Monday, 22 January 2007

Putin's Russia

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"KGB influence 'soars under Putin,'" blared the headline of a BBC online article for December 13, 2006. The following day, a similar headline echoed a similarly alarming story at the website of Der Spiegel, one of Germany's largest news magazines: "Putin's Russia: Kremlin Riddled with Former KGB Agents."

In the opening sentences of Der Spiegel's article, readers are informed that: "Four out of five members of Russia's political and business elite have a KGB past, according to a new study by the prestigious [Russian] Academy of Sciences. The influence of ex-Soviet spies has ballooned under President Vladimir Putin."

The study, which looked at 1,061 top Kremlin, regional, and corporate jobs, found that "78 percent of the Russian elite" are what are known in Russia as "siloviki," which is to say, former members of the KGB or its domestic successor, the FSB. The author of the study, Olga Kryshtanovskaya, expressed shock at her own findings. "I was very shocked when I looked at the boards of major companies and realized there were lots of people who had completely unknown names, people who were not public but who were definitely, obvious siloviki," she told Reuters.

Other supposed experts — in Russia and the West — have also expressed surprise and alarm at the apparent resurrection of the dreaded Soviet secret police. After all, for the past decade and a half these same experts have been pointing to the alleged demise of the KGB as the primary evidence supporting their claim that communism is dead.

From the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the Russian security apparatus Cheka (and its later permutations: OGPU, NKVD, MGB, KGB) had been the "sword and shield" of the communist world revolution.

"We stand for organized terror," declared Felix Dzerzhinsky, the first chief of the Cheka for Soviet dictator Vladimir Lenin. In 1918, Dzerzhinsky launched the campaign of arrests and executions known as the Red Terror. Krasnaya Gazeta, the Bolshevik newspaper, expressed the Chekist credo when it reported approvingly in 1918 of the terror campaign: "We will make our hearts cruel, hard and immovable, so that no mercy will enter them, and so that they will not quiver at the sight of a sea of enemy blood."

Unflinching cruelty and merciless, bloody terror have been the trademark of the communist secret police, from the Cheka to the KGB. Obviously, the demise of such an organization would be cause for much rejoicing. Hence, when the KGB was ordered dissolved and its chairman, General Vladimir Kryuchkov, was arrested in 1991 after attempting to overthrow "liberal reformer" Mikhail Gorbachev in the failed "August Coup," many people in the West were only too willing to pop the champagne corks and start celebrating our supposed victory over the Evil Empire.

But, as Mikhail Leontiyev, commentator for Russia's state-controlled Channel One television, recently noted, repeating a phrase popular among the siloviki: "Americans got so drunk at the USSR's funeral that they're still hung over." And stumbling around in their post-inebriation haze, many of these Americans have only recently begun noticing that they had prematurely written the KGB's epitaph, even as it was arising vampire-like from the coffin.

However, there is really no excuse for Olga Kryshtanovskaya or any of her American counterparts to be stunned by the current siloviki dominance in Putin's Russia. For nearly a decade, even before he became Russia's "president," THE NEW AMERICAN has been reporting on Putin's KGB pedigree and his steady implementation of a long-range Soviet deception strategy, including the public rehabilitation and refortifying of the KGB-FSB.

We reported in 1999, for instance, on Putin's ominously revealing speech for Security Organs Day, celebrating the accomplishments of Dzerzhinsky and the Cheka. We reported in 2002 on Putin's restoration of important communist symbols:

• the Red Star, as Russia's official military emblem;

• the Red Banner, as Russia's military flag;

• the music of the old Soviet anthem, albeit with new words;

• and his attempt, along with Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, to restore the giant statue of Dzerzhinsky to its former place of honor in Moscow's Lubyanka Square.

Public opposition to the glorification of "Iron Felix" have (temporarily) scotched Putin's plans for Dzerzhinsky's statue. Nevertheless, as we have reported, in 2005, Putin did restore a smaller bust of the mass-murdering Chekist to a pedestal at the infamous Lubyanka headquarters of the KGB-FSB.

Any reasonable person would have seen these events as very significant clues that maybe Vladimir Putin is not the "reformer" and the "democrat" that Boris Yeltsin, Bill Clinton, George Bush, and the New York Times told us he is. And if those clues weren't enough, there is a trail of corpses from Chechnya to London, as well as Putin's Soviet-style foreign and domestic policies that hearken to Brezhnev and Andropov, if not Stalin. The recent murder-by-poison of KGB-FSB defector Alexander Litvinenko in London and the murders of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, special forces operative Movladi Baisarov, central bank official Andrei Kozlov, and ex-FSB general Anatoly Trofimov — to name but a few — are sending an unmistakable message to everyone with eyes to see and ears to hear that the KGB (though not under that name) is firmly in control of the Kremlin.

Defector Exposes Deception

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The media-anointed Russian experts have proven time and again to be spectacularly, dangerously wrong. We, at THE NEW AMERICAN, have chosen instead to rely upon verifiable facts, combined with analysis informed by the incomparable insights of Anatoliy Golitsyn, arguably the most important Soviet defector ever to come to the West.

No other defector has had access to the KGB's inner sanctum, where the Soviet Union's top-secret, long-range plans for strategic deception were hatched. And no other Russian expert comes close to matching Mr. Golitsyn's accurate analysis and prescient predictions concerning the Soviet bloc and its current incarnation as Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Golitsyn's astounding track record, which stretches back more than 40 years, fundamentally challenges every major assumption underpinning U.S. policies concerning Russia, the CIS, China, and the global communist system.

