Looking Back on Sochi

LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld has published the final installment of her series on Sochi over on the powerful and influential American Thinker blog. Here are the links to the full series:

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Victor Yanukovich: Public Enemy #1 in Ukraine

A few hours ago, an arrest warrant issued in Ukraine for former president and Kremlin stooge Victor Yanukovich, who is now in hiding just like Saddam Hussein after being ousted from power.  The warrant charges Yanukovich, Russia’s man in Ukraine, with mass murder.

Over on the powerful and influential American Thinker blog, LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld tells the breathtaking story of how Yanukovich and Yulia Tymoshenko are about to switch places. It is the story of the greatest foreign policy failure of the Putin regime and a triumph for democracy and the people of Ukraine.  But the looming threat of Russian military intervention, especially in Crimea, has not been fully excluded as yet.

It’s worth also taking a look at what LR said about Yanukovich back when he took power.  In fact, LR covered him even earlier than that, he was one of the very first topics addressed by the blog in its first months of operation back 2006.

Max Fisher Shows what he Knows about Russia

WaPo blogger Max Fisher

WaPo blogger Max Fisher

We feel this qualifies as the single most hilarious headline on an article about Russia that we’ve ever seen:  “Yes, Americans hate on Russia too much. This ‘Daily Show’ segment proves it.”

The headline appeared over a piece by The Washington Post‘s “foreign policy blogger” Max Fisher.

It’s so hilarious because (1) the “evidence” of the author’s conclusion comes exclusively from a frivolous TV comedy show and from leading Russia hater Julia Ioffe, who’s quoted in the body of the piece, and because  (2) Fisher himself had viciously bashed Russia just a couple of days earlier. Twice, One of his key quotes: “Maybe it’s not so surprising that Americans would be sour on Russia.”

There’s just something so amazingly sublime about an American who clearly knows absolutely nothing at all about Russia getting his information from a TV comedy and then purporting to illuminate “ignorant” Americans about the country after doing himself exactly what he’s now found it possible to criticize, and not noticing. It’s rolling-on-the-floor, good-times-for-all hilarious!

There’s so much ignorance in the author’s text it’s hard to know where to begin.

(1) Fisher finds it somehow laudable that the ‘Daily Show’ reported the fact that Russians don’t know about famous Russian villains in U.S. popular culture. He thinks this proves the U.S. is too hard on Russia. Exactly the opposite is true.  Russians have given Americans many, many valid reasons to fear and dislike them, from providing support to Hezbollah terrorists to aiding U.S.-hating regimes like Iran, Syria and Venezuela to choosing to hand unchecked power to proud America-hating KGB spy named Putin. Maybe if Russians knew how much they’ve antagonized the powerful USA, they’d change their ways.

(2) Fisher writes: “The popular American treatment of the Olympic games in Sochi drives home how unsympathetic Americans can be toward Russia, and makes this a perfect moment to call attention to that habit.”  Incredibly, Fisher doesn’t stop for a second to review Russian treatment of Americans. If he knew anything at all about Russian popular culture, he’d know it demonizes the USA and that Russian politics demonize it even more, going all the way back to Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s demand that the USA surrender Alaska.

(3)  He writes: “When the opening ceremony featured a song by the celebrated Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, for example, many Americans seemed eager to point out that he was gay, as if those homophobic Russians would be unaware of this fact or must all support the country’s anti-gay laws.”  But Russians are unaware that Tchaikovsky was gay, because this fact like many others are suppressed in the Russian education system.  It’s totally outrageous that Fisher would claim they are not without even trying to document a source.  Russia is engaged in a furious crackdown on homosexuals because of its benighted ignorance about them, and Fisher is rationalizing this.

