Friday, August 19, 2005

Introduction

In wake of Anders Aslund's overly rhetorical Johnson's Russia List post of August 9, 2005, I'm finally taking up the suggestion to start my own blog.

I'm a New York based independent foreign policy analyst, whose recent commentary can be found via the Current Issues, International Affairs, Media and Letters to/from the Editor sections at http://english.intelligent.ru

I regularly participate in several net forums including The New York Times' Russia/East Europe Forum, located in the International folder of Readers' Opinions via http://www.nytimes.com, several forums at http://www.russia.com/forums and two Guardian International forums (entitled LYING ABOUT RUSSIA & AMERICAN MAINSTREAM MEDIA SKEWS COVERAGE OF CHECHNYA AGAINST RUSSIA) which can be accessed via http://www.guardian.co.uk/talk

37 Comments:

Blogger Michael Averko said...

Here's my rebuttal to Anders Aslund, which didn't make Johnson's Russia List, but was posted at the Letters to/from the Editor section at http://english.intelligent.ru

Re: Anders Aslund - Aug. 9, JRL 9220 post 3

For openers, Aslund is being insultingly rude by using the word "regime" to describe the Russian government instead of "administration." (in modern day political jargon, the former utilized by Aslund is employed when describing undemocratically oppressive governments). Whether he likes it or not, Russia is a multi-party democracy with a vibrant media. Russians had ample opportunity to choose someone else as their president. It's a statistical fact that under Putin, the number of independent Russian news outlets have increased. As is true in America, a good portion of Russian media is unfair to Putin and Russia. It's obvious that some careerist minded Russian news outlets and journalists see a greater monetary kickback from those smug American foreign policy and media elites involved in nurturing politically correct Russians to suit anti-Russian prejudices. All one has to do is reference the sort of "Russian" views which get propped in the "free" press of the BBC, Washington Post, New York Times, CBC, NPR, PBS and ABC (among many others). This is reminiscent of when the Soviet Union would cite the American Communist Party organ Daily World as a source for the American perspective.

In fact, it's extremely difficult to get pro-Putin and pro-Russian views heard in the "free" press. More often than not, uncontested anti-Putin and anti-Russian views (the two are often one) receive the nod.

Aslund's citation of Freedom House as a credible source in measuring human rights development is absurd, given the heavily skewed anti-Russian biases of that organization. As of right now, Georgia and Ukraine aren't "freer" than Russia. For some like Freedom House, "freedom" is code for anti-Russian. This is the same organization which voted Kuchma their "Man of the Year" in 1996, as he overthrew the democratically elected Russocentric government in Crimea and closed down Russian language schools throughout Ukraine.

Just as absurd is Aslund's parroting of Bush's siding with the Baltics on the matter of World War II. The Russian government renounced Molotov-Ribbentrop. Meanwhile, Latvia and Estonia openly honor those Latvian and Estonian misfits who served in SS units. There's no criticism from Bush and Aslund on this. Likewise, with the discriminatory manner in which Russian speakers are treated in those two former Soviet republics.

In slurring the Russian stance on Chechnya, Aslund overlooks that in the last decade, Chechnya was twice given the greatest autonomy of an ethnic enclave within a nation state (there's no example elsewhere which closely matches such freedom). Regretfully, this was taken advantage of. Russia had every right to take military action. It took years for Turkey to eventually subdue its enemy (Kurdish separatists). There's no reason to disbelieve that Russia won't achieve the same in Chechnya.

Aslund's characterization of the Khodorkovsky trial compliments his Carnegie Endowment employer having received a $500,000 donation form the jailed Russian tycoon. America jails its white collar crooks who grossly abuse the system. Russia should be no different.

Aslund's hypocrisy on jailing oligarchs for political reasons is shown in his non-commentary of jailed east Ukrainian oligarch and Yanukovych supporter Boris Kolesnikov, who is no where near as crooked as Khodorkovsky and the current Ukrainian prime minister Tymoshenko.

This leads to Aslund's one sided characterization of what has occurred in Ukraine. He trumps up Russian aid to Yanukovych, while muting out the large Western monetary support provided to Yushchenko. As time goes by, the amount Western aid becomes more well known and the Russian aid appears more exaggerated from what was originally claimed by Russia unfriendly sources. My contacts in Ukraine confirm what appeared obvious to me from New York. Yushchenko seemed to have the better funded campaign.

Especially disingenuous about Aslund's commentary on Ukraine is his suggestion that the Yanukovych campaign engaged in smear tactics unlike the Yushchenko side. Portraying a youthful criminal action as reflective of Yanukovych as a seasoned adult is political sleaze. Readily believing what orange fanatics said about east Ukrainian polling places is highly circumspect. Meanwhile, besides CIS observers, those from the British Helsinki Human Rights Group ( http://www.bhhrg.org ) and the Israeli based Institute for the Study of the Commonwealth of Independent States ( see http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=16387 ) documented large scale orange voting fraud, known to Western observers.

The great socio-economic problems facing Georgia and Ukraine explain why most Russians breathe a sigh of relief that they aren't as "advanced" to have their own color coded revolution. The Putin revolution of responsible liberal reform is a better model for CIS members to follow.

Aslund's commentary further highlights the need for a powerful worldwide English language Russian news network to express the views of mainstream Russians.

12:56 AM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Some of those individuals opposing Aslund have conferred with each other in how to best counter such rabid anti-Russian/anti-Putin propaganda, which is receiving a good deal of funding from anti-Putin oligarchs and out and out Russia haters.

One person noted that within the American and Russian business communities, there're wealthy forces who no doubt loathe Aslund's rant. Relatedly, it's no crime for the Russian government to fund progressive forces seeking improved Russo-American relations. The American government mistakenly funds some dubious organizations like Freedom House and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Individuals representing such orgs. get appearance time on PBS and NPR.

Let's see what happens. A Russian government funded world-wide English language television news channel is scheduled to be launched soon.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Please excuse the misspells in the blog's Introduction. I'm in the process of learning how to correct such errors. The below was posted in the Letters to/from the Editor section at http://english.intelligent.ru

Date: 23 August 2005

From: Mike Averko

Subject: Discussions revolving around Aslund

A PERSONAL OPEN LETTER

My senses tell me that Anders Aslund isn't a Russia hater or neoconservative as much as he's an opportunist. In contrast, Zbigniew Brzezinski sincerely believes in the nonsense he says about Russia.

Interesting how Peter Lavelle is accused by some of being nasty. Aslund's recent commentary on Russia was half-truthful and lie-filled, as well as disrespectful to reasonably minded Russocentric individuals.

I have a love/hate stance towards Johnson's Russia List. Through that venue, I have touched base with enlightened individuals like Mr. Roy, who have given me the opportunity to express my views while offering some sound behind the scene constructive criticisms.

Make no mistake about it though, JRL is definitely biased in the sort of views it favors for posting. Yes, Sergei's slam dunk of Aslund was posted. However, the posted JRL follow ups regarding Aslund were on the cream puff side, thereby putting into question the future of erudite spot-on posts going against the likes of JRL regulars like Paul Goble and the Jamestown Foundation crowd. I have heard my share of horror stories regarding the sort of bans vis-а-vis JRL.

In his yearning to see the Putin “regime” end, Aslund is being somewhat ridiculous. In comparison, it's the undemocratically selected American foreign policy establishment that's in dire need of a major overhaul. The purging of Aslund alone isn't sufficient.

For all we know, Aslund is being sacrificed so Michael McFaul can lean more towards the Russocentric side. At about the time of the Bush-Putin Summit, there were two open letters. One coordinated by Edward Lozansky (which I signed along with Peter Lavelle, Ira Straus, Eric Kraus and many other distinguished observers of Russo-American relations http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9060-3.cfm ). The other letter had a noticeable Freedom House twang to it ( http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9065-11.cfm ). McFaul signed the latter. McFaul is somewhat careful in his choice of words. He regularly leaves himself the option to switch sides for the convenience of appearing right. McFaul says he doesn't trust Putin guiding Russia towards a more democratic path. McFaul isn't to be trusted for monitoring commentary on Russia. He has been a main participant to the disinformation process that includes a blatant censoring of pro-Russian and pro-Putin views in the “free” press.

To take a page out of the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) propaganda playbook, I'm pro-Russian because it's in America's best interests. I say this in reply to Euro-Atlanticist Ira Straus, who while well meaning, is in my opinion wrong on several fronts. Over 40% of Ukraine voted against Yushchenko. There was massive voter fraud on the orange side. This was firmly detailed in my JRL submitted reply to Aslund (not posted by JRL), which was emailed to many Russia watchers including Ira. Ira should note the many times post-Soviet Russia was dissed by Washington officialdom after making friendly gestures. It reminds me of the hotly desired girlfriend repeatedly rebuffing the overtures of a wouldbe suitor. Eventually, one has to look elsewhere. Ira's beef should therefore be more with the neoconservatives, Brzezinskiites and the neoliberal CEIP of Aslund, McFaul and Shevtsova.

Peter Lavelle is right about how American foreign policy shouldn't be privatized to some dubious interests which involve other matter besides the legitimate concerns of the US and global stability at large.

No one should be intimidated by the CEIP influence. Those on the side of right on this need to be open and supportive of those seeking progressive change. Maybe this isn't so easy for those who have a professional career stake on the subject matter. I would love to get professionally involved. However, I'll be damned if I have to practice self censorship for employment sake. This point reminds me of the sort of hypocritical bs cranked out by the Open Society Institute, Freedom House and CEIP. Here's my latest contribution: http://averko.blogspot.com

I make myself readily available for other projects.

Michael Averko

9:49 AM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

The below is my reply to what someone had written to me in response ot my personal open letter of August 23:

The official third round result of the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election did have Viktor Yushchenko at 51.99% as opposed to Viktor Yanukovych's 44.19%. Plenty of wiggle room for orange fraud that was well documented by the CIS, BHHRG and the independent Israeli group I had earlier mentioned in my August 10 reply to Anders Aslund.

Having someone like Taras Kuzio as an OSCE monitor is quite revealing. Refer to my article about him in the Media section of http://english.intelligent.ru . This Johnson's Russia List regular made unopposed National Inquirer like claims of the Russians being involved in poisoning Yushchenko and Russian special forces present in Kiev during the orange street fest. You might recall a recent JRL post of his where he falsely asserts that unlike Russia - Ukraine hasn't undergone a selective process of going after oligarchs on political grounds. That's flat out bunk as the pro-Yanukovych east Ukrainian based oligarch Boris Kolesnikov was arrested shortly after the orange coup. For whatever his faults, Kolesnikov is certainly far less crooked than Mikhail Khodorkovsky or the current Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

In addition to Kuzio, you had North American NGOs overwhelmingly staffed with west Ukrainian backgrounded Canadians and Americans. Their bias was never challenged on the CBC and such carte blanche was very often accorded to them at other news outlets in the "free" press. Note that Kuzio was the unchallenged BBC "expert" during the series of Ukrainian presidential elections (the BBC continues to use him as an expert, as per a recent segment they did on Belarus).

Michael McFaul's comparative politics is severely flawed, given his suggesting that Ukraine and Georgia are presently more democratic than Russia. As for McFaul's CEIP colleague Lilia Shevtsova - she has subscribed to the Boris Berezovsky bs about Russian special forces blowing up Moscow apartments to use as a pretext for engaging in a second Chechen war. Factually speaking, such crap is on par with saying that the Israeli Mossad blew up the World Trade Center. There's a reason why Robert Bruce Ware is muted in the "free" press in favor of the propagandistic Sorosian likes of Yo'av Karny.

Michael Averko

6:31 AM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Saturday - August 27, 2005

In addition to being sent to the below mentioned, the following was posted at two New York Times forums (Russia and Tom Friedman) and the GUT International thread entitled LYING ABOUT RUSSIA

Just saw a really shitty feature on a PBS show called "Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria."

In this particular segment, the ever so pious Zakaria (who is employed by ABC) claims that there aren't many democrats left in Russia and that Vladimir Ryzkhov is one of the few remaining ones. Rzyzhkov is then given carte blanche. No mention of Ryzhkov representing the KGB interests of Khodorkovsky, Gusinsky and Berezovksy and that most Russians view Zakaria's politically correct Russian as a political imbecile along with Gary Kasparov.

I will visit that show's web site at http://www.foreignexchange.tv and forward to them fact based info. contradicting Zakaria's flawed prejudice (previously expressed elsewhere on a regular basis). Let's see if this "free" press outlet comes clean on the reality.

Upon doing so, I find that they don't give an e-mail address, thereby making it not as easy to submit info. over to them. I will cut and paste this post and send it over to them via the hackish message system they have. Will also likely post this at my blog:

http://averko.blogspot.com

They can also check out my recent commentary in the Media, International Affairs, Current Issues and Letters to/from the Editor sections at http://english.intelligent.ru

Let's see if they believe in open/honest dialogue which doesn't politically censor perfectly valid views.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Monday - August 28, 2005 (date corresponds with American Pacific coast time given at the end of the post)

Slowly but surely, I hope to master what for me are some intricate aspects of having this blog. For now, please forgive the links not being able to be clicked into.

Below is my latest masterpiece. More is on the way.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS ON ASLUND & THE COMMENTARIOT

By Michael Averko

The below quoted is excerpted from my article of this past April - COVERING THE COVERAGE: SOME PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS which can be accessed via the Media section of http://english.intelligent.ru/articles/media.htm

"Having seen a good number of educated idiots as opposed to brilliant individuals lacking a formal education, I'm not impressed with paper credentials alone; thus explaining my chutzpa to second guess some of the undemocratically selected intellects given the power to spew their views in high profile bully pulpit-like environments, where they often go unopposed. Don't get me wrong, a brilliant well-educated individual is the ideal. However, this should in no way disenfranchise talented others with great input to offer (Walesa, Bono and Hannity as reference points)."

*********************

Among some others, Anders Aslund came to mind when I wrote the above. Someone suggested that Aslund's recently submitted and much talked about address on Russia ( http://www.carnegieendowment.org/files/pb41.aslund.FINAL1.pdf ) was an attempt on his part to win back some prestige after falling out of favor, as per some of the Swede's past observations which proved circumspect. My hunch is if the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace were to axe him, organizations like Freedom House, the Jamestown Foundation and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty will be more than willing to pick him up. His Brzezinskiite rhetoric on Ukraine (which is at least ten years old) and uncritical referencing of Freedom House make him a favorite with the anti-Russian lobby.

Paper credentials aside, Aslund sucks as an analyst. His numerous incorrect predictions and faulty advice (well detailed by numerous individuals at several respectable venues) reveal an affirmative action process, where the feeble minded get preferential treatment by the undemocratically selected network of American foreign policy elites and their cronies in mass media (a definite old boys' network).

During Ukraine's so called "orange revolution," Aslund gleefully applauded the role played by oligarch Yulia Tymoshenko, only to then write a critical review of her policies after the gas princess became prime minister. A truly experienced analyst would have been guarded all along about Tymoshenko. The guy doesn't learn from his flops as shown by how he now champions oligarch friendly Mikhail Kasyanov as Vladimir Putin's successor.

Enough is enough! Many people get fired despite being more adept at their job when compared to Aslund. Am I being too vindictive? Well, what about all those considerably brighter minds which are being shelved in favor of Aslund and others like him? Along with some of his prior comments, Aslund set himself up for ridicule when he wrote that absurd paper. Who is actually being unpleasant and anti-social? Aslund or some of his detractors?

Relatedly, Aslund's like minded CEIP colleague Michael McFaul definitely impresses as a neoliberal, who in recent times has taken the Brzezinskiite/neoconservative position over the more Russia friendly views of Edward Lozansky, Peter Lavelle, Eric Kraus and some others. Witness McFaul's belief that Bush hasn't been "tough" enough with Putin ( this past May, when Bush was in Moscow - McFaul suggested that the American president boycott the military parade honoring the Russian World War II effort http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/europe/jan-june05/putin_5-09.html ). However, McFaul clearly positions himself in a manner to easily change sides for the convenience of being on the right side once the chicanery becomes difficult to window dress. He can legitimately say that he's on record for wanting a strong Russia, that Russia will eventually turn out okay, while acknowledging how many on Capital Hill prefer a weakened Russia. I don't trust him because of his current slant with the hate Russia grouping. The open letter he signed (around the time of the Bush-Putin Bratislava Summit) with a group of neocons and Brzezinskiites ( http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9065-11.cfm ) and his speaking at a Brzezinskiite American Committee for Peace in Chechnya gathering with Anna Politkovskaya are my reference points.

The CEIP of Aslund, McFaul and Lilia Shevtsova trump up the idea for greater political diversity in Russia. Up to now, they set a poor example as practitioners. Anatol Lieven recently left the CEIP shortly after writing a damning critique ( http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/06/09/news/edlieven.php ) of jailed Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who gave a half million dollar donation to Lieven's employer at the time. It will be interesting to see what kind of a hop, skip and jump that McFaul and Shevtsova will perform in the aftermath of the Aslund paper.

They can sure dish it out, but can they take it back to the same degree? Political analysts are employed to review and critique governments. This process becomes corrupted when a certain political view gets better funding over other perspectives. True investigative journalism should take governments and analysts alike to task. Instead, the "free" press tends to uncritically accept whatever CEIP like organizations say. Hence, the need for the other side to get better funded in the qualitative and qualitative senses.

The hard core Russia hating crowd of central/east European Brzezinskiites are at least sincere in their views unlike the consortium of corrupt/dissident Russian oligarchs and those neoliberal and neoconservative forces gladly taking large dollar sums to disparage Putin in the hope of having a KGB (Khodorkovsky, Gusinsky and Berezovsky) coup in the Kremlin.

In recent memory, Aslund wasn't the first to have a severely flawed address on Russia published by a supposedly reputable source. You can be certain that he won't be the last.

As an example, I recall a New York Times op-ed written by Condoleeza Rice, just prior to the first wave of post Soviet NATO expansion in the mid 19 nineties. In that article, the then Stanford provost brazenly declared that NATO expansion minus Russian inclusion was a just penalty against Moscow (at the time, Paul Robeson Jr. and Charles William Maynes were among the few Americans who actively opposed Rice's advocacy).

This past weekend, PBS aired a show on foreign policy called Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria ( http://www.foreignexchange.tv/ ). One segment of that show featured Russian Duma member Vladimir Ryzhkov. In the introduction, Zakaria called Ryzhkov one of the few remaining "democrats" in Russia. Of course, this segment covered up the fact of Putin remaining far more popular than Ryzhkov. Rather than critique the direct reason why Russia is in the position it is today (the Aslund advocated privatization disaster of the last decade), Ryzhkov offered Brzezinskiite views of a historically non-democratic Russia, coupled with too many of the old guard KGB in place. In addition to his work with PBS, Zakaria is employed by ABC and Newsweek; two of the more hideous news outlets when it comes to covering Russia. Without knowing it, many Americans viewing Zakaria's propaganda exercise were left unaware of Ryzkhkov auditioning for favor with CEIP types as opposed to the Russian people. Democracy is a very relative word. I qualify Russia as a democracy because Zakaria has called Turkey such and if the Russian people truly wanted a Ryzkhkov type as president, they would have him/her.

As a lone citizen, I bombarded that show with all kinds of documentation showing just how perverted the Ryzhkov feature was. This will likely come to nothing. On the other hand, imagine someone from a powerful organization doing exactly the same.

For some, bashing Russia is a lucrative sport of sorts within a good portion of the American mass media, academia and body politic. For those in opposition, the issue remains how to best combat this bias. Talk by itself is cheap. Some heavy funding is necessary with an adept management team to coordinate a successful counteroffensive.

Some of the Anglo-American mainstreamers out there might not be familiar with the the word "commentariot," which refers to those "brilliant" (hack) journalists like Kim Murphy, Peter Baker, Susan Glasser, Masha Lipman, Damian Grammaticus and Steven Lee Myers.

10:28 PM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Tuesday - August 30, 2005

Someone is trying to rock my boat. The below was just sent to MSN:

COMPLAINT

This is my second protest on this matter. Your search result of "Averko's Russia Report" gave a result stating "notify blogger about objectionable content." I'm the involved blogger at the site http://averko.blogspot.com What "objectionable content?" Who is responsible for that baseless and overly subjective comment? Note that prior to my first complaint on this, there was only one result with that. After my first protest, a second result saying the same came up.

I previously experienced such negative slurring via MSN Search.

Please respond with an apology.

