Streetwise Professor

June 29, 2010

Now THAT’s Chekist Chutzpah!

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 5:24 pm

My response to the substance of the Russian spy ring story is a shrug.  It is not a surprise that Russia is engaged in espionage.  It has been well known that Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, has been extremely aggressive in recent years.  Many countries, including, if memory serves, the UK and Canada (Canada!) have complained about the intensity of Russian espionage.  I presume that the US is engaged in espionage against Russia as well.  Indeed, the main surprise is that these agents were not operating under official cover.  It’s hard to recall reports of the arrest of such a large number of such types by any country, even back in the days of the Cold War.

What has amazed me–and believe me, Mark A.’s opinion to the contrary, it takes a lot for anything Russian politicians do to amaze me–is the Russian response to the news of the arrest.  Putin’s crazed statement is priceless:*

“Back at your home, the police went out of control [and] are throwing people in jail,” Mr. Putin said. “I hope that all the positive gains that have been achieved in our relationship will not be damaged by the recent event.”

That’s so good, it bears repeating:

“Back at your home, the police went out of control [and] are throwing people in jail,” Mr. Putin said. “I hope that all the positive gains that have been achieved in our relationship will not be damaged by the recent event.”

I mean, to get lectured by Putin of all people about out of control police throwing people in jail is just too much.  After all, he comes from the land of out of control police throwing people in jail–and often leaving them there to die without medical treatment.  But it’s not only high profile cases like Magnitsky that point out the out of control nature of the Russian police.  Just look at the reaction of the authorities to any protest march, or even a gay pride parade, if you want to see out of control.  (To Obama’s gay supporters: how do you reconcile your support for him, given the “reset” and his being best buddies with Medvedev, and not saying a word about Russia’s routine persecution of gays?)

Indeed, arguably the greatest source of discontent of the Russian people is the lawlessness, arbitrariness, corruption, violence,brutality and just plain out-of-controlledness of the militia (police).

I guess the only possible distinction to make would be that Putin alleged that the US police “went out of control” (suggesting that this was an atypical development to transition from in control to out of control) whereas Russian police are always out of control.

(My most vivid memory of a trip to Moscow was that I’ve never been in any place where I was far more nervous when the police were present than when they weren’t.  They were, almost to a man (or boy–many being quite young), slovenly and unprofessional looking, their hats shoved back on their heads, staring at everyone with predatory, wolfish looks.  I saw police shake down people not once but twice in broad daylight.  In one case, a cop car drove by a street vendor, clearly from the Caucasus; the car flashed his lights and the vendor threw a wad of bills into the car’s open window.  This happened a block from Red Square.  In the other case, the cop just waved over a car at random.  I was sitting in a park, at a discrete distance, and watched the whole thing.  The transaction–and it was just that–ended with the driver shoving some bills in the officer’s hand.)

Other Russian responses had a fair share of chutzpah, but nothing in Putin’s league.  The Tarantula (Lavrov) complained about the timing of the bust: “The only thing I can say today is that the moment for [the arrests] has been chosen with special elegance.” He was whining that the arrests had been made so soon after Medvedev and Obama went on their all-but-holding-hands date.  From the WSJ:

Many Russian officials and analysts said they presumed that hawkish elements within the U.S. government had engineered and timed the arrests to embarrass President Obama and undermine the “reset.”

OK, Mr. Lavrov.  Please tell us just what time would be acceptable.  I’m kind of thinking that “never” would be your answer.  If the glow from a recent meeting of the presidents wasn’t a problem, something else would be.  Like some Russian holiday or Putin washing his hair.

Lavrov also said “They haven’t explained to us what this is about.  I hope they will.”

Uhm, Sergei.  Read the indictment.  That will tell you exactly what it is about.

The Russian reaction is especially rich given how they’ve howled at episodes of alleged western espionage in Russia.  Remember the shrieks of outrage over the rock in the park incident allegedly involving British intelligence?

Perhaps what has really got Putin’s shorts in more of a knot than usual is that (a) his peeps got caught, and (b) more importantly, it appears that the FBI thoroughly compromised the SVR’s communications:

The FBI operation represents the biggest penetration of the SVR communications in recent memory. The FBI read their emails, decrypted their intel, read the embedded coded texts on images posted on the net, bugged their mobile phones, videotaped the passing of bags of cash and messages in invisible ink from one agent to another, and hacked into their bogus expenses claims.

