RF Sitrep 20150827

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 27 August 2015

None until October – travelling (blowing my money before it is burned up in the crash)

STOCK MARKETS. Is this IT? I don’t know – baleful take, bad but not The End. Much is going on under the blanket – China sold US$100 billion in US treasuries in the last 2 weeks. But I don’t see Russia being hit worse than the USA or Europe.

RUSSIA INC. The World Bank, using its PPP calculations, has decided that the Russian economy is bigger than the German one. Its top five are China, the USA, India, Japan and Russia. Its numbers put the BRICS GDP at 96% of the G7’s. The world is changing.

FOOD SANCTIONS. Following an order from Putin, the authorities very publicly destroyed contraband food. Some say this is a terrible idea, others that it is necessary; Russians themselves are split. But new opportunities are being created; here’s a (rather high-end) thing: a co-op of local farmers supplying a store. (In Russian, but you’ll get the idea, click on ФЕРМЕРЫ to meet them. The list is much longer than when I first looked at it a couple of weeks ago.)

JIHADISTS. It is reported that Russian security forces killed the head of the Caucasus Emirate. Gordon Hahn discusses. That he had just been appointed suggests Russian intelligence is ahead of the situation.

MAIDAN MASSACRE. One of the primal events of Maidan mythology is the “heavenly hundred“. One researcher, Ivan Katchanovski (a Canadian, I’m proud to say) has seriously investigated. His conclusion is that it was a “false flag“. Read here what you won’t see in the WMSM.

OSCE IN DONBASS. The OSCE has now about 600 monitors in the area of the fighting. The Donbass locals bitterly complain that the monitors do not blame the Kiev forces for the random shelling of civilian areas (lots of evidence that they do, by the way. One should distinguish, as this AI report does not, between terror shelling and the consequences of fighting.) There have been several protests in Donetsk. I don’t regularly follow the daily SMM reports but I have noticed that while they occasionally ascribe the fire to the Kiev side, they usually report the shelling as if it came from an unknowable location. Their spokesman defends the SMM. However, there is only one possible interpretation of Poroshenko’s assertion that their children will “hole up in basements” and “that is exactly how we will win this war”.

WHY DIDN’T HE SIGN IT? Because Yanukovych’s experts told him the cost would be US$160 billion – far more than the EU said (buried in this story in Der Spiegel). An underestimate as it turns out.

THE STATE OF UKRAINE. Ukraine just celebrated its independence day. Not a happy experience. A Ukrainian source says, since independence, it has had the worst performing economy in the world. In the first six months of this year it’s dropped 16% year on year. (English summary) Even the US media suspects that new IMF money has been stolen. Eight thousand soldiers and police have defected to the Donbass fighters; 1300 security officers. A US poll shows negligible support for the situation. How many Ukrainians have fled to Russia? Several million: last year Russia had more asylum requests than anywhere. Ukrainian refugees are welcomed in Russia, not so much elsewhere. Crime. Theft. Even the Western media occasionally notices: Demoralised Ukraine troops start to lose faith in Kiev, Kiev forced to fight its own fascist militia and Ukraine Is Too Corrupt for Debt Deal to Work. Disaster.

DISASTER. I’ve lost track of all the “formers” who have criticised the Western stance on Ukraine/Russia (all of Merkel’s and Hollande’s living predecessors, I think) but here’s a piece by Dmitriy Babich that sums it up. My take on the lack of forethought by the neocon authors.

ANOTHER DISASTER. People who think ISIS is a consequence of or creation of Washington’s policy received support from the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency when he said “I think it was a willful decision”. Catastrophe piled upon catastrophe.

OOPS! It turns out that the Captive Nations Resolution, reissued routinely, refers to “Cossackia” as well as Ukraine. Does Washington therefore recognise Donbass, presumably part of said “Cossackia”, as separate from Ukraine? Does anybody read these things before they sign them?

???? Norwegian TV is showing a series in which Russia invades Norway. At the request of the EU. To keep the oil flowing. So are the Russians the good guys, or the bad guys?