***********************************

The below reply of mine wasn't posted by Johnson's Russia List. I received three replies to it, with all of them being positive. I have a habit of mass e-mailing to Russia watchers abroad my JRL submissions which don't get posted.

Re: T-ball and B-Ball (re: Tennis, Sharapova, Baseball) From Oliver Bronsen JRL #9232, Aug. 25, 2005 http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9232-17.cfm

Oliver Bronsen takes issue with Maria Sharapova being rated the top female tennis player. Sharapova, Vogue Magazine and the Russian Tennis Federation didn't set the standards for rating the top player. As per those standards, Sharapova clearly qualifies for number one rating based on the number of tournaments played so far this season, relative to her results when matched against other players. A player winning two matches and then not finishing in the top ten in other tournaments or not playing in as many tournaments as Sharapova isn't worthy for top ranking.

Mr. Bronsen makes a snide remark that Sharapova's number one ranking is on par with Vladimir Putin somehow manipulating an otherwise undeserving Russia into the G-8. Actually, Russia was in the G-8 prior to Putin's presidency. As for Russia's G-8 membership, one can ask why Italy and Canada are in that organization of supposedly leading world economies?

Contrary to Mr. Bronsen - Sharapova is very much a Russian who acknowledges herself as such. Unlike some past and present players on the tour, the number one rated Russian chooses to be listed as representing the country of her birth (there's a top rated "French" player who is Russian born and another "French" player who is American born). During the period of Russia's bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics - Sharapova accepted the role of the lead Russian athlete used to promote that now failed bid.

Mr. Bronsen suggests that Sharapova gets more coverage than others because of her good looks. In supporting this contention, he appears to make reference to another Russian player Anastasia Myskhina. Myskhina is quite attractive in her own right. Tennis experts universally agree that Sharapova is the more talented of the two.

Mr. Bronsen openly questions why the families of the Russian Little League team were denied visas to see their kids play in Williamsport. Perhaps there's a growing authoritarian and anti-Russian streak permeating in the US. Just look at the shameful display of journalism ABC News NightLine displayed in its Chechen separatist friendly feature with terrorist Shamil Basayev. As I noted in a recent article at intelligent.ru (Behind the ABC-Russian Government Dispute http://english.intelligent.ru/cgi-bin/loadtext.pl?id=6353&file=articles/text_e0072.htm),
NightLine was far more accommodating to the Soviet view during the Cold War when compared to how it mutes out post Soviet mainstream Russian views (instead preferring the likes of Masha Gessen and Pavel Felgenhauer).

6:42 AM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Saturday - September 3, 2005
This past week had me make note of several Russia related topics dealing with media, Russian-Polish relations and the CIS.

I posted the below at several forums on how Hurricane Katrina was covered in comparison to the Beslan Massacre:
On Fox's O'Reilly Factor, the main issue is the looting savages as opposed to how even more foolish the attack on Iraq looks and how the Bush Admin. has been lackluster in helping the poor in a downtrodden American region.

The BBC covers the humanitarian aspects of the hurricane disaster while being noticeably more muted on Bush's reaction time when compared to how Putin is covered on the Beslan massacre.

Fox News covers Bush like he's their home team and the BBC shows a lesser though still noticeable favoritism towards the American president.

Russian-Polish relations seem to have taken a turn for the better as shown by statements from Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ( http://en.rian.ru/russia/20050826/41231930.html ) and prominent Poles Lech Walesa and Zbigniew Brzezinski ( http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-1755971,00.html ). Walesa's and Brzezinski's moderation are for pragmatically stated reasons ( http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/08/28/news/german.php ). This is a departure from a Polish nationalist comment of some years back desiring for invaders from the far east to ravage Europe for the pleasure of seeing Russia ravaged as well. Regarding Russia, there remains a condescending tone of moral superiority from Brzezinski and Walesa, much unlike Lavrov's statement. So much for Roger Cohen's and David Rieff's bunk about Serbs living too much in the past and ignoring their own wrongs. Actually, Western mainstream pundits like Cohen, Rieff and Fareed Zakaria have hypocritically held the Russians and Serbs to higher standards, while pretending that others like the Poles and Bosnian Muslims are noticeably more virtuous.

Peter Lavelle's weekly panel of experts raised some good points on the CIS summit held in Kazan this past week ( http://www.untimely-thoughts.com/?art=1927 ). Russia will continue to dominate that group, but, with a greater degree of pluralism from others. I will add that it's noteworthy how the not so Russia friendly Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili stated the continued need for the CIS (unfortunately that link is no longer available).

This week's PBS aired Foreign Exchange with Fareed Zakaria had a very balanced discussion on China, where mainstream Chinese concerns were presented in detail. There was no such balance during that show's segment on Russia last week, which featured an overly propagandistic shilling for Russian Duma member Vladimir Ryzhkov. Politically censored from that segment was how Ryzhkov is generally perceived in Russia ( http://www.untimely-thoughts.com/?art=1489&action=printer ). The PBS aired Foreign Exchange gets funding from the Carnegie Corporation, whose Carnegie Endowment for International Peace affiliate had received a $500,000 contribution from now jailed Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Ryzhkov is a political ally of Gary Kasparov, who in turn is an ally of Khodorkovsky. None of this was disclosed on that show. It will be interesting to see how Foreign Exchange will cover Russia in the coming weeks (that show has been bombarded with critiques from yours truly).

Upon further review, I see that Foreign Exchange is part of something called Azimuth Media, a partner with the World Security Institute ( http://worldsecurityinstitute.org ), which is affiliated with Johnson's Russia List.

This is an extremely unctuous blog: http://halldor2.blogspot.com. I came across it some months back when doing a Google search of intelligent.ru Editor Sergei Roy. A then Google result led me to blogger David McDuff slurring Roy's Johnson's Russia List post on a Polish nationalist piece in The Wall Street Journal. I wrote to McDuff with criticisms and an invite for further dialogue. Rather than do that, he adjusted (edited out) that commentary on Roy. That now deleted commentary was preserved and is available in a April 12, 2005 correspondence at http://english.intelligent.ru/letters/index.html (I also have the e-mail of mine which was sent to McDuff). The format of McDuff's blog is quite impressive, albeit with a Brzezinskiite/Sorosian odor. Refer to the links his blog provides as well as the individuals he uncritically cites on a regular basis. (Masha Gessen, Yevgenia Albats, Anna Politkovskaya and Pavel Felgenhauer). Months back, I recall seeing Peter Lavelle's Untimely Thoughts site listed there. It's no longer included. Ironic how McDuff type pundits critique Putin.

Last year I recall Putin hosting Western analysts, who were invited to pick his brain. I'm hoping that at this year's version, these analysts will get together among themselves and take a closer look at how screwy the Anglo-American commentariot has been. They're reason enough to justify the hopefully soon to be launched 24 hour English language worldwide Russian television news network - Russia Today.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Sirivanhoe98 said...

Hi Mike

I got your e-mail regarding BBC's and other mainstream media soft treatment of Bush over his handling of the human catastrophy in New Orleans.

I agree with your observations that Bush is being shielded from criticism over his handling of the crisis, compared with how the same media treated Putin over Beslan.

During a recent panel discussion on Fox News, about Bush's late decision to cancel his vacation, one critic who was deriding Bush's handling of the situation, was muffled as he spoke by a) the anchorman stating "He did cancel his vacation" b) the not so subtle screening of images of the devastated areas and c) the anchor's voice-over "here we see images of the devastated area". This tactic was sufficient distraction to stop the critic from speaking, allowing the anchorman to take the discussions to a different direction by posing a somewhat less relevant question.

6:27 AM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Monday - September 5, 2005

Hello Sir Ivan and welcome to this creation of mine. Hope all is well with you and your loved ones down under.

Sir Ivan is a New York Times Russia/East Europe forum participant of Macedonian origin, who resides with his family in Australia. Along with several other NYT Russia/East Europe forum regulars, Sir Ivan provides spot on observations frequently not seen or heard of in the "free" (for those who can afford to influence it) press.

This explains why I participate in several talk forums because of the astute analysis otherwise lacking elsewhere. The mentioned NYT venue offers sound commentary and supporting links on a variety of commentary dealing with Russia, central and eastern Europe. Among the specifics being the war crimes trials regarding former Yugoslavia, jailed Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, coverage of Ukraine and Srebrenica.

Awhile back, this NYT forum was moderated by a hack, who showed an extreme bias towards pro-Serb and pro-Russian views. In more recent times, it has been pretty much free of political censorship.

The smug elites controlling media info. to the American masses no doubt feel relatively secure about such talk venues. They can claim a free media, knowing that these forums don't get the same high profile viewing as the op-ed pages and the often misinformed talking head shows on tv.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Sunday - September 11, 2005

THE DEMOCRATIC SPIRIT

I have previously noted the irony involved when some smug American foreign policy elites demand "openness" in countries other than their own. This is how one such person was described by a New York Times Russia/East Europe forum participant (granted, it's somewhat lacking in political correctness):

http://forumsnytimes.com/top/opinion/readersopinions/forums/international/easterneuropeandrussia/index.html?offset=10075

obilic - 10:45 PM ET December 14, 2004 (#9662 of 16226)

I used to say this about John Paul in the Vatican:

You can take the Pole out of Poland but you can't take the Pole out of the Pope.

Sounds kinky and I am sure something of this sort applies to Brzezinski. I met him once and he was nice until he found out I was Orthodox and he turned quite chilly. When I mentioned that my mother was Catholic he suggested that there was still hope for me. I almost cleaned his clock but I might have permanently hurt him since he is such a fragile little weasel. For someone who supposedly hated Communism, his demeanor is that of an apparatchik thug. He is more Putin than Putin.

Sorry about the insult Vladimir.

***********************************

The below exchanges between Ben Bamberger and myself delve further into the matter of promoting glasnost and perestroika where it's very much lacking (this has been done with Ben's consent):

Mike Averko:

It has happened:
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/international/international-ukraine.html?hp&ex=1126238400&en=db7c256e670fff5c&ei=5094&partner=homepage

I predicted such months ago.

Back then, Brzezinski and others like him saw the so called "orange revolution" being exported to Russia.

Then you had Taras Kuzio claiming in a recent Johnson's Russia List post that the orange revolution was actually doing quite well (he also made the absurd claim that oligarchs in Ukraine weren't being politically targeted unlike in Russia).

So, who is the "expert?"

Yushchenko is doing his version of the "good czar." If only Stalin knew what was going on.

Regarding Russia, a revolution is desperately need within the American foreign policy establishment.

The ongoing censorship can go only so far.

***********************************

Ben Bamberger:

You're right, the revolution that is needed is not in
Russia, but rather in American foreign policy and the
institutions surrounding it. There is a good deal of
groupthink in these institutions, which has created
ineffective policies and unwarranted anti-Russian
attitudes. The fact that some (like Aslund) seem to
endorse a revolution in Russia shows how out of touch
these experts are with reality. Not only is a
revolution logistically improbable, it is also not
desired by the average Russia. Perhaps these experts
have risen to a level where they do not need to take
into account the attitudes of average Russians, but I
would disagree. As a student in DC after returning
from Moscow I have been shocked with the anti-Russian
attitudes that are prevalent throughout Washington.
These attitudes are weakly backed by so called"
democratic" principles, but really only seem to
demean Russia, not support "democracy." The simple
fact of the matter is that Russia is on the rise and is
creating its strength not through Western initiatives
but through its own course of action. Perhaps this
offends Western advisors whose advice largely failed.
Nonetheless it should not be opposed; a strong Russia
benefits nearly all parties involved. The best policy
I see is one of integration with Russia, although
sadly Cold War attitudes still exist throughout even
educated circles. Regardless, the recent upheavals in
Ukraine show the hypocrisy that is America's foreign
policy towards Russia, and the institutions that
support this policy.

I enjoy your emails and comments so by all means,
please continue sending them to me. Also any comments
on the above paragraph would welcome.

*******************************

Mike Averko:

With your permission, I would like to post our exchanges at my blog. Please let me know if this is okay. I will gladly omit your name if you desire such (I get the thumbs up from a number of people who aren't as direct because of the Capital Hill apparatchiks stranglehold on job opportunities).

Please note that I periodically mass mail material posted at my blog. I would like to do so with our exchanges if this is okay with you.

*******************************

Ben Bamberger:

Feel free to use our exchanges in your blog. Posting
my name does not bother me either. Perhaps my
youthful idealism hasn't worn off yet, but these
exchanges contain my thoughts and values and if this
is considered so inappropiate that it keeps me from
getting a job, then it would be best if I didn't work
there anyway.

********************************

Mike Averko:

You're priceless and I will try to get right on this. By the way, some have told me that I'm 44 going on 24.

I sense that our shared spirit is appreciated by others, which in turn is leading towards a change for the better.

I have what appears to be a very important meeting this week related to the flow of information pertaining to our concerns. Hopefully, I will be able to provide a positive and detailed accounting of this meeting in the not too distant future.

10:50 PM  
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7:12 AM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Saturday - September 17, 2005

SAMIZDAT ON UKRAINE & POLAND

A pretty good discussion on Ukraine ( http://www.russiaprofile.org/politics/article.wbp?article-id=B0A5F1D6-2B57-4C23-B279-7CC213048793 ) with all of the participants making valid points. I note a difference between Eric Kraus and Ira Straus.

Eric correctly sees the so called "orange revolution" as a competition between competing oligarchic differences. The outcome of the Ukrainian presidential election was successfully manipulated by the suave Western managed Yushchenko ticket. I had my own very credible sources in Kiev and elsewhere in Ukraine during the election process (like anyone else, they're free to post at my above referenced blog). On cue, came busloads from Galicia to Kiev. In comparison, Kuchma's people in an alliance of sorts with Yushchenko (after the second election) blocked off similar busloads from Donbas (the stated reason was to avoid "violence").

The observer process of the Ukrainian presidential elections was farcical. Having the likes of Taras Kuzio serving as a monitor for the OSCE goes in the "nuff said" category (likewise with all those west Ukrainian descended North Americans dominating the stink tanks from Canada and the U.S.). Keep in mind that the OSCE gave a bigger thumbs up to how the last Georgian presidential election was run (Saakashvili winning a Soviet like 96% tally) in comparison to the last Russian and Belarussian variants. As previously noted in my reply to Anders Aslund at the very first post of my blog and http://english.intelligent.ru/letters/index.html (the latter having an August 10th post date), there was plenty of well documented monitoring from the UK and Israel, as well as from the CIS.

Straus and yours truly are in essential agreement on most Russia related issues. One major exception remains the "orange revolution." He lost some popularity among a few Russian analysts who confided their displeasure of him to me. I noted to them that Ira very much opposed the anti-Russian wing of the orange coalition and added that much of the orange support in central Ukraine wasn't and isn't anti-Russian. These people bought into the better propaganda campaign. I'm at a loss at how anyone can still see that street throng as a true display of "people power." The flying of Polish flags in Kiev with Russian ones omitted isn't in sync with the makeup of that city. Months of preparation which no doubt included the palm greasing of leading figures can do wonders when free beer, condoms, food, heated tents and concerts are included. The Yanukovych side definitely looked like the more under-funded one. The aid given to Yanukovych by Moscow was either not as great as some have claimed and-or a good portion of that aid money was pocketed along the way, with its remains being improperly managed.

As Kraus notes, Yushchenko is now forced to deal with realities which others besides myself had noted months ago. Yushchenko is no Putin. The latter immediately limited the role of oligarchs unlike the former.

Straus often promotes the idea of Russian-American cooperation within the CIS. As long as American foreign policy is heavily influenced by neocons and Brzezinskiites, it's very unrealistic for Russia to look favorably towards such a relationship in its "near abroad."

"Revolution" is needed within the American foreign policy establishment. Unrealistic? Farfetched? If true, then we might face some rough waves as Russia is slowly but surely rebuilding itself after decades of Communist mismanagement and the chaos of the last decade.

***************************
Those of you most familiar with me are well aware of my ongoing pet peeve on how many Poles view the Russian-Polish relationship. There're clear differences of opinion among these two Slav peoples. From a purely analytical standpoint, it's fascinating how both sides view each others take with a degree of bemusement along the lines of - you gotta be kiddin (some New York slang in recognition to Putin's recent visit to the Big Apple). Another fascinating aspect is how both can appreciate certain qualities of the other.

Russians and Poles may never reach an agreeable accord on interpreting the past. This doesn't mean for a greater likelihood of war between the two or a completely cold friction of total avoidance. Believe it or not, I have Polish friends and we get along just fine.

Below is my reply to a recent Johnson's Russia List post made by a Pole, who did get back to me with a promise to provide greater detail to my "errors." He expressed hope that Dave Johnson will post my reply and his counter reply. I hope that if this is done, my reply will not be the last one to this proposed dialogue. The power of getting the first and last word in is tremendous. A quick lesson for the good people of Russia Today in Moscow (the planned English language Russian news network). Soviet propaganda sucked because it completely censored one view while propping another in a very hack like manner which could only fool the very stupid among us. Western mass media propaganda is more successful because it can claim that it gave "the other side" some time.

Anyway, I conclude with this response of mine:

Re: SOME REMARKS ON HISTORY FACTOR IN CURRENT RUSSO-POLISH RELATIONS - from Marek Czajkowski, JRL 9246, Sept. 15, 2005 http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9246-24.cfm

Marek Czajkowski's lengthy historical overview of Russo-Polish relations is another in a long line of one sided Polish nationalist spin, which further confirms my view of Poland being far more jingoistic than Russia.

The suggestion that Polish imperial prowess was more progressive than Russia's is faulty for a variety of reasons. Had it actually been the more enlightened, then it wouldn't have dissipated to the degree it did. Polish nationalists often play on the bogus notion of Russia being hated by its neighbors united in hatred against Moscow. Never mind that throughout history to the present, Russia is stacked with many non-Russians, who have staunchly embraced and defended Russia, while being honored by that nation as heroes. In comparison, I don't see too many non-Poles in Poland staunchly defending Poland. Moreover, I have run into more than my share of Lithuanians, Czechs, Ukrainians and Belarussians, who don't think so highly of Poland's imperial legacy.

In the 19th century, Finland enjoyed the greatest amount of autonomy of any European nation under the rule of an empire. Running contrary to that spirit of tolerance (keeping in mind the standards of that era), the long term Polish hostility towards Russia justifiably made the latter circumspect of the former.

Go back to the 16th and 17th centuries and one can find clear instances of Poland bullying its eastern neighbor. In 1812, up to 100,000 Poles took part in Napoleon's aggression against Russia. I'm awestruck at how Czajkowski stridently condemns Russian leaders, while saying nothing about the notorious land owning class of Polish nobles, who exploited Poles and non-Poles alike under their domain.

Polish behavior in more recent times hasn't been much better. In 1919, Poland took advantage of the Russian Civil War by attacking it. This was part of Polish dictator Josef Pilsudski's attempt to have a Poland "from sea to sea." (Baltic to Black). In 1934, Poland signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany. Four years later, Poland joined Hungary and Nazi Germany in the dismemberment of Russian and Soviet friendly Czecho-Slovakia. Following the death of Pilsudski in the mid 19 thirties, Poland was well on its way towards its own version of an oppressive fascistic type of regime, uncompromising towards non-Poles under its domain (the Nazi-Soviet partitioning of Poland in 1939 curtailed this from eventually happening). In the present day, Russia bashing in Poland is a far greater reality than vice versa.

Czajkowski is being overly propagandistic in explaining recent Polish behavior in Ukraine. Prior to the last series of Ukrainian presidential elections, Polish President Aleksandr Kwashniewski had clearly his desire to see Ukraine as separate as possible from Russia. This flies in the face of how many in Ukraine view the Russian-Ukrainian relationship. A Ukrainian acquaintance of mine recently made the observation that when Poland was calling the shots, Ukraine's territory shrunk unlike when Russia dominated the scene (see:
http://forums.nytimes.com/top/opinion/readersopinions/forums/international/easterneuropeandrussia/index.html?offset=17502&fid=f577f80/17502 ).

Many Poles were at the forefront of propagating the bogus canard about freedom supposedly opposing tyranny during the last Ukrainian presidential election. Recent events show this to be a complete farce. Namely, the Ukrainian Chief of Staff resigning on the belief that the current government occupying Kiev is more corrupt than the previous one. Note that shortly before being dismissed as prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko (considered by many to be an overly corrupt oligarch) was en route to Poland, where she was to receive a "Person of the Year Award."

The ball is clearly in Poland's court when it comes to the improvement of relations between Warsaw and Moscow. This can be greatly enhanced by a more objective review of the past.