Ouch.  That’s gotta be a major kick in the stones to a proud Chekist like Putin.

This episode will probably provide some entertainment in the coming weeks, but is unlikely to have a major impact on US-Russian relations.  I do encourage, however, the FBI and the attorneys from the SDNY to continue to release details of the incompetence of these agents, and the way that the FBI apparently totally undressed the SVR.  Just for the pure enjoyment of watching Putin’s reaction.

* Putin said this in the presence of Bill Clinton, who laughed when this was translated.  I wonder what Clinton found funny: was he also entertained by the complete insanity of Putin’s remark?  Even if that’s the case, Clinton should have taken the opportunity to point out the difference between American and Russian law enforcement.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by . said: [...]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention http://streetwiseprofessor.com/?p=3950utm_sourcepingback -- Topsy.com — June 29, 2010 @ 4:57 pm

  2. Maybe they were set up as massage therapists and Algore visited them! Who was so naive as to not think the Russkies were not spying on us?

    Comment by Jeffrey Carter — June 29, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

  3. I also tend to beleive it was said in jest. Putin is known for this kind of humor (remember “…after the death of Mahathma Ghandi there is no one to talk to…” etc.?)

    Having said that, it does not mean that Putin isn’t truly pissed off (hiding it behind awkward humor, possibly?) and, given what we know about police actions in Russia, the joke looks quite sinister. Bit I think it was a joke nevertheless.

    Comment by LL — June 29, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

  4. Putin’s comment is really great, would be even better to see it in TV with Clinton laughing.

    Yeah, its like everyone complains about Russian spies and everyone can’t be wrong. After all, not every country had “reset” with Russia recently, not every country has hawkish officers trying to undermine Obama’s policy.

    Russian espionage focuses especially on technological and economical objectives, means they try really hard to get control over energy markets and companies in Europe for example. We see a lot of that here in Central Europe, our secret service speaks about Russian spies in every annual report it released in last few years (same in Germany and Austria lately, so its really not just UK and US). There is also espionage aimed against NATO of course, though that is not undertaken by clowns from SVR, successors of clowns from KGB, but by military intelligence (GRU) which is even nowadays very professional and there is not many (if any) affairs with their operatives involved.

    And one thing from the WSJ article, quotes of former KGB officers about how ridiculous idea is to think there would be illegal spies. Yeah, something is ridiculous but its the statement of these clowns. Soviet intelligence had whole illegal organizations in foreign countries already during WWII and most likely even before that. There is famous Geneva meeting between “Navigators” (commanders) of the official intelligence structure (covered as dimplomats) and unofficial one (working undercover, illegally) held in one of the Geneva’s parks in late summer 1941 when Gestapo already started operations to crush Soviet intelligence structures in neutral countries. This meeting was investigated after the war on the highest level (Congress of CPSU in 1956*), there was a discussion about right to held such meeting because horizontal contacts in intelligence are completely forbidden on every level. In the end, neither of the guys was punished (damn, can’t remember their names), even comrades in top of the party realized the situation was dire back then and initiative of the generals proved to be a right one. It helped both organizations in Switzerland to survive the worst time during war, just after the start of Barbarossa, when there was little support from Moscow for spies far away and Gestapo was arresting Soviet intelligence officers all over the Europe.

    * That’s how people outside of Russian secret services know about it, thanks to documents from 1956 Congress of CPSU.

    Comment by deith — June 29, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

  5. Just look at the reaction of the authorities to any protest march, or even a gay pride parade, if you want to see out of control. (To Obama’s gay supporters: how do you reconcile your support for him, given the “reset” and his being best buddies with Medvedev, and not saying a word about Russia’s routine persecution of gays?)

    There is nothing contradictory about it. Putin is neutral on the subject of homosexuality and it careful to not take stances on it. The same cannot be said of Russia’s liberals, incidentally, many of whom are raging homophobes.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — June 29, 2010 @ 9:05 pm

  6. S/O–you astound me with your logical contortions to defend Putin. I mean, I am neutral re homosexuality, in the sense that I couldn’t care less about somebody’s sexual orientation: not my business. But I am not neutral in the sense that I condone brutality against gays, especially brutality at the hands of the police. As for Putin’s alleged neutrality. Perhaps his public statements are neutral, but actions speak louder than words. As the most powerful man in Russia, he could at the snap of his fingers ensure that gays have the right to assemble without harassment. The fact that the harassment occurs, unabated, demonstrates that he in fact condones it. His silence is consent. That’s the stance that matters.

