External threat

Sep 18 2015

In Eastern Ukraine the shooting does not cease, in occupied Crimea the main “tourists” have long been Russian tanks and other heavy weapons, Russia pointedly puts the UN Security Council veto on the establishment of an international tribunal to investigate the disaster downed “Boeing” that is actually an admission of guilt for the deaths of nearly three hundred innocent people.

A London court has openly said that the murder of Litvinenko was personally ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian propaganda, meanwhile, continues to stubbornly stand on its own, broadcasting in various ways, two mutual theses: “It’s not us” and “we just defended.”

However, the Russian authorities, and after them, the media, have, for several years, successfully proven to townsfolk that any meanness and crime are justified by the unprecedented state of “external threat”. It turns out that the United States is to blame for all that today makes Russia an “organized” orange revolution” at the Russian border, supporting and continuing to support the opposition, cultivate a” fifth column “, lobby their interests in Russia” and so on.

As the hysteria on this subject in Russian society, not only does not subside, but is also gaining momentum, let’s try to understand one of the most common propaganda theses “The US organized Maidan in Ukraine.”

First, it is worth saying that the statement that the United States doesn’t support anyone and will never support anyone, is untrue. World reality is that there are no Saints – every country supports movements in other countries that are close to them, but does not go with the defined framework and rules. Revolution will also occur where there are strong and appropriate sentiments in society. Without them it is impossible to organize a revolution from outside that particular country. For this reason pro-Kosovo rallies in Serbia in 2013 could not develop into a revolution, as well as opposition rallies in Belarus in 2011 which did not lead to the victory of the “Revolution through social networks” not only because of the repressive machine of Lukashenko, but also because, his popularity was really high among the people.

In short, the revolution can be supported, but not organized, and both Russia and its opponents are doing it well. The “Winner” is the one whose interests most correspond to the real aspirations of the people of a country, that’s all. “Blood” is a revolution that happens when the dictator, against the will of the people, usurped power and does not want to leave. Unfortunately, practice shows that dictators do not really go without a lot of blood.

Thus, it is no secret that the United States at the diplomatic level supported the Maidan in Ukraine, but not to organize or hold it they simply would not do. Ukrainians took to the Maidan, because corruption and gangster lawlessness under the regime of Yanukovych rolled over, and to top it all, he sharply and severely ruined the dream of the majority of Ukrainians, which he himself had previously entertained. Add to that the brutal crackdown on students’ rally; it becomes clear why the Ukrainian revolutionaries were set up so strongly.

Some advocates go further and argue that the very mentality of Ukrainians was also a product of the influence of the United States. In a sense, this is true: the value of life and human dignity, the desire to live by the law and not by the bandit concept of law, protest against corruption, the corruption of judges and officials, and the arbitrariness of the siloviki, the value of freedom as such are all indicators of Western, and not Soviet mentality. It is clear that the mentality was formed over decades, and there are some absolutely legitimate means of broadcasting values through culture and education.

CCt2iZFWEAMhIxy

On the other hand, is the mood of the inhabitants of Eastern Ukraine not a product of Russian influence? The only difference being that in their “wards” Russian political technologists produced no values, but fears, moreover, false fears. Do not forget the fact that the flag and the symbols of the DNR arose long before the Maidan and that throughout Eastern Ukraine Cossacks and other groups acted, distributing books about “Ukrainian fascism” and in this manner acted Russian propaganda. If we talk about the clash of the two poles of influence on the public mood – Russian and American – it cannot be denied that the US was at least more honest, because it aired universal values, not invented fears.

The next argument is that Russian propaganda has, for several years, fanned the fear of “foreign agents.” Many subjects of propaganda films have intended to illustrate the central idea of the Kremlin – “financed by the US, Russian NGOs currently allow too much.”

If you understand the issue, it appears that this is a blatant lie, or we will have to admit that financed by Russia, NGOs can afford in the US and Europe much more than “too much”. For example, in America there are a variety of affiliated Russian NGOs formally aimed at improving Russian-American relations, that is, in fact, the NGOs, which in Russia would be called foreign agents. However, these organizations exist in the United States quite easily, and there is no pressure against them.