10:49 PM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Sunday - October 2, 2005

STRIKING BACK AT THE COMMENTARIOT

I received a good amount of feedback regarding my 9/26 article PERSONALIZING NEWS ISSUES TO UNDERSCORE AN AGENDA, which was posted at http://english.intelligent.ru/articles/affairs.htm. Others and myself are extremely grateful to have a venue expressing Georgian and Ukrainian views that aren't in vogue with the commentariot. Hopefully, American mass media can become as free to provide such perspectives.

My favorite reply came from someone (a real giant of an intellect) employed by a leading Washington think tank. I sense that this person has come to loathe me over the years. His reply consists of this sentence: "Piss off spook."

I already revealed his identity to some of you out there. For the rest of you, here're some hints. He spends a good deal of time bashing the Belarussian President Aleksandr Lukashenko. This stance is ironic on his part given that the "analyst" in question appears to have the attributes claimed on Lukashenko. Very managed appearances with little if any opposition and boorish scorn whenever faced with such. Said Washington based person originally hails from an area of Europe where anti-Russoism is quite the norm.

A disturbing trend continues within the intertwined American mass media and foreign policy establishments. People who get it wrong like Adrian Karatnycky continue to be propped as those who were correct are censored. I refer to the promoting of Karatnycky by Bernard Gwertzman of the Council on Foreign Relations (http://www.cfr.org/publication/8858/ukrainian_expert_karatnycky.html), Foreignaffairs.org and Johnson's Russia List (as per the latter two, refer to post 32 of the 9/30 JRL 9258). Those three sources would no doubt give a reply of denying favoritism towards Karatnycky, but, rather a desire to get a perspective. Seeing how they aren't so gung ho in getting the view opposed to Karatnycky, don't believe such a response.

Karatnycky, of west Ukrainian heritage is greatly admired by his ethnic brethren in Manhattan's East Village, which has been a decades long home for many with roots from Ukraine's western part. His Freedom House employer is located not too far away from that East Village spot. Over the decades, Freedom House has shown a clear anti-Russian/pro-west Ukrainian bias.

Back in December, Newsday ran an article by Karatnycky on the so called "orange revolution." To access that article, one has to subscribe on a fee basis. Newsday did publish my reply (also accessible on a fee basis). Here's an unedited version of it:

YUSHCHENKO REEXAMINED

Adrian Karatnycky ("People power triumphs in Ukraine," Dec. 30) has all of the warped trappings that compliment the skewed agenda his Freedom House organization has been hustling for years. It's completely off the wall to link Ukrainian political figure Viktor Yushchenko with Nelson Mandela, Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel.

Those latter three were political outsiders who led popular revolts against tyrannical regimes. Yushchenko on the other hand is a political insider which includes a corrupt past and present.

When he was prime minister - Yushchenko willingly approved the sale of key Ukrainian economic assets to foreign interests at bargain basement prices when Ukraine's economy was in dire straits. Unemployment and unpaid wages were the norm as corrupt oligarchs like Yushchenko ally Yulia Tymoshenko amassed even greater wealth under dubious circumstances. Yushchenko's continued close relationship with Tymoshenko is proof that he hasn't separated himself from a corrupt past.

Karatnycky's "people power" claim overlooks the fact that over 40% of Ukraine's population staunchly oppose Yushchenko, thereby making him a far less popular figure than when Mandela, Walesa and Havel were actively promoting change in their respective countries. Karatnycky also omits the neo-Nazi support Yushchenko has been receiving.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is a far greater revolutionary than Yushchenko. Putin has significantly scaled down the large role that corrupt oligarchs played in the decision making of the Russian government. Putin's primary fault is that he's a Russian patriot who doesn't dance to the tune of propagandists like Karatnycky and Freedom House.

*******************

The New York Times recently updated its search engine to go back further in its archive. Note the number of times I was published in "the paper of record" when the American foreign policy and media establishments had a brief love affair with Russia back in the early nineties:

http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?query=%22Michael%20Averko%22&date_select=full&srchst=nyt

Seven published NYT appearances within a two year span. To my knowledge, there's no one with as good of a batting average at that venue. After the mid 19 nineties, my appearances there (one) dropped off considerably. It wasn't because my submissions decreased or my views had changed. The very well informed among you know why this happened. For the rest, kindly refer to my article COVERING THE COVERAGE: SOME PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS at http://english.intelligent.ru/articles/media.htm.

I've had a bit of a spat lately with some of you on media related issues. The discussion had some testy moments. Despite the negatives (though unfortunate), I'm still glad this exchange occurred and might continues on. There's plenty to like and not like about the media at large. On a mass scale, its power to influence is tremendous. It's a tough business and one not ideally suited for the more thin skinned among us. Frank discussion for the purpose of improving the field is progressive. That's my agenda even if it risks being called a "spook" or worse.

For those not familiar with this matter, I'm being intentionally cryptic. On the one hand, I feel some further discourse is needed. On the other, just about all of the participants essentially seem to be in basic agreement on what's wrong and right about the punditry on Russia. Therefore, prolonged inner fighting becomes counterproductive. Some of you might be familiar with how the New Jewel Movement in Grenada went kaput. Conflicting personalities apparently led to that revolution's demise (in the present, look at how Russian "liberals" interact with each other). I think we can all agree on the need to duke it out within the constraints of acceptable decorum.

I hope for further thought provoking exchanges minus any unpleasantness. Fear of the latter shouldn't be cause for non-discussion. We all have legitimate pent up frustrations (some more than others). Vis-à-vis how the former Marxist-Leninist Europe is covered, I have been emotionally bursting at the seams (in a controlled manner) for quite some time and for very good reasons.

The "spook" retort serves as one of many motivating factors for my continued activism.

2:08 AM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

MORE FRANKNESS REQUIRED TO IMPROVE NEWS REPORTING & ANALYSIS

Kudos to Sergei Roy's October 21st intelligent.ru column "A Note on Nalchik, Felgenhauer and Johnson's Russia List" (http://english.intelligent.ru/editorscolumn/index.html). The powerful elites controlling Anglo-American mass media outlets on Russia related matter have regularly displayed hypocritically skewed standards against Russocentric views, while giving more of a nod to anti-Russian ones. The overwhelming preponderance of evidence leaves no room for any reasonable doubt. Only the ignorant, and-or the biased beyond reason, and-or the less than truthful can state otherwise. The English language edition of intelligent.ru has plenty of fact based material on this subject (especially in the Media section). I suspect that web magazine was created in part to combat the prevailing bias.

The behind the scene excuses I've been hearing for limiting Russocentric views at JRL is a bigoted sham (try proving otherwise). Bad manners is a suggested reason. Crude Russians opposing freedom loving others. Yeah right! I've had heavy dosages of this over the course of my life. This has made me more resolute. Some out there don't like that. The feeling is mutual. I'm the bad guy?

Like frequent JRL contributor Paul Goble is such a sweetheart. I recall Goble's June JRL
post, where Russocentric web forum participants are described as bad mannered intellectually challenged brutes unlike those labeled as "democratic." (refer to JRL 9175, post 17, if you can find the link, which I can't) Goble's claim is flat out bunk. I'm a regular participant at several long running forums and can easily show how if anything the Russocentric participants are the better mannered and more well informed. Moreover, those "democratic" contributors don't often reflect a spirit of democracy in the form of being able to fully respect and understand those views in opposition to their own. Rather, a condescending tone of feeling the more knowledgeable permeates among them. A truly democratic society has individuals well versed in the understanding of views they oppose. This thanks to a reasonably balanced availability of differing perspectives. The big assumption being that this kind of a environment is in existence and taken advantage of.

The Pavel Felgenhauer example referred to in Roy's commentary is universally felt among Russocentric observers. Roy and yours truly had a similar reaction to Anders Aslund's paper posted this past August (JRL 9220, post 3). There were many others feeling the same as well. Felgenhauer's Moscow Times editor has reasonable cause to fire him for the adolescent outburst of his, which was shamefully posted at JRL (JRL 9271, post 16). My only regret to such a firing is that Felgenhauer would then get propped by corrupted sources as some kind of political dissident (I'm sure he already does well for himself in the payola sense). In his editorial, Roy coherently shows the absurdity in having Felgenhauer's unsubstantiated sensationalism posted at JRL. This as others offering more substance have been politically censored.

Count me as one of them. I have a collection of JRL rejections. On this subject, a politically incorrect course in comparative politics would breakdown the JRL biases in terms of which kind of views predominate over others.

Those familiar with Johnson's Russia List have seen a metamorphosis from a once very eclectic gathering of reporting and analysis to one that has become more slanted. A regular dosage of JRL posts claim a downward slide of political diversity in Russian media.

I refer to this article by Mark Ames: http://www.exile.ru/2002-November-13/quaker_cuts_off_our_johnson.html which isn't particularly approving of JRL Editor David Johnson. Rather interestingly, Ames had a recent appearance on Fareed Zakaria's propaganda ridden PBS show promoted by JRL (http://foreignexchange.tv/?q=node/654&PHPSESSID=6c00644de4bd4e05ab4ead950edc7b27). The Ames-Johnson spat (detailed in the cited article of Ames) can be put aside if the former is seen as conforming to the prejudices of the Anglo-American commentariot. Azimuth Media produces the Zakaria hosted half hour weekly series dealing with foreign policy issues. This outlet is well entrenched among the support base of JRL (http://www.worldsecurityinstitute.org/). Its features on Russia are noticeably biased against the Putin administration. Before Ames' appearance on that show, another feature gave carte blanche to Russian "liberal" politician Vladimir Ryzhkov. Ames' appearance was classic propaganda in that it showed the anti-Putin Mark Ames and not the one who is also highly critical of the gross media hypocrisy in the U.S. I wonder how many people watching this segment were aware of this?

Roy's non-JRL posted opposition to the JRL posting of Felgenhauer's bellyache marks a further downslide of Johnson's editing. Awhile back, Kirill Pankratov was posted for exactly the same reason that Roy should have been in the instance of addressing Felgenhauer. Pankratov busted the illegitimate reporting of Anna Politkovskaya (http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/8220-15.cfm). And what ever became of Pankratov's brilliant JRL appearances? Don't expect him back there anytime soon as he has a regular column at the Michael McFaul condemned exile.ru.

The demise of JRL recalls the difficulty faced by the American based Pacifica Foundation of listener sponsored radio stations. Every few years, these outlets face the ongoing threat of powerful elites seeking to influence the radio programming into one more palpable for establishment likes.

A few years ago, the New York Pacifica Foundation affiliate WBAI 99.5 FM experienced a coup which revealed a not so nice side of the human species. Once credible radio journalists suddenly changed their stripe and turned on such gems as Amy Goodman (host of Democracy Now) and Robert Knight. Along with some others, Goodman and Knight were terminated. This all happened as a powerful outside group was gaining influence on the Pacifica Foundation board. Other Pacifica Foundation stations were threatened during this period as well (one of them saw its news and cultural programming format nixed for country music).

People power in the form of mass protest and legal action eventually reversed the situation (Goodman and Knight are back at their jobs). However, the pressures facing these listener funded stations remain.

JRL remains one of the better English language sources of information regarding Russia. That's not meant so much as a compliment, but, an indictment on how bad Anglo-American mass media has been on the subject. Having one Russcentric view for every four, five, six or more anti-Russian views isn't fair and balanced. Likewise with hypocritically selective and bigoted critiques of how one perspective (the Russocentric side) needs to brush up on manners. For the purpose of not becoming subconsciously duped, it's important for the masses to have all this in mind.

Through JRL - I came in contact with intelligent.ru editor Sergei Roy, who has given me a platform to express my views which have been politically censored in Anglo-American mass media as well as the many English language Russian news outlets funded by KGB (Khodorkovsky, Gusinsky and Berezovsky), neo-conservative and Sorosian neo-liberal interests (this has been extensively written about at intelligent.ru with proof positive examples). The expressed views of mine at intelligent.ru receive rave reviews from mainstream thinking Russians. Another indication of how the current status quo with English language mass media is off base.

Don't think for a moment that Roy gives me a free ride. He has twice rebuked me at intelligent.ru, in addition to posting comments from others critical of my views, if not myself personally. That's how I like it. Rough corners to handle is a greater challenge than the smooth straight line drive (I seem to be one of the few left driving with a stick shift). Preaching to my congregation isn't much of a challenge.

JRL will be further hindered if Roy is made an un-person at that site. I challenge anyone out there to show how Masha Gessen, Yulia Latynina, Anna Politkovskaya, Masha Lipman, Pavel Felgenhauer and Yevgenia Albats are greater intellects, who more correctly reflect mainstream Russian views than him. Putting aside my bias, the man is an intellectual giant. Roy's JRL reply to Anders Aslund was appreciated by many and scorned by some influential others (http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9223-16.cfm). His command of the English language is better than most Anglo-Americans including myself.

When citing American views, Soviet media had a habit of putting the likes of Angela Davis and Gus Hall on a pedestal in a manner disproportionate to their popularity in the U.S. In the present day, which media is the more Soviet like? JRL is inching towards this Stalinist operation: http://halldor2.blogspot.com

Roy has shown reluctance to post this article at intelligent.ru. I understand his apprehension and have no qualms with it. He has indicated that he'd like to move along to other issues. My impression is that he will rock the boat, but, within certain limits.

I sense that my late half Russian Vilnius born father would take the same stance. A matter of a different generational/cultural upbringing perhaps. The JFK era born American in me says what's going on is a farce and needs to be openly discussed. Believe me, for quite some time, I have attempted the low key Mr. Nice Guy route. It unfortunately hasn't worked.

I have an open message for all of us. It's extremely petty to restrict those who you're in disagreement with for very flawed reasons. Dishing it out and not being able to take it back isn't a respectable trait. You don't have to like or love all of the individuals bringing wisdom to the study of the former USSR. None of us are so morally superior. Therefore, someone has to really misbehave in order to truly earn being muzzled. "My side" if you may has been intellectually persecuted. This in turn creates a human feeling of wanting to get back in the same manner practiced by the other side receiving the preferential treatment. The discussion isn't improved when showing a clear bias towards the favored side. The likes of Oliver Bronsen don't have more to substantively offer when compared to the "troublemakers" besides yours truly. Hard hitting critiques are encouraged against Vladimir Putin by Michael McFaul and his Galician leaning friends at Freedom House. Quite another matter when it's directed against them. I invite all to check out the JRL search engine at http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson and see the many times Bronsen appears relative to myself (search his name as "Oliver Bronsen" and mine as "Mike Averko" and "Michael Averko"). Bronsen impresses as the kind of person who finds the Russia Profile Panel of Experts to be too pro-Russian (like Janusz Bugajski, Donald Jensen and Ethan Burger are such panzies of the Kremlin) and The Washington Post as an epitome of great journalism regarding Russia. There's obvious coercion from sources contributing the most $$$ to JRL.

Regarding this group, their actions reveal how they aren't credible sources for instructing Russia on the finer points of media and governance. Recognize that glasnost and perestroika aren't only required for abroad. Slowly but surely and with difficulty, Russia is on the rise and will be great; with or without the influence from those hostile to it. Change course and come on board, or risk going into the ash heap in history bin. A good initial step in the right direction would be to terminate the half truthful and lie filled anti-Russian propaganda campaigns (politically correct Russians like Felgenhauer dishonor Russia, journalism and the earnest journalists out there trying to earn a living). Russia faces many obstacles and can thus benefit from those outside its periphery seeking to be true friends. As it relates to Americans professionally involved with the former Soviet Union, I know some of them who share my views and are intimidated to feel free enough in expressing themselves.

Disagree with anything here? Bring it on! Come one, come all. Let's see what you have. "Hit me with your best shot - fire away." (a Pat Benatar 19 eighties flashback, minus the lipstick http://www.lyricsfreak.com/p/pat-benatar/104757.html) I'm ready to rock and roll. Put your chips on the table and let's play poker. No more hiding behind managed environments. Tear down that wall now.

Unless otherwise specified by the respective individual, all e-mails on this article are subject for posting with the name of the given sender.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Testing.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Saturday - November 26, 2005

JRL & LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD

By Michael Averko

My third posted Johnson's Russia List submission in 15 months of attempting such appeared shortly after the last mass e-mailed Averko' Russia Report, which sharply critiqued JRL.

JRL Editor David Johnson posted my commentary BREWING A RUSSIAN BACKLASH (http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9295-28.cfm) after his being in receipt of the mentioned JRL critique. On the one hand, I'm hopeful of an earnest openness on the part of Dr. Johnson. On the other hand, I'm all too familiar with the giving of the occasional bone to the dog concept, as other more politically correct hounds are fed fillet mignon in the form of frequent high profile appearance time. Sorry for the cynicism, but there're unfortunately some sound reasons for it.

I'm well aware that Dr. Johnson receives many quality submissions. Some recent JRL submissions of mine were rejected. I'm submitting them in this correspondence because I feel they would be of interest to many of you.

The first deals with the political situation in Ukraine. JRL recently posted some commentary from Taras Kuzio (http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9300-32.cfm), who said back in January that Ukrainian "blue" candidate Viktor Yanukovych was finished as a viable political figure. At that point in time, I was on record for stating otherwise.

The second rejected JRL submission is a reply to what I felt was a rather snooty anti-Russian diatribe on the part of a Latvian commentator.

The final not for JRL piece is a foreign policy commentary of mine that was posted by Eurasian Home.

YANUKOVYCH'S RESURGENCE SHOULD COME AS NO SURPRISE

By Michael Averko

Not too long ago, it was fashionable to write off Donetsk based Ukrainian political leader Viktor Yanukovych as an also ran whose time had come and gone. What many overlooked was the topsy-turvy political landscape of post Soviet Ukraine, where otherwise dubious (as seen by some) figures resurface as acceptable leaders.

For much of his career, Ukraine's first post Communist President Leonid Kravchuk was seen as a loyal apparatchik of the Soviet Politburo. As the USSR broke up, Kravchuk discovered Ukrainian nationalism and a penchant for bashing just about everything Russian. During the so called "orange revolution," of last year, he noticeably distanced himself from the pro-Viktor Yushchenko street throng in Kiev and provided commentary that might have confused him with a mainstream thinking Russian political elite.

Back in 1994, Kravchuk's then anti-Russian platform lost the presidency to the Russocentric campaign of east Ukrainian Leonid Kuchma. Shortly after assuming the Ukrainian presidency, Kuchma did an about face as a number of Russian language schools in Ukraine were closed and the democratically elected pro-Russian Crimean government of Yuri Meshkov was overthrown (rather interestingly, at the time of this occurrence, the future orange candidate Yushchenko was a Meshkov ally). In 1996, Freedom House lauded Kuchma with an award and in 1999, the Ukrainian president was in Washington to honor NATO's 50th anniversary, while the presidents of Belarus and Russia stayed home in protest of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia (90% of Ukraine opposed the NATO bombing).

After 2000, Kuchma's legacy of corruption is discovered by some leading American policy groups and one time Kuchma ally Yushchenko is targeted as a desired presidential replacement (in the months leading up to the Ukrainian presidential elections, Yushchenko became a client of Madeleine Albright's Democratic Party funded political consulting group). During his tenure as prime minister under Kuchma - Yushchenko openly supported the fire sale of Ukrainian assets abroad at a time when the Ukrainian economy was faltering.

On the other hand, Yanukovych's prime ministerial reign saw Ukrainian economic growth and a protectionist economic policy of not seeking to quickly sell off business interests to foreign subsidiaries. Upon his bid to become Ukrainian president, Yanukovych's strong points were overlooked and the reasons appear quite obvious.

His opponent Yushchenko had the benefit of experienced American political consultants, who are quite adept at imagery. Yanukovych on the other hand relied on Russian spin doctors, who with all due respect aren't as experienced. Pouring massive amounts of money alone into a campaign doesn't by itself necessitate success.

The orange side succeeded on the negative campaign front. Yanukovych should have been able to deflect the personal attacks against him into a plus for himself. A case in point being his adolescent criminal record. Had this been a blemish on Yushchenko, his handlers would have highlighted how he grew out of that by earning a degree and becoming a family man.

