Streetwise Professor

May 1, 2014

Zero Hedge Reveals Its True Colors. Again.

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 7:50 pm

Every sentient being not in the tank for Russia recognizes that the Television Channel Formerly Known as Russia Today (i.e.,  RT) is spewing Kremlin agitprop 24/7. Heck, even the borderline sentient, like our Secretary of State, recognize this.

There is another widely followed outlet, this one online, that is vying with RT for the dubious honor of flacking most shamelessly for Putin: Zero Hedge. There are numerous posts daily that flog the Russian view, but few are more egregious than this one. The part comparing Crimea to the Falklands was rather amusing. As was the statement about Chevron being part of the Rockefeller empire. Yeah. Back in 1910. When it was Standard Oil of California. There was a lot of venting about the Rothschilds, and Jews generally. And WTF about the Yellowstone caldera?

You might say: “but that post is from another source.” But as I pointed out two-and-a-half years ago, this is a classic Soviet influence operation technique.

In that post I also noted the close affinity between RT and Zero Hedge. Some things don’t change.

To say I am not surprised is an understatement. Recall that Zero Hedge is run by Daniel Ivandjiiski, the son of an obvious Soviet bloc (Bulgarian, specifically) intelligence operative.

I’ve thought for years that ZH is a Kremlin influence operation. It is doing nothing now to disabuse me of that notion. To the contrary. It is cementing it.


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  1. @elmer. What was their first clue?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 5, 2014 @ 8:55 am

  2. >> Putin presented awards to 300 journalists for their “objective” coverage of Crimea

    It gets better than that: he did so via a secret ukase, as KGB/FSB operatives are usually awarded. I wonder how many people were promoted to lieutenant colonel of “journalism”.

    Comment by Ivan — May 5, 2014 @ 1:36 pm

  3. In reference to more support for, vs. opposition to, Maidan in UKraine.

    1. What are the numbers?

    Across Ukraine, 40.1% of people supported the protesters, 23.3% supported Yanukovich’s government, 31.9% supported neither, and 4.7% were unsure.

    51% supported Maidan in the center – that includes Kiev – (vs. 10.7% opposed) and over 80% supported it in the West. The idea that unwilling Kiev was just taken over by nasty western Ukrainians is a Russian myth; many Russians just can’t believe that Kiev would turn its back on them.

    2. If it were true that “Maidan enjoyed more support than did the government”, that means that in the next February’s Presidential elections, the Maidan side would have won. Thus, there would have been no reason for violence/revolution/coup less than 1 year before the constitutional elections.

    Ukrainians are not so naive as to assume that the next elections would have been free and fair or that he would have voluntarily relinquished power, given the strong odds that the opposition would have legally gone after him. It was widely assumed that Yanukovich would have held onto power using other means. The parliament he controlled had already passed a law making the frontrunner who was beating him in the polls ineligible to run. There was already talk of changing the election to first-past-the-post, eliminating the second round (so, if Yanukovich got 30% of the vote, Klitschko 28%, Yarseniuk 20%, Tiahnybok 10% Yanukovich would be president). Or in case the opposition united behind one candidate, making the presidency ceremonial and declaring Yanukovich PM. Etc. With the scheduled election more than a year away, Yanukovich was really caught off guard by these protests. It was the best chance, and the opposition took it.

    Do you honestly believe that the opposition should have played by Yanukovich’s rules and hoped for the best, given what happened when he lost in 2004 (he cheated, and then the Orange revolution happened) and in the 2012 parliamentary elections (first=past-the-post was used to give parliament to Yanukovich’s party in spite of the opposition easily winning the popular vote).

    Comment by AP — May 5, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

  4. This is in Russian but google can translate it for you:

    It’s a mess. Started by Russian demonstrators who initiated the attack.

    In Donetsk, pro-Russian demonstrators brutally attacked pro-Ukrainian ones and scattered them while the police looked on and did nothing (Ukrainian police were Yanukovichized). No complaints from our friend Vladislav about that. Same thing was attempted in Odessa. However, Odessa is not Donetsk. It inherited a Yanukovich mayor (appointed, not elected) and police force, but the population is quite different – 62% ethnic Ukrainian vs. 47% ethnic Ukrainian in Donetsk. So Donetsk tactics – attack the pro-Ukrainians while the police look on or help the attackers – simply don’t work for Russians in Odessa.

