Aleksandr Podrabinek: Pacifying the Aggressor and the Foreign Agents Club

17 December 2021

By Aleksandr Podrabinek

 Sources: Facebook and Belsat TV

New Year is coming and with it the time announced by Western intelligence communities of the supposed invasion by Russian troops of Ukraine. There is no doubt whatsoever that the Kremlin militarists are capable of spoiling the holiday for Ukrainians, Russians, and the whole world. 

Little by little, everyone in Russia is getting used to the idea of a possible war. Sociological surveys show that three quarters of Russians believe war to be highly likely. The furious state propaganda and the weakness of the independent media are making themselves felt: half of those surveyed blame the situation’s exacerbation on the United States and NATO. 

The foreign ministers of the G7 countries and Josep Borrell i Fontelles, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, have stated that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would “cost dearly” and entail “tremendous consequences.” This is hardly going to have any effect on the Kremlin. These kinds of threats are akin to a bank warning a robber that he could face a serious fine and no one in decent society will shake his hand. Naturally he’ll be devastated and give up on the robbery!

But the European Union does not have a unified position even on curbing aggression. Some countries want to warn Russia about sanctions in advance; others think they should react to the event when it happens, by which time it will be impossible to fix anything. 

This is traditional Western politics: be outraged but don’t resist. Only a military alliance of the Western democracies and Ukraine can reliably avert aggression. All the other economic and personal sanctions are good for helping Western politicians save face but do nothing at all to curb aggression. What Western sanctions ever averted the presence of Russian troops on Ukrainian territory – in Crimea and the Donbass?

In this regard, by the way, a court in Rostov-on-Don that recently issued a verdict in a case concerning corruption in food deliveries to the Donbass really put their foot in it. In the legal case there are documents about food deliveries to Russian military units on Ukrainian territory.

On this point, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists that there were mistakes in the verdict. What else was he supposed to say? In general, they would sometimes be better off keeping quiet, but they don’t understand that and expose themselves. Like in the case of FSB [Federal Security Service] officer Vadim Krasikov, sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany.

Krasikov was convicted this Wednesday of the murder in Berlin of the Chechen political émigré Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, and the Russian Foreign Ministry did not shy away from coming to the convicted man’s defence, thereby admitting its own interest in this case.

Still less are they shy in their own homeland. On Wednesday, the Kislovodsk Municipal Court sentenced seven leaders of the Ingush protests to prison terms of from seven to nine years. They were accused of organizing rallies and clashes with police during mass popular protests the year before last. 

The police are often drawn into these cases when demonstrators or political activists have to be put in prison. One was frightened by a paper cup thrown at him, another was pushed hard, a third took a bad fall while trying to strike a demonstrator’s head with a truncheon. In the courts, they all have victim status.

In this context, an incident in Ekaterinburg is unique. Here a policeman stashed drugs around the city, as they do, so that later he could arrest whoever came to collect them. An ordinary provocation, a routine job. What made the instance unique was that they arrested the policeman and now, by all accounts, they intend to try him.

And here we have a completely non-unique legal decision issued this Tuesday by a court in Moscow. The Insider was fined a million roubles for not stating its foreign agent status. Unlike all the other foreign agent publications, The Insider refused to furnish their publications with the shameful brand. 

We have so many foreign agents now, it’s time for them to start a club. So far this has been done for them by Pereplet, a bookstore in Irkutsk, whose owner, Inna Mironova, set aside a special shelf for books published by foreign agents. At this ceremony in the store, instead of cutting a ribbon, they had a “Label Affixing” for the shelf.

It’s reasonable to anticipate this bookstore also being declared a foreign agent. And following that example, deem as foreign agents perfume stores that sell French perfume, restaurants that serve dishes not from the Russian cuisine, and theatres where they perform shows written by foreign playwrights or operas with music by foreign composers. Does obscurantism really know any limits?

Translated by Marian Schwartz

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