I have never been completely sold on the idea of massive voter fraud against Yushchenko for several reasons. The individuals most involved with articulating this view had clear biases for the orange candidate. Besides CIS election monitors, those from the British Helsinki Human Rights Group (http://www.bhhrg.org) and the Israeli based Institute for the Study of the Commonwealth of Independent States and Eastern Europe (http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=16387) found large scale orange fraud which was downplayed by Western dominated observers with ties to the orange candidate. In conjunction with that, the Western mass media coverage of the Ukrainian presidential elections showed a definite bias for the Yushchenko campaign. I very much remember nightly CBC telecasts of commentary from Canadian election monitors with west Ukrainian sounding and spelled names (for example, those surnames ending in the Russian "sky" were spelled in the west Ukrainian preferred "ski"). Western Ukraine was decidedly pro-Yushchenko. Likewise, the promoted Ukrainian-American views heard throughout American mass media typically showed a similar bias for those of west Ukrainian origin. All this as I was able to gather contrary views from those Americans having roots in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Whatever doubts on the final election result, several points remain clear. Yanukovych received over 40% of the vote and his power base in the influential Donbas region is nothing to take lightly. On the other side, Yushchenko surrounded himself with some dubious oligarchs in Petro Porsohenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, to go along with a wily group of Galician centered nationalists.

Out of all of this, Yanukovych has emerged as an influential force in Ukrainian politics. The upcoming Rada elections make for great analysis in the field of punditry on the former Soviet Union.

For their own respective reasons, Washington and Moscow have good reason to be disappointed at the way events have occurred in Ukraine. Look for the White House and Kremlin to avoid getting too involved in future Ukrainian political matters. Try as some have throughout the centuries, anti-Russian forces aren't likely to ever succeed in separating the historic relationship firmly bonding much of Ukraine with Russia. Some faulty Russian policies towards Ukraine and vice versa contradict the natural fraternal interests between Kiev and Moscow. From the Western mindset, it will hopefully be understood that Ukrainian overtures to the West shouldn't be undergone in the spirit of some grand anti-Russian geo-strategic board game (anti-Russian sentiment in Ukraine is at best restricted to a 1/3 minority in the western region of that country). Like their Ukrainian brethren, Russians welcome closer ties to the West.
**********************************
Re: November 23rd JRL 9302 # 22

SOME DOUBLE STANDARDS APPEAR MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

By Michael Averko

Latvian commentator Askolds Rodins refers to Russian "double standards" as he sees it.

Permit me to address the greater double standards that regularly go unchecked at English language mass media outlets. Namely, how Russocentric views are kept under greater watch for good manners in addition to being underrepresented when compared to anti-Russian commentary.

I've experienced numerous instances where well meaning Western analysts inform me on how I can and can't present my views. They immediately drop such suggestions when I give examples like Mr. Rodins' prose.

In his commentary, Mr. Rodins refers to the democratically elected Putin administration as a "regime." In modern day political usage, "regime" refers to non-democratic states with authoritarian practices. Unlike the current American president's last election experience - Russian President Vladimir Putin won the popular vote in a multi-party process. Russians voted en masse as opposed to either staying at home in protest or favoring another candidate. Putin continues to enjoy higher popularity poll ratings when compared to his Western peers (notably George Bush and Tony Blair).

Mr. Rodins describes the Dmitriy Rogozin led Rodina Party as "chauvinist." This strident observation is ironic coming from a Latvian source. On the American public television aired European Journal, there was a feature about how buildings and homes in Latvia are required to fly the Latvian flag, with fines levied if there're any irregularities in the specifications. Russia has nothing close to resembling this kind of a flag waving nationalism. As a comparison, one has to ask just how "chauvinist" is Rodina?

Mr. Rodins' characterization of Russian media is flat out wrong. The more well informed critics of Russian media acknowledge the existing differences among the three all news Russian television networks. Moreover, some of the other Russian television channels (Russians typically receive 16 to 17 channels, with the number gradually rising) provide news coverage where one can find hard hitting journalism critical of the government. Russian radio, print and electronic media are a free for all, where one can find plenty of criticism of Putin, with much of it being unfair.

On the subject of Latvia, Russia, the West and double standards, awhile back, there was a feature at the George Soros funded International Crisis Group web site which advocated Macedonia granting greater rights to the Albanian language used by about 1/3 of that republic's population. The ICG never answered my e-mail querying them on their stand on Russian language rights in Latvia and Estonia.

Hopefully, the day will come when those harboring views like Mr. Rodins' are more readily challenged in English language mass media.

Editor's note: I regret not being able to link and-or post Mr. Rodins' commentary (that particular JRL issue was mistakenly deleted by yours truly and the JRL search engine is shooting blanks under Mr. Rodins' name). MMA

***********************************

SYRIA, IRAN, ISRAEL & THE RUSSO-AMERICAN RELATIONSHIP
http://www.eurasianhome.org/en/?/en/forum/2005/11/03

3:00 PM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Wednesday - November 30, 2005

CLARIFICATIONS, THANKS, A POINTED COMMENTARY & HOLIDAY GIFT SITES

By Michael Averko

The last mass e-mailed Averko's Russia Report of November 27th drew a good deal of feedback on my comments regarding Askolds Rodins and Viktor Yanukovych. Such responses make this project worthwhile.

One person suggested a whining tone of incessant complaining vis-a-vis my opposition to Rodins' smug anti-Russian tone. This individual didn't challenge my premise of anti-Russian bias at venues like Johnson's Russia List. Rather, it was suggested that I bite my lip and work within the current status quo. This isn't 1947 and I'm not Jackie Robinson in that era. I will continue to insist on a more level playing field and point out any ongoing biases. This is what a good media watchdog critic does.

Russocentric (having pro-Russian views, reflective of most Russians) perspectives continue to be restricted within English language mass media. Years ago, actress Vanessa Redgrave was nearly run out of Hollywood for stating militantly pro-Palestinian/anti-Israeli views. The same Redgrave faces little if any criticism when making anti-Serb/anti-Russian statements relating to Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya. On anti-Russian/anti-Putin bias, I refer to this post from one of my GUT International forums LYING ABOUT RUSSIA: http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@176.3j7dhkatWgV.6@.77480649/760 "gritpype - 02:42pm Nov 30, 2005 BST (#708 of 709)
From the top of today's JRL

[Contents:

1. The Guardian: Jonathan Freedland, The two grand bargains being
offered by the 21st-century tsar. Many Russians accept a loss of democracy as long as they prosper. Should we give Putin respect in exchange for gas and oil?
2. International Herald Tribune/Boston Globe: Cathy Young,
Strangling freedom in its cradle.
3. eurasianhome.org: Julian Evans, The Gleb Pavlovsky Show.
(DJ: I lead with these three items in order to raise a question. There are those who feel that Western journalists are too harsh on Russia and Putin. I would like to have some concise, restrained, polite, impersonal, substantive discussion of this issue. Is that possible? Perhaps not but I'm willing to consider the matter.)"

My article on Viktor Yanukovych was intended to give another perspective on the Ukrainian "blue" leader from the one commonly stated in English language mass media. The de-emphasizing of pro-Yanukovych views is somewhat akin to how pro-Putin perspectives are muted in favor of Russian commentary along the lines of Gary Kasparov and Vladimir Ryzhkov. Never mind that the views of the latter mentioned two are within the extreme minority of the Russian population.

I want to formally thank Yuri Mamchur of http://www.russiablog.org and Matthew Johnson of http://www.rusjournal.com for posting my article on Yanukovych(http://www.russiablog.org/2005/11/yanukovychs_resurgence_should.html and http://www.rusjournal.com/averko112905.html). Yuri's blog was recently featured at JRL. Such appearances are becoming more in vogue at establishment news gathering outlets, which can't help but to recognize the quality analysis offered by some of those currently not so well connected. Matthew Johnson will be the main focal point of this ARR post.

A few of you out there have second guessed my guest column appearances at Matt's site on the basis that he has views that some might term as "religious extremism." I'm not buying into this as negativity subject for intellectual banishment.

I'll start with the hypocrisy factor. Jerry Fallwell, Pat Robertson and http://www.kavkazcenter.com/eng/ are sources receiving a good deal of play at English language mainstream media outlets.

My views are relative to myself. On this matter, I've nothing to be ashamed of as I'm not a racist or terrorist. Attack my views rather than the venues where they appear. Competent Washington Times and United Press International journalists don't get second guessed because of Sun Myung Moon's involvement with those media outlets. Over the years, my commentary has appeared in a broad cross section of left, center and right outlets. I've never completely agreed with everything at those venues which have posted/published my analysis. You can find me at this neo-conservative edited orange site: http://www.orangeukraine.squarespace.com.

I'm not against my becoming a regular staple at sources like The New York Times, Washington Post, Weekly Standard and JRL. I don't control the editing process at those locales. My views aren't negotiable.

Matthew Johnson is a brilliant scholar. I especially enjoyed his article in support of an agrarian society which can be accessed via this link: http://english.intelligent.ru/articles/western_society.htm. Kindly note this well balanced review of Matt at http://www.lewrockwell.com/baltzersen/baltzersen18.html.

To show how some otherwise divergently opposed views can find some common ground, I reference this article by Adrian Karatnycky entitled THE CONDESCENSION OF THE CHRISTIAN WEST at http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft9908/opinion/karatnycky.html.

Some holiday gift ideas can be found at:

http://www.russianjerseys.com

http://www.russianlegacy.com

http://www.cafepress.com At this site, use its search engine to locate whatever your heart desires.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Saturday - December 10, 2005

BAD JOKES, PAVLOVSKY, BIAS, RUSSIAN IDENTITY, UKRAINE & RUSSIAN NGOs

By Michael Averko

Last week, The Moscow Times and the Carnegie Endowment's Andrew Kuchins combined for a bad joke, when the former uncritically cited the latter's "concern" about whether a Russian government funded think tank could be objective (see the second link in this commentary). Mr. Kuchins hails from an organization that became very partisan upon its receipt of a $500,000.00 valued donation from anti-Putin oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Another example of Moscow Times bias was evident in a December 7 article giving legitimacy to a crackpot claim about Russia's national emblem being "too Christian." In that piece, no mention was made of the very pronounced religious symbols found on the flags of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Israel and a host of other countries in Europe and Asia (refer to http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2005/12/07/002.html).

I gather that The Moscow Times is feeling some heat for having curtailed the extreme anti-Russian commentary of Pavel Felgenhauer and Yevgenia Albats. It's apparently asking way too much for that news source to have one Russocentric columnist (an endangered species).

This as TMT "liberal" columnists Yulia Latynina and Masha Gessen present themselves as heroic democrats confronting the "Putin regime." A popularly elected presidency consistently having an approval rating of well over 50%. I'm reluctant to categorize Ms. Latynia and Ms. Gessen as "liberal." In my view, they more closely resemble those Cold War era pro-Soviet Polish journalists, whose stated views were the minority of Poland's population. On the matter of "liberal," President Putin can be legitimately classified as one.

An announced plan for a pro-Russian think tank in America (http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9313-22.cfm) involved a clumsy effort on the part of a Berezovsky operative to embarrass the Kremlin (http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9313-23.cfm). Stumbling, bumbling buffoonery can't be exclusively attributed to the Russian government.

Actually, the idea for an American situated pro-Russian think tank goes back a few years. Awhile ago, I recall Edward Lozansky writing about this in The Russia Journal. I subscribed to that position right after the USSR broke up.

I participated in an open letter which was signed by a host of others including Dr. Lozansky and Gleb Pavlovsky some months back (http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9060-3.cfm). Following Anders Aslund's provocative August paper calling for the ouster of the "Putin regime," there was a good deal of behind the scene chatter about my "side" getting better "organized." I often wonder about my "side."

My message now is primarily though not exclusively directed towards Dr. Pavlovsky, who seems to be the leading VIP involved with communicating Russia's image to the English language masses. Start taking into consideration the services of some talented others who you haven't touched base with. Is the sincere interest to improve the media flow being compromised for the benefit of what someone recently described (elsewhere) as "policy wonk groups"?

Feel free to put me in the hot seat and fire away. I can no longer sit quietly on the sidelines as sorties of mistakes and underhanded compromises are made. You'll be surprised on what I know relative to what you're likely unaware of. You could say that I was born into this undertaking. The ideal you're promoting requires knowledgeable individuals who are keenly aware of the misinformation process. Uncorrupted people with backbones looking to take on the "other side" in hard hitting but clean exchanges.

No disrespect to any of you out there, but I don't see anyone as being more on top of the permeating media biases and how to best counteract them. How many experts actually saw the ABC Nightline/Andrei Babitsky feature on Shamil Basayev (refer to BEHIND THE ABC-RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT DISPUTE at http://english.intelligent.ru/articles/media.htm)? Likewise with the heavily biased PBS shows - Foreign Exchange, Wide Angle and Charlie Rose. Not to be excluded from legitimate critique is the BBC (see SOVIET STYLE JOURNALISM IN THE "FREE" PRESS at http://english.intelligent.ru/articles/media.htm and PERSONALIZING NEWS ISSUES TO UNDERSCORE AN AGENDA at http://english.intelligent.ru/articles/affairs.htm).

Hiring someone from a source like CNN can likely go the route of employing a mercenary, otherwise not knowledgeable and loyal to the cause. There's something positive to be said about the mystically stated "Russian soul." You either have it or not. When effectively utilized, it's a very powerful tool in Russia's favor.

Julian Evans' negative articles about Russia Today (the just launched Russian government funded 24/7 worldwide English language news network) are distressing to me for reasons not having to do with the author's non-sympathy towards faulty English language mass media coverage. In speaking with three reasonably well connected non-RT sources sympathetic to the network's existence, it's clear that there's a certain degree of raw truth in Mr. Evans' commentary (http://www.eurasianhome.org/en/?/en/comments/authors/author5/16 and http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/files/story3311.php).

Mr. Evans has quite a gig going for himself. He appeared at the most recent http://www.russiaprofile.org "Panel of Experts" shortly after having suggested (in one of his articles) that this site is a Russian government organ. Quite an amazing suggestion considering how RIA Novosti gave editing control of that site over to the people involved with The Moscow Times. Russia Profile's overall slant confirms this.

Mr. Evans wasn't the first to state such. This past October, I was flabbergasted when the editor of a prominent English language Russia watching site said that The Washington Post is a credible source and that the Russia Profile Panel of Experts is a little too Russocentric (I'll leave the editor's name out, noting that this was said in a series of e-mail exchanges made known at a site against his/her wishes). Yeah right! RP Panel of Experts Ethan Burger, Donald Jensen, Janusz Bugakski and now Mr. Evans really impress as being "Russocentric." Note how the mentioned editor had no criticism of The Washington Post, which is clearly far more biased against Russia than RP is biased for it (he/she also personally insulted a Russocentric analyst who I'm well acquainted with). Along with the earlier mentioned Moscow Times articles, that editor's comment says it all as to what's wrong with the English language mass media coverage of Russia.

Spare me the bs about being too confrontational. Mr. Evans and others thinking along his lines do likewise on a regular basis. My "side" should be permitted to act accordingly without any fear of becoming politically censored. The monopolization of some views over others and the sub-monopolization of the suppressed views are perfectly valid talking points.

Will Russia Today and the proposed pro-Russian think tank in America get contracted out like Russia Profile? HOW RUSSIA SCREWS ITSELF. An appropriate title for sure.

***********************

This JRL submission of mine on English language mass media coverage of Russia didn't make the cut:

Re: Coverage of Russia

An otherwise glaring example of bias is omitted from the ongoing Johnson's Russia List discussion of how Russia is covered in English language mass media.

I refer to the weekly Azimuth Media produced show "Foreign Exchange," aired weekly on PBS. Azimuth Media is an affiliate of the World Security Institute, which in turn has a direct relationship with Johnson's Russia List.

In its two segments dealing with Russia - Foreign Exchange featured a very soft segment on Russian political figure Vladimir Ryzhkov and another on exile.ru editor Mark Ames. The Ryzhkov feature never seriously challenged him as he was given a bully pulpit to lash out at Russian President Vladimir Putin. No mention was made of Putin's popularity rating of around 70% versus Ryzhkov's being at about 10%. The Ames feature was at best half truthful journalism. The anti-Putin Ames was clearly evident with his equally anti-Bush critiques of American policy towards Russia omitted.

In comparison, the same Foreign Exchange show went the extra yard to understand the Chinese Communist dictatorship. Never mind that China is far less freer than Russia.

During the Cold War, it was much easier to get a Soviet view heard in the "free press" as opposed to the present day where the Russian government view is very much censored.

**********************
As was done in a prior instance, I want to formally thank Yuri Mamchur of http://www.russiablog.org and Matthew Johnson of http://www.rusjournal.com for posting my December 6 article ON BEING RUSSIAN (http://www.rusjournalcom/averko12605.html and http://www.russiablog.org/2005/12/on_being_russian.html#more).

May the Almighty protect those two from the forces influencing dubious editing policies abroad.

Mr. Mamchur and his associate Charles Ganske impress as up and coming stars. Dr. Johnson's site has been receiving a high level of visits over the past several weeks (no doubt from some of you foreign policy elites out there).

My thanks to those of you who e-mailed me their support for the comments I made about Dr. Johnson in the last Averko's Russia Report post. There were no dissenting replies on this particular score.

**********************
I came across this thought provoking article at Dr. Johnson's site:

NATIONALISTS WITHOUT A NATION: UKRAINE
http://www.rusjournalcom/antiukraine.html

**********************
This article by Mr. Mamchur goes against the standard line in English language mass media:

NO FOREIGN MONEY FOR RUSSIAN NGOS
http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9316-17.cfm
http://www.russiablog.org/2005/12/no_foreign_money_for_russian_n.html#more

9:43 PM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Sunday - December 18, 2005

READER COMMENTS - MY REPLIES - RUSSIA TODAY

By Michael Averko

The last mass e-mailed Averko's Russia Report of December 11-12 was received by a confidential recipient list of 301. An edited excerpt is available at http://www.russiablog.org (http://www.russiablog.org/2005/12/bad_jokes_a_new_think_tank_som.html#more). and http://www.rusjournal.com (http://www.rusjournal.com/averkocol121505.html). My thanks to Yuri Mamchur of Russia Blog and Matthew Johnson of Rus Journal for picking it up. Besides the three three of us, I sense a karma of others seeking to improve the media flow of information.

In lieu of my blog's currently poor construction which makes accessibility a bit taxing, I've posted the last ARR at the GUT International forum LYING ABOUT RUSSIA (http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@120.o4qTh6Kh9YI.13@.77480649/840). A discussion venue having no moderator determining what can and can't be said in an overbearing manner (a freedom which many in the East and West are uncomfortable with).

Paging Russocentric oligarchs to back me in the way the "other side" gets backed. My "side" remains problematical (one of you out there apparently copped out of your earlier offer to "back" me if I initiated this project).

The last ARR prompted 20 e-mail replies. With great appreciation for all of the received e-mails (pro and con), I posted my favorites (names omitted) from the past week at LYING ABOUT RUSSIA (http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@238.YEkJhbvB6pZ.15@.77480649/867). Judging from the amount of e-mails received versus posts made at my blog, it appears that the confidential communication process is preferred. That's cool with me.

Of the twenty mentioned e-mails, two were of a definite critical nature and one was from an individual who likes my general message, but wishes for my overall tone change. To me this is coded for a kind of "Finlandization," where the Russocentric view is significantly restricted for the benefit of big brother (Finlandization was a Cold War era term used to describe non-Warsaw Pact countries said to be timid of offending the USSR).

The last mentioned e-mail referenced my comments about NYU History Professor and CBS News Consultant Stephen Cohen. When Dr. Cohen writes that Mikhail Khodorkovsky can't become Russian president because of his Jewish background, the former is in effect slurring the Russian people. Wasn't Boris Nemtsov democratically elected governor of Nizhny Novgorod? Likewise, what of the first post Soviet Jewish mayor of Russocentric Odessa? To repeat again from my earlier articles - three post Soviet Russian prime ministers of Jewish background versus no American presidents or vice presidents of the same ethno/religious affiliation (other examples are in he article). During the Beslan hostage taking crisis, Dr. Cohen gave credence to the terrorist view by uncritically stating that the Chechens say that the Russians kill their children (he did this when leapfrogging from one television network to another). Kindly note that the points regarding Dr. Cohen were excerpted from another article of mine which is referenced for further review(http://www.russiablog.org/2005/12/on_being_russian.html and http://www.rusjournal.com/averko12605.html). I wasn't disrespectful to Dr. Cohen.

Expect to face the music when making provocatively unfair comments. Convicted attorneys typically receive stiffer penalties than others found guilty of the same crimes. The premise in this instance being that as legal professionals, lawyers should know better and therefore be held to a higher standard. Academia and media should have a similar instance. Dr. Cohen was patently unfair in the two referred to instances and no one else appears to have challenged him. Is the so called (by Julian Evans) "Russian spin doctor" Gleb Pavlovsky taking notice of this? I don't need any expert to tell me about how Russian PR is lacking. I'm sorry to say that the Russian yen for improvement in this area doesn't (on the whole) appear to be in the right direction.

