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Monday, December 03, 2007

EDITORIAL: Russia Blog is Covered to its Beady Eyeballs in the Fetid Excrement of Neo-Soviet Lies


Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho -- Russia Blog has Got to Go

It's time the blogosphere took a stand to purge itself of the mendacious pro-Kremlin propaganda campaign known variously as "Russia Blog" and "The Real Russia Project." Sponsored by the infamous Discovery Institute, this entity has relentlessly churned out the most outrageous falsehoods in the service of propping up Vladimir Putin's dictatorship, and in so doing given a bad name to all bloggers, everywhere.

Simply put, it's just embarrassing. It. Must. Be. Stopped.

Case in point: You will note, dear reader, that today's date is December 3, 2007.

It's important to note this, because on March 24, 2006 Yuri Mamchur, publisher of Russia Blog (a Russian who purports to give Americans advice on how to deal with Russia), announced that he had a secret source deep within the Kremlin which told him that Vladimir Putin would resign from office, in Mamchur's words:
"before December 2nd, when his successor will stand in the next election. "
In other words, before yesterday. Here's a screenshot of Mamchur's post (click it to see it full size).

Putin did not, you will undoubtedly have noticed, resign before December 2nd, nor was a presidential election held yesterday. It could be that neither "law graduate" Mamchur nor his "source" was aware that, as Sergei Mironov (head of Russia's version of the Senate) had said, the Russian Constitution calls upon the parliament to set the date for the presidential election on November 26th (which it did, choosing March 2, 2008), just a few days before the scheduled parliamentary elections on December 2nd. Absentee voting in the parliamentary ballot actually began on November 19th. As we report today (but Russia Blog does not, as if it didn't happen) Putin, running as the head of his party United Russia, cruised to a Soviet-like victory, obliterating all dissent and discussion in the Duma, likely for all time. Russia's Blog's latest post as of Monday morning is a four-day-old pro-Kremlin lecture about the U.S. missile defense system. Remember how the Soviets used to show ballet footage during a crackdown? Russia Blog tried that too -- see below.

Further, the alleged (anonymous) source told Mamchur: "Speculation concerning Putin’s post-Presidential career has focused on him accepting an executive position with Gazprom, Russia’s state owned natural gas monopoly." Let's not notice Mamchur's willingness to use anonymous sources whilst criticizing this blog for using them, shall we dear reader? Let's just focus on the reality and the facts: Putin did not take any such position, or leave the halls of government as Mamchur implied he would do. Instead, he announced his intention months ago to run for a seat in the Duma and become prime minister, merely changing the name of his position while retaining total power (that is, unless you think the successor president could fire Putin from his post of Prime Minister if Putin didn't want to be fired, or indeed contradict him in any way if he didn't want to be contradicted -- which no sane person does). It goes without saying that there is not the slightest hint that Putin would take such steps in Russia Blog's post, whose purpose was clearly to imply that Putin would act in a reasonable manner and walk away from power when his second term ended. In other words, pure neo-Soviet propaganda designed to undercut criticism of Putin in the West. Just as if the Kremlin had written it. And maybe, dear reader, just maybe they did.

Mamchur should be ashamed, should admit his error and should apologize. Then, he should find another line of work. Preferably in a sewer in Albania. The rats there will probably love this "composer's" fugues. But with the ethics of a cockroach and the intelligence of a turnip, such possibilities are mere fantasy where Mamchur is concerned.

Mamchur waited four days after Putin's announcement that he would remain in the Kremlin to report it. Not surprising. He needed time to scramble to come up with some sort of nonsense to cover both Putin's and his own prior propaganda, now proved to be utterly bogus lies. His effort to do so is just plain pathetic, as anyone who reads it can easily see. It's unworthy of discussion, other than to say: Watch that squirmy worm wiggle as he claims, in so many words, that a new and totally unknown "president" with no power base, totally beholden to Putin for his election, could dictate terms to Putin as prime minister! Laugh out loud as he asserts that Putin, who threw Mikhail Khodorkovsky into prison to prevent his presidential bid, so fears the rule of law that he would never dare transgress the president's prerogatives! Think it mentions, much less links to, his prior prediction/propaganda? Think again.

Further, the super-secret source allegedly told Mamchur: "Russia has traditionally held parliamentary and presidential elections spaced several months apart. Kremlin elites believe that consolidating the national vote into the first Sunday in December will save time and money." In fact, the two elections are not scheduled to be held simultaneously. The parliamentary election campaign began in Russia on Saturday, November 3rd. Not a single word from Mamchur, or anyone else at Russia Blog, about its prior post on that date.