If Golitsyn is correct, then rather than winning the Cold War, as Western politicians, military leaders, academicians, and media figures have been proclaiming since 1991, we instead have been celebrating while in very grave peril. Like the ancient Trojans, we have fallen for one of the oldest deceptions. Unable to breach Troy's impregnable walls, the Greeks feigned defeat and pretended to fade away. Believing that they had finally defeated the Greeks, the Trojans brought the Greeks' peace offering — the giant wooden horse — inside their formidable walls. And while the Trojans were engaged in celebrating — well, we know the rest of the story.

According to Golitsyn, in 1960 the Communist Party Central Committee of the Soviet Union, with implementing help from the KGB, secretly set in motion a long-range plan that is still playing out today. A key feature of this plan would be a whole series of controlled "splits" within the communist movement and between communist countries that the Kremlin strategists would use to manipulate Western policies. This was initiated at the 1960 Moscow Congress of 81 communist parties from around the world. All genuine factions, splits, and power struggles within the communist bloc were completely ended at that meeting. From that point forward, any such infighting between communists, or any popular resistance against communism, would be artificial and under the full control of the extensive secret-police networks permeating societies under communist rule.

The "Sino-Soviet Split," the alleged splits between the USSR and Romania, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia, and Moscow's "break" with so-called "Eurocommunist" moderates in Western Europe were all elaborate deceptions managed by the Kremlin and its KGB strategists. An equally elaborate deception is the KGB-created "Russian Mafia," which is blamed for the corruption, violence, chaos, and mayhem that have plagued Russia and the CIS since they "went capitalist." In truth, all of the leading Russian crime bosses, the "oligarchs," — Loutchansky, Gusinsky, Berezovsky, Khordokovsky, Mogilevich — are veterans of the KGB-FSB and/or the Komsomol, the Communist Youth, and were "set up" in business by the KGB, following a refined version of Lenin's New Economic Program of the 1920s. Besides providing the fictitious appearance of a genuine free market to attract Western capital and technology, the KGB-Mafia also provides an efficient means for dealing with political undesirables: when a foreign or domestic "troublemaker" needs to be liquidated, it can be done with the blame falling on unidentified criminal elements, rather than the State, or communist officials.

Amazingly Accurate Predictions

With his intimate knowledge of the KGB strategy, Golitsyn accurately foresaw, years ahead of actual events, many specific developments that have now occurred. He correctly predicted that Soviet dictator Yuri Andropov would be succeeded by "a younger leader with a more liberal image," perfectly describing Mikhail Gorbachev and the political restructuring process that would be carried out under the name "perestroika."

In his 1984 blockbuster book, New Lies for Old, Golitsyn correctly predicted that Solidarity would be legalized in Poland and allowed to form a coalition government with the communists after sham multiparty elections. He also foresaw, with astonishing precision, democratization in Czechoslovakia, with a revival of former communist dictator Dubcek and close allies; the opening of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany as the core for a United Europe; the implementation of "democracy" in such countries as Romania and Hungary; the end of the Warsaw Pact; and the efforts of Eastern European governments to join the European Community as a prelude to unification with the West. Golitsyn even stated that these changes would begin during the five years following his 1984 book — which actually happened, from Gorbachev's appointment in 1985 to the renewal in Eastern Europe since early 1989.

Mark Riebling, author of the important 1994 book Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and CIA, says of Golitsyn's predictions in New Lies for Old: "139 out of 148 were fulfilled by the end of 1993 — an accuracy rate of nearly 94 percent." That record is even more astonishing when one considers that Mr. Riebling's assessment includes only the more prominent of Golitsyn's projections; it does not include many of his more subtle analyses and forecasts. No other foreign policy analyst even comes close to Golitsyn's level of accuracy and depth of analysis.

James J. Angleton, the CIA's chief of counterintelligence, and Alexander Count de Marenches, who headed French intelligence, both saw Golitsyn as an invaluable ally and an indispensable asset in our efforts to understand the Soviets' geo-political chess game. Unfortunately, both of these men were opposed by powerful forces in their governments who wanted to believe in and embrace the perestroika deception. Angleton and de Marenches were fired, while Golitsyn and his warnings were ignored — when they weren't scorned and ridiculed.

A Not-so-grand Bargain

On May 20, 1991, Russia's economic adviser Grigory A. Yavlinsky met with a group of cognoscenti from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the private U.S. organization that has dominated both Republican and Democratic administrations since at least FDR's time. The group, which included Stephen Sachs, Graham Allison, Stanley Fischer, and Robert Blackwill, drew up what they termed a "grand bargain" which recommended granting the Soviets $15 to $30 billion per year for several years. A few days later, on May 24, the New York Times went even further with an editorial ("A Western Spur to Soviet Reform") urging a Soviet bailout package of $150 billion. This was followed with an article by Allison and Blackwill in the CFR's prestigious journal Foreign Affairs calling for aid of "$15 billion to $20 billion per year for each of the next three years."

At a 47-nation Soviet aid conference convened in Washington in January 1992, President George Bush (the elder) pledged more than $5 billion. But that was just to prime the pump; untold billions have followed since.

As costly as our Russian foreign policy has been financially, the cost to our national security has been immeasurably greater. For more than two decades, America's leaders have marched our nation headlong into the deadly perestroika trap, ignoring the warnings of Anatoliy Golitsyn and the overwhelming evidence that vindicates those warnings. They have embraced the Russian and CIS leaders as our "allies" and intertwined our military, police, and intelligence agencies as "partners" in global security.

Now, with Putin's FSB Chekists coming brazenly into the open, it is long past time to repudiate this deception and reverse course — before the trap door is shut and bolted behind us.