    The pro-Ukrainians fought back, despite one of them being killed (yes, the pro-Russians drew first blood), the pro-Ukrainians chased the pro-Russians away and beat them. The fire appears to have been a tragic “accident.” Both sides were throwing Molotov cocktails at each other. Perhaps one of the ones that hit the building hit a cache of them inside, starting the massive fire. Looks like manslaughter rather than murder. Given that the Russians started it by attacking the Ukrainians first and killing one of them while doing so, it looks like this mess is basically analogous to one guy sucker-punching another guy and breaking his nose, and then getting his neck broken and himself killed by the enraged victim.

    BTW, the poll results I had posted earlier predicted that Russian violence would not work as effectively in Odessa as in Donetsk:

    Do you consider Yatseniuk’s government to be the legal authority?

    Odessa: 21.5% strongly yes, 19.3% weakly yes, 16% neutral/unsure, 21% weakly no, 18.5% strongly no
    Donetsk: 5.7% strongly yes, 10.9% weakly yes, 9.4% neutral/unsure, 18.6% weakly no, 53.5% strongly no

    Comment by AP — May 5, 2014 @ 3:20 pm

  5. Just add to my comment – the Russian side in Odessa are not, collectively, innocent martyrs in that tragic situation.

    Comment by AP — May 5, 2014 @ 3:22 pm

  6. Can we go back to bashing Zero Hedge please? I have to cut back on that site starting now.

    Comment by Tom — May 5, 2014 @ 5:18 pm

  7. @Tom-that’s a good idea. (Two good ideas, actually: bashing ZH and cutting back on ZH.) As part of my sacrifices for my readers, I have been keeping an eye on it. I can say that if anything, the pro-Russian agitprop has intensified since I wrote the post. Anyone who reads that site and tells me that it isn’t an influence operation is an idiot.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 5, 2014 @ 7:04 pm

  8. Vladislav, what do you make of the revelation by the Human Rights group created by Putin that the referendum in crimea was the usual Russian sham, only 15% of the population voted for joining RuSSia, and the turnout was only 30%.

    Comment by Andrew — May 5, 2014 @ 8:56 pm

  9. Here is a video of how a burn body of an anti-Maidan demonstrator falls out of the burning Trade Union building, and the “humane pro-Western” Maidan men viciously clubber his /her burnt body:

    Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the OUN/UPA heroes! Glory to the Western values! Kill those Odessan russkies! Sieg heil! 🙁

    Comment by vladislav — May 6, 2014 @ 12:31 am

  10. > I have been trying to find more info on Odessa’s events; when one googles in English, all you can see is page after page of dirty Kremlin propaganda

    Are you surprised that there is almost no coverage of the Odessa massacre in the English-language press?! Expecting the Western mass media to cover the mass crimes of their puppets is like expecting the Soviet press in 1980 to cover its war in Afghanistan.

    Google for almost any other topic on the current situation in Ukraine, and Google will return you tons of articles in the Western media, but on this topic the Western media is silent. That reminds me of 1998-99, when Madeleine Albright changed KLA’s designation from “the most dangerous terrorist group” to “ally of the USA”. Suddenly the articles about KLA activity disappeared from the Western press. I also recall the day when the Croatian army ethnically cleansed Croatia of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs and other Orthodox Christians in 1995 (Operation Storm), slaughtering hundreds (more than a thousand!) of innocent civilians in the process. The US media gave no coverage to this apocalyptic event. Instead the front pages of US newspapers that week read: “Humanitarian catastrophe! Two more Bosnians found dead from Serb atrocities!”

    Comment by vladislav — May 6, 2014 @ 1:48 am

  11. AP,

    A question for you: do you think the US government’s and media’s treatment of the current Ukrainian crisis is as cynical and abhorrent as their treatment of the Kosovo crisis?