The members of these NGOs are very active. Their members come to the US-Ukrainian conferences at local universities, behave defiantly, organize provocations actively debated with the speakers and even publicly called them liars. Members of these organizations are trying to disrupt any pro-Ukrainian activities, including marches, and are making alternative actions, including in support of the pro-Russian militants, in short aggressively and openly spreading Russian propaganda worldwide.

Similar actions are taking place in other countries. Recall how an unknown person tried to disrupt, by shouting pro-Kremlin slogans, the speech the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko at the Institute of Europe at the University of Zurich (Switzerland). Russian security services behave in the Baltic States pretty cheeky. I’m not talking about the many Kremlin “trolls”; mudslinging authors of different articles other than Putin’s propaganda.

And it refers only to ordinary propagandists, not professional spies, who also turn out to be numerous. Take for example the scandal exposing the ten Russian agents in 2010, the year or winter spy scandal in New York. But it pales in comparison to recently published data on the bribery of politicians and Putin’s secret service in the European Parliament and the parliaments of some European countries.

So, summarizing the above, the question arises: why in this case has the United States or Europe not built up arms and seized foreign territory under the pretext of protection from the invisible but tangible pressure from Moscow? Why has it happened that Russia has turned out to be so “sensitive” to the much milder manifestations of “soft power”?

In my opinion, the answer here lies in the phenomenon of the perception of bias. The fundamental difference between the United States from Russia is that the United States government does not to get involved in the foreign opposition – real or imaginary – of ordinary people, in other words, does not solve their problems at the expense of society. In normal countries the state’s task is to ensure a calm and peaceful life for its citizens, even if in some moments it would be advantageous to resort to the help of citizens, violating peace. However, the Americans are willing to take risks and to allow the Russian agents of influence to openly promote their views, but do not allow aggression and “witch hunt” into its society.

Just imagine what would happen if US media broadcast, local pro-Russian propaganda coming out in protest with banners DNR “is a foreign agent”, “it is financed by Russia”, “they are traitors, and a fifth column” “Ten friends of terrorists” and all the like. Imagine if all of these revelations were accompanied by the angry complaints about the fact that these “enemies and traitors” act with impunity, because they not formally violate the law. To what hatred of the Russians came from the Americans in this case?

However, the Americans have not fallen so far as to begin to poison the people, borrowing the rhetoric of Kremlin’s “Goebbels-TV.” For centuries, developed in the United States, the balance between private and public has been too expensive for the American nation, to put it in jeopardy because of a few strange people with no less bizarre posters. And in that respect – and to their own people – and to the “enemy” this is a special honour.

The situation is different in Russia, where people have always been used, not as an end in itself, but as a tool that is easy for the state to sacrifice their interests. “Cannon fodder”, “consumable” – the attitude of the Russian authorities to their own people has led to the extraordinary aggression in Russian society.

The authorities feared the “Bolotnaya” protests in 2012, and incited one side of the people against the other. The Russian government is frightened by the repetition in Russia of a Ukrainian Maidan, and incited the Russians against the brotherly Ukrainian people. Afraid of American influence the Russian government threw society into the abyss of militant chauvinism. One need only recall the recently published, in social networks, “manual for informers”, which in plain text said: “It is foolish to rely on the intelligence services in this situation. The special services should be the whole of Russia. ”

This mobilization of society might at some stage be profitable, but it has one very significant drawback in a country that has nothing to defend. There is no society – one big “secret service”. There is no peace and no quiet people, instead there is one big war. No stability – only economic collapse and calls “to survive under the pressure of the enemy.” No joy and friendship – only aggression and hatred. There is no truth, no freedom, no human happiness, because “consumables” cannot be happy, and should not. And this means that such a country has no future.

By Ksenia Kirillova
Translated by Steve Doyle

A London court has openly said that the murder of Litvinenko was personally ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian propaganda, meanwhile, continues to stubbornly stand on its own, broadcasting in various ways, two mutual theses: “It’s not us” and “we just defended.”

However, the Russian authorities, and after them, the media, have, for several years, successfully proven to townsfolk that any meanness and crime are justified by the unprecedented state of “external threat”. It turns out that the United States is to blame for all that today makes Russia an “organized” orange revolution” at the Russian border, supporting and continuing to support the opposition, cultivate a” fifth column “, lobby their interests in Russia” and so on.

As the hysteria on this subject in Russian society, not only does not subside, but is also gaining momentum, let’s try to understand one of the most common propaganda theses “The US organized Maidan in Ukraine.”

