Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Latvian Expose of Edward Lucas

Many people know of a certain publication misleadingly named The Economist, its burning love for Russia, and its amazing track record of predicting the impending collapse of Russia's economy. Some of them also know that the brain (and I use the term loosely) behind The Economist's publications on Russia is a certain Edward Lucas. And some of those suspect that Lucas is really more of a professional propagandist rather than a journalist. But there was this one nagging question: who does Lucas's propaganda serve?

But now, thanks to the brave investigative effort of our Latvian colleagues, the truth has finally emerged. A brilliant Latvian mind of our century, INĀRA MŪRNIECE, writes on the pages of Latvijas Avīzē:

New portals that force on their readers a certain point of view
advantageous to Russia are being created on the Internet.

For example, an interview with E. Lucas published in Latvijas Avīzē
was translated into Russian and posted on the InoSMI.ru portal on the morning of
the very same day.

In an ironic twist, the brave investigative reporter's expose was immediately translated into Russian and posted on InoSMI.ru, thereby forcing a certain point of view advantageous to Russia on its unsuspecting readers.

An astute and logical reader might pause here and ask: in what way do translations of Latvian and other foreign newspapers into Russian, of articles such as "It is Time for the West to Open its Eyes [to the dangers that the state led by Putin's Chekists creates for the world]" (that's Lucas's insightful interview) and "How Russian Propaganda Works" (that's the above mentioned brilliant piece of investigative reporting), can "force a certain point of view advantageous to Russia"? And then roll his eyes, write it off to "Latvian logic", and forget the whole thing.

But we must dig deeper, just like the intrepid Latvian reporter! We might recall that the shrill anti-Russian whining in Western media has reached an apex in the runup to the Russian election season starting in the fall of 2007. Edward Lucas himself bravely jumped into the thick of it, coming up with his magnum opus entitled "The New Cold War: How the Kremlin menaces both Russia and the West", not to mention the usual volume of various rants in the media. And yet, if we look at the facts, we immediately see a discrepancy. For example, Putin's global confidence rating is not only up 4 points since last year, but he is now the most trusted national leader on the planet (granted, all national leaders are mistrusted, but Putin is the least mistrusted one). And it's not just Putin. According to a BBC poll, the global view of Russia as a whole has improved the most of any other counry in that poll, from 29% positive to 37% positive.

Huh? So the harder Lucas works, the better Russia's image gets? What? How is that possible? Wait, wait... Let's put two and two together carefully. So the brilliant Latvian reporter found that disseminating Lucas's views serves the purposes of Russian propaganda. And we know Lucas is a propagandist... So, this is the missing piece of the puzzle! Lucas is a Russian propagandist! Eureka!

Good job, Ed! You had me puzzled for a while. Who would've thought that you really work for Russia? That's a nice cover you got there. But Latvians saw right through you. Can't hide now, Eddie! Come clean, how much is the Kremlin paying you?