    Let me quote some of what you wrote on that subject:

    “America is equally cynically supporting KLA terrorists/mafia to try to score points with the Muslim countries in order to cmpensate for the deaths of 600,000 Iraqis due to the inasion of their country, while turning a blind eye to Turkish atrocities against Kurds, etc. Actually America’s actions are even more cynical, because Russians do have a genuine regard for fellow Slavs and Orthodox. Most Americans have no clue who Albanians are and would probably be outraged if they actually found out that their government was trying to condemn 120,000
    Christians to live under the rule of Muslims, the same ones whose ancestors had persecuted those Christians for 500 years or so. How is it imperialism to want your own nation’s land? Are practiioners of Karelia nostalgia also wannabe imperialists in your opinion, or is this category only applicable to Slavs who are having their lands taken from them?”

    Tell me, AP, who do you think will in the long run defend the rights of Slavic people: Russia or America? How about the rights of Kurds, Armenians, Iraqis and Syrian Christians?

    Comment by vladislav — May 6, 2014 @ 2:07 am

  12. Yulia Tymoshenko seems to be unable to learn form mistakes. Several years ago, when she was Prime Minister, she was audiotaped in one of her weekly consultations with the US ambassador, in which he gave her detailed instructions how to run the Ukrainian government. Then a month ago she was audiotaped in her rivate conversation with a party comrade, expressing the desire to solve Ukraine’s problems by exterminating 8 million Ukrainians of Russian ethnicity:

    Timoshenko: It overcome all the boundaries, damn. We need to take arms and kill these damned katsaps [ethnic Russians] together with their leader… I hope I use all my contacts, I will raise the whole world as soon as I have a chance what even a burnt ground will not remain after Russia.
    Shufrich: But what to do with other 8 millions of ethnic Russians on Ukraine’s territory? They’re pariahs now…
    Timoshenko: Damn, they should be killed with nuclear weapons.

    But she remains to be outspoken in her crusade to commit genocide, oblivious to the chances that other people, shocked by her plans, will publish her plans. This time she (evidently unsatisfied with only 40 to 50 people that her side slaughtered and burned alive in Odessa a couple of days ago) was videotaped at the Odessa’s Governor’s office scheming to arrange yet another slaughter of Odessa people, this time the 90-year old Odessan WWII veterans:—KcdiWojsWJBGQ/

    На заседании в одесской областной администрации Юлия Тимошенко высказала ужасающее предложение – напасть на ветеранов 9 мая, чтобы взбудоражить город. Буквально фраза отчетливо слышна в видеозаписи: “…В рамках чемпионата Украины… чтобы взбудоражить Одессу, нужно, чтобы напали на ветеранов”.

    “As part of the football fan activities, we should arrange for an attack on the veterans (marching in the May 8-9 celebration of the victory over the Nazis) in order to shake up Odessa”.

    “Western values” at their best…

    Comment by vladislav — May 6, 2014 @ 2:50 am

  13. @ Vladislav,

    I think the numbers of Iraqi deaths is exaggerated, but this doesn’t change the substance of the situation. Generally speaking, Russia is more civilized and a positive force when it comes to Muslims, and less civilized and a destructive influence when it come to Europeans. So Russia has been good for middle eastern Christians, Armenians, Balkan peoples under Turkish rule, etc. Soviet Central Asia is more civilized than places such as Pakistan. However, Russia has been a very bad influence in Europe. And this is not only true of the Soviet nightmare – in Poland the parts that had been partitioned into the Russian empire remain poorer and less civilized than those that had experienced German and Austrian rule. When Russia gets involved in Europe, it just causes a lot of harm. And this is very true of Ukraine. Within Ukraine, due to heavy Soviet investment and the creation of factories that generate hard currency, many of the Russian-ruled areas are relatively wealthy per capita. But this is the only measure in which they do well. The more Russian-influenced regions remain in the toilet across social indicators such as crime rates, life expectancy, HIV and TB rates, etc.