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Ottawa, Canada Websites: ROPV, US-Russia, Russia Insider

 

Ukraine: Such a Disappointment for a Girl: Hope and change blasted and gone. What to do?

http://russia-insider.com/en/ukraine-such-disappointment-girl/ri9389

JRL/2015/169/11

Remember the girl who wanted lacy undies rather than the shapeless grey scratchy polyester bloomers that the puritanical Putin orders all his female subjects to wear? Although, come to think of it, given gas prices, gas shortages and gas thefts, something warm, no matter how unattractive, might be more practical for a Ukrainian girl today than frilly bits of silk. Well, anyway, apparently she, Olga Znachkova, is trying to get work in Russia. Things didn’t work out for her – or for millions of other Ukrainian girls – quite the way they were advertised, did they? (INSERT http://ruposters.ru/images/news/55155b86c7508_354.jpg) (Of course, she’s an actress and it is more than possible that she was hired for the job as was I’m a Ukrainian. But we can still feel for her letdown, can’t we?)

But spare a thought for another Maidan Girl – the Baker herself. (INSERT http://nationalvanguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/pyatt-nuland-cookies.jpg) What must she be thinking? She did the cookie thing in December 2013 and helped manufacture the new Ukrainian government over the next couple of months. What was she hoping for?

A smooth overthrow of Yanukovych followed by a smooth transition to her hand picked government; the smooth acquiescence of the whole country; an economy that you could pretend was smoothly improving; smooth reductions of corruption perceptions (remember Saakashvili and the traffic police? Something like that); a smoothly quiescent Moscow; smooth US Navy port visits in Sevastopol; smooth track into NATO; Joe Biden’s son smoothly getting rich on fracking. A victory for the US, good return on the $5 billion investment and a BIG loss for Russia. Smooooooth. All done and dusted long before today.

Instead, she manufactured another neocon disaster with nothing smooth about it at all. The US Navy won’t be visiting Sevastopol. When even Saakashvili says it will be years to get back to the pre-Maidan numbers, you know there is no pretending away the economic catastrophe. Russia is not cowed; it is cutting itself loose from the West. The Russia-China alliance, the worst possible outcome for US power, tightens day by day (speaking of port visits, I don’t think she had Chinese warships visiting Novorossiysk in mind). Ukraine will not be fast tracked into NATO. It is torn apart in war. The present government’s popularity ratings are rock bottom. The useful actors of the Maidan riots threaten to overthrow the government. The allies hold to the task but it takes ever more effort on Washington’s part. The sanctions against Russia probably cost Europe more than Russia: Russia can find new importers or make its own but the EU can’t find new markets. The US military is nervous about the prospects of a real war with Russia. The people who live in NATO states – as opposed to their suborned rulers and media outlets – have little enthusiasm for the endless cataclysm (and even less as the outcome of the neocon catastrophes in Libya and Syria arrive for extended visits in their countries). And it can only get worse. Well, on the bright side, Pussy Riot did humiliate a fictional Russian President. And Joe Biden’s son would be getting rich in the fracking business in Ukraine, if there were any fracking business left. Not much, is it?

Nuland still dreams, and never more than in her testimony six months ago: “even as Ukraine began building a peaceful, democratic, independent nation across 93% of its territory, Crimea and parts of eastern Ukraine suffered a reign of terror.” Peaceful, democratic, independent (you, Dear Reader, are invited to Google the contemporary reality of these concepts). But the reality is different. While the Western media usually obediently types out the script it is given, every now and again something leaks through the barrier. Three recent examples: Demoralised Ukraine troops start to lose faith in Kiev, Kiev forced to fight its own fascist militia and Ukraine Is Too Corrupt for Debt Deal to Work.

Personally, I don’t think there was a Plan B. (By the way, has any one of the neocon foreign policy catastrophes of recent years had a follow-up plan or any – even fleeting – consideration of the consequences? I believe that ISIS is another outcome of neocon insouciance and I am gratified to see that the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency agrees.) One has to comprehend how profoundly ignorant Obama and his circle are about Russia: just a year ago we heard “But I do think it’s important to keep perspective. Russia doesn’t make anything. Immigrants aren’t rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking.” No big deal, nothing to worry about unless “nuclear weapons are back in the discussion of foreign policy”. (Which, a year later, as it happens, they are). The Obama team has many other misconceptions. No wonder Nuland expected this feeble, failing semi state – this “gas station masquerading as a country” – to roll over.