    And your obsession with your betes noir, Russian liberals, makes another appearance. You may not realize this, but by accusing the most liberal people in Russia of homophobia, you provide support for the hypothesis that Russia is a nation of rampant homophobes. That’s the way to make your countrymen look good! Throw mud at the liberals, spatter the entire country.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 29, 2010 @ 9:45 pm

  7. The Russians are laughing their asses off about this “Spies in the City” case. This is the biggest joke since the Brits got caught spying with a rock.

    See Julia Ioffe’s piece in the Daily Beast:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-06-29/russian-spies-the-illegals-laughter-at-the-kremlin/

    The irony of all of this is that the Russian’s could not have possibly set-up a better PR scenario than is currently playing out.

    Here’s three of my favorite quotes from the article:

    “…Of course, no one is denying that there are Russian spies operating in America. “How do you not spy on Bush if he’s the most powerful man on the planet, and he periodically consults with God?” scoffed Markov, the Duma deputy….”

    and

    “…it seems much more likely that a rogue element in the Russian secret service needed to launder some stolen cash and stumbled on some starry-eyed American suburban yokels and asked: ‘Hey, wanna be a spy?’”

    and

    “… The American press is loudly invoking the late Le Carré. But to the Russians, it feels a lot more like Pink Panther. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that these spies are as real as Saddam’s atomic bomb,” Markov says, once again laughing….”

    Comment by Timmy — June 30, 2010 @ 2:13 am

  8. Sechin – Harkonnen.
    Putin – boy’s belly.
    Spies – Travolta.
    Litvinenko, polonium, Katyn redux.

    It all makes sense now!

    Comment by So? — June 30, 2010 @ 8:38 am

  9. Some obsessions being more tolerable than others. Note the one casually throwing mud at Russia on a regular basis.

    No mention made of the instances of “allies” spying and deceiving each other.

    The timing of these arrests is quite convenient for some. The recent Obama-Medvedev meeting including criticism from the usual suspects about the American president not being stern enough.

    Russian and American law enforcement leave something to be desired. The former is especially in need of better pay and training.

    Regarding the discussed spying issue:

    http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2010/06/29/are-the-russians-really-coming/

    Comment by Siegfried — June 30, 2010 @ 8:45 am

  10. Hi Siegfried, the countdown resumes: four.

    Comment by peter — June 30, 2010 @ 9:53 am

  11. Siegfried–you miss the point. The point is that by attempting to slur Russian liberals he slurs all Russians. Friendly fire. That’s not my problem.

    Re timing. Like I said, when is the good time for a revelation like this? Seriously. With the Russians, no time is the right time.

    And if you think that the FBI and esp. the US Attorneys for the SDNY are the pawns in some neocon conspiracy–get a freaking grip.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 30, 2010 @ 10:43 am

  12. Timmy–We all agree that this is comedy. The question is: who are the buffoons in this show? The article that you link, as well as other things that I have read, suggest that Russians believe that Americans are the clowns. Well, they can believe what they want, but if the indictment and press reports are accurate in claiming that investigators and prosecutors have an extensive electronic and paper trail, and massive surveillance evidence, it is impossible to believe that this is a figment of some Americans’ imaginations. And re the starry eyed suburbanites. Give me a freaking break. Several of these people were Russians. How many chicks named “Murphy” in the NJ suburbs speak Russian like the one suspect?–vids of her interview in Russian are all over the web. Another had pictures on Soviet film.

    No. If there are buffoons here–they are in the SVR. Like the WSJ said, this is pure Boris and Natasha stuff.