First, it is worth saying that the statement that the United States doesn’t support anyone and will never support anyone, is untrue. World reality is that there are no Saints – every country supports movements in other countries that are close to them, but does not go with the defined framework and rules. Revolution will also occur where there are strong and appropriate sentiments in society. Without them it is impossible to organize a revolution from outside that particular country. For this reason pro-Kosovo rallies in Serbia in 2013 could not develop into a revolution, as well as opposition rallies in Belarus in 2011 which did not lead to the victory of the “Revolution through social networks” not only because of the repressive machine of Lukashenko, but also because, his popularity was really high among the people.

In short, the revolution can be supported, but not organized, and both Russia and its opponents are doing it well. The “Winner” is the one whose interests most correspond to the real aspirations of the people of a country, that’s all. “Blood” is a revolution that happens when the dictator, against the will of the people, usurped power and does not want to leave. Unfortunately, practice shows that dictators do not really go without a lot of blood.

Thus, it is no secret that the United States at the diplomatic level supported the Maidan in Ukraine, but not to organize or hold it they simply would not do. Ukrainians took to the Maidan, because corruption and gangster lawlessness under the regime of Yanukovych rolled over, and to top it all, he sharply and severely ruined the dream of the majority of Ukrainians, which he himself had previously entertained. Add to that the brutal crackdown on students’ rally; it becomes clear why the Ukrainian revolutionaries were set up so strongly.

Some advocates go further and argue that the very mentality of Ukrainians was also a product of the influence of the United States. In a sense, this is true: the value of life and human dignity, the desire to live by the law and not by the bandit concept of law, protest against corruption, the corruption of judges and officials, and the arbitrariness of the siloviki, the value of freedom as such are all indicators of Western, and not Soviet mentality. It is clear that the mentality was formed over decades, and there are some absolutely legitimate means of broadcasting values through culture and education.

CCt2iZFWEAMhIxy

On the other hand, is the mood of the inhabitants of Eastern Ukraine not a product of Russian influence? The only difference being that in their “wards” Russian political technologists produced no values, but fears, moreover, false fears. Do not forget the fact that the flag and the symbols of the DNR arose long before the Maidan and that throughout Eastern Ukraine Cossacks and other groups acted, distributing books about “Ukrainian fascism” and in this manner acted Russian propaganda. If we talk about the clash of the two poles of influence on the public mood – Russian and American – it cannot be denied that the US was at least more honest, because it aired universal values, not invented fears.

The next argument is that Russian propaganda has, for several years, fanned the fear of “foreign agents.” Many subjects of propaganda films have intended to illustrate the central idea of the Kremlin – “financed by the US, Russian NGOs currently allow too much.”

If you understand the issue, it appears that this is a blatant lie, or we will have to admit that financed by Russia, NGOs can afford in the US and Europe much more than “too much”. For example, in America there are a variety of affiliated Russian NGOs formally aimed at improving Russian-American relations, that is, in fact, the NGOs, which in Russia would be called foreign agents. However, these organizations exist in the United States quite easily, and there is no pressure against them.

The members of these NGOs are very active. Their members come to the US-Ukrainian conferences at local universities, behave defiantly, organize provocations actively debated with the speakers and even publicly called them liars. Members of these organizations are trying to disrupt any pro-Ukrainian activities, including marches, and are making alternative actions, including in support of the pro-Russian militants, in short aggressively and openly spreading Russian propaganda worldwide.

Similar actions are taking place in other countries. Recall how an unknown person tried to disrupt, by shouting pro-Kremlin slogans, the speech the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko at the Institute of Europe at the University of Zurich (Switzerland). Russian security services behave in the Baltic States pretty cheeky. I’m not talking about the many Kremlin “trolls”; mudslinging authors of different articles other than Putin’s propaganda.

And it refers only to ordinary propagandists, not professional spies, who also turn out to be numerous. Take for example the scandal exposing the ten Russian agents in 2010, the year or winter spy scandal in New York. But it pales in comparison to recently published data on the bribery of politicians and Putin’s secret service in the European Parliament and the parliaments of some European countries.

So, summarizing the above, the question arises: why in this case has the United States or Europe not built up arms and seized foreign territory under the pretext of protection from the invisible but tangible pressure from Moscow? Why has it happened that Russia has turned out to be so “sensitive” to the much milder manifestations of “soft power”?