So I don’t think there was a follow-up plan – the lacy undies and the naval base were a done deal, so to speak; all that was lacking was the completion of Plan A. (Here’s an interesting post from someone who did think about the consequences. Eighteen months ago. A lot more perceptive than anything out of Washington, don’t you think?)

I would go so far to suggest that the utter collapse of the dreams of Znachkova and Nuland and the lack of an alternative plan drives the increasing shrill statements and themes in the Western MSM. This was not supposed to happen: Nuland & Co, thinking it was weak, fragile and powerless, expected Russia to back down; it was all supposed to be completely over by August 2015. All they can do is to repeat themselves over and over again.

Hope louder! Russia, of course, has always been doomed (here’s Time in 1927) and it was altogether finished in 2001, but it seems that the intensity of the doom saying has been stepped up as if wishing so made it so. Has an ‘open society’ doomed Russia to fail? (September 2012); Russia Is Doomed (March 2014); Why Putin’s Adventure in Ukraine Is Doomed (April 2014); Putin’s Nationalism and Expansion Strategy Is Doomed to Fail (September 2014); Sorry, Putin. Russia’s economy is doomed (December 2014); Remember Russia? It’s still doomed (January 2015); Morgan Stanley thinks Russia’s doomed (February 2015). Shout louder! they can’t hear you in Moscow.

More threats and futile gestures! “Dragoon ride”; “A message to Russia” in Bulgaria – 4 tanks, 3 guns and 6 recce vehicles (!); “unacceptable to the international community“. It’s no wonder that some US military leaders are starting to get nervous.

More sanctions! A half century of sanctions didn’t bend Cuba but they will bend Russia – just one more round and Putin will come crashing down.

More hysterical assertions! Umpteen thousand Russian troops in or near Ukraine! MH17 tribunal! Another invasion of Ukraine strangely unobserved by the gigantic American intelligence apparatus! More submarines in Sweden! Dangerous air activities near NATO warships peacefully sailing in the Black Sea or Baltic Sea! Santa Claus! Giant hogweed! Corbyn! Brutal goat deaths! Nasty thoughts! Manufacturing slowdowns! Putin’s crazy!

Back in 2013 Olga and Vicky could taste it, wear it, phone it, see it. Where are the lacy undies? Why isn’t the US Navy in Sevastopol?

Questions a Real MH17 Report Would Answer: If it doesn’t, it’s a coverup

http://russia-insider.com/en/questions-real-mh17-report-would-answer/ri9226

http://russialist.org/johnsons-russia-list-jrl-2015-159-monday-17-august-2015/

http://newcoldwar.org/mh17-questions-a-real-report-would-answer-if-it-doesnt-its-a-coverup/

http://newcoldwar.org/mh17-questions-a-real-report-would-answer-if-it-doesnt-its-a-coverup/

https://alethonews.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/questions-a-real-mh17-report-would-answer/

http://mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.ca/2015/08/patrick-armstrong-questions-real-mh17.html

http://www.opednews.com/Quicklink/Questions-a-Real-MH17-Repo-by-Natylie-Baldwin-Mh17-Aircraft_Mh17-Airline-Crash-150816-315.html

http://whatreallyhappened.com/content/questions-real-mh17-report-would-answer#axzz3jjk3QIGZ

https://twitter.com/Hermius1/status/632666232672624640

https://www.reddit.com/r/russia/comments/3h3txg/questions_a_real_mh17_report_would_answer_if_it/

http://bryanwalston.blogspot.ca/2015/08/questions-real-mh17-report-would-answer.html

http://saidaonline.info/russia-news/mh17-questions-a-real-report-would-answer-if-it-doesnt-its-a-coverup/

We are promised a report of the MH17 crash by October. Or is it already completed but you and I can’t see it? Anyway, something that we can all see is supposed to appear in a couple of months – which would be about 15 months after it happened.

