Punishing good people in Russia


The unprovoked military assault on Ukraine starkly proves that Russia was never a “normal” country, but rather a revisionist power, obsessed with its imperial past and paranoid offended by the “collective West” which allegedly imposed its “rules of the game” after which prevailed during the cold war. In an attempt to contain the aggressor, Western powers have imposed sanctions on Russia and many Russians, who have either aided President Putin in his policies or benefited from his regime. On the sanctions list are ministers and deputies, oligarchs and personal friends of Putin, military commanders and heads of state corporations. People may or may not agree on why some members of these groups were subjected to sanctions while others were not, but there is a whole group that has completely escaped Western sanctions. .

What worries me is that the West remains focused on Putin’s “propagandists” — people long engaged in “Hybrid Wars,” producing fake news and spreading pro-Kremlin concepts. Among them are figures like Vladimir Soloviev, presenter of a paranoid talk show on Channel One; Dmitry Kiselyov, director of the Rossiya Segodnya news agency; Margarita Simonyan, CEO of Russia Today; Olga Skabeyeva, another pro-Kremlin TV personality; and Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As the sanctions were extended, they affected even less important media personalities like Artyom Sheinin or Sergei Brylyov. In several cases, real estate belonging to Putin’s spokesmen has been seized – the best known are Mr Solovyov’s castle on the shore of Lake Como in Italy and Mr Sheinin’s humble apartment in Palanga on the Lithuanian Baltic coast.

But I would say that Western sanctions seem to miss much bigger targets. People like Solovyov, Skabeyeva and Sheinin are mindless clowns who can express certain thoughts that they have not produced at all. But those who created modern Russian ideology and actively spread it for years remain intact. As Mr. Putin now rejects the basic rules of the current international order, I must remind readers who first proposed the vision of a “world without rules” that will emerge if Russian interests are neglected: Sergei Karaganov, Fyodor Lukyanov, Timofei Bordachev and their colleagues from the Foreign and Defense Policy Council and the Valdai Discussion Club. Dr. Karaganov frantically defended Russia’s right to reshape post-Soviet borders; argued that NATO is a “political cancer” that aims to kill the “healthy” Russian state; that Ukraine does not have the right to be a sovereign state, etc. This trio, along with Dmitry Suslov, Andrei Ilnitsky, Andrei Sushentsov and a few others, for years glorified Russia’s “pivot to the East”, claiming that Moscow’s alliance with Beijing would end America’s supremacy.

Moreover, for almost fifteen years Valdai Discussion Club bribed Western academics and politicians by taking them to Russia for “scientific debates” culminating in annual meetings with Sergei Lavrov, Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin. None of these brilliant visionaries and thinkers have ever been banned from traveling to Europe and to this day they are frequent guests of Western media. (I should quote Dr Karaganov’s recent interview with The New Statesman where he argues that Ukraine’s resistance leaves Russia no alternative to a nuclear strike against this country which Russia has invaded.) I would add that all those people who proudly claim that they are the real authors of the “Putin Doctrine” studied in the West, have long been engaged in Western academic institutions and, as far as I know, are now trying to get positions with them in case Putin’s efforts fail.

I can go further by mentioning one of Russia’s most “brilliant” spin-doctors, Pyotr Schedrovitsky, whose late father was known as an ideologue of Russian totalitarianism. This man of wisdom was a close collaborator of Sergei Kiryenko, now deputy head of the presidential administration, when the latter was head of the Russian Atomic Energy Agency. But these days he lives peacefully in Jurmala, Latvia, while Russia, lifted from its knees with its active help, is destroying Ukrainian cities. Or, if Maria Zakharova is now under sanctions, why not watch her foster mother, the Moscow State University for International Relations, where its rector, Dr. Anatoly Torkunov, and professors like Alexei Podberyozkin are doing their best to turn his university into a factory producing more and more Zakharova-like graduates who insist on Russia’s supremacy and power of force, not rules, in world politics? Once again, I repeat that in the name of “academic freedom” and “better understanding” of each other, Russian “scholars” have never been subject to Western sanctions – with the exception, I would say, the craziest of them by far. , Alexander Dugin.

Those who glorify Russia’s military advances, who denigrate Western values ​​and corrupt Western academics, who praise Russian-Chinese ties and hail different versions of an “effective” authoritarian regime should be put on sanctions lists because they are responsible for the suffering of the Ukrainian people.

To sum up, I would say that Russian propaganda, which has been in the spotlight for years, looks like nothing more than a slightly modified reiteration of Russia’s new revengeful and expansionist anti-Western ideology – and c It is this ideology which must above all be targeted by the sanctions. Those who glorify Russia’s military advances, who denigrate Western values ​​and corrupt Western academics, who praise Russian-Chinese ties and hail different versions of an “effective” authoritarian regime should be put on sanctions lists because they are responsible for the suffering of the Ukrainian people. Moreover, Western academic institutions (like the Council of Foreign Relations which proudly co-sponsors the journal Russia in Global Affairs) should immediately end this cooperation and prevent any of these Russian “academics” from being employed by universities and Western think tanks, published by Western media, or quoted favorably by the Western press. These people have already done so much to create a “perfect Russia” – they should never be allowed to leave their country now that their dreams have finally come true.

Opinions expressed in opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the position of The Moscow Times.


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