    The article you link to, and the other material I’ve read, is fascinating primarily because of the projection and paranoia it demonstrates. Russians are conspiratorial (not that conspiracy theories are absent here in the US, but as a matter of degree, there is no comparison); have a cartoonish, crypto-Soviet view of the way the US government works; and in particular, have no idea of the substantial independence of US law enforcement–especially major league prosecutors like the US Attys in SDNY–from political and especially military influence. (Military influence. Ha!) Now that is perfectly understandable, given that Russian experience is, and has been for time immemorial, of the complete subordination of prosecution and law enforcement to the political organs. So, the Russian response is far more of a mirror on Russia, than a realistic analysis of this case.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 30, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

  13. @SWP,

    Try to find where I denied Russia is a homophobic country before making insinuations. It is. Only 14% support gay marriage. Its attitudes towards homosexuality are similar to America’s in the 1970′s/80′s – though legalized, there remains a lot of prejudice and persecution under the surface.

    “Throw mud at the liberals, spatter the entire country.” Yeah right. The Russian liberals couldn’t care less about social justice, the only people whose rights they care about are those of capitalists, the privileged and Westerners. If one cares about gay rights in Russia one would better directly support the community and the social democratic forces.

    @peter,

    Aren’t you one sad little git? Do you really have nothing better to do than stalk “Siegfried” across the interwebs?

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — June 30, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

  14. The reason the Russians and everyone else, excepts perhaps some bitter Russophobes, is laughing is that the FBI caught a bunch of buffoons who were involved in some make-believe spy craft and low level money laundering. Go read the criminal complaint from the Justice Department. It’s nothing.

    Comment by Timmy — June 30, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

  15. +++that the FBI caught a bunch of buffoons who were involved in some make-believe spy craft and low level money laundering+++

    That actually sounds pretty much like a damage-control meme. Which it, most likely, is.

    +++It’s nothing.+++

    Just enough to establish probable cause, to arrest and to deny bail. Which is all that is required for now.

    Not that FBI and DoJ cannot screw up a perfectly good case – they sure can. But all this laughter I hear in the last couple days strikes me as too nervous and a bit unnatural.

    Comment by LL — June 30, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

  16. Professor

    Regarding your comment: “The point is that by attempting to slur Russian liberals he slurs all Russians. Friendly fire. That’s not my problem.”

    The “Russian liberals” that he’s referring to are fair game from a mainstream Russian perspective as well as others who in IMO and that of some others offer more reasonable perspectives.

    On your other point, the timing could be coincidental. As of now, I wouldn’t completely rule out that it was calculated. It’s clear that a number of folks felt that Obma was a bit too restrained during his meeting with Medvedev. Concerning another possibility, you don’t know of any up and coming types who look for a convenient issue to enhance their carear?

    Someone passed this over to me:

    I sure hope that the staff and stringers of RFE/RL in Russia have registered with the Russian authorities as agents of a foreign government – because of the funding sources for RFE/RL (which some could also consider “money laundering’)

    RFE/RL in Russia may become a target for political retaliation, if the recent “sleeper agent” scandal gets more traction and persists…

    Comment by Siegfried — June 30, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

  17. I’m with you, LL. Don’t think this is necessarily the last shoe to drop. It appears to me that the Metsos guy fled, and they had to move fast to corral the others. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a superseding indictment.

    And again, if they were buffoons–why was the SVR associated with them in any way? In particular, why were they entrusting any communications and encryption methods to them? I fail to see how emphasizing the buffonery of those arrested in any way makes Russia/SVR look good. Which is why I agree with you, LL, that the laughter is very nervous and very unnatural.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 30, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

  18. Only 14% support gay marriage.

    Putin’s disapproval rating also stands at 14%. Coincidence? You decide.

    Comment by peter — June 30, 2010 @ 6:19 pm

  19. You were sent to USA for long-term service trip. Your education, bank accounts, car, house etc. – all these serve one goal: fulfill your main mission, i.e. to search and develop ties in policymaking circles and send intels intelligence reports to Center.

    Real sleuths they sure are. Richard Sorge was a rank amateur next to these guys. You are completely right, SWP and LL – the hour grows late and we need to act now. We can no longer sit back and allow Russkie infiltration, Russkie indoctrination, Russkie subversion and the international Russkie conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — June 30, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

  20. If Russians are laughing because the most powerful country on the planet has arrested a clan of their spies, they are truly a benighted people doomed to national collapse (once again).

    The Obama administration, of course, which has just got finished trying to suggest it could trust the Medvedev regime and making a successful “reset” of relations wiht Russia the centerpiece of its foreign policy record, is not laughing at all.