Personally, I don’t expect much: the “Putin killed my son” meme has been implanted by thousands of MSM expectorations and nailed down by politicians like Australia’s Julie Bishop demanding that Moscow “accept responsibility for the death of 298 people“. I do not expect a report produced by Ukraine (a beneficiary of that meme), two NATO members, Bishop’s Australia and Malaysia (especially as it was added to the group as an afterthought four months later) to dissent. And I expect even less form the report now that we know that “All parties to the criminal investigation have signed a non-disclosure agreement, which requires consensus among the parties before information regarding the investigation will be released“.

Furthermore we all know perfectly well that if there were radar tracks or satellite photos or air traffic controller conversations or electronic intercepts or “black box” data supporting Bishop’s assertions we would have heard about them. More than once. The fact that we have not is eloquent: “a dog that did not bark in the night”.

But one can hope.

I enumerate here some issues that a real report would discuss and that a coverup would ignore. In my opinion the list can be used to assess the seriousness of the report. If few or none are addressed, then it’s just not a real investigation. If all we have is “must haves…” or “might haves…” or “large number of high-energy objects” or twitter, or Bellingcat, then it’s a coverup. After more than a year, with all the access claimed by the Joint Investigation Team, there should be real evidence and real conclusions based on that evidence.

There’s lots of stuff I don’t think we need to worry about. I don’t believe that it was really MH370; there’s no need to take anything Bellingcat says seriously; this is obviously not a Boeing 777 crashing; this so-called missile launch video is fake; this photo of a fighter and MH17 that appeared in one Russian media outlet probably is too; this alleged recording from a Russian newspaper doesn’t convince me. I know there’s a whole industry of fakery out there and a lot of incentives. On the other hand, the Western news media told plenty of lies about “looting the site” and so on. While it’s not in the remit of the JIT to apologise, it might be honourable if it were to acknowledge that as good and respectful a job as possible was done.

The report must address the questions listed below. Maybe the answers can’t be known, but there must at least be indication that the investigators took them into account and either accepted or dismissed them for logical or evidential reasons. For example, pretending that the people who say they saw MH17 shot down by fighter planes do not exist is not acceptable. Drawings like this, or “social media” are not good enough: we have to be shown some boulders from the famous “mountain of evidence“.

Real evidence, real discussion, real consideration, real answers. A real investigation.

I have noted below in italics what, in my opinion, are the truly unavoidable issues. But here’s the summary, if you don’t want to read it all.

IN SUMMARY

The “black boxes” and other data available to the JIT will tell us where MH17 was when it was hit, what direction it was going in, what speed it was travelling.

Analysis of the damage pattern of the wreckage will show where the missile was when it detonated.

Backtracking from that point will show from where it was launched.

Lethal fragments will show what weapon hit it.

These facts, and the route change, are the most important of the important facts. A report that doesn’t deal with these is a coverup.

BEFORE

Earlier routes of this daily Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight travelled well south of the fighting area, over the Sea of Azov. This day the plane was sent over the fighting area. Who did it? Then the Flight Aware tracks were changed. Who did that? (Note: this question is very important. First the re-direction and then the falsification. Prima facie evidence of a purposeful conspiracy and one that could not possibly be attributed to Moscow or to the rebels. At the time I looked the routes up on FlightAware and saw the earlier ones well south of the fighting. Then, a few days later, I saw that all the earlier tracks had been moved north. But I didn’t have the wit to make screen captures of the earlier tracks. Others did, however, and here they are.)

Does Carlos the Spanish traffic controller exist? If so, what he says is extremely important evidence. Effort should be made to track down the story.

Where are the recordings of flight traffic controllers’ communications with MH17 in the zones it passed through?

DURING

The Russians have provided radar plots showing the route of MH 17. Where are those from Ukrainian or Polish air traffic controllers? Were there fighter planes near it? (Especially important is the Russian-alleged presence of fighter planes near MH17. That cannot be sloughed over: true or false?)