    Here is a map of serious/violent crimes in Ukraine. I can post map of HIV rates, birth rates, assault rates, etc. etc. and it all looks very similar (HIV is worse in Odesa and Mykolayiv than Donetsk, but still worse in both than in Galicia). So this can stand for all the others:

    Notice the old 1939 Polish-Soviet border. The serious/violent crime rate almost doubles when you cross from Ternopil oblast (part of Poland until 1939) into Khmelytsky oblast (part of the USSR until 1939). While it is not a perfect correlation (Kharkiv is relatively safe, and Dnipropetrovsk is even worse than Donetsk), the further Eastern and more Russian you go, the higher the serious/violent crime rate. And the place in Ukraine with the worst such rate is also the most Russian one, Crimea.

    Also notice the 1918 border through western Ukraine. The two Volhynian oblasts in the extreme northwest, Volyn and Rivne, were part of the Russian Empire. The ones to the south had been part of Austria. When you go south into former Austrian territory the serious/violent crime rate drops. Despite the fact that Lviv has western Ukraine’s largest city by far, it has a lower crime rate than the former Russian Empire oblasts. So social problems are not exclusively a Soviet artifact, though the Soviet influence seems to have been clearly worse than the pre-Soviet Russian one.

    Comment by AP — May 6, 2014 @ 8:02 am

  14. @ vladislav

    As for Western media treatment of Ukraine: I have many friends and relatives in Kiev and am in regular contact. The Western reporting of events is far closer to what eyewitnesses I know saw, than the Russian account which is often bizarre. I do not know anyone in Odessa or Donetsk (though a relative was in Odessa two days before the tragic events: all calm) so I can’t directly judge, but based on Kiev reporting I would assume that the Russian media is BS-ing about those regions also.

    Comment by AP — May 6, 2014 @ 4:25 pm


    Afghanistan Supports Russia’s Crimean Takeover, Welcomes Moscow Back Into Country

    Comment by vladislav — May 7, 2014 @ 12:06 am

  16. AP,

    The difference in crime rates could be easily explained by the difference between industrialized regions (former Russian Empire) and somewhat medieval agricultural small-town regions of former Poland, which were purposefully kept such by the Polish oppressors. Just compare the amount of hatred that West Ukrainians had towards all “foreign” ethnicities (Poles, Jews, Magyars), with a much more relaxed views in the Russian Empire’s Ukraine. The amount of hatred in West Ukraine towards the “oppressors”, Poles was incredible. J-P Himka tells the story how West Ukrainians in the late 19th centuries had dreams of the Russian Czar coming and liberating them and killing all the Poles and Jews. On the other hand, in the Russian Empire’s Ukraine the attitude towards Russians was quite friendly. Amazing contrast!

    Crime rates also depend on the local law enforcement. For example, here in the USA we have, afaik, one of the highest incarceration and crime rate in the entire world. Not because Americans are more criminal than other nations, but because the prison-industrial complex in our country needs to be fed with millions of benign people-victims, whose crime is often that of inhaling some funky grass smoke into their lungs in the privacy of their own homes.

    Comment by vladislav — May 7, 2014 @ 12:19 am

  17. AP,

    As I recall, except for Ukraine, your and my views on international politics and US foreign policy are very similar. So are our views on the bigotry of the US mass media when it comes to foreign affairs. So, why would the US media all of a sudden abandon its bigotry and do an even-handed, truthful and unbiased reporting of the events in Ukraine? If they were so bigoted in their coverage of Kosovo, why would they be so objective about Ukraine?

    For example, how do you explain why the US networks always refer to pro-Maidan crowds in Kiev and other places as “pro-democracy demonstrators” and to anti-Maidan crowds in Crimea and Donetsk always as “mob” and “gang”? How is that different form these same networks referring to the KLA terrorists and drug gangsters in Kosovo and to the Al Qaeda terrorists in Syria, hell-bent on exterminating Kurds and Christians, as “freedom fighters”?

    Also, how do you explain why the Kiev junta, which is officially in a deadly war against the Right Sector, totally supported the Right Sector when it exterminated close to 40 people in Odessa?

    Comment by vladislav — May 7, 2014 @ 12:34 am

  18. Also, how do you explain why the US mass media has ignored the holocaust in Odessa and has never told the Americans who burnt whom in Odessa?