    Comment by La Russophobe — July 1, 2010 @ 11:41 am

  21. Man, I gotta get me some of that Apologist Juice. It looks like heady stuff. The imbibers see every facet of this as good for Russia.

    The spies are non-sauve Imbecile Clown Spies? “Silly Americans…getting all upset over nothing. The FBI should only be going after big Korean men with razor rimmed bowler hats….y’know… the real spies. If you weren’t such provincial Colonials you’d be calmer about this sort of thing…like us.”

    The timing is suspect? “Must be shadowy neo-con evildoers operating from the Pentagon at the behest of the Bilderbergers to bring down Obama and his super-neato reset.”

    Americans are concerned about more spies in their midst? “They must be paranoid! Because that kind of stuff just doesn’t happen! Except this one time…sort of…maybe.”
    ———————————-
    I will admit I was shocked that there wasn’t an instant denial from the MFA. “How dare you! We would never! I don’t know who you think you’ve arrested but they sure aren’t ours!” That’s what I expected but Russia wisely got in front of it from the get-go. They almost immediately claimed all the suspects as Russian Citizens and demanded access and information. Good move that. It prevented any Baghdad Bob moments.

    Anyhow, this won’t hurt relations unless the Russians decide to escalate. Neither Administration needs to be embarrassed about this. Just the SVR.

    Comment by Swaggler — July 1, 2010 @ 7:12 pm

  22. Swaggler–you hit the nail on the head. A lot of denial. A lot of projection. And the SVR should be very embarrassed. They’ve been played for 10 years. 10 years. One wonders what information was gained from this investigation re communications, encryption, etc., that has helped the US penetrate other operations. I bet they’re sweating bullets here.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 1, 2010 @ 9:30 pm

  23. They could also be a diversion from the real operatives.

    Comment by So? — July 1, 2010 @ 11:08 pm

  24. Like…..

    Over the course of time, there could be a clearer picture on just who should be embarrassed.

    There’s also a chance of enough wiggle room to spin in either direction as reflected in this discussion.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 1, 2010 @ 11:21 pm

  25. If these guys are spies, then so are American NGOs in Russia.

    Comment by So? — July 1, 2010 @ 11:38 pm

  26. Argh. I promised myself I wouldn’t raise my blood pressure by getting into the fray, but jeez… So? as someone who worked for a number of western-funded NGOs, I find your comment despicable. Don’t you get the concept of a “fact”? You actually have to have a few of them before you make accusations.

    And don’t you people get the bit about breaking the law? The Russians broke several American laws. In some cases they had stolen identities; they entered and lived in the US on false documents, they were acting as agents for Russia without registering, and they were handling a lot of cash. When the investigation began, the FBI DIDN’T KNOW that they weren’t passing on actual secrets. Let me say that again since everyone seems to forget that: when the investigation started, the FBI had no idea what they were up to. That’s, duh, why they investigated. Given some of the Americans who sold real secrets over the years, including secrets that got people killed, the FBI (I assume) discovers Russian consulate officers shaking off surveillance. They follow them, discover them passing off bags etc. Red flag. They investigate. They discover stolen identities. They discover money buried in a field. They find encryption programs on their home computers. They find a bunch of them. Man, that’s a big red falg. In the end, they don’t charge them with espionage, because as far as they can tell, they haven’t actually passed on any security secrets. But they don’t friggin’ know that until they spend a gazillion tax payer dollars chasing them all over the place!

    But in the end, they broke some laws and they got caught. I also don’t think it’s such a big deal, except that it shows how the long-standing spy handler dream of the deep cover mole in the US lives on… The only thing that’s interesting to me are the people themselves. One confesses and sounds like he watched too many reruns of Seventeen Moments in Spring (“I won’t violate my loyalty to the service even for my son” — so much for family values, huh? Man, he’s like a comic-strip old-school Komsomolets). What about the others, living and having kids with people they were paired with by the “Service”? Sewing curtains and walking their kids to school? What’s been going on in their heads? And the two young people — were they convinced to do this by the NASHI folks? Did they have some dream of patriotism? Or did they think it was a lark that gave them a bunch of cash and had a frisson of danger? This is pure speculation, and maybe I’m totally wrong and they’re cold-blooded little creeps, but to me they look like kids who got into something that seemed “cool” and “patriotic,” without really understanding that if they get caught breaking the law, they go to jail. I feel sorry for them.