In my opinion, the answer here lies in the phenomenon of the perception of bias. The fundamental difference between the United States from Russia is that the United States government does not to get involved in the foreign opposition – real or imaginary – of ordinary people, in other words, does not solve their problems at the expense of society. In normal countries the state’s task is to ensure a calm and peaceful life for its citizens, even if in some moments it would be advantageous to resort to the help of citizens, violating peace. However, the Americans are willing to take risks and to allow the Russian agents of influence to openly promote their views, but do not allow aggression and “witch hunt” into its society.

Just imagine what would happen if US media broadcast, local pro-Russian propaganda coming out in protest with banners DNR “is a foreign agent”, “it is financed by Russia”, “they are traitors, and a fifth column” “Ten friends of terrorists” and all the like. Imagine if all of these revelations were accompanied by the angry complaints about the fact that these “enemies and traitors” act with impunity, because they not formally violate the law. To what hatred of the Russians came from the Americans in this case?

However, the Americans have not fallen so far as to begin to poison the people, borrowing the rhetoric of Kremlin’s “Goebbels-TV.” For centuries, developed in the United States, the balance between private and public has been too expensive for the American nation, to put it in jeopardy because of a few strange people with no less bizarre posters. And in that respect – and to their own people – and to the “enemy” this is a special honour.

The situation is different in Russia, where people have always been used, not as an end in itself, but as a tool that is easy for the state to sacrifice their interests. “Cannon fodder”, “consumable” – the attitude of the Russian authorities to their own people has led to the extraordinary aggression in Russian society.

The authorities feared the “Bolotnaya” protests in 2012, and incited one side of the people against the other. The Russian government is frightened by the repetition in Russia of a Ukrainian Maidan, and incited the Russians against the brotherly Ukrainian people. Afraid of American influence the Russian government threw society into the abyss of militant chauvinism. One need only recall the recently published, in social networks, “manual for informers”, which in plain text said: “It is foolish to rely on the intelligence services in this situation. The special services should be the whole of Russia. ”

This mobilization of society might at some stage be profitable, but it has one very significant drawback in a country that has nothing to defend. There is no society – one big “secret service”. There is no peace and no quiet people, instead there is one big war. No stability – only economic collapse and calls “to survive under the pressure of the enemy.” No joy and friendship – only aggression and hatred. There is no truth, no freedom, no human happiness, because “consumables” cannot be happy, and should not. And this means that such a country has no future.

By Ksenia Kirillova
Translated by Steve Doyle

Free Russia Foundation Calls for Urgent and Concrete Steps to Stop Putin’s Global Assassination Campaigns

Feb 11 2021

Vladimir Kara-Murza, a prominent Russian pro-democracy advocate, was closely tracked by an FSB assassination squad when he suffered perplexing and near-fatal medical emergencies that sent him into coma in 2015 and 2017, establishes a new investigation by the Bellingcat group

Documents uncovered by Bellingcat show that this is the same assassination squad implicated in the August 2020 assassination attempt on Alexey Navalny and whose member has inadvertently confirmed the operation in a phone call with Navalny.   

Bellingcat has also established the FSB unit’s involvement in the murder of three Russian activists, all of whom died under unusual but similar circumstances. 

Taken together, these independent nongovernment investigations establish the fact of systemic, large-scale extrajudicial assassinations carried out by Putin’s government against its critics inside and outside of Russia, including with chemical weapons banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention. 

Free Russia Foundation calls on the international community to formally investigate and prosecute Putin’s government for these crimes. 

Free Russia Foundation calls on the Biden Administration to direct the FBI to release investigation materials surrounding the assassination attempts against Vladimir Kara-Murza that have been denied to him thus far. 

Free Russia Foundation calls on the international community to articulate measures to compel Russia to free Alexey Navalny from his illegal incarceration where his life remains in dire danger. 

Free Russia Foundation condemns in strongest terms today’s court sentence announced to Alexey Navalny

Feb 02 2021

Continued detention of Navalny is illegal and he must be freed immediately. Suppression of peaceful protests and mass arrests of Russian citizens must stop, and the Kremlin must release all those illegally detained and imprisoned on political motives. Free Russia Foundation calls on the international community, the US and European leadership, to move beyond expressions of concern and articulate a set of meaningful instruments to compel the Kremlin to stop its atrocities.