We know US/NATO exercises were being carried out within radar or satellite observation. Where is this information?

Robert Perry says his contacts in the US intelligence establishment have evidence that the missile was fired from Kiev-held territory. Yes or no?

Numerous people claim to have seen MH17 shot down by fighter planes. Conversations of the first people on the scene reiterate this. “Carlos the flight controller” says it. These testimonies must be investigated and verified or rejected; if the latter, with reasons. (Another of the key points: all this would have been visible on radar. Is it, or isn’t it?)

Many people claim the phone intercepts and social media cited by the US State Department are fakes. True or false?

It is claimed that a Ukrainian air force ground staff member, now in Russia, says he saw Ukrainian fighter planes take off that day, one returning without missiles. Perhaps he’s lying, but the investigation cannot ignore his testimony: he must be interviewed and his statement assessed.

A Buk missile leaves a very prominent trail. Where are the witnesses?

Here’s a report that sources in the Ukrainian security structure say Ukrainian forces shot it down by accident. Why should this particular story, of the innumerable assertions of this and that, be considered, you ask? Because it wouldn’t be the first time Ukrainian air defence units shot down a civilian aircraft by accident and then lied about it. That fact alone makes it worthy of at least a paragraph in a real report.

THE WRECKAGE

If the cause was an internal explosion, the wreckage should show unmistakeable evidence. This possibility must be ruled out. (Of course an internal explosion – which no one expects to have been the case – would change everything.)

Graham Phillips tells us the area still has many fragments and that the investigators seem to be incurious about them. Is this true?

What do the autopsies on the pilots tell us? Is this story about a coverup true? Are those bullet holes in the pilot’s chair? Are those bullet holes in the pilots’ section of the nose? These questions should be fairly easily answered one way or the other. (A serious report must account for the apparently circular holes shown in many photographs).

The wreckage probably contains missile warhead fragments and/or bullets. These are carefully designed – they are not random bits of langrage. A Buk warhead has thousands of distinctive fragments; depending on their shape, the type of Buk warhead can be determined. Likewise a piece of linked rod warhead would be apodictic evidence of an air to air missile (is this one? source). A cannon round would be apodictic evidence of gunfire. The shape, composition and weight of lethal fragments are diagnostic in identifying the weapon that brought it down. (If bullets or non-Buk warhead fragments are found, the conventional Western accusation is decisively contradicted.)

There should be enough evidence from the destruction pattern of the wreckage to show where the warhead was when it detonated. That combined with the location and direction of travel of MH17 at the moment of detonation will tell us from where the missile was fired. The omission of this information would be another fatal flaw. (Another key piece of evidence: for example Almaz-Antey’s analysis concludes it was a Buk, of a model no longer possessed by Russian air defence forces, and that it could only have been fired from Kiev-held territory).

THE INVESTIGATION

Why does Ukraine have a veto on publication?

Why was Malaysia – the owner of the aircraft, after all – only added to the JIT in November 2014?

Why are Belgium and Australia on the investigation team at all? Especially after the Foreign Minister of the latter already decided Russia was culpable?

We had remarkably full information on the Germanwings crash in the Alps within weeks, with many details from the “black boxes” including sound in the cockpit. Why has this investigation taken so long?

AND…

We are told (recently) that the investigators believe they may have recovered fragments of a Buk missile from the crash site. Does this make sense to you? It doesn’t to me. MH17 was heading south-east at an altitude of 10,000 metres. The US scenario has the missile fired from north-west (head on), the Almaz-Antey reconstruction has the missile coming from the south-west (starboard side). The fragments of the aircraft would continue with their momentum, the fragments of the missile body and engine with their momentum; in neither case would one expect to see wreckage from the two very close to each other.

Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

(especially when you know that any real evidence would have been

plastered on every front page, news program and op-ed piece.)