(4) He writes that foreign journalists didn’t criticize China’s human rights record as much as they are doing to Russia “even though the then-ongoing crackdown on Tibetan rights activists was arguably far more severe than anything happening in Russia today.”  Is Fisher really unaware of the savage litany of murders of Putin’s political opponents and critics?  Does he know that Russia has murdered more journalists (like him) than almost any other country, and far more than China ever dreamed of doing?  Is he really suggesting that Russia should get a free pass on human rights atrocities if China got one? Did he even try to look for coverage criticizing China during the games, which was in fact abundant? Does this “journalist” care about facts at all?

(5) He writes that there is “no countervailing narrative in the United States that maybe we’re too hard on the Russians.”  Here at last, he finally admits that this is “also a product of President Vladimir Putin’s own government, which after his disputed 2012 reelection and the ensuing protests has sought to whip up nationalistic sentiment.”  But is he really unaware of the vast array of Russia-funded media being pumped out on a daily basis? He’s never watched Russia Today? He’s never seen the Russia Beyond the Headlines supplement in the New York Times?  Has he ever heard of Professor Stephen F. Cohen, whose drumbeat of pro-Russia, anti-US screeds at The Nation magazine is endless?  Simply amazing stuff.

(6) Amazingly, Fisher openly admits that Russian officials are telling brazen anti-American lies to the Russian people about such issues as Afghanistan yet he does not directly criticize Russians as he does Americans nor does he call for any changes in Russian policy. He cannot point to anyone in Russia who is challenging these hostile anti-American attitudes towards the USA, yet he does call upon Americans to “question their views of Russia.”  Apparently, Fisher is one of those people who view Russians as helpless children incapable of taking any adult responsibility, and who therefore must be led towards it by Americans taking unilateral action.  Needless to say, that is the road to ruin.

Reviewing the Opening of the Sochi Games

LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld has had two pieces this week on the powerful and influential American Thinker blog reviewing the first week of competition at Sochi.  The first essay reviewed the disastrous and humiliating preparations and opening ceremony (and marked Kim’s 100th column for the website) while the second essay addressed the hilariously false claim by Russophile nutjobs that Russia is somehow being singled out for failure this year and that Sochi is a games just like any other.

On the medal front, Russia’s performance has not been among the standouts. The nations who have really distinguished themselves in the first week so far are Germany (which leads the gold medal count with a whopping 6), Norway (which leads the total medal count with 13) and the USA and Netherlands, which both sport double-digit medal counts and achieved the three dominating performances so far, Netherlands taking every place on the medal stand in men’s 500 and 5000 meter speed skating and the USA doing so in men’s slopestyle skiing.  Canada is also threatening to win the total medal count, though its unclear if it can sustain its momentum.

Russia has only two gold medals, one of them coming in the “sport” of team figure skating that was just invented this year and the other in pairs figure skating, and only nine total medals.  However, it did get the one gold it would have wanted if it could get only one so far, returning to glory in pairs skating.

For Russia, the biggest event of the games through the second weekend will come two days from now when it faces off against the USA in ice hockey.  Though the result likely won’t have any decisive impact on the hockey medals, it’s a match Russia desperately wants to win and one that will tell the world a lot about Russia’s chances for gold in hockey, the one medal it wants to win more than any other.

Ben Aris of Business News Europe, Getting Russia Wrong

A recent blog post in the obscure Business News Europe attempts to take the Economist magazine to task for anti-Russia bias leading to fact errors.  What it succeeds in doing is proving that pro-Russia bias is at least as toxic.

The most amazing thing about the piece is that while criticizing the Economist for publishing anti-Russia “rants” based on emotion rather than facts, the author Ben Aris, who is BNE’s editor in chief, does exactly the same thing while defending Russia.  His hysterical screed is at least as one-sided, emotional, anti-Economist and fact-challenged as the Economist piece he purports to criticize. It makes for hilarious reading.

Unsurprisingly, Aris is a frequent contributor to Russia Beyond the Headlines as well as Russia Today, the Kremlin-owned and -operated propaganda websites.  So it’s hardly surprising he’d be unable to tell the truth about Russia.