    Comment by mossy — July 2, 2010 @ 1:03 am

  27. as someone who worked for a number of western-funded NGOs, I find your comment despicable.
    This does not make you the final authority on the matter. This is but one example
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Pratt

    Comment by So? — July 2, 2010 @ 1:30 am

  28. “If these guys are spies, then so are American NGOs in Russia.”

    If that’s the case, counter-intelligence officers of FSB and GRU are really worth their salary. Or maybe FSB has just so many guys in the government it lacks agents for other duties?

    Comment by deith — July 2, 2010 @ 4:56 am

  29. So? — one guy somewhere, or maybe several guys somewhere, who worked for NGOs were accused of being spies, convicted, and sent to prison. Maybe this is too subtle for you, but 1) that doesn’t mean “American NGOs are spies”; 2) the guy you cite was caught and went to jail. That’s the way it goes. You sign up for this, you take your chances. The guys under arrest in the US, if convicted, will probably go to jail (although who knows how this will play out). Your lambasting of American NGOs in Russia, about which I suspect you know absolutely nothing, is 1) beside the point 2) ignorant and 3) not a reason, in any case, to ignore/downplay/count as unimportant (whatever) the fact that a bunch of people who are probably Russians and apparently worked for the Russian intelligence services got caught breaking the law in the US.

    Comment by mossy — July 2, 2010 @ 5:50 am

  30. Whatever.
    I remember the hysterical American reaction to the tightening of NGO laws in Russia a couple of years ago. The irony was that even after “the evil Putler crackdown”, registering a foreign NGO in the US is an order of magnitude harder than in Russia.

    Comment by So? — July 2, 2010 @ 6:45 am

  31. So? you don’t know anything about NGOs and Russia, the laws regulating them, or the people who work in them. “An order of magnitude harder” in the US? Please sit and read a little first.

    Comment by mossy — July 2, 2010 @ 7:12 am

  32. Confession:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/us_and_canada/10485049.stm

    Comment by La Russophobe — July 2, 2010 @ 7:46 am

  33. Overall, the most influential Western NGOs involved with Russia are politically tilted in a way that understandably makes many Russians wary.

    It’s not accurate to completely suggest that these Western NGOs are of the same degree. The same goes for collectively singing their praises.

    Happy 4th America, as I do some pre-holiday shopping.

    Comment by S — July 2, 2010 @ 9:58 am

  34. S–most influential Western NGOs involved anywhere are politically titled in a way that understandably makes many Americans wary :) We don’t harass them, though, certainly not like Russia does. (Maybe an exception to that statement is the French, e.g., blowing up Greenpeace ships.) Thanks for the Happy 4th wishes.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 2, 2010 @ 10:01 am

  35. Was able to come back for a quick look.

    Professor, I believe that the funding and effectiveness of the NGOs I bring up is greater than what you’re referring to.

    An ironic aspect of this scandal pertains to how Russia is arguably more infiltrated by Western NGO advocacy than what Russia has done in the West.

    In terms of propaganda effectiveness, note how this point gets downplayed in favor of the image of a very restricted Russia usurping upon a vulnerable West (US in particular).

    On your other point, I especially don’t expect Americans like Chomsky to be fond of the Heritage Foundation. Some other Americans to the right of Chomsky feel somewhat similarly about that org. as well. I second the manner of SO’s salute to your daughter’s recent work at Heritage.

    These thoughts have a distant relationship to someone like Julia Ioffe writing about RT “propaganda,” while not (to my knowledge)using such a term for RFE/RL. At outlets like The WaPo and The New Yorker, where’re the counter-views to Ioffe?

    For advancement sake, American journos are “free” to write what the more influential of editors seem to prefer.

    For you burger lovers, be careful in how the meat is prepped.

    Comment by S — July 2, 2010 @ 10:44 am

  36. How in the world do you figure NGOs are harder to set up in the U.S. than Russia So? To be an NGO you have to fill out a 501(c)3 form and mail it in with your financials and incorporating documents. That’s it. I did it for my school’s PTA in an afternoon and had my EIN emailed to me within a month. (Gasp! I’m part of an NGO! Fear me Russians!) You don’t even have to be a U.S. citizen to get your tax-exempt number.

