Jun 18, 2007

Nato Stooges Unplugged: Georgian President Praises Financial Times’s Role In Propaganda War

Are the leaders of the pro-Western "color revolutions" fulfilling the freedom-loving aspirations of their people, or are they merely servants of a NATO plot to dominate the world, with key support from Britain's Financial Times newspaper?

Until a few weeks ago, the answer to that question depended on whose propaganda you believed: the West's, or the Kremlin's.

But then the Ukrainian press got a hold of secretly recorded telephone conversations between Ukraine's pro-Western president Viktor Yuschenko, who led the Orange Revolution and his pro-Western counterpart in Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, leader of the Rose Revolution.

Not since the salad days of Russia's "kompromat wars" have we been treated to such an unobstructed view into how Powerful People in this part of the world talk to each other. In fact the last time something this juicy was leaked, it was when former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma was taped swearing like a lowlife thug to his security chiefs to "do something" about journalist Giorgi Gongadze, whose headless corpse was subsequently discovered in the Dniepr River in 2000.

So how different are the pro-Western leaders from those they overthrew? The Yuschenko-Saakashvili tapes aren't as overtly evil as Kuchma's, but if you're a Westerner, they do kind of turn your world upside down. They're also quite funny in how they reveal the enduring spirit of sovok. For one thing, it takes forever for Yuschenko's secretary to negotiate the labyrinth of bad phone lines and the heavily-accented Georgian secretaries before connecting her boss to Saakashvili. For another thing, the two anti-Russian leaders communicate in the only language they're both comfortable in: Russian.

Here is how it starts:

YUSCHENKO'S SECRETARY: Good afternoon, this is Ukraine calling.


YUSCH SECTY: Good afternoon. Is it you who talked with us, or was it someone else?

SAAK SECTY: No, no, I didn't speak with you today.

YUSCH SECTY: Well maybe, well, it was also a woman's voice that spoke to us.

SAAK SECTY: Yes, well, so what are you calling about, excuse me?

YUSCH SECTY: Well the presidents wanted to discuss... Mr. Saakashvili wanted to speak with Yuschenko.

SAAK SECTY: Ah, President Yuschenko? With Yuschenko our president he wanted to speak?

YUSCH SECTY: Yes, yes.

SAAK SECTY: And you this morning spoke with our people?

YUSCH SECTY: Well the thing is your side called ours several times this morning but our president wasn't available.

SAAK SECTY: No, it wasn't from us. Maybe it was from the President's secretary's office, if you hold on I'll find out. Just one minute please...

From there the tape lapses into long pauses as secretaries are put on hold, transferred to other secretaries for another round of comedy-of-hijinx, like something out of a Voinovich satire from the 1970s, until finally, after several long minutes, the two great hopes of the former Soviet Union are finally connected.

This is where the tape goes from light comedy to what-the-fuck paranoia fuel. Remember, so far no one has denied the authenticity of the tapes, they've only accused the enemies of the pro-Western leaders, namely The Kremlin, of trying to discredit them. In the great kompromat days, this was how victims of leaked conversations used to essentially confirm the tapes' authenticity: by blaming the leak on their enemies, rather than denying that the conversations ever took place.

Also note that while the Ukrainian media, particularly the pro-Yanukovich media, made much of the tapes, the government-controlled Russian press largely ignored it, as did the free Western media. One reason might be the way that Saakashvili praises the Financial Times' role in the larger propaganda war, not so much the war between Russia and the West as the battle between Europe's democratic peaceniks who might recoil at Yuschenko's authoritarian tactics, and hard-asses like NATO, who want Yuschenko to win no matter what.

The conversation begins with the hotbutton issue in late May: Whether or not Yuschenko's attempt to dissolve Ukraine's parliament, a move which has been criticized as illegal and undemocratic, will gain the support of the West or not. Yuschenko was preparing to force new elections in September, and Saakashvili called him in order to provide Yuschenko with moral support and big-brotherly advice.

SAAKASHVILI: Hello? Hello, hello?


S: Greetings Viktor Andreevich.

Y: Misha, glad to hear from you.

Y: I think that everything will be all right.

S: I think that you're holding up great and, in principle, you're on the right track. I talked to them about that thing you asked me to. Most basically everyone support the idea of early elections [which Yuschenko forced on the parliament, a move criticized as illegal and undemocratic by many inside Ukraine and in the West]. Solana [Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy -Ed.] over there, like always, he started saying, "Maybe we should discuss..." You know Solana already ruined things for us during the revolution.

Y: Right now, Misha, I can tell you that after yesterday, after the decision of RNBO [Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council -Ed.], I think that we've managed to break the key players regarding early elections and everything is now official...

S: No, to go against the elections simply means the end of Ukraine. This is very obvious.

Y: That's why I think that there's about a 90% chance that there'll be early elections.

S: I also think that they [i.e.: Yanukovich and the pro-Russian opposition in Ukraine - Ed.] are psychologically prepared for this. I'd like to point out that they are already in a weak position. If the election takes place, they will lose. They know this, but they still are going along with it. This is just amazing! The only thing that worries me is all their hooligan shenanigans. If they get used to them, then it will have a lasting effect on things. There are various break-ins, takeovers, etc.

Y: I answered back at this with my new ukaz, and fired this guy [presumably Prosecutor-General Svyatoslav Piskun, who was fired in late May in a move that nearly sparked violent clashes - Ed.]...

S: I know.

Y: This means that there won't be anything bad. I mean for democracy. But these people, they are facing criminal charges.

S: Yes, that's very important. They must understand. You must set a precedent that they will be punished. An amazing thing happened. You brought people out. And they tried to bring people out, but couldn't. This was very apparent.

