In a post that is bizarre even by his own psychopathic standards, Russia Blog publisher Yuri Mamchur has provided readers with an endlessly long, heinously boring transcript of a forum funded by the Discovery Institute entitled "Russia, Friend, Foe or What?" The information is made available more than two months after the event took place, and Mamchur doesn't care to say how many attended, much less who (there's a photograph in the post of a tiny room with lots of empty seats). It's a laugh riot, but nonetheless it's a bubble that must be popped, since too often we've seen the Big Lie repeated enough times that even clever people start to believe it. Hence, La Russophobe takes out her sharpened needle . . .
According to Mamchur, the forum offered "insights into the politics, business and investment climate through out the country are helpful in discerning the truth behind many of the most common assumptions made about Russia in America and Europe." If, from the title, you thought that one or more of the four speakers might argue the proposition that the assumption Russia is friend is false, or at least be in some way critical of Russia's KGB regime and slide into dictatorship, you were mightily disappointed.
The speakers were Mamchur himself, John Miller, Bill Robinson and Herbert Ellison. Knowing a little about them (granted, you already know Mamchur too well) would allow you to know what they said without actually burdening yourself with listening.
Bill Robinson (pictured, right) is identified as an "international lawyer." If you click through to Mr. Robinson's law firm website and glance at his shortlist of selected readings, you find an article in RIA Novosti by Russia Today (hence, Kremlin) employee (and naked Russophile shil) Peter Lavelle, attacking critics of Vladimir Putin. You also find an article by rabid Russophile nutjob Nikolai Petro (like Lavelle, he too has been exposed previously on this blog). And you find a treatise by Mr. Robinson himself in which he admits that his firm "advises clients on how to structure Russian business operations, and how to manage legal issues relating to trade and investment in Russia" In other words, he makes money by convincing foreigners to invest money in Russia. Three guesses as to how objective he is on the Putin administration, and as to how many articles by Russia's human rights defenders you will find on Robinson's website, and as to whether or not Mr. Robinson disclosed this fact in his diatribe.
Then there's John Miller (pictured left - kinda scary, isn't he?). The link to his background provided by Mamchur is broken. In his remarks, Miller states he is "professor at George Washington University, a former United States Ambassador at Large in the area of human rights – specifically, modern day slavery." He also states that "the real reason I’m here is that I’m a former chairman of the board of Discovery Institute." If that implies to you that he lacks any sort of credentials as an expert on Russia, you're pretty perceptive. His resume states that his areas of knowledge are "Modern Day Slavery, Foreign Policy, Electoral Politics, American History." He's a long term functionary of the Discovery Institute, just like Mamchur, and just like Russia Blog henchman Charles Ganske has no meaningful knowledge of Russia at all..
And then last of all there is Herbert Ellison (pictured, right), the only member of the group with legitimate credentials on Russia and no apparent direct ties to Discovery Institute, having served Director of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies of the University of Washington, and the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C.). Could this scholar be counted on to deliver some necessary counterbalance to the tidal wave of Russophile propaganda offered by the other three? Judge for yourself, dear reader:
The point I want to break out of this is that I think there is a considerable error in much of the writing about Putin which provides a negative estimate, and fails to give adequate attention to the remarkable achievements of this period. And I have already indicated that I felt the same way, very often, about the treatment of Yeltsin. I’m not quite sure why that has continued to occur, but he has done another thing for which he has been criticized – he has massively reduced the corruption in the Russian governmental apparatus. Now like Yeltsin, he did this in a way that did not require a public vote on what was a constitutional change, and that was much resented, especially by the people [Russian governors] who were removed. But the point was, he felt that the only way he could be confident of the support and effectiveness of the regional governors was to have some role, some check, on the current process of their selection.So much for diversity of viewpoints. How did Russia Blog come up with this guy? Well, he's teaching out in Washington State (his alma mater, class of '51, which puts him well into his seventies -- his exact age is hard to determine since he's virtually a non-entity on the web), right next to Discovery Institute's headquarters. Perhaps they offered him a pretty penny, and besides that, he's about 95 million years old and in the twilight of his career to say the least. He so significant these days that Wikipedia has never heard of him. A Google search yields 708 hits (little old La Russophobe has 75,000) and some of them are for a different "Herbert Ellison." So he may well be willing to say just about anything for some attention.
Mamchur actually admits that he's engaged in blatant, dishonest propaganda. Here's his exact words:
The project is called the Real Russia Project because Discovery Institute’s statement is “to make a positive vision of the future practical.” Recently, the idea of positive relations between Russia and America has increasingly become impossible in most people’s minds. In the American press, everything we hear about Russia is negative. Almost any information about Russia that reaches an American audience nowadays is either sensational or negative. You don’t hear about positive things happening between our two nations. You don’t hear about positive changes that are taking place in Russia. Such negativity between the U.S. and Russia is simply not healthy. So Discovery decided not to cover up what is bad in Russia, but to show what is really going on there.One could have said the same about Nazi Germany or Stalin's USSR too, of course. All that nasty bad press about concentration camps and nothing about their wonderful flower gardens! This is what we are faced with, we who wish to save the people of Russia from the dustbin of history. These are our enemies, the likes of Mamchur.
Mamchur also waxed arrogant about Russia Blog, stating: "The website has grown a lot in the last two years since we started, and now it gets quoted and picked up by CNN, FOX News, Google News and others – great media reach for such a modest program." Modest? It's the only organizationally funded Russia blog in the world. Oddly, Mamchur doesn't put in a single link to a mention of Russia Blog by CNN or FOX. Why would they wish to do so? Mamchur says the reason is obvious: "The things we write about are usually very simple things – for example, what’s inside of a grocery store in Moscow." As of last Friday there were 36 posts displayed on Russia Blog's home page, covering a full month of content, and 11 of them had zero comments while a further 7 had only one each. So over the course of a month and three dozen posts this blog whose name is bandied about on national TV managed to generate two or more comments only less than half its posts.
Yuri Mamchur is a classic neo-Soviet man. His upbringing has taught him that Americans are morons easily duped by Russians, and has taught him to value illusion over substance. He thinks he can just make things up as he goes along, and people will swallow it all. It helps, of course, that he's surrounded by folks at the Discovery Institute who believe that evolution is a red herring.
It's interesting to note, as well, how faithfully the extent of Mamchur's brazenness tracks that of Vladimir Putin. Just as we see Putin abandoning any pretense of being reasonable in favor of a naked, open assault on the West, we see Mamchur drop any pretense of objectivity and openly declare himself a propagandist in the crudest, most brazen way imaginable, a fully neo-Soviet spectacle indeed.