RF Sitrep 20150806

RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 6 August 2015

MH17. Before you agree that Russia’s veto of the UN tribunal idea is evidence that Putindunnit, you should know two things. First, there already is a UNSC resolution calling for “full, thorough and independent international investigation” and “those responsible for this incident be held to account”. It is UNSC Resolution 2166 and dates from a year ago. Who needs another? Second, that one of those calling for the new resolution – Australia’s Julie Bishop – condemned Russia a year ago for refusing to accept responsibility for the shootdown. Clearly a kangaroo court (as it were) was intended. As we have seen before with Milosevic and Qaddafi. Rather than stunts, Washington should first show us its “mountain of evidence” as a group of retired US intelligence professionals demand.

SANCTIONS. The Russian counter sanctions on food are having a beneficial effect on local producers as this Austrian TV report shows. Here’s a visitor’s report of what he found in St Petersburg and environs. Here’s what Americans are told: “Je suis Charlie et je suis fromage“. Costs to the EU are still being estimated: Belgium US$500 million; Germany 600-800 million; overall maybe 5 billion. Or even 100 billion when everything is calculated. In light of Stratfor’s observation that Washington is determined to keep Germany and Russia apart, one wonders which Washington wants to hurt. For the effect on Russia, Reuters reports the IMF’s take: “The fund estimated the immediate effect… had been to wipe between 1pc and 1.5pc off GDP, rising to 9pc over the next few years… also forecast “weak” economic growth of around 1.5pc annually in the medium term.” Does that make sense to you? Or is it an estimate of what might have been?At any rate, however you spin or measure it, this is not “tatters“.

THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY is declared an “undesirable organisation”. (The first of many to come. Read the WaPo piece from 1991 for suggestions). Read my piece on RI for a good laugh: there actually was a time when, rather than pretending to be about civil society and other warm and fluffy things, they openly boasted about doing openly what the CIA used to do clandestinely: “spyless coups”.

INTERNATIONAL ARMY GAMES. Mud (last year; but this year there will be plenty), noise, loud bangs, explosions, expensive crashes. Not as much fun as fireworks, but even more money blown up!

LITVINENKOISM IN LONDON. Read this – a complete evidence-free farce that ignores what actual evidence there is. More war propaganda.

ARCTIC. Russia has put in its opening bid and, like Canada and Denmark, is calling the Lomonosov Ridge its own. The US, unable to do so, says it’s international. I fearlessly predict the whole thing, after much negotiation, will have everyone stopping at the Pole. The amusement will be watching the spinners trying to condemn Russia for trying what everyone else is trying.

SUBMARINES. Sweden has finally found a Russian submarine. It sank in 1916. By the way, when is anyone going to notice that we only hear stories of “Russian submarines” poking around in neutral countries with interest groups that want to join NATO but not in actual NATO countries?

MISTRAL. Agreement is reached and they say France will pay more than a billion euros in compensation. So what to do with two ships no one wants? Scuttle them? Sell them to China to sell to Russia?

“FEAR GROWS…” Always amusing to see how Western news consumers are prepared for “narrative changes”. FT here. Russian officials and media have long demonised Right Sector as neo-Nazis… Now some Ukrainians who previously dismissed the threat posed by Right Sector are growing nervous“. Reuters here: “Such talk and recent violent incidents involving members of unofficial armed groups have raised government concerns about radicals running out of control“. So, those Russian officials were actually correct all along? The US Ambassador (of telephonic fame) is unconcerned: “exaggerated”.

UKRAINE SALVATION COMMITTEE. Ukraine’s former Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov, has announced a Ukraine Salvation Committee; he said neither Yanukovych nor any of his associates was welcome and claimed to have members inside Ukraine. The Kremlin says it had nothing to do with it. Which may even be true: it is a little late. But, when Ukraine comes to its miserable end, it might come in handy.

RUMBLINGS. Disquiet: the “Assembly of Northern Bukovina Romanians” declares the region a “province of Romania” and a parliamentarian says the Rivne region is on the brink of civil war. True, false, who knows? But not everybody loves Bandera and the Galicia SS Division view of history.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Ottawa, Canada Websites: ROPV, US-Russia, Russia Insider

WaPo Says the NED Does What the CIA Used to Do: But they’ve forgotten they said that

http://russia-insider.com/en/wapo-says-ned-does-what-cia-used-do/ri9078

2015-#150-Johnson’s Russia List

Russia has expelled the National Endowment for Democracy. This is a fully-funded-by-the-US-government entity that has the nerve, on its home page, to describe itself as a “private, nonprofit foundation” with a “nongovernmental character”. It has just been declared an undesirable organisation in Russia.