Overall, my kind of journalism differs from the attitudes expressed by some of you out there with clout. Recent examples include one editor naming a disease after someone not present at this naming made before an influential group of people.(http://english.intelligent.ru/cgi-bin/loadtext.pl?id=8872&file=letters/letter_e0110.htm). Another editor used Soviet like editing manner to completely distort a conversation (http://english.intelligent.ru/cgi-bin/loadtext.pl?id=9888&file=letters/letter_e0139.htm versus http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@810.OoTbhuyd8ad.18@.77480649/687). Still yet, another editor described another editor's "bony" body type and panties (http://www.exile.ru/2005-November-04/felgenhauer-gate_moscow_times_editor_drops_the_censored_stamp_on_its_own_russian_dissident.html). No, I don't believe those examples to reflect my work on the whole (http://english.intelligent.ru/cgi-bin/loadtext.pl?id=8915&file=letters/letter_e0112.htm). Maybe that's why I was taken off of a panel discussion (without notice) after having been invited on it by the moderator.

The two critical e-mails relating to the last ARR involve one individual challenging my qualifications to comment on the former Marxist-Leninist Europe. My autobiographical answer of sorts is in this article COVERING THE COVERAGE: SOME PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS (http://english.intelligent.ru/articles/media.htm).

Another person said that my manner was akin to a "megalomaniac." The Webster's definition of such is as follows: "1. A mania for great or grandiose performance. 2. A delusional mental disorder that is marked by infantile feelings of personal omnipotence and grandeur." Number one is appropriate, while two isn't. Over the course of several years, I've saved e-mails from many of the leading "Russia watchers" who acknowledge the substantive manner of my contributions. I'm a young 44, but "infantile" is taking it a bit too young. As for "omnipotence and grandeur," this is something I have often opposed in the form of the forces dominating the English language mass media scene.

It's noteworthy to me how the two nay sayers didn't go after any of my views. Instead, they engage in what some refer to as "personal attack." I don't shy away from it on the basis of its reality as shown by how some foreign policy and media elites employ the same tactics in a very selective manner.
************************************************************************
http://www.russiablog.org - December 17, 2005

http://www.russiablog.org/2005/12/an_overview_of_russia_today.html#more

AN OVERVIEW OF RUSSIA TODAY

By Michael Averko

Yuri Mamchur's December 12 Russia Blog commentary "Russia Today Goes On, Then Off the Air" confirms my reservations about Russia Today (the just launched 24/7 Russian government funded English language television news network) which were stated this past June 10 in the Comments section of http://english.intelligent.ru. After hearing about RT's formation, my immediate responses were in this order: 1. It's about time. 2. It better not get screwed up. 3. It's something right up my alley.

Upon discovering RT's web site I contacted the network about employment opportunities via e-mail on October 10 (at about that time, its web site had apparently just appeared as it didn't seem to be available prior to September). In addition, I forwarded the below suggestions that were earlier submitted to a Russian consular official who came to my home to discuss RT and other related matters on September 21:

Must Need: Team oriented individuals, who fully understand how Russia is covered in Anglo-American mass media. These people must also understand the general North American psyche in terms of how to best communicate news and commentary to North America and those other areas where English is the dominant language. Such candidates are adept at knowing how to cover a breaking story (excellent research skills in addition to knowing what guests to have on and which questions to ask of them).
Proposed Russia Today Schedule:

Under the assumption that Russia Today is a nonstop 24 hour a day, 7 days a week operation, every hour could have a half hour news segment which is repeated at the top of each hour. The news segment should be updated 2 to 3 times daily. For example, the morning news edition can air from 6 am to 12 pm, the afternoon version from 12 pm to 6 pm and the evening session from 6 pm to 6 am. Of course, this can be preempted in the event of a major news story (war, natural catastrophe, death of a prominent figure). A half hour show covering a top news story of the day could be aired some time in the late evening hours. This show would air from Monday thru Friday (weekends are typically more relaxed for television news networks). Such a show would generally have a brief film background of the given news story followed by a panel of analysts and a host.

As for the remaining 30 minutes of broadcast time, a series of taped weekly shows (with a new edition of each show being made on a weekly basis) could be alternated after the half hour news broadcasts. Some show topic examples:

- Political pundits' roundtable discussion on key news issues of the week, where 3 to 4 guests exchange views with a host to serve as moderator.

- Interview a prominent figure on a one to one (reporter-interviewee) basis.

- Sports show, covering the week in sports. In this segment, highlights of the past week can be shown as well as a feature on a top athlete and a quick review of what to look forward to during the upcoming week in sports.

- Documentary, featuring an aspect of Russian life or a given area (republic or city) of Russia, or a history related feature.

- Culture show involved with art, music, cinema and dance.

- Nature show dealing with wildlife and the ecosystem.

- Business show analyzing the business climate in Russia.

- A sampling of what Russians watch. Top rated comedy, talk and soap operas are aired with English translation.

- A monthly show (as opposed to the others being weekly) where the Russia Today CEO addresses viewer comments.

Concluding Thoughts:

In Anglo-American mass media, it often appears that political views reflecting 10% of the Russian population, receive 90% of coverage when Russia is discussed. Russia Today shouldn't censor opposing views of the government. However, it also shouldn't disproportionately represent minority views. An example of misinformation is shown by how The Wall Street Journal regularly features the views of Gary Kasparov, while omitting the perspectives of more mainstream thinking Russians like Intelligent.ru Editor Sergei Roy.

http://english.intelligent.ru is related to Russia Today's stated desire of accurately communicating Russia to the world. The former is an English language web magazine covering a wide variety of topics with mainstream Russian views evident. The Russia Today management team can't afford to exclude the qualified and well meaning sources seeking its success.

To one degree or another, everyone has his/her own biases. The idea is to be as fair as possible. Russia Today should correctly reflect the views of most Russians with other views in proportion to their popularity in Russia (this can be determined by already conducted public opinion polls and voting trends on the national and regional levels).

************************
On October 28, RT CEO Margarita Simonyan announces in an interview (posted by Johnson's Russia List on October 31) a program format similar to the one I had forwarded. This could be coincidental given how the programming choices for such a network appear limited.

On the other hand, Mr. Mamchur, British journalist Julian Evans and two senior Moscow based media people I know all conclude that the RT staff appears (to be blunt) qualitatively limited. I concur.

What was the rush to create this network in less than one year's time?

Its promotion and accessibility in North America is near non-existent.

On a lesser scale and as a personal note, RT never replied back to my initial e-mail and follow-up e-mails. In the latter instance, I forwarded my articles posted since October 10th in Eurasian Home, JRL, Russia Blog and Rus Journal. Those articles provide Russocentric commentary on key issues involving RT's news coverage. The topics include the Middle East, Ukraine and Russo-American relations.

Those of you out there who know me well enough will confirm my sincere hope of Russia putting its best step forward. Nevertheless, a good part of me is pained that others might be receiving credit for some of my ideas.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Sunday - Janurary 1, 2006

ETHAN BURGER - PETER LAVELLE - RUSSIA TODAY

By Michael Averko

Happy New Year and welcome to the new recipients of this confidentially mass e-mailed project, designed to better inform the English language community on mainstream Russocentric concerns.

Following this commentary is an article of mine dealing with the various groupings within the American foreign policy establishment. Some of you were previously e-mailed that below piece.

Ethan Burger is mentioned in that article because his views on Russia fall under the terribly misinformed category. Anyone promoting this individual over the likes of someone such as myself is running contrary to the stated purpose of Russia Today, the just launched worldwide 24/7 English language Russian government funded television news network. Mr. Burger has been a frequent panelist at Peter Lavelle's Russia Profile Panel of Experts, where the former is treated gingerly. At the affiliated Russia Profile Discussion Group, a Russia/Putin friendly panelist felt the need to apologize to Mr. Burger for possibly being a bit too forceful (http://groups.google.com/group/Russia-Profile-Experts-Discussion-Group/browse_thread/thread/d72c4368594889a/a963b70592f20be5?q=Vlad+Sobell&rnum=4#a963b70592f20be5). Mr. Burger said that the apology wasn't required and I concur (http://groups.google.com/group/Russia-Profile-Experts-Discussion-Group/browse_thread/thread/8df9794376a5333e/2a4026cf27db9705?q=Ethan+Burger&rnum=6#2a4026cf27db9705). Such apologies from Russia/Putin friendly advocates reveal the Finlandized state evident among this grouping in English language mass media. In the last ARR, my modern day usage of Finlandization refers to the obvious double standards against Russia friendly advocates in English language mass media. Some of these individuals feel a special need to temper their remarks out of a retributive fear of being omitted for posting/publishing consideration. The "other side" definitely doesn't face this situation.

Russia Today's recent hiring of Dr. Lavelle as a political commentator isn't problematical (http://www.untimely-thoughts.com/index.html?cat=3&type=3&art=2113). Other views are needed though. Dr. Lavelle's December 28 UPI piece about the Russo-Ukrainian energy dispute isn't from a Russia friendly perspective (refer to his comments about Viktor Yanukovych: http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@306.duRHi5NNhNo.13@.77480649/998). Yet, among Anglo-American elites, there's a tendency for some to see Dr. Lavelle as "Russia friendly." I've seen a few instances where this categorization is derisively stated. Dr. Lavelle remains the best active English language journalist covering the Russia beat. A field very much lacking in objective thought provoking analysis when it comes to English language mass media. Given this ongoing reality, it's not inappropriate for the Russian government and Russocentric oligarchs to PROPERLY fund and-or develop those Russocentric individuals interested in making a full time career in English language mass media (this category of media includes The Moscow Times and Moscow News). These journalists shouldn't be paid a penny less than the Yulia Latyninas, Masha Gessens, Masha Lipmans and Yevegenia Albats. In conjunction with RT, the creation of a high profile Russocentric English language news web/publication and radio station would be a welcome addition. I stress that these outlets be as fair as possible to other views.

For a variety of reasons, Dr. Lavelle's role in any RT content matter would be problematical. I've previously made clear the importance for RT to succeed. RT needs competently strong willed people who don't compromise quality for cronyism and petty dislikes, in addition to not backing down to those responsible for the skewed English language mass media reporting and commentary of Russia related matter.

There're at least two Peter Lavelle's. There was the hard hitting Peter Lavelle who had a brief Media Watch segment at his Untimely Thoughts site before suddenly dropping it for no clearly stated reason. Then there's the Peter Lavelle who made a forced apology (as described by two ARR recipients) to Yevgenia Albats, Masha Lipman and Masha Gessen because Johnson's Russia List Editor David Johnson suggested that he (Mr. Johnson) might drop Dr. Lavelle's frequently featured articles at JRL. You can bet that Mr. Johnson never asked Mmes. Albats, Lipman and Gessen to apologize to anyone they might have insulted. On the matter of written material, I'm sure that others besides myself find Mmes. Albats, Lipman and Gessen to be far more insulting when compared to what Dr. Lavelle can be legitimately accused of. At Dr. Lavelle's Untimely Thoughts web site, his search engine as of December 31 isn't picking up that apology which was made in the May 10, 2005 edition (in my e-mail box, I have that edition headlining the apology with the connecting link omitting the formal apology).

Forced apologies are often bogus because they're not initiated by the individual and such an apology likely excludes apologizing for greater misdeeds. This leads to my own experience with Dr. Lavelle. He's now in a very important position on a project whose success I consider as imperative. Once in the limelight, just about anything affecting the performance should be brought out in the open.

The non-pressured Peter Lavelle lauded my commentary and pledged to do a number of things for my benefit. Included, was my appearing on his Panel of Experts, his stated "support" of me if I started a blog and-or web site. In addition, Dr. Lavelle offered me a moderator role at his Russia Profile Panel of Experts forum. He didn't deliver on any of those pronouncements (I have the proof of which there's no room for assuming otherwise). I didn't change unlike Dr. Lavelle.

While Peter Lavelle has a gig in Moscow with RIA Novosti and RT, he still occasionally writes for UPI and his "Panel of Experts" has merged with Russia Profile (RP). RP is a text book case of how RT might drift away from its initial intent of being independent of English language mass media biases. RIA Novosti is the controlling interest of RP. However, some bright lights noted how the English language commentariot prefer The Moscow Times to RIA Novsoti, with the latter having a reputation of being on the Kremlin friendly side. A decision was made to give the "Independent" Media folks (who operate The Moscow Times) an upper hand over RP's content (I haven't found anything to contradict this: http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@628.oeheiTbGhRV.9@.77480649/495). RP does have some pretty informative analysis from academics not frequently heard of in the "free" press. However, there's also plenty of the usual Anglo-American mass media establishment nonsense to be found there as well.

Dr. Lavelle's sacrificing of mainstream Russocentric views is undeniable. This past September, I had it out with him on his change of mainstreaming for the elites. He in turn tried to suggest that I was some kind of an embarrassment. Never mind the earlier praises he gave of me. What undoubtedly transpired was the English language commentariot telling Dr. Lavelle that I wasn't acceptable. David Johnson's statement of a "Mike Averko disease" is just a tip of the iceberg on the sort of "character assassination" employed by some others who then make that claim onto me (Mr. Johnson's statement is in the October 17 Comments section of Intelligent.ru (http://english.intelligent.ru/cgi-bin/loadtext.pl?id=8872&file=letters/letter_e0110.h). Considering how he has been known to lecture some of the more Russia friendly analysts on manners, doesn't Mr. Johnson owe me an apology (he hasn't come close to doing such and my last exchange with him wasn't a particularly pleasant one)? Personally, I can live without it. I do consider it reprehensible how he appears to have significant controlling powers. Mr. Johnson is one of many fostering the mentioned biases. It's this reality that justifies the originally stated intent of Russia Today. I'd like to know what the Carnegie Endowment's Michael McFaul has to say about all of this? Dr. McFaul, who regularly bemoans the supposed lack of press freedom in Russia (during the Putin presidency, the number of independent media outlets has increased in Russia).

Besides Mr. Burger - Dr. Lavelle finds the anti-Russian views of RP Panel of Experts regular Janusz Bugajski to be more appealing than yours truly. Mr. Bugajski, who has served as a lobbyist for Montenegrin strongman Milo Djukanovic and an Albanian-American nationalist organization going by the name of the National Albanian-American Council (http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/News/Trifkovic/NewsST061403.html and http://www.naac.org/pr/2002/09-26-02.html). Another acceptable regular is Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Director Donald Jensen. RFE/RL which employs the likes of Chechen separatist friendly Andrei Babitsky and tends to favor Russia unfriendly views over pro-Russian ones. In our September exchange, Dr. Lavelle made mention of adapting to the "market" and suggested that I was like Matthew Maly (an economist in the good graces of Exile.ru) who I didn't know of at the time. If the market says to appease Russia unfriendly views - then so be it.

Oh yes, I know there're regulars on Dr. Lavelle's panel having views along my lines. However, they aren't always the more adept on the given topic. Take for example a recent discussion on media, where an economist (and a good one at that) was featured (http://www.russiaprofile.org/experts_panel/2005/12/16/2897.wbp). To my knowledge, this individual doesn't have much in terms of posted/published analysis on media issues. His contribution wasn't better than what I would have given. Dr. Lavelle is well acquainted with my media critiques. Over the past year, I know of no one besides myself, who has quantitatively and qualitatively commented on the plethora of English language mass media flaws relating to Russia from a mainstream Russocentric viewpoint.

It's no small wonder why many have a low opinion of the media at large. The cronyism and pettiness is glaring. Let me refer back to when Dr. Lavelle said last May 21 that I'd be "in a future expert panel round soon." I informed Intelligent.ru editor Sergei Roy about this. (Mr. Roy in turn approved, saying he didn't often agree with the general take of the panel discussions). Shortly thereafter, Mr. Roy appears at Dr. Lavelle's panel. This was followed by Dr. Lavelle's commentary appearing regularly at Intelligent.ru. A deal of sorts was obviously made. Those two thought nothing of getting back to me with an explanation. I let it go at the time figuring that my moment would eventually come. In comparison, Masha Lipman and Masha Gessen are owed an apology by Dr. Lavelle?

There definitely seems to be an attempt on the part of some to dominate a general point of view. Shortly after my having it out with Dr. Lavelle came David Johnson's "Mike Averko disease" quip posted on line by Sergei Roy. In that segment, Mr. Roy adds a comment of his own which can be construed as a pointed ridiculing of me. Much different from what he said on June 10 (http://english.intelligent.ru/cgi-bin/loadtext.pl?id=3433&file=letters/letter_e0021.htm). I didn't change unlike Mr. Roy. No ands, ifs or buts, he chased me out of Intelligent.ru for the desire of others (http://english.intelligent.ru/cgi-bin/loadtext.pl?id=9888&file=letters/letter_e0139.htm versus http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@105.dWLTiePNg1F.19@.77480649/687). In retrospect, Mr. Roy's June 10 "self serving bastards" remark is quite ironic.

I have my wooden 34 ounce Louisville Slugger out. I don’t need a high tech aluminum bat to hit the ball out of the park. Hardball is my preferred game unlike the frequent BS on Chris Matthews' show.

Some related samizdat views at this updated link which is followed by my other commentary: http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@143.eeYGiu6Khax.8@.77480649/950

NEO-CONSERVATIVES, NEO-LIBERALS, BRZEZINSKIITES & REALISTS

By Michael Averko

Periodically, a given political category is misrepresented from its actual meaning. The neo-conservative, neo-liberal, Brzezinskiite and realist wings of American foreign policy represent a kind of gray zone between the purer versions of liberal and conservative ideals.

I share the view with a good many that neo-conservative is an often misapplied term which crops up within the Russia watching community. For this reason, special attention is given to neo-conservatism. Not all neo-conservatives are Jews as Michael Ledeen, Francis Fukuyama, Vance Serchuk, Frank Gaffney and Jeane Kirkpatrick reveal. However, much unlike liberals and conservatives, ALL neo-conservatives are decidedly pro-Israel and judge other countries on how they interact with the Jewish state. In order to properly understand neo-conservative traits, one must be well versed on the other political groupings.

With Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol at the intellectual helm, the neo-conservative movement went into full swing back in the 19 seventies. Former leftists, these gentlemen turned against the left for their stated reasons of what they saw as extreme left biases against Israel and (in some instances) of Jews in general. The Zionist publication Commentary Magazine was neo-conservatism's main base before being replaced by The Weekly Standard in the 19 nineties.

Because of its support for Israel's Arab adversaries and opposition to Zionism, (the Jewish nationalist ideology articulated by Theodore Herzl), the USSR became a main target of neo-conservative disdain. Anti-Jewish incidents in the Soviet Union further exasperated neo-conservative antipathy to the USSR.

Neo-conservatism's point man on the USSR was Harvard University History Professor Richard Pipes, whose academic works fall into the Brzezinskiite category of an inherently evil Russia in which the USSR is essentially seen as Russia under another name, as opposed to a country unfortunately occupied by a multi-ethnic group of authoritarian political elites. Brzezinskiites are anti-Russian advocates from areas in central and eastern Europe where such views predominate. Brzezinskiite is quite an appropriate term much like Trotskyite and McCarthyite. For decades, the Polish born Zbigniew Brzezinski has been at the forefront of Russian unfriendly advocacy (as a personal aside, he did more than any Russian nationalist in making me aware of my Russian heritage).

Dr. Brzezinski himself isn't a neo-conservative. He's a neo-liberal having open minded views of global issues minus Russia. Whereas neo-conservatives tend to see things from one prism, neo-liberals make a more earnest attempt at understanding the popularly held views in countries at odds with American officialdom. Without a doubt, Dr. Brzezinski's open mindedness on non-Russia related global matter is in stark contrast to his stance on Russia. A Brzezinskiite could be liberal, conservative, neo-liberal or neo-conservative. As earlier noted, the Brzezinskiites are united in a belief that Russia is to be viewed with suspicion based on an interpretation of history linking the Kremlin with a prolonged baseless subjugation of others. Omitted from this perspective are the many times when Russia was an unjust victim of foreign aggression.