Note here, before reading on, the tone adopted by Saakashvili towards Yuschenko. Clearly the Georgian president is the topper in this relationship. What should strike readers and listeners as odd is the fact that Georgia's president seems to be guiding Yuschenko through his political crisis, at times encouraging him, at times praising him, but all the while essentially controlling the rather sheepish Yuschenko, who despite his age, talks like he's Saakashvili's baby brother. In other words, Ukraine's fate once again is being guided by outsiders, rather than by the will of its own people.

Now it gets even weirder.

Y: I told Yanukovich yesterday, because at 11PM at the building of the Secretariat of the President [The cabinet of Ukraine's president. - Ed.] there was supposed to be five to eight thousand protesters here, skinheads and the like... I tell the prime minister, "Victor Fedorovich, keep in mind that all the gates are going to be open..."


Y: "...and it would be nice if they would vandalize the first floor a little bit, break some windows or maybe something else too. Please, do what you want..."


Y: ".. but keep in mind that if this happens, if there will be violence from you, Kiev is going to answer you." I asked him to not do this. Let Kiev celebrate normally and put their trust into politicians to solve problems in a political manner.

S: No. What they did yesterday and the day before yesterday is clearly bringing Kiev's sympathy over to your side. This is obvious. The main thing is for you to be calm and fierce. This is something that people long for...

Y: Sunday showed this. You know, they bussed in 15,000 people. They counted 20,000. But in Kiev, there are 140... 140,000 came out simply because we sent out 1.5 million invitations.

S: Yes, and yesterday I talked to Hoop Scheffer. [Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is NATO's Secretery General - Ed.] He said that he'll call all the Europeans, but that they should all support the idea of early elections because elections are the only way out of this crisis in a normal democracy. There is no other way.

Y: The courts are powerless now. The courts are demoralized. They are in such shape that when the question became a political one, the Constitutional Court could not answer it. [Note: Yuschenko also fired three members of the Constitutional Court who opposed him, in another move whose legality has been highly criticized - Ed.]

S: But even if the court does something, it is because someone bribed it. It needs to be ignored. What is a court? What can a court decide in a political situation?

Y: Absolutely. The court is not an expert on political issues. It can decide questions of rights, but cannot answer political questions. This is what the government is for. It's hard for the courts.

You read that right, folks: Saakashvili and Yuschenko openly tell each other that in a democracy, what matters isn't their courts, since they don't know anything about politics, but rather, what NATO's secretary general wants. And if the head of the NATO military alliance supports a legally-questionable presidential decree calling for new elections that Yuschenko feels assured he'll win, then that's better for developing Ukraine's democracy than letting Ukraine's courts decide the legality of the matter.

At this point, as if subconsciously sensing their neo-Soviet villainy, the old Russia bogeyman makes a surprise appearance:

S: I think that... Hey, have you been watching Russian TV? They're showing crazy hysteria. They're showing some sort of...

Y: Well, have you read the [Russian] State Duma's statement?

S: No I didn't. But the propaganda is crazy.

Y: Anyway, they've issued a statement saying that I've issued an illegal order, that the [Ukrainian] parliament has been disbanded under my direct threat, etc.

S: Yesterday they were discussing the possibility of sending a peacekeeping force openly on Russian TV...

Y: They want an international initiative headed by Russia...

S: The Financial Times showed very good initiative, I mean by publishing that article. They are great. Shows that their team is working well. I think that even if Solana and some other Europeans are going to insist that we "work together" or saying something like "maybe let's live peacefully" [i.e., that Yuschenko negotiate with his opponents in the parliamentEd.], that the majority of Europeans will understand. Of course, we'll have to work on them a bit. The Americans understand the importance of elections. There [Apparently meaning Russia, not America. -Ed.] , my brother, the politics were precise. They knew before the elections they wanted Yuschenko's head on a platter. They had a clear plan, but you got them first. You've mixed up all their cards. This is for real.

That's right: Misha Saakashvili feels certain that the Financial Times team are doing their propagandist-best to ensure that crunchy tree-hugging democrats like Javier Solano won't force their version of democracy down Ukraine's throat, a version that relies on dialogue with the elected opposition and hippie peace; instead, the FT will help promote to its readers a more NATO-friendly, gangster-like version of democracy favored by Saakashvili, a version of democracy in which the toughest man with the biggest krysha wins. This begs the question: are the Kremlin rulers really cynical and paranoid, or is their cynicism and paranoia the result of listening to more conversations like this?

Y: That's why, Misha, we're going only forward. I'm about to meet with Yanukovich. My feeling is that Victor Fedorovich is already in favor of early elections There are of course some legal questions tied with the 60 day election period.

S: With financing and stuff?

Y: Not just that. It's about the meeting of the parties and official party lists. We have a proportional system, we need to work it through these procedures, these procedures are dictated by law... We need to carry them out. That's why in the next four days, all the parties need to meet.

S: But, the most important thing is to have decisive action. Your decisive actions are going to be supported by the people. This is obvious, even to an untrained eye. The main thing is to act decisively, to show your steely will. The other side is wavering all the time. This can be seen. One can sense that they are nervous. The more ruth-lessness you show, the better the results will be for you in the elections.

Y: Well, my own reading of the situation is that it's stable and good for me. From the point of development, it is all going fine.

S: Absolutely. Keep it up.

Y: Thanks.

S: And seriously, this is the real Yuschenko, this is who he is, and the whole world likes him. Exactly.

Y: Thanks. Ok.

S: Ok. Hugs to you.

And somewhere in this sordid tale, there were the hopes and aspirations of the Ukrainian people.

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