Free Russia Foundation demands Navalny’s immediate release

Jan 17 2021

On January 17, 2021, Putin’s agents arrested Alexey Navalny as he returned to Russia from Germany where he was treated for a near-deadly poisoning perpetrated by state-directed assassins.

Navalny’s illegal arrest constitutes kidnapping. He is kept incommunicado from his lawyer and family at an unknown location and his life is in danger.

Free Russia Foundation demands his immediate release and an international investigation of crimes committed against him by Putin’s government.

The European Court of Human Rights Recognizes Complaints on Violations in “Ukraine v. Russia” as Admissible

Jan 14 2021

On January 14, 2021, the European Court of Human Rights published its decision on the case “Ukraine v. Russia”. The Grand Chamber of the Court has recognized complaints No. 20958/14 and No. 38334/18 as partially admissible for consideration on the merits. The decision will be followed by a judgment at a later date.

The case concerns the consideration of a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights related to Russia’s systematic administrative practices in Crimea. 

The admissibility of the case is based on the fact that, since 2014, the Russian Federation has exercised effective control over the territory of Crimea, and, accordingly, is fully responsible for compliance with the norms of the European Convention on Human Rights in Crimea. The Court now needs to determine the specific circumstances of the case and establish the facts regarding violations of Articles of the Convention during two periods: from February 27, 2014 to March 18, 2014 (the period of the Russian invasion); and from March 18, 2014 onward (the period during which the Russian Federation has exercised effective control over Crimea).

The Court has established that prima facie it has sufficient evidence of systematic administrative practice concerning the following circumstances:

  • forced rendition and the lack of an effective investigation into such a practice under Article 2; 
  • cruel treatment and unlawful detention under Articles 3 and 5; 
  • extending application of Russian law into Crimea with the result that, as of  February 27, 2014, the courts in Crimea could not be considered to have been “established by law” as defined by Article 6; 
  • automatic imposition of Russian citizenship and unreasonable searches of private dwellings under Article 8; 
  • harassment and intimidation of religious leaders not conforming to the Russian Orthodox faith, arbitrary raids of places of worship and confiscation of religious property under Article 9;
  • suppression of non-Russian media under Article 10; 
  • prohibition of public gatherings and manifestations of support, as well as intimidation and arbitrary detention of organizers of demonstrations under Article 11; 
  • expropriation without compensation of property from civilians and private enterprises under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1;
  • suppression of the Ukrainian language in schools and harassment of Ukrainian-speaking children under Article 2 of Protocol No. 1; 6 
  • restricting freedom of movement between Crimea and mainland Ukraine, resulting from the de facto transformation (by Russia) of the administrative delimitation into a border (between Russia and Ukraine) under Article 2 of Protocol No. 4; and, 
  • discriminating against Crimean Tatars under Article 14, taken in conjunction with Articles 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Convention and with Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention.

Cases between states are the rarest category considered by the ECHR. Almost all cases considered in Strasbourg concern individuals or organizations and involve illegal actions or inaction of the states’ parties to the Convention. However, Art. 33 of this Convention provides that “any High Contracting Party may refer to the Court the question of any alleged violation of the provisions of the Convention and its Protocols by another High Contracting Party.” In the entire history of the ECHR since 1953, there have been only 27 such cases. Two of them are joint cases against Russia, both of which concern the Russian Federation’s aggression on the territory of its neighboring states, Georgia and Ukraine.

New Year’s Blessings to All

Dec 30 2020

While 2020 gave us unprecedented challenges, it created transformative changes in the way we work and communicate. The hours of Zoom calls seemingly brought us all closer together as we got a glimpse into each other’s makeshift home offices along with interruption by kids and the family pets. Remote work also made us appreciate human interactions, in-person events and trips much more!

As 2020 comes to an end, we want to especially thank our supporters who continued to believe in our mission and the value of our hard work, and we hope the coming year brings all of us progress and growth for democracy throughout the world. We’d also like to thank our partners and staff in the U.S. and abroad, and we know how hard everyone has worked under difficult world changes to achieve so many of our objectives this year.

We send our best wishes to all who have stayed in the fight for democratic reforms and for the values of basic human rights. We look forward to a new year with the hope of many positive changes to come.

– Natalia Arno and the Free Russia Foundation team.