ballot boxes in absence of observers or other witnesses, and the way the ballot boxes were designed and sealed did not provide an adequate safeguard against potential manipulation.
  • Peaceful conduct of the election was marred on the evening of election day, 19 December, when riot police brutally dispersed participants of a mass demonstration who came to Nezalezhnasci Square in Minsk to protest against unfair conduct of the election. By the morning of 20 December, about 700 persons were detained, including seven presidential candidates. Many of those detained were beaten, including three presidential candidates. At the time of the report’s release, four presidential candidates and 31 of their supporters were in pre-trial detention facilities and under house arrest. They are charged with organization of a mass riot or participation in it.

Posted in Belarus, Domestic NGOs, Elections, Electoral Fraud, Human Rights | Leave a Comment »

Autocracy and Innovation: Lessons from Egypt.

Posted by democratist on February 11, 2011

11th February 2011,

Regular readers of Democratist will be aware of our interest in the interrelationship between democracy and innovation, and our belief that autocratic rule in Russia (and its attendant corruption) have had a devastating (and continuing) impact on Russian science and technology (S&T), despite President Medvedev’s so-called “modernization” programme.

This weakness has in turn seriously damaged Russia’s status as an international economic and military player. However, rather than implementing the political reform required for the development of an innovative scientific community, the response of the Putin regime has been to place a renewed emphasis on espionage (for a concrete indication of the SVR’s interest in US tech, check out who Anna Chapman was following on Twitter before she abandoned her page last July; almost all of these are S&T-related journalists or magazines).

But regardless of the efforts of the SVR and FAPSI (Russia’s well-staffed SIGINT outfit) and the very real danger they present to Western firms, an indication of the continuing fate of the wider Russian scientific community under the nomenklatura might be gauged to a considerable extent by comparison with a similar example which has been brought to our attention thanks to BBC Radio Four’s excellent Material World science series; that of Egypt.

In this week’s programme, Material World interviews Hassan Azzazy (a Professor of chemistry at the American University in Cairo) about the way the Mubarak regime has effected Egyptian scientific research over the last 30 years. 

Azzazy’s main points were that while officially the Egyptian government was a keen promoter of S&T, in reality they had a limited understanding of the importance of research, which eventually had the effect of leaving the country lagging several decades behind other developing nations: Government interference and corruption were the key problem, with the ruling NDP party appointing university staff on the basis of loyalty rather than ability, and any kind of anti-government political activity resulting in banishment from almost any position in academia, research or government. This meant that many of Egypt’s best and brightest were forced to work abroad. 

The implications of what Azzazy says are that almost all of Egypt’s problems in relation to innovation have stemmed from a lack of democracy, openness, and accountability under Mubarak, which has in turn led to a significant inability to appoint the best staff, a huge misallocation of resources, and a lack of effective planning. Democratic openness, as well as resources, are required to cultivate research, and restore competitiveness.

And, as Azzazy says, “In the 21st Century, if you do not use science and technology, and innovation to build a strong economy, and address national needs, you are essentially outdated, and this is exactly the correct term for the current regime.”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

Posted in Russian Economy, Russian Espionage, Russian Science | 3 Comments »

Russia Today: No Alternative.

Posted by democratist on February 9, 2011

9th February 2011,

Democratist doesn’t like to be seen as constantly harping on about Russia Today; there is more to far criticise about the current Russian government than the Kremlin’s English language mouth-piece.

But the truth of the matter is that we enjoy explaining how they skew so many of their stories at the behest of their Kremlin paymasters because;

i) Taking RT’s own advice, Democratist likes to “Question More,” (a lot more).

ii) Since RT is funded by the Russian state to the tune of at least $50 million dollars per year (whereas we are run on a “budget” currently mainly composed of cups of tea and chocolate biscuits), it is clear we enjoy a challenge. 

iii) RT provides an easy target for us, because with a little effort it is usually possible to work out the interests and logic that lie behind their output on any given day, with the added bonus that, because RT reproduces the government line so faithfully, and is generally devoid of editorial independence, it unwittingly sheds considerable light on Russian domestic or (more often) foreign policy: You can usually work out what the Russian government is thinking by working back from an RT story.

And despite its posturing as an “alternative” to the mainstream western media, and related anti-Americanism, Russia Today not a sincere “alternative” to anything, but rather a vehicle for expressing propaganda on behalf of an authoritarian state, which has little concern for democracy or human rights beyond what is politically expedient at the time.

Examples of this hypocrisy are legion; Democratist especially enjoys the way RT’s wall-to-wall condemnations of western militarism (documentaries about US war crimes in Korea, Vietnam etc) are regularly interspersed advertisements for is own military hardware. An example (from this morning) has the excited presenter expounding the virtues of a new Russian attack helicopter; (“They say this 30mm cannon can pierce through armour, but obviously it’s not the only weapon this aircraft can be equipped with; anti tank missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, bombs – all of them installed on the wings here, make this aircraft a real predator in the skies!”).

Very alternative.

Posted in Russia Foreign Policy, Russia Propaganda, Russia Today | 1 Comment »