The obvious prime suspect in the recent execution-style slaying of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov has announced to the world that he personally is spearheading the investigation. Vladimir Putin has declared this a political killing, suggesting a CIA plot, Ukrainian complicity to cause division within Russia, an Islamic jihad as retribution for Mr. Nemtsov’s support for Charlie Hebdo and other nefarious concocted motives. Additionally, the investigation has introduced a personally motivated scenario involving a young Ukrainian model as Mr. Nemtsov’s concubine and a pregnancy about to be aborted.
No doubt there are many who will, wittingly or not, buy into at least one of the theories. In any event, neither the killing nor the fabrications will carry serious consequences. Many will accuse Mr. Putin directly, some will voice opprobrium, still others will simply sigh with resignation. But in the end the “investigation” will conclude with a finding most will find very difficult to accept, the global community will grumble and then fall silent. Mr. Putin will see this as yet another victory and be even further emboldened. He will score this as another successful effort to fool the world.
Who buys this propaganda? You would be surprised. A seemingly reputable associate professor from the United Kingdom who recently served as an election observer, accredited by my own organization, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America no less, during the parliamentary phase in October 2014 recently expressed in writing his position on solving the Ukraine-Russia crisis in an article published in the U.K. and carried widely on the Web. In it he wrote:
“In the run-up to the Euro-Maidan uprising, the U.S.A. and its closest allies systematically undermined the legitimacy of a weak but democratically elected European government which was sympathetic to Russian interests. They then experimented to see whether it could stoke a potentially violent popular uprising to topple the authorities and diminish Russia.”
The esteemed professor concludes with a “sensible negotiated outcome” that suggests a plebiscite to decide whether the Donbas region should remain with Ukraine, an amendment of Ukraine’s Constitution to give the region special status should it vote to remain, and negotiating an international agreement between Russia and the West as parties (the writer does not mention Ukraine as a party to the agreement) over Ukraine’s future relationship with NATO, the European Union and the Eurasian Union.
No matter what motive you attribute to the writer – is the professor a useful idiot, a paid agent or something else? – unfortunately, this seeming aberration is not isolated. Why? Not unlike the Soviet Union, Russia spends enormous effort and finance on propaganda. Technology has assisted in dissemination and undermined credibility with visual and eyewitness evidence at the same time. The result may not be a very sophisticated product, but the numbers of propagandists and subscribers are many, and the bulk of the global community is apathetic.
Recently, at yet another U.N. Security Council session on this Ukraine-Russia crisis, Russia initiated a resolution that was unanimously adopted in support of Minsk 2. The U.S. permanent representative to the U.N., Samantha Power, having no choice but to support the resolution, in subsequent debate nonetheless pointed to the irony of what she termed an “upside down world.” Russia had initiated the crisis, continues to lead as its main perpetrator responsible for myriad crimes, including the blatant murder of 298 innocents on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last summer, and still Russia brazenly acts at the United Nations as if it were a peace seeker. Ambassador Power spoke strongly and persuasively. Her speech, however, did nothing to change Russia’s posture or the West’s response.
We do live in an upside down world. Ironically, Ambassador Power is a model for her very words. She is mostly on target in her analysis and conclusions, yet her boss, the U.S. president, is perhaps the most significant factor for the current state of the world. Sen. John McCain refers to this as a feckless foreign policy. The senator went further recently and expressed his shame to the people of Ukraine for American foreign policy. The Ukrainian people deserved this apology because they are the victims not only of Russian aggression but also President Barack Obama’s fecklessness.
At the beginning of last week Secretary of State John Kerry stated that President Obama will shortly make up his mind on whether to deliver defensive aid to the Ukrainians. The clock continues to tick. President Obama continues to make up his mind.
Why does Mr. Putin continue his criminal activity and then fabricate propaganda that is nothing more than a transparent cover up? Because he can!