The Carnegie Endowment's Michael McFaul can be categorized as a non-Brzezinskiite neo-liberal. Despite his opposition to the Putin administration and pro-Orange Ukrainian sentiment, Dr. McFaul nevertheless acknowledges the close ties linking Russia and Ukraine. He's also on record for not buying into the idea of certain cultures being unable to grasp democratic values

Always on the hawkish side, the neo-conservatives were at the forefront in supporting the anti-Serb policies of the Clinton administration. Srdja Trifkovic's July 23, 2003 Chronicles Magazine article NEO-CONSERVATISM: WHERE TROTSKY MEETS HITLER & STALIN (http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/News/Trifkovic/NewsST072303.html) provides details to the the particulars. The civil wars in former Yugoslavia put the neo-conservatives at odds with the historically pro-Serb Russians. The highlighted neo-conservative belief that force can be used to positively change geo-strategic ills is similar to the one time Trotskyite view of establishing world revolution through war (a policy which lost out to Stalin's more prudent build socialism in one country first strategy).

The more traditional thinking conservatives are less prone to going along with the idea of changing the world thru force. When breaking down liberal and neo-liberal differences, one finds the former as showing a greater willingness to challenge official policies.

In the present, legal scholar Ethan Burger reflects the inaccurate neo-conservative portrayal of Russia. Mr. Burger has stridently maintained that: jailed Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is
a modern day Andrei Sakharov (http://www.untimely-thoughts.com/index.html?art=1691), Israel has been more just in dealing with the Palestinians when compared to Russia's treatment of Chechnya (http://www.untimely-thoughts.com/index.html?art=2018) and that Russia should be lumped together with the USSR unlike the non-Russian former Soviet republics (http://groups.google.com/group/Russia-Profile-Experts-Discussion-Group/browse_thread/thread/8df9794376a5333e/2a4026cf27db9705?q=Ethan+Burger+Russia+Soviet+Union&rnum=2#2a4026cf27db9705).

Likening Khodorkovsky to Sakharov is akin to John Gotti saying he was a political prisoner. Simply put, Sakharov did no legitimate wrongdoing unlike Khodorkovsky.

Mr. Burger's gloating references of Israel fly in the face of reality. The Israeli occupied Palestinians have never come close to having the kind of autonomy accorded to what Chechnya had twice enjoyed in the last decade. By the way, Chechnya has noticeably stabilized over the course of the past year (http://english.intelligent.ru/cgi-bin/loadtext.pl?id=11347&file=articles/text_e0135.htm).

It's true that Russia took over the Soviet seat at the United Nations Security Council. In turn, Russia assumed responsibility for paying off Soviet era debt. Russia comprised most of the USSR. This is where the Russia was the Soviet Union belief peaks. Russians suffered like non-Russians making up the USSR. Soviet internment camps had non-Russian guards suppressing Russians and vice versa.

The realist wing in American foreign policy is probably best represented by the Washington based Nixon Center. A group of moderate extremists predominate in this organization. In his last remaining years of life, I recall Richard Nixon saying that he was an internationalist. By definition, the internationalist has a keen interest in the world around him/her and is therefore more prone to understanding all facets to a given conflict.

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Blogger Michael Averko said...

Thursday - January 26, 2006

ONGOING EVIDENCE OF POOR MEDIA COVERAGE - RIA NOVOSTI - UKRAINE

By Michael Averko

The fallout from the last Averko's Russia Report of January 3 prompted numerous responses that completely validate my contentions (as opposed to a still primitively constructed blog site, the last ARR can be easily accessed via: http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@598.kbmwianwDsM.9@.77480649/1231).

One of the replies came in the form of an offer from a well known English language Moscow based news source. I was propositioned about doing a biweekly media watch feature, where yours truly would be allowed to critique the English language mass media coverage of Russia. The involved vender added that I'd likely be later moved to a once a week column. These conditions were given to me: No criticism of David Johnson and Johnson's Russia List, in conjunction with a concerted effort to keep my commentary as non-personal as possible. The below article was submitted on January 16 and approved for posting/publication on January 18.

MEDIA WATCH: A RUSSOCENTRIC CRITIQUE OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE COMMENTARIAT

INTRODUCTION - ENERGY DISPUTE - SPORTS & NATIONAL EMBLEM

By Michael Averko

Challenging the status quo is a touchy matter that many establishment journalists shy away from. Those in the field choosing otherwise play a risky game. With this in mind, I've made it a point to omit the names of authors whose commentary I'm responding to. Being accused of "personal attack" is one way for officialdom to "legitimize" the quashing of dissent (feel free to attack me). I see light at the end of the tunnel and savor the day when dissident views will not have to walk on such a tight rope. It has been a very long wait for many.

A December 28 UPI article "Russia-Ukraine on the Brink" (http://www.upi.com/InternationalIntelligence/view.php?StoryID=20051228-023210-6356r) says that Ukrainian "Blue" leader Viktor Yanukovych's support for the Russian government position on the recent energy dispute is "bizarre" because the Kremlin's stance hurts Yanukovych's constituency. This piece doesn't note how Yanukovych is the most popular political opposition figure in Ukraine. It leaves the reader possibly asking - why would Yanukovych do something so unpopularly stupid?

Let me fill in the blanks that have so far been left out of the lengthy English language mass media news reporting and analysis on the topic. I'm willing to bet the house that Russian President Vladimir Putin remains more popular in Ukraine when compared to Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's popularity in Russia. This is because much of Ukraine's citizenry see the Orange regime as the party most responsible for the energy dispute over gas supplies from Russia to Ukraine.

Upon assuming office, the Orange regime has openly discussed ending the Russian naval presence in the Russocentric Crimean region of Ukraine's Communist drawn boundaries. In addition to this, the Orange regime has formed a rhetorically stated "democratic" alliance with nations whose governments aren't on the most friendly of terms with Russia (Poland, Lithuania and Georgia).
Russia is a regional power and such powers use economics as a continuation of politics by other means.

A January 10 Russia Profile article "The Politics of Russian Sport" (http://www.russiaprofile.org/politics/2006/1/10/3015.wbp) goes under the category of double standards. This piece deals with how Russian fans don’t have a say on the fate of the respective teams they root for. No interconnect was made on how this isn't different from what's evident in the West.

Manchester United football ("soccer" for you uncultured barbarians) fans didn't have a say when the ownership of that team changed hands to an American (a very unpopular development among the Man U faithful). Likewise, with fans of North American teams when team owners suddenly decide to move to another town. Ditto when the owners of some North American teams decide to sell off star players for cost cutting purposes.

Another double standard was exhibited when Russia's national emblem became a recent focal point of attention after some Muslims said that the coat of arms was "too Christian." A participant to an internet forum felt that these Muslims might be looking to make a name for themselves by creating an issue. In the "free" press, I was unable to find the same view. Instead, a good deal of support was given to the idea of Russia's emblem being inappropriate.

The major point of protest relates to the three tiny crosses located above the three crowns on the Russian two headed eagle. Upon an initial viewing, one is hard pressed to see these crosses. On the other hand, the Hungarian, Greek and Slovakian emblems each have a considerably more high profile cross. Along with the flags of Scandinavian countries - the British, Swiss, Greek and Slovak flags all have a very noticeable cross. When compared to Russia's emblem, the religious symbols found on the flags of Azerbaijan, Israel and Turkey are noticeably more pronounced.

One pundit suggested to have the three crowns and three crosses removed from Russia's emblem as was done during the short lived socialist regime of Alexander Kerensky. The author of this view added that Kerensky had replaced an undemocratic system of absolute monarchy. Omitted from this advocacy is the fact that the Kerensky regime was a short lived one which had little popularity among the warring Russian Reds and Whites of that era.

Present day Poland is considered a democracy. Yet, its current national emblem is an eagle with a crown above its head (under Communism, the Polish eagle was minus the crown). Poles take great pride in their nation's earlier history which was simultaneously undemocratic and expansionist. I'm well aware of the Polish counter-argument that in its hey day, Poland wasn't so bad when one considers the historical realities at the time.

This claim can also be made on Russia's behalf. It's for this reason that Russia's readopted coat of arms should remain as is. The current version is the one which Russia has historically known the most. Russia, be proud of your great past, while recognizing its faults and beware of the hypocritically applied standards against you. - MMA -

My having the gall to raise the matter of a fee killed the above article from appearing. I declined the venue's offer to have the commentary run minus my receiving an agreed to dollar amount. Since when does an established news source not pay its columnists? The name of this outlet has been omitted because it has some well meaning individuals who want to do the right thing.

There's hope for eventual change. Meantime, I will do whatever is within reason to highlight the suppression of mainstream Russocentric views in English language mass media. Not discussing this in the open has had very limited results when it comes to leveling the playing field. The Russian government is throwing around a good amount of money to supposedly improve the situation. How that money is qualitatively spent is a very open ended matter.

Efforts to successfully sell the above article elsewhere failed (upon its submission to other venues, the article's title was changed to A CRITIQUE OF SOME RUSSIA RELATED ARTICLES). The editor at another frequently cited Moscow situated English language news organization respectfully thanked me and said that such commentary isn't what his/her employer is looking for.

The likes of Yulia Latynina, Masha Lipman, Pavel Felgenhauer, Masha Gessen, Anna Politkovskaya, Boris Kagarlitsky and Julian Evans are paid professionals with a general perspective going against the views of most Russians. These journalists aren't my intellectual superiors. The issue of "personal attack" is directed more towards the way English language mass media treats Russocentric advocates. Bashing the Russian national emblem, referring to Messrs. Kagarlitsky and Felgenhauer as "dissidents" are legitimate topics unlike the work that others like myself offer.

There's your significantly downplayed media bias folks. One of the writers mentioned in the prior paragraph had acknowledged to me that English language mass media editors aren't interested in stories about anti-Russian media biases (much different from the readiness to promote how Russian media supposedly suppresses "democratic" views). The referenced writer hasn't challenged my core claim of an anti-Russian bias. As of right now, intelligently presented Russocentric views have little if any career potential in English language mass media. Mind you, my subscribed to Russocentricism isn't in the racist, terrorist and anti-Western categories (being against neo-conservative and George Soros funded neo-liberal views shouldn't be automatically construed as anti-Western). I believe this Russocentric variant to very much have the upper hand within its political/spiritual grouping.

Over the course of time, Russia friendly and not so friendly advocates alike have negatively commented to me about RIA Novosti (RIAN). My recent experience confirms this sentiment. I submitted the above media critique to RIAN with a standard cover letter above it requesting a mutually agreed to fee before the article (if selected) would be posted/published. Without notifying me, RIAN proceeded to post the article in their Letters section on January 23. In my numerous dealings with many media outlets, this has NEVER happened. RIAN hasn't contacted me on my requests to have that article removed. As of Thursday morning January 26 North American time, RIAN appears to have somewhat honored my request without getting back to me. Under Michael Averko, the RIAN search engine currently has my name and article title listed in the Letters section, with its link not showing my article. Also current are cached Google and MSN search results under "Michael Averko" that show RIAN posting my article in its Letters section.

My thanks to the first two mentioned news sources for dealing with me in a more dignified manner.

In the last ARR - I expressed no qualms with Peter Lavelle serving only as a commentator for Russia Today. His reply to the last ARR indicates that he's not adept at facing sound fact based criticism. Awhile ago, he posted Anders Aslund's e-mail message to him which asked Dr. Lavelle to not communicate with him (this was exhibited in Dr. Lavelle's August 17 issue of Untimely Thoughts). Dr. Lavelle was showing how Dr. Aslund isn't willing to face sound opposition. Well, here's the last exchange between Dr. Lavelle and myself which was witnessed by a select group of about 25:

Mr Averko,

Why must I again, for the fourth time, request not to be spammed by your mass mailings? I have no interest in what you have to say about anything. Please stop harassing me and others.

Also, please remove me from your Russia Report.

Peter Lavelle

My reply:

Dr. Lavelle:

Not a problem. You were included in that last e-mail because I feel that I have a legitimate right to reply to the unsubstantiated comments you made of me at your forum.

On "harassing," we seem to have a different interpretation of its meaning as I believe that I have been more harassed than yourself.

I note how you earlier wished to be on the ARR recipient list and note how you now want off of it while not addressing my well founded critiques of you. Critiques which I feel should be fully made known to all parties that should be interested.

Especially to the Russia Today management. RT was instituted to correct the inaccurate reporting and commentary found in English language mass media.

You were the one who told me to start a blog and expressed "support" if I did such.

I will close by noting how you don't seem particularly good at dealing with criticism.

Michael Averko
***********************
Let me add that it was Dr. Lavelle's neo-conservative friend Ethan Burger, who put Dr. Lavelle on the mentioned list (not myself). Averko's Russia Report became a topic at Dr. Lavelle's Google Discussion group until the moderator (Dr. Lavelle) ended that exchange.

Part of me can forgive Intelligent.ru Editor Sergei Roy for Soviet like hack editing that was authoritatively documented in the last ARR. In his seventies, Mr. Roy lived under the horrors of Stalin and his Communist successors. Dr. Lavelle had a different upbringing. Based on recent events, I believe it would be appropriate for the RIAN affiliated Russia Today (the just launched 24/7 Russian government funded English language television news network) to remove him from its staff ASAP. As conclusively covered in the previous and current editions of ARR - his actions (and lack thereof) are very much in conflict with the originally stated aim of Russia Today to provide a more accurate depiction of news regarding Russia.

Dr. Lavelle's support base includes a core of about twelve regulars at his Russia Profile Panel of Experts, where these individuals receive free publicity. I don't expect any of them to go against him. This doesn't sway me in the least bit as others besides myself can see what's going on.

Somewhat relatedly, one ARR recipient communicated this thought:

"I know from personal experience that one can survive criticizing Putin and the Kremlin, but not live after you have dissented with mainstream media and its oligarch sponsors."

As for Ethan Burger, here's my follow-up reply to his neo-conservative nonsense about Russia which Dr. Lavelle would prefer to not be communicated: http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@774.CXTyiB6fzta.93@.77480649/1102.

The below commentary of mine was written January 20 in reply to a recent question submitted to me on how the upcoming March Rada election will play out. I apologize for repeating a couple of thoughts from the first article in this ARR edition:

SCENARIOS REGARDING THE YANUKOVYCH FACTOR

By Michael Averko

I was recently approached with the question on how the U.S. political establishment will react to this March's Rada election, when Ukrainian "Blue" leader Viktor Yanukovych is expected to gain an upper hand. A rather muted American response is likely since the so called "Orange revolution" has been an extreme disappointment for the neo-conservative and George Soros funded neo-liberal elites, who a year ago were targeting Russia for a color coded revolution. That pipe dream has quickly melted with those two forces having to regroup on their previously stated convictions.

Yanukovych is key to how the non-Ukrainian powerbrokers will respond. Will he do a Kuchma or Voronin or maintain his course of advocating closer Ukrainian ties to Russia? Is there another option?

Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma pledged a more Russia friendly direction when he initially assumed the presidency back in 1994. Within two years, Kuchma drifted to a more Westward route in a manner that offended many who had voted for him.

Likewise, it wasn't too long ago when Vladimir Voronin, the half ethnic Russian President of Moldova had advocated Moldova's entry into Russia's proposed Common Economic Sphere, which desires closer ties among some former Soviet republics. Voronin has since gone astray from that idea.

For a number of reasons, Yanukovych isn't as likely to backtrack from his Russocentric sympathies. His east Ukrainian upbringing includes his parents being transplanted Belarussians, an ethnic group known for being very pro-Russian. Over the course of the past year, Yanukovych hasn't shown signs of jumping ship, while maintaining close ties to Putin friendly forces in Russia.

At an Orange blog site, someone had suggested a change of heart from Yanukovych. The presented "evidence" was Yanukovych's opposition to the recent deal the Ukrainian government made with Russia to resolve the energy dispute between the two sides. It was further suggested that Yanukovych was taking more of a Ukrainian nationalist/anti-Russian slant. I believe this analysis to be shortsighted. Much of Ukraine's Russocentric community sees the agreement as not being the best for Ukraine. At the same time, they also fault the Orange regime for having created the conditions for that settlement. Specifically, the regime's Russia unfriendly policies like the open discussion of ending the Russian naval presence in Crimea and the forging of a rhetorically stated "democratic" alliance with neighboring countries (Lithuania, Poland and Georgia) whose governments are currently not on the best of terms with Russia.

From a public relations and fact based viewpoint, Yanukovych and Russia should stress that closer Russo-Ukrainian ties aren't a threat to the West. Many have wrongly equated friendlier Russo-Ukrainian relations as being anti-Western. In addition, it's not in the interests of Russia and the West to have an economically plodding Ukraine that's politically polarized.

Finally, when it comes to foreign policy, American interests shouldn't be unilaterally linked with the neo-conservative and George Soros funded neo-liberal views.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Monday - January 30, 2006

QUICK TAKES ON BEREZOVSKY, SOME WESTERN OFFICIALS & OTHERS

By Michael Averko

Boris Berezovsky recently announced his intention of funding a movement to oust the democratically elected government of Russia (http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@290.3qH7iCWVGCb.1@.77480649/1388). Here's what a participant at The New York Times Russia/East European Forum had to say about that (http://forums.nytimes.com/top/opinion/readersopinions/forums/international/easterneuropeandrussia/index.html?offset=19470&fid=f577f80/19470):

"This guy would have been a bad joke if not for his money, stolen from Russia during his times with 'friend Boris'.

What is interesting is, that, IMHO, he put the Brits in some kind of an awkward position: he was granted political asylum under a pretense of his political prosecution by 'Putin's oppressive regime'. Now he openly calls for a 'coup d'etat' against that regime, which can be easily interpreted as a call for a terrorist act against the legitimate government of an independent country - Russia. If Russian foreign affairs lawyers are worth their salt, they should immediately file another request for Berezovsky's extradition - this time for him organizing the coup - by his own words.

Now is the question: if Brits reject this request as well - does Russia have a right to bomb England as a country harboring terrorists (as our brilliant President has said: "aiding and abetting")?

And what exactly can the Englishmen say to defend their rejection?

:-)"

The NYT Russia/East Europe Forum is for free unlike The NYT Op-Ed Page which is on a paid subscription basis.

The last Averko's Russia Report (http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@398.hqwOiV9OGKP.3@.77480649/1356) drew this response from an American ambassador situated in a former Soviet republic:

"You have been reported as spam."

This was my reply to him:

"Am I going to get my door knocked on in the middle of the night?

I'll take your message to mean that you don't want to be on my well received ARR.

There's no need to have a Stalinist like persona.

Some ask to be taken off and their request is honored. They're in the extreme minority.

As an ambassador, I hope that you encourage the free open exchange of ideas.

I see that spirit very much lacking."

The ambassador's reply takes second place to the "piss off spook" comment to an earlier ARR. The individual who made that remark is now defense minister for a former Soviet bloc nation. It's great to see the "free world" represented by such well spoken individuals.

A few of you presented me with the - why do I do this question? Not to trivialize a seriously bitter matter, but, would it be more appropriate to fly an airplane into an office building? I'm doing what others before me have done.

This report receives a good amount of feedback that makes me better informed of other views. I'm the editor who is exclusively responsible for content. This responsibility keeps me on my toes, while allowing a greater freedom. Awhile back, one editor offered me a column on the provision that my prose would be provocatively unfair and with seedy language. I wouldn't do that. At another venue, I saw how an editor suddenly changed his attitude towards me under the influence of external forces coercing him to do so.

On my use of Russocentric, a reader objected by noting how "centric" suggests at the center, thereby meaning that a Russocentric person sees Russia as the center of everything (I had this conversation before with someone else). I'm a Russian-American, who on foreign policy matter is primarily interested in Russia. I'm also far more conscious of anti-Russian biases which some of the most well meaning of non-Russian backgrounded Russophilic individuals don't always see (cases in point being the views expressed in my first article of the last ARR as well as a prior critique of mine on Stephen Cohen). Hence, there's a clear difference that requires a distinction. There's enough dictionary wiggle room to correctly label myself as Russocentric.

Two ARR readers took issue with my commentary on Viktor Yanukovych. One of them said that I should read Orest Subtelny's UKRAINE: A HISTORY (http://www.utppublishing.com/pubstore/merchant.ihtml?pid=7458&lastcatid=169&step=4). I already did. Roman Solchanyk's THE IRRATIONAL EXUBERANCE OF ORANGE has fact based data in support of my take on the political situation in Ukraine (This article can be read in its entirety by scrolling down to my October 8 post at: http://www.orangeukraine.squarespace.com/research/2005/3/19/from-kuchma-to-yushchenko.html).

My Johnson's Russia List submitted reply to Masha Lipman's recent Washington Post article which some ARR recipients have already seen:

Re: January 30, JRL # 28, Post 28, regarding the January 28, Washington Post article by Masha Lipman entitled "Another Slavic War"

I found this excerpt from Masha Lipman's essay to be misleading:

"People in Russia hardly differentiate between those of Russian and
Ukrainian ethnic origin, even though Ukrainian last names are easily
recognizable."

