Sunday, April 30, 2017

Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia Today Leading Outlets for Anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel Propaganda, Israeli Researchers Say



Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 30 – In its annual survey of anti-Semitism in the world, the Kantor Center at Tel Aviv University says that Komsomolskaya Pravda, the Moscow paper with the largest print run, and the Russia Today TV channel (and especially its English-language variant) “continue to be the main platforms for noxious anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda.”

            The center notes that the number of victims of anti-Semitic crimes around the world continued to decline in 2016 but says that with the help of the media, anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli ideas have been spreading in groups both on the far-right and the far-left of the political spectrum (profile.ru/obsch/item/117027-antisemity-poshli-v-massy).

                Among the developments in Russia last year that the Kantor Center sees as particularly worrisome are anti-Semitic statements by senior politicians. In both cases, they were force to apologize; but the center’s researchers point out, those who spread vicious libels from the past – Petr Tolstoy and Vitaly Mironov – do not appear to have suffered as a result.

            More seriously, the report continues, both Russian nationalists and some Russian media outlets now identify opposition figures as Jewish, and they spread fabricated stories about Jews and Israel in order to damage the reputations of both.

            The Kantor study echoes the findings of Moscow’s SOVA research center which reported that there were very few violent attacks on Jews in Russia in 2016 but that “’anti-Semitic rhetoric was extremely prominent” in the media and public life, a worrisome development especially for the future.

Armenia is the Vichy France of Today, Khzmalyan Says



Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 30 – Armenia now is like Vichy France in the early 1940s, Tigran Khzmalyan says, “an occupied country” governed by collaborators in the service of those who seized it, “without allies and almost without hope for assistance and with a still weak Resistance Movement.”

            The Yerevan analyst says that “without these historical parallels, it is difficult from the outside to understand the mechanism and causes of the total control the Putin regime has over the marionette government of Yerevan,” one installed by Moscow after the shootings in parliament and just days before Putin came to power (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5904BA86F4034).

            Indeed, he argues on the basis of a close examination of recent events, “nowhere beyond the border of Russia has the total control over all aspects of life and the destructive influence of the Chekist special services on the state and society been manifested to such great extent as in Armenia.” 

            And Khzmalyan concludes with a warning to the West: “If Europe wants to learn how the victory of Putinism threatens it, it need not look at Russia which after all as is well known ‘can’t be understood by the mind.’ It is quite sufficient to look at Armenia – or on what still remains of it.”

            To make his case, the Yerevan analyst provides evidence to show that “Armenia was an remains the testing ground for the Russian special services’ most sophisticated political technologies” and that many Armenians have gone along because of Moscow’s promotion of their fears about national survival.

            A major reason that Moscow has succeeded is that Western scholars and governments rarely pay much attention to what has occurred in Armenia over the last 25 years and often have accepted Moscow’s claims that the Armenians have agreed to sacrifice themselves on “the altar of Putin’s restoration of the Soviet empire” because they have no other choice.

            Neither Western observers nor many Armenians have paid attention to the fact that Russia has a bad track record as far as the mass murder of Armenians is concerned. Moscow did little or nothing to prevent the Sumgait murders in 1988, and tsarist Russia even opened the way for the genocide in 1915 by pulling its own army back and allowing Turkey free rein.

            Indeed, Khzmalyan says, the Russian Empire acted in much the same way during World War I in Turkey as the USSR did in World War II in Poland “when the Red Army for weeks stopped” short of the Polish capital and thus did not prevent the mass murder of Poles in Warsaw by German forces. 
            Armenia’s intelligence service is “completely subordinate to Russia’s FSB,” he writes, as shown by the recent case when Yerevan provided documentation for wealthy Russians close to the Kremlin so that they could get into Europe despite personal sanctions against them. That wouldn’t have happened except at Moscow’s order or Yerevan’s anticipation of such an order.
            That incident is horrific enough, but it doesn’t exhaust the ways in which Moscow and the FSB are exploiting their control of Yerevan.  On the one hand, Khzmalyan writes, this arrangement allows Moscow via Yerevan to penetrate Western organizations in Armenia, all of whose staff require “the sanction of Russian-Armenian special services.
            And on the other, Moscow is quite pleased to use its Armenian front to penetrate the West with people who supposedly are “independent” of Russia and Putinism but who in fact are totally controlled by them and who can be deployed as Moscow wants “against the West” in various ways.
            Khzmalyan argues that “nowhere in world history can one find another example of such clever and false propaganda as a result of which the Bolsheviks and Chekists have succeeded in fixing in the heads of the Armenian people a feeling of fear mixed with gratitude by the victims to the executioner.”
             This propaganda is the public face of “a cynical tactic” which “works today,” as can be seen by the responses of Armenians to the threats Russian politicians continue to make concerning their country, attacks “from Zhirinovsky and Dugin to Rogozin and Markov,” the Yerevan analyst says.
            Moscow continues to provide arms to Azerbaijan even as it promotes itself as the defender of Armenia, and that is “why Armenian society is so paralyzed and helpless” now, a development that would have seemed inconceivable to those who “recall the democratic uprising of 1988-1991 and the presence of an influential diaspora in the West.”

Russians Losing Interest in May Day Holiday, New Poll Shows



Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 30 – Only 49 percent of Russians plan to do anything special to mark the May Day holiday this year, according to a new Levada Center poll. Not only is this the lowest number over the last 15 years, but it is an indication of the larger pattern of depoliticization of Russians as a result of the economic crisis and the government’s inability to do much about it.

            In 2002, 69 percent of Russians said they would mark the May Day holiday. But perhaps more important, it reports that only 15 percent say they would like to participate in demonstrations in support of the president and government while ten percent indicate they are ready to do so against the policies of the powers (news.mail.ru/society/29594870/).

            May Day, one of the most important holidays in Soviet times, has declined in importance since 1991 and is now easily eclipsed by commemorations of Victory Day on May 9 especially given Vladimir Putin’s obvious conviction that talking about World War II is not only useful for him diplomatically but is an event the overwhelming majority of Russians agree on.