Here are the errors, lies, fabrications and falsehoods Aris offers in his crazed, one-sided diatribe pandering to Putin:

(1)  Aris writes:  “The trouble is that, rather embarrassingly, the latest survey released in December [by Transparency International] showed Russia going from the ‘most corrupt country in Eastern Europe,’ to the “least corrupt.’ This even happened close to International Anti-corruption Day on December 9, yet none of the western press bothered to report it.”

This is just totally false and outrageously dishonest and inaccurate. TI’s latest 2013 survey gives Russia 127th place for corruption. Poland is #38, Hungary is #47, Czech Republic is #57, Slovakia is #61, Serbia is #72 and  Bulgaria is #77  — every one of them far less corrupt than Russia. So it’s really no big surprise that the “western press” didn’t report Russia is the least corrupt in Eastern Europe.

They didn’t because it’s not.

We sent a tweet to Aris about this blatant error. He didn’t respond or correct. Nice ethics there, Mr. Aris!

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McFaul Learns what “Reset” Really Means

Over on the massive Pajamas Media megablog, LR publisher and founder reports the breaking news that U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul has resigned.  McFaul, the architect of the U.S. “reset” with Russia, has now himself been reset. His policy of appeasement was a miserable failure both in terms of delivering Russian good conduct and in defending American values, so as with most things Obama and Russia the U.S.A. got the worst of all possible worlds. To top things off, Vladimir Zhirinovsky announced he was sad to see McFaul go, sure and certain proof it’s a good thing.

Dark Clouds over Sochi Russia

An article in the Moscow Times about Russia’s security measures in Sochi makes for disturbing reading.

It reports that U.S. National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen told the Senate Intelligence Committee last week:

The biggest issue from my perspective is not the Games themselves, the venues themselves.  There is extensive security at those locations — the sites of the events. The greater threat is to softer targets in the greater Sochi area, in the outskirts beyond Sochi, where there is a substantial potential for a terrorist attack.

So it seems that the anti-Russia terrorists have a horrifying litany of options available to them if they want to avoid the security cordon around the actual Olympics venues in Adler and Krasnaya Polyana:

  1. Attack Sochi-bound traffic in Moscow, far from the Sochi “ring of steel.”
  2. Attack “soft targets” like hotels and restaurants in Sochi itself, just outside the “ring of steel.”
  3. Attack a Russian city left unguarded and previously inaccessible as Russian security forces are diverted en masse to Sochi.

As to the third option, one wonders if the people of Russia were asked whether they’d be willing to sacrifice one of their cities to a Dubrovka or a Beslan in order to keep the Sochi venues safe from harm.

Moreover, the MT reports:  “It seems that Sochi is indeed experiencing problems with accommodating all the security personnel sent to the city. Last month, two police officers from St. Petersburg tried to flee from Sochi, saying that living and working conditions were ‘inhumane,’ Fontanka.ru reported. The news article featured a photograph of two police officers sleeping on the floor in a tiny room.”

So it seems that there are already questions as to how firm the “ring of steel” around the Olympics venues in Sochi actually is.  If security personnel are being forced to live like animals, it’s a safe bet that they are at least a little distracted from their work, and therefore vulnerable.

The security operations are secret, but the general preparations for the games are not, and a recent photo spread in the Washington Post provides disturbing proof of how sloppily the latter are proceeding. The Post shows that stray dogs roam the streets, which are still covered with mud and innumerable construction projects which have not been completed, and that the hotel rooms lack basic amenities such as phones.

If Russia can’t get such simple things right, how likely is it that the security preparations have been flawless?

Russia Beyond the Headlines Pumping out Lies about Sochi

This week the Winter Olympic Games commence in Sochi Russia, and the Kremlin’s propaganda vortex known as Russia Beyond the Headlines is going into overdrive pumping out propaganda designed to twist and pervert the facts about the games in the Kremlin’s favor, hoping to paper over the long list of hideous and embarrassing defects inherent in Russia’s effort as host. Over on the powerful and influential American Thinker blog, LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld has all the details.