Mamchur stated in a response comment to his post: "I’ve learned this news from a reliable source, which is as close to the grove as it can be. So I am simply taking the pride of saying something I’m very confident in (rather than re-telling other outlet’s rumors). I don’t think resignation of Putin will have to do anything with being like or not like Eltzin. I think it’s an independent move, scheduled by the Kremlin elites for the reasons mentioned in the post." Here's the screenshot:

The former president's name is actually spelled "Yeltsin." There is no "z" in the Russian spelling of his name and most intelligent people insert a "y" at the beginning to mark the pronunciation. You'd think a native Russian like Mamchur would know that. Then again, Yuri hasn't spent much time over there lately. Plus which, he's a moron -- so you can't have unfairly high expectations.

A few months later, Russia Blog repeated its incantation that Putin would step away from power before the end of his term, quoting the "president" himself as if he were an oracle of truth rather than a proud KGB liar.

Recently, it seemed, these chickens had at last come home to roost. Perhaps somebody at the Discovery Institute, one hoped, had finally figured out who Mamchur actually is and what he's up to, or maybe they'd simply run out of patience with his incompetence. In any case, between October 13th and November 2nd Russia blog only posted twice, the first time (on October 20th) to tell its "readers" that it was going to stop publishing so it could gather funds (no further explanation, but a plea for donations, as if even its "readers" could possibly be that stupid -- and of course no report on how much money was actually raised during the effort) and the second on October 24th to say that "in the next few days" there would be posts about serial killers, Iran visits and military killings. Despite the promise, nothing was posted after that until November 3rd, and at that time all those topics were totally ignored. Instead, Russia Blog lackey Charles Ganske posted some insipid drivel about churches and parks -- eerily like the way Soviet TV used to broadcast ballet during upheavals.

In other words, Russia Blog can't even tell the truth about the one thing it has absolute control over, namely its own content. It's humiliating to the blogosphere that this entity exists. Erasure is the only solution. Anyone who reads Russia blog with any purpose other than to see the Kremlin's propaganda up close and personal is an idiot, pure and simple, sap waiting to be lied to, misled, deluded and made a fool of. It should be shut down. If Discovery Institute has a single iota of ethics or professionalism, it will do so immediately. If it doesn't, it deserves the inevitable consequences.

* * *

If there was any effort to reign in Mamchur's insanity by the bigwigs at Russia Blog in October, however, it came to nothing. On November 7th, two weeks after he said it would appear and more than a month after its last attempt to discuss a political topic (the October 5th Putin rationalization discussed above), Mamchur finally did publish a post about Iran -- and it turned out to be a perfect microcosm of the blog itself. In that post (where, in a bit of really hardcore anti-American propaganda, he tried to convince his sap readers they should be happy that Putin and Ahmadinejad are in bed together) he cited (of all things!) the New York Post as authority for the proposition that Western media were wrong in claiming Vladimir Putin's recent visit to Iran was the first by a Soviet ruler since Stalin. He claims that Leonid Brezhenv did so. He's a liar. Brezhenev visited Iran in late 1963, but did not become the ruler of Russia until late 1964. Nikita Krushchev was the ruler of Russia when Brezhnev visited Iran, Brezhnev was just the figurehead president and was referred to at the time as "one of Nikita Khrushchev's most promising protégés." These are basic historical facts that even a child could unearth -- but not, of course, an ape from the New York Post or a sea slug from Russia Blog. The author of the Post article Mamchur quotes, one Amir Taheri, like Mamchur's own Discovery Institute, has been repeatedly accused of falsifying his writings.

In bizarre fashion, Mamchur couldn't even quote his own source correctly, going on to claim that Krushchev himself had also visited Iran when in fact the Post never said that; rather, it said the other visitor was Nikolai Podgorny. If that name doesn't strike you as being someone who ever ruled Russia, you know more Russian history than the Russian Mamchur does. Podgorny was another meaningless figurehead president (at least the Post gets that much right, but it misleads its readers into thinking that the president and the ruler were the same in Soviet times -- like saying the U.S. President pro tempore of the Senate is the actual ruler of the United States). On top of that, Mamchur mischaracterized (and did not even link to) what the Wall Street Journal wrote about Putin. The paper stated: "Vladimir Putin paid Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a visit yesterday, the first Russian leader to hit Tehran since Joseph Stalin in 1943. But let's not get too carried away by the comparison." Mamchur's characterization: "The Wall Street Journal rushed to report that Putin is the first Russian leader to visit Iran since 1943." So not only was the Journal correct that no Russian ruler had visited Iran since Stalin, it didn't "rush" to judgment -- rather, it called for moderation.