    But I’ll admit I’ve never tried to do the same thing in Russia. Does MinJust have a streamlined web-friendly application procedure? Helpful telephone operators that put those nasty American IRS centers to shame? Less than a month turnaround on registration? I doubt it mightily but I’ll be happy to accept evidence to the contrary.

    America is the land of easy NGOs people. Churches, charitable organizations, think tanks, research groups, gaming clubs, thrift stores, soup kitchens. Some of them have pretty cockamamie ideas and tenets too; some of those are run by (gasp!) foreigners. We don’t care. Do they spend money on goods and services? Yes? Be welcome in America.

    Comment by Swaggler — July 2, 2010 @ 1:45 pm

  37. One confesses and sounds like he watched too many reruns of Seventeen Moments in Spring (“I won’t violate my loyalty to the service even for my son” — so much for family values, huh? Man, he’s like a comic-strip old-school Komsomolets).

    This is what I call exemplary patriotism, the kind that is so rare in today’s world. It is so spiritually fulfilling to give up one’s life for the country and ever more so your family’s lives. Unfortunately as a rootless cosmopolitan I am eternally damned and shall never have the honor to cross this fearful chasm.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — July 2, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

  38. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhnygLQ4Ar4&feature=related

    Patriotism comes in varying forms.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 2, 2010 @ 11:05 pm

  39. THE ROAD TO HELL

    The main question is:
    What is behind all that “Russian Spy Ring Scandal” or rather “Russian Spy Ring Comedy.”
    In other words: What the hell is it all about?
    What does this mean?

    The answer is clear:
    It means THE WAR.
    Not a war, but The War, the ultimate thermo-nuclear war.
    The termination of the World.
    The Armageddon.
    All this “Russian Spy Ring Comedy” is simply the final stage of the wholesale preparations before the war against Russia.

    The provocation is two-fold.

    The principal aim of the “Russian Spy Ring” Provocation is to incite as much of hatred as possible among the Americans against Russians.
    Including, of course, the racial hatred against White Christian Russians.
    Take notice that among the arrested there are neither any colored people, nor any gays or lesbians.

    Why incite hatred?
    The matter is that to kill people (even at war on the front line) is not such a simple thing for a normal sane person.
    One must hate those people whom one is being sent to kill.
    One must see before oneself not humans but dangerous abominable animals.
    One must see through one’s cross-hairs not human beings but the Hellish Enemies that must be eliminated ruthlessly.
    Demonization of the opponent is a usual practice before each war.
    Nothing special.

    The common Americans are known worldwide as champions in gullibility.
    They would readily trust in whatever dirty codswallop told about Russia, they would believe in everything evil about our country. They would willingly buy whatever stupid scary tales about Holy Russia.
    If, suppose, any newspaper, out of the American mainstream media, would suddenly declare that the Russians have small tails and little horns, I bet that the Americans would quickly and gladly trust in all that nonsense, without any hesitation.
    “Oh those Russians! I have told you always they are not like us. No wonder they have tails and horns. What Monsters! Gog and Magog, you know!”

    The secondary aim of the “Russian Spy Ring” Provocation is to intimidate beforehand and to detain preventively all those who might be potential enemies in case if the Nuclear War is broken out.

    All in all, the present “Russian Spy Ring” Comedy seems to be in fact not a comedy but a tragedy. This is the first step along the Road down to Hell.

    Welcome to Hell

    Comment by Michael Kuznetsov — July 3, 2010 @ 8:53 am

  40. Not to worry too much.

    This story shows signs of not sticking in the manner that some hope.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 3, 2010 @ 9:02 am

  41. [...] spy ring” story (earlier posts are here and here): Craig Pirrong of Streetwise Professor – here and here; Julia Ioffe at True/Slant; Robert Coalson at RFE/RL's Power Vertical; Sean Guillory [...]

    Pingback by Global Voices in English » Russia, U.S.: More on the “Spy Ring” Story — July 4, 2010 @ 10:41 am

  42. [...] spy ring” story (earlier posts are here and here): Craig Pirrong of Streetwise Professor – here and here; Julia Ioffe at True/Slant; Robert Coalson at RFE/RL's Power Vertical; Sean Guillory [...]

    Pingback by Official Russia | Russia, U.S.: More on the “Spy Ring” Story — July 4, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

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