As to be expected, the Washington Post, in its role as Stern Defender of the Right, especially where Russia is concerned, fulminated a few days ago that “Vladimir Putin is suffocating his own nation“.

IN THE tumult and uncertainty that marked Russia after the Soviet Union imploded, when the state was weak and many institutions tottering, a vital lifeline was extended from the West. The U.S. government, as well as foundations and philanthropies, responded generously. The financier George Soros, through his Open Society Foundations, provided small grants that sustained many impoverished scientists. The MacArthur Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) were vital sources of support to civil society, education and human rights.

Now, President Vladimir Putin is forcing these organizations out of Russia, using law enforcement and a parliament that he controls. Mr. Putin’s larger target is to destroy civil society, that vital two-way link in any democracy between the rulers and the ruled. The latest move, announced Tuesday, is to declare the NED an “undesirable” organization under the terms of a law that Mr. Putin signed in May. The law bans groups from abroad who are deemed a “threat to the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, its defense capabilities and its national security.”

The charge against the NED is patently ridiculous. The NED’s grantees in Russia last year ran the gamut of civil society. They advocated transparency in public affairs, fought corruption and promoted human rights, freedom of information and freedom of association, among other things. All these activities make for a healthy democracy but are seen as threatening from the Kremlin’s ramparts.

The charge is “patently ridiculous” is it? Let’s step into the time machine provided by Mr Google and travel back to 1991 when the WaPo thought it had the future of Russia all figured out.

There we find – note the title – “Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups” by David Ignatius. “Spyless coups” indeed. That sounds a bit like what the Russian MFA said, doesn’t it?

The analysis of concrete projects shows that most of them are aimed at destabilizing by various means the internal situation in countries that pursue an independent policy in accordance with their own national interests rather than on orders from Washington.

Anyway, back then, Ignatius positively gloried in the idea of “spyless coups”.

There’s an obvious lesson here for Gates, or whoever ends up heading the CIA. The old concept of covert action, which has gotten the agency into such trouble during the past 40 years, may be obsolete. Nowadays, sensible activities to support America’s friends abroad (or undermine its enemies) are probably best done openly. That includes paramilitary operations such as supporting freedom fighters, which can be managed overtly by the Pentagon. And it includes political-support operations for pro-democracy activists, which may be best left to the new network of overt operators…

“A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” agrees Weinstein. The biggest difference is that when such activities are done overtly, the flap potential is close to zero. Openness is its own protection.

Allen Weinstein is just one of many overt operatives who helped prepare the way for the political miracles of the past two years by sponsoring exchanges and other contacts with liberal reformers from the East. It’s worth naming a few more of them, to show the breadth of this movement for democracy: William Miller of the American Committee on U.S.-Soviet Relations; financier George Soros of the Soros Foundation; John Mroz of the Center for East-West Security Studies; John Baker of the Atlantic Council; and Harriett Crosby of the Institute for Soviet-American Relations. This has truly been a revolution by committee…

The sugar daddy of overt operations has been the National Endowment for Democracy, a quasi-private group headed by Carl Gershman that is funded by the U.S. Congress. Through the late 1980s, it did openly what had once been unspeakably covert — dispensing money to anti-communist forces behind the Iron Curtain.

Gershman, still doing business at the same stand, isn’t happy either: “the latest evidence that the regime of President Vladimir Putin faces a worsening crisis of political legitimacy” and so on.

QED, as they say; the NED is indeed busy overthrowing governments the USA doesn’t like (“undermining its enemies” – what could be plainer than that?).

Just as the Russians say.

I guess the Washington Post people don’t read their own paper.

Although I suppose that, for them, “friends” have “democracy” and “enemies” don’t. By definition.