    Also about that infamous incident when the pro-Maidan people forged an anti-semitic letter from Donetsk rebels. Why did the US Secretary of State immediately publicize this letter, and why did the State Dept., when later asked why they had perpetuated this forgery, instead of apologizing, insisted that “it wasn’t important” whether this letter was true or a forgery and that it was the pro-Western forces that wrote it, but what was important was “its content”?

    Comment by vladislav — May 7, 2014 @ 12:52 am

  19. > have been trying to find more info on Odessa’s events; when one googles in English

    Here is a detailed photo montage of the holocaust in Odessa with English translations:

    Comment by vladislav — May 7, 2014 @ 2:55 am

  20. @ vladislav:

    “The difference in crime rates could be easily explained by the difference between industrialized regions (former Russian Empire) and somewhat medieval agricultural small-town regions of former Poland, which were purposefully kept such by the Polish oppressors.

    Nonsense. Lviv is as big of a city as Luhansk, yet has less than half of Luhansk’s violent crime rate (226 vs. 497/100,000). Rural regions of Ukraine that had been part of Russia for a long time, such as Sumy oblast (365/100,000), or Kherson oblast (373/100,000), have much higher violent crime rates than western Ukrainian regions (Ternopil, 189/100,000). The best predictor of crime rate in Ukraine is, how long a particular region was ruled from Moscow. This pattern repeats itself with life expectancy – the Galician oblasts have the highest in Ukraine other than the city of Kiev.

    Russia is simply a bad influence on its more civilized western neighbors.

    But – it is helpful when it comes to even less civilized places, such as central Asia (Stalin’s genocidal activities being of course a huge exception).


    I agree that the wording in the US demonstrates some clear bias – not mobs in Kiev, but mobs in Donetsk. Sure. But it’s nothing like the over-the-top image portrayed in the Russian media. The Americans aren’t referring to the Russian crowds as “Stalinist gangs” as the Russians refer to the Maidan as Nazi gangs. And the Americans aren’t spreading totally crazy stories such as the Russian one about Poles demanding autonomy in Zhytomir oblast and getting passports and support from the Polish government in their endeavors. You are comparing subtle twists to outright fabrications here.

    Given that I am much more personally familiar with Ukraine than I am with Kosovo or Iraq, in light of what I have seen of the Ukraine coverage (Western vs. anti-Western) I suspect I may have to re-evaluate my opinion about Western coverage of those other areas. Either:

    1. I was simply wrong. Or, more likely:

    2. The middle east is more dear and central to the USA than it is to Ukraine, so there is more motivation to spread propaganda about it. Conversely, Ukraine is more important to Russia than is Iraq, so it is more motivated to spread propaganda about Ukraine. Because Ukraine is more important to Russia than it is to the West, Russia lies about it much more. Thus, the discrepancy. It’s not a simply an issue of Russia always lies, or the West always lies.


    Comment by AP — May 7, 2014 @ 7:31 am

  21. Actually Vladislav, there has been quite a bit about the deaths in Odessa since they occurred.

    Including the pictures of pro Russian thugs firing on (at the time) unarmed pro Ukrainian protesters.

    Problem for your account is the video showing unarmed protesters lobbing petrol bombs from the roof of the building.

    As to persecution of Serbs in the latter stages of the war in Croatia, do you also condemn the massive crimes against humanity carried out by the Serbs in the early part of the war?

    Comment by Andrew — May 7, 2014 @ 11:00 am

  22. I would point out how everyone quickly forgets about the reporters murdered and dissidents jailed by Russia over the past decade, but then I remembered Michael Hastings.

    So, yes, it’s definitely difficult to figure out what is true and what is not. However, you have to be a mental cripple not to find rt’s reporting utterly comical in nature. I don’t blame them. Like AlJazeera, they are relatively new to this and will take a while to reach the sophistication of the US media…

    The US media, on the other hand, intentionally or not, follows more of a detract and omit strategy. Fox has its various hookers and bimbo’s spewing babble. CNN offers cat videos and local crime dramas. While MSNBC dazzles us with monotone dialogue.

    Comment by vance decker — July 25, 2014 @ 1:27 am

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