May 1, 2008

Paying for History

Each month DC is treated to a delightful exercise in Russian political spin. This is when the RIA Novosti advertising supplement, Russia: Beyond the Headlines, arrives in the WashPost. This month is no different, especially Vitaly Shlykov and Alexei Pankin’s Op-Ed, “Why We Are Right to Fear NATO.”

It starts with the usual jingoistic gruel, then scoops out this humdinger: “It is important to remember that back at the very end of the 1980s Russia wanted to secede from the USSR no less than any of the Baltic countries or Georgia (and probably a lot more than Ukraine). Additionally, the independence of other Soviet republics was a direct consequence of Russia's own striving for sovereignty.”

Wow. These days, only Ahmadinejad gets credit for this level of historical revisionism.

For the record, the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet was passing laws in a direct challenge to the Russian-dominated Supreme Soviet of the USSR. The Kremlin did everything possible to stop, not encourage, this behavior. According to Shlykov's reasoning, Russia tried to stop constituent republics like Ukraine from leaving the Soviet Union because it also wanted to leave the Soviet Union, a proxy for Russia anyway, so as to promote its own "striving for sovereignty?"

Indeed, Shlykov and Pankin’s argument makes as much sense as begging a judge to let you divorce yourself, rising up in vocal protest as a lawyer for the defendant, then claiming victory when you lost.

Only Gogol could truly understand arguments like this. But Gogol is dead and RIA Novsti can pay to print whatever it wants. It's a shame really, since that last part might have made for a great novella.

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