Or maybe Russia Blog thinks that if Robert Byrd (i.e., somebody most of the world has never heard of, but the current President pro tem of the Senate), visits Iran, that means it's OK to report America's "leader" has done so? But that can't possibly be, since in his October 5th post seeking to rationalize Putin becoming prime minister, Mamchur wrote: "The position of Prime Minister in Russia is largely a ceremonial one, and decisions about ministry appointments are made by the President. It really doesn’t matter at the moment whether Putin supports United Russia, nor whether he accepts their offer to assume the Prime Minister’s position." In other words, it doesn't matter if Putin becomes Prime Minister, because that's not a real job.

Yet, apparently, Brezhnev's job as figurehead made him Russia's "leader." Go figure!

This kind of crap has been spewing out of Russia blog for much too long. Those who publish it are simply incapable of telling the truth, much less of publishing professionally researched, reliable facts about Russia. Instead, they are engaged in a naked propaganda screed seeking to subvert U.S. national security while advancing that of Russia and its neo-Soviet Kremlin.

They must be stopped.

* * *

After nothing but a few insipid travel pieces from the clueless Charles Ganske between November 8th and November 25th, on November 26th, Russia Blog started posting again, with a diatribe about how we must not start a new cold war with poor little misunderstood Russia. This was followed on November 29th by a second diatribe about the evils of a defensive U.S. missile system in Europe. In calling for "understanding" of Putin's Russia, Russia Blog echoed verbatim the statements of Mikhail Gorbachev in the International Herald Tribune, who wrote that Putin has "shown wisdom and courage" and deserved respect. Two posts in between dealt with Russia's allegedly booming economy, with not one single word about the upcoming Duma elections and the pandemic electoral fraud being practiced by the Kremlin as Russia became a one-party state. Mamchur did find time, however, to make reference to "millions of dollars from the jailed Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky [which] have been paid out to PR agencies in Washington and London, creating a small but vocal anti-Russia lobby." Small? The world's press has been aflame with reporting on the outrageous actions of the Kremlin over the past few weeks, obliterating even the pretense of democracy and firmly establishing dictatorship. Over the weekend, the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal published major op-ed pieces condemning Putin's dictatorship. John McCain, one of the leading figures in the U.S. foreign policy establishment and a candidate for the Republican nomination for president, has called for Russia's ouster from the G-8. Mamchur simply ignores it all and, in classic neo-Soviet style, attempts to create a parallel reality totally detached from any semblance of accuracy. In other words, just as if he were on the Kremlin's payroll, Russian Mamchur is trying to change the subject.

No discussion of the elections, much less Russia Blog's outrageous lies about them in the past, much less a correction or apology. It's neo-Soviet Russia in a nutshell, and it couldn't be more clear that Mamchur is a Kremlin functionary. From Russia Today to Russia Profile to Russia Blog, the Kremlin's incipient efforts to undermine basic facts is relentless and perverse.

This must be stopped. If Discovery Institute has an ounce of self-respect, it will do so immediately.

* * *

Finally, whilst we are on the subject of Russia Blog, one other point should be mentioned in passing. We've long suspected that Russia Blog was artificially manipulating its traffic by using paid services to drive unsuspecting web surfers onto the blog for a few seconds. Now, we believe this has been conclusively established. As indicated above, Russia Blog's posting had dropped off dramatically over the past few months, and its substantive posts had dwindled virtually to zero. Currently, La Russophobe has more Technorati linking blogs than Russia Blog, though in previous times Russia Blog has been slightly ahead (because it is a much older blog) -- we also have three times more blog reactions than Russia Blog. This is obviously due to the fact that the blog hasn't been posting significant content. Yet, Alexa's data shows that Russia Blog's traffic level hasn't been influenced in the slightest by their lack of content, as any sort of logic would dictate it must be (in fact, the data actually shows a increase in traffic in the most recent period). We believe this can only be because Russia Blog's traffic has nothing to do with its content, it's artificial and, like the blog itself, an utter sham.

Just one more reason why Discovery Institute should shut Russia Blog down for good and send "composer" Yuri Mamchur off to the Russian woods to compose his imaginary symphonies for the listening pleasure of the mushrooms.

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