The fact of the matter is that in Ukraine, one can find many individuals with "Ukrainian" sounding last names who call themselves Russian and vice versa. Ms. Lipman's commentary is another in a long line of a perspective which tries to distance the great interrelationship bonding many Russians and Ukrainians as one people with different regional characteristics. I defer to the analysis of Roman Solchanyk which was post 29 of JRL 9261 on October 3, 2005. The JRL search engine isn't providing a link to his article. Here's a link to that piece via another venue (refer to my October 8 post by scrolling down): http://www.orangeukraine.squarespace.com/research/2005/3/19/from-kuchma-to-yushchenko.html

Forward Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz and tennis star Nicolai Davydenko refer to themselves as being Russian. For that matter, the Averko side of my family has viewed themselves as being Russian. They had resided in St. Petersburg for centuries. Modern day Russia is directly descended from the territory of what's now modern day Ukraine. The national concept of Ukraine is a very recent historical development. As the cited Solchanyk commentary suggests, it's overly subjective to determine whether a last name ending in "chuk" or "ko" is Ukrainian or not.

Moreover, it can be seen as somewhat insulting to insist differently. I respect the right of people to call themselves something different (Ukrainian) from what their ancestors had willingly been known as (Russian or the regionally different Rusyn). Let such a spirit of respect be mutual.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Saturday - February 4, 2006

MEDIA WATCH ON UKRAINE

By Michael Averko

In this one man operation of no sponsors to please, I'm better positioned to provide a more independent review on the coverage of the former USSR. Some recent eye catchers follow with special attention focused on Oxford academic Andrew Zorin's critique.

Re: Times On Line - February 3, UKRAINE TURNS BACK TO MOSCOW AS ORANGE REVOLUTION IS BETRAYED (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2022311,00.html) by Jeremy Page

No kidding. Not to beat on a dead horse, but a year ago I detailed why commentators like Taras Kuzio were wrong for predicting the political end of Viktor Yanukovych and Russia in Ukraine. Those getting it incorrect continue to be propped over the likes of yours truly.

Page mentions Yanukovych's hiring of a Western public relations firm to improve his image. Not having this assistance in the last Ukrainian presidential elections significantly hindered his campaign.

Page notes how Yanukovych is focusing attention on the Ukrainian economy under Viktor Yushchenko's presidency. I add by noting that the Ukrainian economy grew when Yanukovych was prime minister unlike when Yushchenko was pm.

Page's article didn't make Johnson's Russia List or the Ukraine Action Report. I picked it up via The New York Times Russia/East Europe Forum (http://forums.nytimes.com/top/opinion/readersopinions/forums/international/easterneuropeandrussia/index.html?offset=19507&fid=.f577f80/19507). Proof positive of the substantive information gathering sources out there.

********************

Re: BBC Monitoring - February 1, RUSSIAN TV GIVES CAUTIOUS SUPPORT TO YANUKOVYCH FOR UKRAINE POLL (February 2, Johnson's Russia List # 32, post 29) by Stephen Ennis

It's noted how Yanukovych and the Russian media closest to the Kremlin are downplaying the relationship between the Ukrainian Blue leader and Russia. Presented as an opinion piece, the article doesn't ponder why this is so, thereby making it more of a news report as opposed to a commentary.

Yanukovych figures on having the "Russian vote." Therefore, he need not embellish it. In doing so, Yanukovych better enhances his chance of winning over those who aren't so Russocentrically inclined.

********************

Re: Kommersant - January 25, WHY WE DON'T LIKE UKRAINE (http://www.kommersant.com/page.asp?idr=527&id=643367) by Andrew Zorin

The last Averko's Russia Report (http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@363.D9V3iAeGKOn.4@.77480649/1417) started out by ridiculing Boris Berezovsky's recent declaration to overthrow the Putin administration. The Zorin article in Berezovsky's Kommersant mouthpiece makes a mockery out of the oligarch's self anointed Russian patriot role.

I cite this quote by Zorin:

"When Peter I. turned the state he ruled upside down, he was convinced that he
was creating a completely new power. However, his successors, still in the
18th century, felt the need to prop up their legitimacy with their ancient
origin and they began to propagate the myth of the single chain of historic
succession that connected Kievan Rus with the Moscow kingdom and the
St. Petersburg empire."

Peter I. sought a different domestic path for Russia. This doesn't mean that he felt his country to not be contiguous with Kievan Rus.

Kievan Rus has never been known as Kievan Uke or Kievan Pol and the ruling Riuriks governed Russia when the capital moved north. Ivan the Terrible was a Riurk and his family emblem was the Trident, which is contemporary Ukraine's adopted coat of arms. Shortly after Ivan the Terrible's death, a panel of boyars elected Michael Romanov as the de facto successor to the Riurik dynastic line (Romanov was a distant relation to the Riuriks).

Zorin refers to how the territory of modern day Russia wasn't a part of Kievan Rus. California wasn't part of the 13 original colonies which initially made up the United States. Moreover, as is true with some other countries seat of power, the American capital changed its location.

Zorin continues:

"There have been many Russian states and each one of them had its own
history, and not one of them followed another directly. Great Novgorod,
the Golden Horde, the Great Principality of Lithuania (otherwise known as
Lithuanian Rus) were all Russian states, and there were many more.
Moscow was no more the successor of Kiev than Vilna or Kazan."

Vilnius ("Vilna") was never the center of ancient Russia (Kievan Rus). Over the last four hundred years, Vilnius clearly developed along a different geo-strategic and ethno-religious path from the Kievan Rus legacy.

In historical terms, Kazan represents the once powerful Tatar force that subjugated the people of Kievan Rus (maintaining its own identity and with Kazan as its capital, modern day Tatarstan is a peacefully integrated Russian republic with great autonomy). On this particular point, Russian and Ukrainian nationalists appear to be in basic agreement.

Zorin contradicts himself with this citation of his:

"They love to recall the
etymological meaning of 'Ukraine' ('on the edge') in Russia today. But the
question of who is on the edge and who is in the center of Rus is all and
only a matter of where you are looking from. About a year before the Orange
Revolution, a Kiev taxi driver, an ardent fan of Yushchenko, told me that he
felt that he was more Russian than people who live in the Urals."

I've heard Ukrainian nationalists refer to themselves as the "real Russians" and that modern day Ukraine should be called Russia with contemporary Russia being given another name. How about the existing noteworthy similarities that explain how many like literary great Nicolai Gogol can simultaneously feel Russian and Ukrainian?

Here's Zorin's comparative politics approach:

"The past is not primogeniture passing to the single lawful heir. It is a
symbolic resource that everyone can use when they need it. It cannot be
monopolized, and attempts to do so can be ruinous.

Fortunately for states and peoples, there is another way. Norway was first a
province of Denmark, and then of Sweden, and obtained its independence
only at the beginning of the 20th century. Relations between the three
states are simple and calm today, and their geographical, cultural and
linguistic ties are underpinned by a multitude of successfully functioning
institutions."

Analogies of this type are imperfect because such comparisons aren't precise, given the frequency of other examples providing perfectly valid views to the contrary.

England, Scotland and Wales collectively make up the United Kingdom. As a comparison, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are part of the Kievan Rus legacy that didn't become extinct just because competing powers invaded and separated the three for prolonged periods. In these two pairs of troika, The Russians and English are the dominant grouping. The Belarussians and Welsh are the least dominant and more in agreement with their respective powerbroker. The Ukrainians and Scots reflect a hodgepodge of competing ideas. Some Scots embody ardent separatism, while others are firmly entrenched in the idea of a United Kingdom.

A few Russian "nationalists" have replied to my analogy with the opinion that the Russians, Belarussians and Ukrainians are more interrelated with each other when compared to the English, Welsh and Scots (I first made this comparison in a December 15, 1991 Newsday letter WHAT UKRAINE CAN LEARN FROM ITS PAST and in my June 17, 1994 New York Times rebuttal to Anders Aslund SAME ROOTS NOURISH RUSSIA AND UKRAINE http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F30B17FF3F580C7B8EDDAF0894DC494D81).

I note this excerpt from Roman Solchanyk's Ukrainian Weekly article of October 1, 2005 (see this article in its entirety by scrolling down to my October 8 post at http://www.orangeukraine.squarespace.com/research/2005/3/19/from-kuchma-to-yushchenko.html):

"The glaring differences between east and west are
obvious. Nearly 72 percent of respondents in the
western part of the country support membership in the
European Union; the corresponding figure for the east
is slightly over 30 percent. As for joining the Single
Economic Space with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan,
more than 86 percent in the east are for it while the
corresponding number in the west is just above 32
percent. In the east, 79 percent want dual citizenship
with Russia; in the west it is just over 20 percent.
And so it goes down the line. One does not need to be
a mathematical genius to arrive at the conclusion that
there is a disparity here insofar as the political
culture of the eastern and western parts of Ukraine."

Belarus is very much related to a closely interrelated past and present with Russia. This former Soviet republic has no Belarussian Orthodox Church (the Russian Orthodox Church dominates) and a population of which over 90% speak Russian as the primary language. Keep in mind that the 10 million Belarussian inhabitants include 400,000 ethnic Poles. I suspect Zorin might be inclined to assert that the Belarussians were forcefully "Russified" against their will. BTW the Belarussian language only achieved a final character after the 1917 revolution. As part of a Soviet propaganda effort stressing nations within a union, the Communist authorities assisted in the development of the Belarussian language.

Is it correct to say that west Ukrainians were coerced into accepting a hybrid Uniate Christian denomination (having joint Catholic and Orthodox aspects) because of western Ukraine falling under the prolonged occupation of the Poles (followed by the Catholic Hapsburgs, with the Poles once again dominating)? Whatever the reasons for the creation of that Christian denomination, one should respect those who adhere to it. In the same spirit, the generally preferred desires of west Ukrainians are no more/no less valid than the Russocentric sentiment found in Belarus as well as in southern and eastern Ukraine (with central Ukraine being a kind of meeting ground between the two competing sympathies).

In St. Petersburg (the city created by Peter I.) and in other parts of Russia, one can find many individuals with last names ending in "ko" or "uk." Some of these people have centuries long familial roots on the territory of today's Russian Federation. Of this grouping, a good many see themselves as ethnic Russians. It's a high point in arrogance to suggest that these people are misled for having this view while feeling a common bond with Donetsk, Kiev, Kharkov, Poltava, Odessa and Sevastopol.

Four years ago, a Ukrainian acquaintance and myself bonded as we rooted for the Belarussian ice hockey team during their memorable victory over Sweden in the Salt Lake City Olympics. This was an expression in clear support of my contentions.

The two of us also have a shared cultural identity with the famous Repin painting of the Zaporzhie Cossacks writing an insulting letter to the Sultan (for those unfamiliar, the painting and the letter are at this link http://www.kresy.co.uk/zaporoze.html).

9:11 PM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Thursday - February 9, 2006

RUSSO-UKRAINIAN HISTORY & HAMAS IN MOSCOW

By Michael Averko

The last Averko's Russia Report on Ukraine (http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@518.VLTTiafgO3e.16@.77480649/1510) prompted some historical commentary.

One of the readers, stated that a Catholic presence existed in Western Ukraine before the Polish takeover in the 16 and 17 centuries. This individual didn't challenge my continued understanding that the Uniate denomination had dramatically increased during Polish rule. Catholic shouldn't be confused with Uniate. Although the latter is akin to the former, the Uniate denomination is no doubt in part called such to distinguish its unique characteristics (notably, priests being allowed to marry, with the Christian ritual observances closely resembling Eastern Orthodoxy, while recognizing the Papacy).

On the matter of Peter the Great's view of Kievan Rus, another reader noted the Cossack leader Ivan Mazepa, who fought Peter the Great. Was Mazepa an early day Ukrainian nationalist or an unruly Cossack seeking to have his own fiefdom? On the last point, I have in mind the Russian Cossack leader Emelian Pugachov. At odds with Catherine the Great - Pugachov wasn't in favor of breaking up Russia (in a show of Cossack brotherhood, some Cosacks in Ukraine gave Pugachov refuge). My take on Mazepa is that a good many people on the territory of what's now called Ukraine had opted for Peter the Great.

This reminds me of the situation in Ukraine during the Russian Civil War. The Whites, Reds and supporters of Pavel Skoropodsky were all situated in what had been the Russian Empire territory of Ukraine (Galicia and other parts of Western Ukraine had been under Hapsburg rule). Vis-a-vis former Russian Empire Ukraine, only the followers of Simon Petlura advocated a separate Ukrainian state (there was also a Ukrainian anarchist Nestor Makhno, who wasn't a nationalist). Rather interestingly, the Galician Ukrainians (presently seen as the most nationalist of Ukrainians) weren't Petlura supporters. Petlura was an East Ukrainian socialist whose political ideas clashed with the social conservative rural Galician Ukrainians. Petlura's alliance with Polish leader Josef Pilsudski further raised the ire of the Galician Ukrainians. In exchange for Pilsudski's support, Petlura stated a willingness to cede Galicia over to Poland.

In my reading of this period, I find that the Galician Ukrainians and Russian Whites weren't hostile towards each other. Both were suspicious of Petlura and antagonistic towards the Reds. Relative to this non-hostility was the warm reception the Galician Ukrainians gave the Russian army en route to Hungary in 1848.

When studying the likely numbers of support each Russian Civil War faction had, it definitely appears that more people in the former Russian Empire territory of Ukraine favored some kind of joint relationship with Russia as opposed to outright separation. As always, I invite open challenges to what's stated in ARR.

Here's a bibliography offering diverse views on the subject:

Brinkley, George - THE VOLUNTEER ARMY AND ALLIED INTERVENTION IN SOUTH RUSSIA 1917-1921, University of Notre Dame Press, South Bend, 1966.

Dziewanowski, K. M. - JOSEPH PILSUDSKI, Hoover Institute Press, Stanford, 1969.

Lehovich, Dimitry - WHITE AGAINST RED, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1973.

Longworth, Philip - THE COSSACKS, Holt, Rhinehart & Winston, New York, 1970.

Subtelny, Orest - UKRAINE: A HISTORY, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1994.

Vernadsky, George - A HISTORY OF RUSSIA, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1944.

***********************
The February 9, BBC American aired segment on Putin's invitation to Hamas was vintage propaganda. This version of the BBC seems to always have a Washington based host. Rather than offer something different from American mass media, the BBC American aired version is an appendage in the same manner as to how some view Britain's overall relationship with official Washington.

A BBC State Department correspondent echoed how many American foreign policy elites have become disenchanted with Putin. Putin's invite of Hamas to Moscow was portrayed as another slap. The political arithmetic being simplistically one sided. The Bush administration has all of the gripes with none from the Putin administration.

Lost in this imagery was a statement made (the previous day) by a Hamas official favoring dialogue with Israel.

No mention was made of Moscow's displeasure with how the Bush administration has had dealings with Chechen separatists who the Kremlin views as terrorists.

Also omitted was the fact that Hamas recently came out on top in a democratically held election.

Putin will endorse to Hamas a non-violent path and scorn for terrorism. Someone explain me what's so wrong about this.

Shame on the BBC for another hack like performance.

In their stated desire to please world Islam, the neo-conservatives and George Soros funded neo-liberals advocated repackaging the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) into an acceptable political entity. This despite the fact that the KLA didn't (and probably still doesn't) have the same degree of civilian non-armed political/social infrastructure as Hamas.

Paddy Ashdown, Joe Lieberman and Richard Perle are in no legitimate position to blast Putin's invitation to Hamas.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Sunday - February 12, 2006

GWEN EIFIL, MICHAEL IGNATIEFF & SELECTIVE SENSITIVITY

By Michael Averko

Before getting to the above entitled matter, the last Averko's Russia Report of February 10, can be easily accessed via the GUT International forum LYING ABOUT RUSSIA (). Among other topics, that talk venue has new and diverse commentary relating to Hamas and the historical issues raised in the last ARR. I appreciate the many private e-mails. Feel free to read/participate at the GUT International forum, where there's no overbearing moderator to limit the discussion with subjective edits.

The long running American PBS show Washington Week In Review is a weekly journalists' roundtable discussion of the week's most important news issues as determined by American mass media elites. Prior to the internet and popularity of cable TV, this show had a good deal of prominence among news junkies like myself. In recent years, the enhanced availability of other media options has no doubt decreased Washington Week In Review's popularity.

I tuned into its Friday February 10, airing which discussed the recent controversy over material appearing in a Danish media outlet. Many Muslims felt insulted by the involved cartoon and their numerous protests have been globally covered.

Washington Week In Review host Gwen Eifil declined showing the cartoon because she said that enough people expressed displeasure over it, for her to respect how that material can be deemed as inappropriately inoffensive. This reminds me of a comment Russian President Vladimir Putin made about those screaming the loudest having their way.

I'm not a Muslim basher. At the same time, the hypocrisy factor on what is and isn't offensive reeks. Enter my commentary about Michael Ignatieff.

I first became aware of him when he narrated a PBS series within the first few years of Communism's collapse in Europe. One of the shows dealt with the political turmoil in Ukraine. Ignatieff disapprovingly noted the extremist wing of Ukrainian nationalism seeking to eliminate Russian language use in Ukraine.

Upon research, Ignatieff's Russian noble pedigree is an impressive one. With his ancestral root in Ukraine, you can be sure that Ignatieff's slant on that PBS show raised eyebrows among a number of Ukrainian nationalists (the next two links of this report touch on Ignatieff's Russian aristocratic background).

Igantieff recently received criticism for a comment that appeared in a 1993 book of his BLOOD & BELONGING (perhaps this book is the basis of the mentioned PBS aired show he narrated). The criticism became highlighted when Ignatieff entered the Canadian political ring. Ignatieff's work had an uncomplimentary remark about Ukraine and Ukrainians (refer to this article by John Chuckman and note Chuckman's own comment that could be seen as unfairly disparaging towards individuals from a Russian aristocratic background http://www.counterbias.com/483.html). When pressed on this, Ignatieff issued a release saying the citation was incorrectly attributed to him and that he wasn't expressing sympathy for the cited view (http://en.michaelignatieff.ca/news/campaignnews/100). In trying to clear himself, Ignatieff proceeded to slur Russians with this passage from his release:

"I have a deep, personal affinity with the suffering of the Ukrainian people at the hands of Soviet Russia and a deep respect for the Ukrainian-Canadian community."

He knows better than anyone else that "Soviet Russia" was officially known as either the "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" or the "Soviet Union" and not as "Soviet Russia." Ignatieff was no doubt trying to limit the criticism of himself by the anti-Russian strain of Ukrainian-Canadian activists having links to anti-Russian organizations like the Captive Nations Committee and Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations. Organizations that have actively promoted the idea of the Soviet Union serving Russia at the expense of others (http://www.russian-americans.org/CRA_Art_Captive.htm). There were no Ukrainian and other non-Russian Communists? The Soviet era Russian citizenry at large dined on fillet mignon and caviar as Ukrainians were butchered? Russians weren't butchered?

The Russian side of my family suffered mightily during the Soviet era. Adding insult to injury, I've often experienced my Russian heritage disparaged by some of the very same people who are especially aware of what insults other groups.

This brings back to memory the frequently published Sunday New York Times Week In Review Op-Ed advertisements by a bigoted Latvian MD Aivars Slucis (this link further details the issue of Slucis and The NYT http://english.intelligent.ru/cgi-bin/loadtext.pl?id=3486&file=letters/letter_e0023.htm). There're numerous other supporting examples to reference.

Between the time of Ignatieff's 1993 book and his recent political entry, I became familiarized with his neo-liberal sympathies that include support for the Clinton administration led NATO aggression against Yugoslavia and advocacy for the Bush administration's attack on Iraq (note that not all neo-liberals support the latter). The Serb and Russian neo-liberals I've come across share a willingness to express opinions which arguably fall into the category of self hatred. Ignatieff's applied usage of "Soviet Russia" reminds me of Serb Dragana Solomon's belittling of Serb suffering at Srebrenica (the latter was expressed in a misinformation filled BBC segment that ignored the fact based points of independent analysts like Ed Herman http://www.zmag.org/hermanserbdebate.htm).

