Tags: Moscow | Using | Spy | Mania | Totalitarian | Tool

Moscow Using Spy Mania as a Totalitarian Tool

Tuesday, 15 May 2001 12:00 AM

College students from around the country in Moscow at government expense listened to patriotic speeches, held hands and swayed to the national anthem, praising Putin for his contribution in uniting the country and consolidating power in Russia.

Russia today has trouble practically everywhere and its population has been shrinking since 1993, when it numbered 148 million, to 145 million in 2000, with the practically unavoidable possibility to further decline to below 135 million by 2016.

The Kremlin has trouble paying its employees, its soldiers and its pensioners and its foreign debts, but has found millions of dollars to fund a new state program designed to promote the popularity of the president and his policies. After establishing control over the last relatively independent media empire, Media-Most, Moscow has significantly increased its propaganda activity of "reeducating” the people and inspiring new respect for the government.

Russia is really more united than any time during the last 10 years, mostly because of Putin, who is seeking personal authoritarian rule at the expense of democracy, whose roots he is systematically and continuously destroying. This process is accompanied by an anti-Western propaganda campaign, particularly by developing spy-mania among ordinary Russians.

After the recent expulsion of American diplomats in retaliation for the expulsion of 50 Russian spies from the U.S. in the wake of the Hanssen spy affair, this tactic took a new turn. Moscow is now using these "spy cases” fabricated by special services to promote an idea that practically every foreigner in Russia could be a spy, and to prevent unauthorized contacts between Russians and Americans and other Western citizens.

In the darkest days of the Stalin dictatorship, many thousands of people were jailed and executed for unauthorized contacts with foreigners. However, recent developments are clearly demonstrating that those dark days are fast returning to modern-day Russia.

Last month Russian security services orchestrated a spy trail against John Tobin, the U.S. Fulbright scholar at Voronezh State University, 300 miles south of Moscow. He has been accused of being a trainee U.S. secret agent on the basis of information that Mr.Tobin had some military intelligence training, spoke fluent Russian, attended the Defense Language Institute and was a member of the 325th Army Reserve military intelligence unit based in Waterbury, Conn.

However, fabricated evidence against Mr.Tobin was so weak that during his trial Russian special services didn’t have any alternative but to alter the charges against him, and he was convicted merely of "obtaining, possessing and distribution” of drugs and was sentenced to jail. However, the major reason for Tobin’s conviction became clear several days later after he had a chance to send a letter to his family and girlfriend.

In his letter John Tobin claimed his trial on drug charges came after officials from Russian special services tried to recruit him as a spy for Russia. The Fulbright scholar rejected their offer and was sentenced to 37 months in prison because Russian authorities discovered a small matchbox containing marijuana on him when he was arrested Jan. 26 at a local nightclub. Planting fabricated "evidence” was a KGB tradition and its successors look like very good students of the former Soviet secret police.

On April 26, a high-ranking official from Russian FSB (Federal Security Service, the major KGB successor in domestic spying) said that foreign spies are showing more interest in his country’s defense secrets, notably anti-missile defense capabilities, ties with Iran, Iraq and other Russian friends. Although no nation was mentioned by name, the clear inference was that Western intelligence was at work.

Last year, the FSB arrested U.S. businessman Edmond Pope for "seeking to buy” designs of Russia’s advanced "Shkval” torpedo, which anybody could buy at the international arms markets. Convicted last December and jailed for 20 years, he was freed a week later after a presidential pardon by Vladimir Putin, who as a former KGB official knew exactly that Pope was completely innocent.

These "spy cases” are connected with U.S. citizens and thus became known to the international community, which pays little attention to spy cases involving ordinary Russians. However, in recent months the FSB has orchestrated several trials against Russian individuals, convicting them for spying.

For example, last month ex-intelligence officer Valeri Ojamae was sentenced to seven years after a Moscow court convicted him of spying for Britain and Estonia. The former intelligence agent denied the accusations.

Russian scientist Igor Sutyagin is on trial for allegedly passing secrets about Russia’s submarines to the United States and Britain. The arms expert at Moscow’s respected USA-Canada Institute denies the charges. Earlier that month, the FSB said it had charged another scientist Valentin Danilov with trying to sell space research secrets to the foreign countries. He also denies the accusations.

This list could go on and on, but although an international community doesn’t know about these "spy cases” all of them are very actively exploited by Moscow propaganda to promote the idea that, lead by the United States, Western democracies are trying to damage Russia’s national interests and to destroy the motherland.

Propaganda doesn’t work well in democratic societies, but in authoritarian countries, where people have no other sources of information but that coming from the government, it works very well. If 10 years ago many Russians looked at the United States as a role model for their democratic and economic development, now more and more people are buying the propaganda that is coming to them from the Kremlin and is based on anti-Western sentiments and fabricated "evidence.”

The continuous public support of Putin’s policies can be partly explained by his activities aimed at America and the West thanks to the Clinton-Gore administration, which generally ignored growing anti-Western sentiments in Russia and based its policy toward Moscow on their "sweat-heart deals” with corrupt Kremlin officials.

However, if this tendency continues, the United States in the near future will be facing a much more hostile, consolidated and totalitarian country spanning 11 time zones from the Bering Strait to the Baltic Sea - a country which has thousands of nuclear weapons and abundant reserves of oil, gas, metals, diamonds and other natural resources.

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College students from around the country in Moscow at government expense listened to patriotic speeches, held hands and swayed to the national anthem, praising Putin for his contribution in uniting the country and consolidating power in Russia. Russia today has trouble...
Tuesday, 15 May 2001 12:00 AM
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