will the kremlin use assange as a pawn?

The self-proclaimed radical transparency activist who wants to hold the world's right and powerful accountable is getting awfully chummy with Putin & Co...

Russian politics have always been tumultuous even in the best of times, and now, with Medvedev and Putin’s unabashedly open game of musical chairs drawing public fury and mass protests in a land where all political matters are almost always met with withering cynicism and disgusted apathy by the general populace, all the important people behind the scenes are worried. Propaganda campaigns are spreading across Russian TV at a rate even worse than the sloganeering and conspiracy theories I remember from my childhood, though it was during Perestroika and the government was a little more honest about its shortcomings.

But as the party operatives of United Russia (which I just call the CPSU 2.0) and their handlers take to the news to denounce the supposed American conspiracy to destabilize their nation, they trotted out rock stars of ATS and Prison Planet like David Icke, and demonized the new American ambassador Michael McFaul for trying to meet with democracy and voter rights advocates soon after taking his new post. And now it seems they have yet another idea for promoting their conspiratorial narrative, one involving the world’s most controversial whistleblower…

According to a press release from RT, the government funded English-language news agency located just a stone’s throw away from the Red Square, Julian Assange will be getting his own TV show in which he picks a number of those he considers to be iconoclasts to interview. Odd. After all the man blasted the Kremlin for the iron-fisted rule by Putin and his friends and threatened to post cables detailing their corrupt dealings, and a swift change of heart seems unlikely for a self-described democracy activist who became a victim of political oppression for his promotion of freedom. The documents which claimed to show that Putin secretly amassed an exorbitant fortune and built an ostentatious villa for himself never did make it to the Wikileaks site.

Instead, they were released by a Russian outfit spun off from the Wikileaks community while it looks like Assange’s decision to hold back on publishing the incriminating pictures and snippets allowed him to jump in bed with some of the Kremlin’s media bigwigs and use the resources of an authoritarian regime to promote his views of international openness and transparency. Then again, as we’ve seen time and time again with him, it’s all about politics and money, and whatever noble agenda he probably had when starting Wikileaks went horribly, horribly wrong since he’s now being featured on a corrupt and ruthless strongman’s TV channel.

Of course knowing how the Kremlin operates, there has to be a reason they want Assange to have a show on their property and the first thing that comes to mind is what the whistleblower is best known for doing. After a massive release of classified documents which he and his fans say shows that the American government is supremely corrupt and is busy gleefully reengineering the world to its liking through a web of highly elaborate conspiracies aimed at destabilizing regimes it doesn’t like, it would only make sense to take his current legal problems, and possibly those of Bradley Manning, and frame the entire context of the show around this whole diplomatic mess.

Considering that any country with sprawling international business interests wants to do all it can to make competitors go away and secure profitable ventures for its companies, the charge that a superpower has a sinister, New World Order like policy towards the world seems awfully trumped up. A much more accurate description would be that Western nations try to use whatever money and power they still have to keep tilting the global playing field in their favor. Unsavory? Yes. But it’s true and that’s what really matters in this case. It’s just that Americans tend to take such accusations very close to heart because many of them do not want to know exactly how the proverbial sausage gets made when geopolitics get complicated.

Still, an evil America hell bent on world domination through a combination of jingoism and military might built to handle world wars and execute massive invasions, fits right into the story the Kremlin desperately wants to convince its citizens to be true. No, the United Russia officials weren’t caught stuffing ballot boxes and paying for votes across the nation, they cry, it’s all an American conspiracy to destabilize Russia for oil and to control our immense nuclear stockpile. Here, look, one of their victims is on TV telling his story and talking to people who share his view about true democracy and freedom!

Never mind the crackdowns on opposing politicians, the widespread stuffing of the Duma with celebrities, blatant theft, corruption, and cronyism on a scale which even the sleaziest K Street lobbyist would find appalling and unbecoming, and forget about all those leaks in which they’re detailed held by Assange after his partnership with The Guardian went down in flames. Like a tragicomic plot device, a whistleblower who wanted to make the world a better place naively barged into a very convoluted and treacherous realm he didn’t quite understand, turned into an authoritarian who suppressed all intra-group dissent, and may now end up as a puppet of foreign strongmen spreading conspiracy theories to justify their oligarchy. That’s how sticking it to The Man can end up with you working for him…

# politics // putin / russia

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