5:37 PM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Saturday - February 18, 2006

OLYMPIC NOTES, 2/10 THRU 2/18

By Michael Averko

NBC's Olympic coverage can at times get very political in a way that expresses the biases of the American foreign policy/media elites. This explains why NBC news anchor Brian Williams co-hosts (with Bob Costas) the opening ceremony (the now retired NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw was in Williams' place during prior NBC televised Olympiads). By previous NBC standards, the Turin opening ceremony coverage wasn't as political as previous ones.

The end of the pairs figure skating coverage on February 13 was something right out of the PBS aired Azimuth Media produced Foreign Exchange show hosted by Fareed Zakaria. The Russian pair of Tatyana Totmiyanina and Maxim Marinin finished a very well earned first place. Yet, in the lead up to the award ceremony, NBC host Costas only talked about how Chinese influence around the world is growing. In his monologue, no mention was made of Russia and the first place Russian pair. China this and China that. China, China, China. CHINA! The Chinese finished second, third and fourth in the pairs competition with a Russian duo taking fifth (some experts felt the fifth place Russian team should have finished third). China's economic growth and improved Olympic standing are impressive. There're however other up and coming stars on the global stage. Russia is definitely one of them (http://www.russiaprofile.org/cdi/2006/1/20/3094.wbp).

Americans are deluged with anti-Russia/anti-Putin propaganda. Declining birth rate, AIDS epidemic, decreased life expectancy, growing "authoritarianism" (not) are commonly headlined. I'll reply to those points:

- With the noticeable exception of Albania (the poorest country in Europe), just about every European country has a declining birth rate. Since when does a large population automatically equate to having a socio-economically vibrant country? Keep in mind that Russia ranks third among countries receiving individuals from abroad (http://english.intelligent.ru/cgi-bin/loadtext.pl?id=3594&file=articles/text_e0055.htm). Between 2003-05 - 50,000 left Israel for Russia, whereas only 10,000 left Russia for the Jewish state.

- Over the past ten years, the average life expectancy in Russia has risen by a few years. There's no reason to disbelieve that the growing Russian economy will possibly result in Russia having the comparable life expectancy level with the West that it once had for a time during the Soviet period.

- The growing authoritarianism nonsense isn't in sync with reality (http://english.intelligent.ru/articles/media.htm and http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-institutions_government/russia_3259.jsp). Under Russian President Vladimir Putin's presidency, the number of independent media outlets in Russia has increased. BTW, using the same criteria on how some judge Russia, others besides myself see plenty of evidence pertaining to authoritarian aspects in American mass media and body politic.

I'm not the only one who gets an emotional rise out of hearing the Russian national anthem. The first post Soviet Russian anthem wasn't a bad one and as an admirer of Russia's pre-1917 past (while also recognizing its faults), I have a soft spot for the Imperial Russian anthem. However, my own personal preference is for the current one. It symbolizes a victory of the Russian spirit over attempts to deflate it. The first Soviet anthem was the non-Russian sounding and non-Russian composed International, which to me is an overly rhetorical worded song. I recall reading some music experts experts claiming that the shard and refrain of the second Soviet anthem (the current Russian one with the words changed for a third time) has pre-Soviet Russian roots.

It's good to see the assorted Russian Olympic apparel featuring the Russian national emblem. With rare exception (like the ice hockey team), previous Russian Olympic athletic wear de-emphasized Russian identity. The next step in the right direction will be to have "Russia" scripted in Cyrillic on the Russian Olympic apparel as opposed to the English language "Russia" (depending on the given sport, a limited number of the Russian Olympic sports wear has "Russia" scripted in Cyrillic).

Kudos to NBC for getting its history right (http://www.nbcolympics.com/countries/5056791/detail.html) unlike Oxford academic Andrew Zorin (http://www.kommersant.com/page.asp?idr=527&id=643367). I cite this from the NBC Olympic link: "The first Russian state was established in the ninth century, and Ivan the Terrible was the first to formally be declared tsar in 1547." (Zorin's historical claims are critiqued in the February 5, Averko's Russia Report # 14 http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@617.5UO2ikkRUXO.0@.77480649/1510)

Zorin can't be happy with the number of athletes and coaches from Belarus, Ukraine and other former Soviet republics who have chosen to represent post Soviet Russia. McCarthyiite claims of "Soviet nostalgia" ignorantly deny how Russia proper (today's Russian Federation) has been linked with some other former Soviet territory for a period far exceeding Communism's legacy. Brzezinskiite claims of "Russian imperialism" overlook how many outside of Russia proper haven't been against this unity.

Russian Olympic figure skater Irina Slutskaya maintains her maiden name. Slutsk is a town in Belarus which had a large Jewish population prior to World War II (this was noted in a February 20, 03 eXile article by Mark Ames). I recall reading that Slutskaya visited her relatives in Israel. Upon some further research, I confirm her Jewish background (http://www.newvoices.org/cgi-bin/articlepage.cgi?id=50). Why mention all of this? My 19 seventies and eighties, New York upbringing encountered an intellectual establishment's portrayal of a historically intolerant Russia. I've previously discussed (at Averko's Russia Report and elsewhere) how some like NYU History Professor and CBS News Consultant Stephen Cohen continue to parrot this simplistically unfair line. Slutskaya is arguably Russia's most beloved athlete. A few of my friends have commented about her "very Russian look." There're plenty of Russian-Jewish individuals not buying into the English language commentariat's caricaturing. Count me as one of them.

According to NBC, Russia has the largest Olympic delegation (260)at Turin. Going into week two, Russia is among the medal tally leaders. Historically, Russia has fared better in the summer games. The last winter Olympics at Salt Lake City were a disappointment for Russia. At the Turin games, each Russian gold medallist will receive a $200 thousand American dollar valued award. Russian gold in the upcoming mens' ice hockey, ice dancing and womens' figure skating will ensure a successful Russian Olympic experience.

The Russian Olympic Committee is known to be lobbying for a future winter Olympiad in Russia. President Putin has said that he will be at the gold medal mens' ice hockey game if Russia makes it to that championship final. The Russian Olympic Committee Committee is known to be lobbying for a future Olympiad in Russia. Quite a spirit for a "dying nation." (http://forums.nytimes.com/top/opinion/readersopinions/forums/international/easterneuropeandrussia/index.html?offset=19738&fid=.f577f80/19738 and http://forums.nytimes.com/top/opinion/readersopinions/forums/international/easterneuropeandrussia/index.html?offset=19780&fid=.f577f80/19780)

2:50 PM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Sunday - February 26, 2006

SECOND WEEK OLYMPIC NOTES: 2/19 THRU 2/26

By Michael Averko

Following up on the last Averko's Russia Report of February 19 (#17 http://talk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?14@773.vElhi9woZiu.7@.77480649/1659) that commented on the first week of the Turin Olympics - I can't help but make a correlation between judgment sports like figure skating and the soft science of "political science," which in my view should be referred to as political studies. Unlike the history and political studies fields, the hard sciences (like mathematics) are precision based with little if any room for debate (http://forums.nytimes.com/top/opinion/readersopinions/forums/international/easterneuropeandrussia/index.html?offset=19941&fid=f577f80/19941).

NBCs' figure skating commentators and ESPN (Lisa Salters) suggest the American silver medal ice dancing team (Ben Agosto and Tanith Belbin) could have been legitimately awarded a gold medal (the day after the competition, the NBC commentators changed their tune in support of the scoring). On the other hand, my sampling of European media hints that the bronze medal Ukrainian duo (Odessa natives Ruslan Goncharov and Yelena Grushina) could have been reasonably given the silver medal.

The 2002 figure skating controversy all over again in a considerably lessened form. There definitely was a cultural divide four years ago when NBC and CBC did a lousy job at explaining the overall marks placing the Russians (Anton Sikharulidze and Elena Berezhnaya) in first place and the Canadians (David Pelletier and Jamie Sale) second. At that event, most of the European judges and a Chinese one had placed the Russians ahead of the Canadians in what was a close competition. NBC and CBC de-emphasized the bias of the Canadian judge's marks which were disproportionately higher for the Canadian pair when compared to how other judges graded skaters from their respective country relative to others (i.e. a German judge scoring Germans versus non-Germans, a Russian judge grading Russians versus non-Russians, etc.).

The "case" of the "Russian mob" orchestrating a "fixing" of the Olympic event was thrown out of an Italian court. After having trumped up a corruption story, the North American mass media was awfully quiet about the court's action. The accused mobster (Alimzhan Tokhtakhnounov) had been tailed for quite some time. Wire tap transcripts on him revealed a non-existent case. Had the Russians come up with such a conspiracy theory based on flimsy evidence, you can be sure that the English language commentariat would be enhancing the stereotype of paranoid off the wall Ruskies.

The French judge (Marie-Reine Gougne) targeted for a supposed pro-Russian bias has a good claim of a smear campaign against her. I get the impression that she was very much pressured by those feeling the heat of the North American protestors favoring Sale and Pelletier.

Besides the nationality factor, many North Americans favored the Canadian duo because their performance was to an American pop culture musical theme, whereas the Russians skated to a 19th century European classical piece. NBC and CBC downplayed how the Russians had the more difficult program in addition to being in first place after the short program.

Going into the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic figure skating pairs competition, NBC's regional bias was clearly stated. The NBC promo leading in to that event was: Can the Canadian pair win gold for North America?

There were a few North American dissident voices on the media manipulated mayhem (the "story that just won't go away", as was commonly dubbed). A respected American figure skating judge (Roger Glenn, who wasn't part of the panel scoring that event) and actor (Kelsey Grammer) voiced support for the original marks that were changed due to the overbearing North American nationalism. My referencing an actor on this topic isn't so off base given how the editorials of major American newspapers supported the Canadians. I see how those involved editorial boards generally spin Russia. The CBC is much the same. Depending on the topic, the CBC can range from being objectively good to subjectively partisan. I reference how the CBC covered Ukraine's so called "Orange revolution." The coverage was heavily accented with an overly propagandistic West Ukrainian bias (a reflection of Canada's ethnic demography).

An unprecedented North American lobbying campaign at Salt Lake City resulted in a double gold medal ceremony (having the Canadians share gold in the event with the Russians). The bronze medallist Chinese (Zhao Hongbo and Xue Shen) boycotted that ceremony as a farce.

Shortly thereafter, Russian figure skater Irina Slutskaya finished
second to American Sarah Hughes. Hughes was in fourth place going into the long program. No one disputed Hughes' long program's first place result. However, the Russians felt that the overall score was unfair because Slutskaya's long program wasn't a disaster. Slutskaya was a close second to Michelle Kwan after the short program. Slutskaya's long program was superior to Kwan's. At the time, under the then existing scoring system (since changed), it was nearly impossible for a fourth place short program performer to win gold. The Russian petition for a double gold in that event was rejected. NBC and CBC showed zero sympathy for the Russian request. In 2006, the Russian Olympic Committee arrived to Turin with legal representation. Such is the contemporary world of sports.

Yeah, there's bias from other sides. I live in America though, where some very influential biases aren't discouraged by the governing media elites (http://forums.nytimes.com/top/opinion/readersopinions/forums/sports/2006winterolympics/index.html?offset=332&fid=.f8a4708/332). Christine Brennan of USA Today is to international sports journalism what Paul Goble is to the coverage of Russia. Both of them are granted frequent appearance time minus any sound opposition.

Running contrary to the vibes of Brennan and Goble was a New York Times article on the upbeat Russian Olympic Village at Turin (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/23/sports/olympics/23russia.html?hp&ex=1140757200&en=747cd887c8abad61&ei=5094&partner=homepage). People to people contact remains the best way to offset prejudices.

There was no significant controversy at the 2006 figure skating competition. For many in Europe and North America, the women's figure skating event was a disappointment. Along with Irina Slutskaya (bronze), it was hard luck for Americans Sasha Cohen (silver) and Michelle Kwan (withdrawal due to injury). With numerous World, European, Russian and American championship first place finishes among themselves, all three of these superstar athletes might end up never winning an Olympic gold medal. The sports world is stacked with great athletes not achieving the penultimate. Congratulations are in order for gold medallist Shizuka Arakawa of Japan. On the men's side of the figure skating competition, Russian Yevgeni Plushenko was superior to his peers.

There has been a lot of garbage written about a significantly declined Russian ice hockey program. Since the Soviet breakup, no other country has won more medals as Russia in Olympic men's ice hockey (in 1992, the post Soviet Russian ice hockey gold medal Olympic team officially participated as the "Unified Team"). If not victorious, post Soviet Russia has often been among the top finishers at numerous world and world junior ice hockey championships.

Soviet national ice hockey teams overwhelmingly consisted of players from Russia. This contrasts differently from the Soviet national basketball program, which was well represented by Lithuanians. The Soviet national ice hockey team frequently trained together as a unit. In post Soviet times, this is no longer possible because Russia's best ice hockey players are now contracted to play for club teams outside of Russia for eight months or so out of the year. After the North American situated National Hockey League, the Russian Super League is considered the best in the world. The elite Russian ice hockey league features many non-Russian players from outside the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Post Soviet Russian ice hockey success is especially impressive when considering these variables:
- More Americans play ice hockey than Canadians and as has always been the case, more Canadians play the sport than Russians.
- In Finland and Slovakia, ice hockey is a common elective at the grade school level. It's no small wonder why those two small countries excel at the game.
- Globally, many perennial sports powers have seen a decline. In football (soccer) - Germany, England and Italy haven't won a World Cup in quite some time. American basketball prowess has been successfully challenged at the last summer Olympics and world championship.

Despite not winning a gold medal at Turin, the future of the Russian men's ice hockey team looks good. Its roster has some very talented young players who take pride in representing Russia.

Overall, the Russian Olympic performance at Turin was impressive (especially when compared to the last winter Olympics). Russia finished among the leaders in medals won (http://www.nbcolympics.com/medals/). The combined medal tally of former Soviet republics tied Germany for most medals (during the Soviet era, the USSR didn't always finish a winter Olympiad with the most medals). My point being that post Soviet Russia hasn't retarded Russia's Olympic performance (upon making this point at other venues, I was erroneously accused of being Soviet nostalgic).

While rejecting the Soviet legacy, I know that many from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus still feel a sense of togetherness. The Ukrainian mechanic up the block from me enthusiastically followed the performances of Russians and Ukrainians (http://english.intelligent.ru/cgi-bin/loadtext.pl?id=7870&file=articles/text_e0092.htm). Likewise, many Russians will be rooting for Ukraine at the upcoming World Cup in Germany (Russia failed to qualify).

9:28 PM  
Blogger Michael Averko said...

Tuesday - March 7, 2006

KEMP/EDWARDS & THE MOLDOVAN SIDESHOW

By Michael Averko

I will try not to overlap on the same observations made from "my side" about the recently released Council on Foreign Relations report on Russia (http://www.cfr.org/publication/9997/) authored by retired New York Republican Congressman Jack Kemp and North Carolina Democratic Senator John Edwards. Such bipartisan Republican/Democratic authored reports serve to propagandize the idea of unity.

Kemp and Edwards don't rub me the wrong way like the George Soros/Albanian nationalist funded Arizona Republican Senator John McCain (http://www.aim.org/media_monitor/2856_0_2_0_C/ & http://www.antiwar.com/justin/j022500.html). However, like McCain - Kemp and Edwards don't appear to be so expert on Russia. On the other hand, Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Curt Weldon and former Clinton Administration Vice President Al Gore do impress as individuals with a grip on what's happening in Russia.

Kemp and Edwards are Washington establishment figures, utilized to give credence to a circumspect agenda of provoking Russia. Keen analysts are already aware of the names behind that report (refer to the contents of the link given at the start of this commentary).

In addition to perusing the report, I watched the Kemp/Edwards March 5, appearance on Tim Russert's NBC show Meet the Press. Some academics are very mistaken for relying too much on the fine print of written reports, while ignoring how they're communicated in the mass media which has greater clout among the masses.

From the mentioned Meet the Press segment, we find that Kemp and Edwards are moderates when compared to McCain. The latter of the three wants Russia kicked out of the G-8 altogether. The former have a different approach. I will breakdown what was and wasn't discussed.

RUSSIA'S UPCOMING G-8 CHAIRMANSHIP: Kemp and Edwards would like for the G-7 to get together beforehand and compile a list of diktats for Russia to adhere to. Should Russia refuse, then perhaps (according to Kemp and Edwards) it should be expelled from the G-8. How would the U.S. or any self respecting nation treat this kind of condescension (as one of you out there put it in a recent mass e-mailing)? Moreover, I'm not so sure that the U.S. could expect to receive support from a number of influential G-7 members. Apparently, Kemp and Edwards overlooked French support for Russia's recent invite of Hamas to Moscow (opposed by many on Capital Hill). Many of America's officialdom are oblivious to the outside world. Foreign policy should involve the study of how different countries view a given situation. This academic spirit is very much lacking among many in the U.S. You can bet the house that the G-8 observer delegations of India and China will be appalled at any heavy handed Western attempts to unfairly and disrespectfully treat Russia. New Delhi and Beijing have a shared history of experiencing this kind of imperial arrogance. Russia is an emerging power like India and China.

RUSSIA BULLYING SOME FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS: This theme continues to show a warped side of many within the American foreign policy establishment. The neo-Nazi antics evident in Latvia (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20050523/ames & http://english.intelligent.ru/cgi-bin/loadtext.pl?id=13435&file=articles/text_e0159.htm) and Georgia's lack of political pluralism (http://www.bhhrg.org/CountryReport.asp?CountryID=10) are swept right under the table.

RUSSIA CURTAILED ENERGY SHIPMENTS TO WESTERN EUROPE: Oh really? My understanding is that Russia had briefly stopped energy supplies to Ukraine over a dispute the two former Soviet republics had on the pricing. Ukraine in turn siphoned Russian energy shipments en route to western Europe. A cross section of Ukraine's citizenry fault the Yushchenko administration for provoking the dispute with Russia. Included in this grouping are Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych and the centrist speaker of Ukraine's Rada (parliament) Volodomyr Lytvyn. In addition to having an existing Belarussian energy supply route, Russia is building a sea pipeline from Russia to Germany to offset the insecurity found in some land routes. Credit anti-Russian forces in former Warsaw Pact territory for the alternative routing.

THE BACKTRACKING OF DEMOCRACY IN RUSSIA: I've already hit this pitch out of the ball park several times over. So have some others (http://www.russiaprofile.org/cdi/2006/3/3/3359.wbp). Too bad the American masses don't get this perspective in their mass media. BTW - Some would consider Homeland Security to reflect a backtracking of democratic rights in the U.S. As a personal aside, but related to the discussion, I once again (from prior commentary) note how it's impossible for a pro-Russia/pro-Putin journalist to make a living in English language mass media.

RUSSIAN-IRANIAN RELATIONSHIP: I reference a November 2005 Eurasian Home commentary of mine entitled Syria, Iran, Israel & the Russo-American Relationship. (http://www.eurasianhome.org/xml/t/expert.xml?lang=en&nic=expert&pid=374&qmonth=11&qyear=2005)
****************
I recently contributed to a Russia Blog (http://www.russiablog.org) feature on Moldova (http://www.russiablog.org/2006/03/moldova_the_overlooked_of_the_1.html#more). The Russia Blog editors (Yuri Mamchur and Charles Ganske) were quite intuitive in bringing that topic up. Shortly thereafter, the Yushchenko government "bullied" the Trans-Dniester region of Moldova's Communist drawn boundary. The end of the referred to Russia Blog piece has some additional comments on the Orange government's recent action.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Lyndon said...

Mr. Averko, you should be posting each article as a new post! No one will find your analysis buried in the comments section. We need more English-language Russia blogs, so start using Blogger correctly, please! Email me if you have questions on how to do this. Thanks, your posts are interesting, that's why I'm concerned about seeing them be more accessible. One question, though - how is Moldova a "sideshow"? People live there, and it's not a sideshow to them. Oh, and the Putin "administration"? It's a regime, dude.

2:53 AM  
Blogger Lyndon said...

PS and I'm no fan of Aslund. Seriously, if you need help figuring out how to get each of your articles into its own post, let me know. This will give each of them its own unique URL, will get them indexed in Google, and will be a good thing for you in general if you want to get your opinions out there.

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11:09 PM  
Blogger Konrad von Swalwagner said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Vilhelm Konnander said...

Dear Michael,

I can only agree with Lyndon's suggestion that you should start to actually blog, and not simply leave your pieces as comments on your blog. It was not until now that I actually understood that you blog, but in a way that I have seen nobody blog before. If you have forgot your password or something similar, you may probably get assistance from Blogger. Please, tend to this matter, so that I and others can follow your blog according to accepted blogging customs.

Yours,

Vilhelm

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11:56 AM  

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