The Putin Regime Fears a Free Press

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

Journalist David Satter, denied a visa to report from Russia, writes in The Wall Street Journal that recent terrorist bombings in Russia may be modeled after the 1999 apartment bombings that served to solidify Vladimir Putin’s control of the country and justify the war against the former Soviet republic of Chechnya. The 1999 bombings, Satter notes, were blamed on Islamic terrorists, but were proven to be the work of agents of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, a successor to the old KGB.

Regarding the December terror bombings in Volgograd, Satter says “The outlines of the story follow a pattern in Russia of Islamists being freed from [police] custody shortly before committing terrorist acts.” He says these episodes “merit close scrutiny by the press.”

But Satter, an adviser to Radio Liberty hoping to help investigate these matters, will not be allowed to do so in Russia.

In regard to the previous October 22 attack on a Volgograd city bus, Satter writes that “The crime was quickly blamed on a female suicide bomber from Dagestan, Naida Asiyalova, and her common-law husband, Dmitri Sokolov, a Russian convert to Islam who allegedly outfitted Asiyalova with the bomb. Sokolov, however, had been in police custody, as the authorities themselves acknowledged, until shortly before the attack.”

The suggestion is that these bombings, like those in 1999, are being carried out with the approval, or even at the direction of, the FSB, for the benefit of the Kremlin, in order to justify “greater repression” by the Putin regime. Putin himself is a former Soviet KGB officer.

Indeed, the Russian government has reacted to the bombings by embracing new “anti-terrorism” legislation that includes measures to give security personnel the right to stop and search, and to “monitor” the Internet and social media.

Satter also raised questions about Russian handling of the 2004 Beslan school massacre, during which “the deaths of 334 hostages, most of them children, occurred after Russian forces stormed the gymnasium where the hostages were being held,” and the regime refused to honor the terms of a peaceful settlement of the stand-off.

Satter said, “Other questions that hang over the Putin regime are the fates of his murdered political opponents, Alexander Litvinenko, Anna Politkovskaya and Natalya Estemirova.”

Litvinenko was a former KGB officer who revealed FSB involvement in alleged Islamic terrorism. He co-authored the book Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror. Politkovskaya was a journalist and Estemirova was a human rights activist.

“I presented evidence that the explosions were a provocation carried out by the FSB, in my book and in 2007 testimony before the U.S. Congress,” notes Satter. That testimony was provided in connection with his work for the Hudson Institute.

The Hudson Institute said that it “condemns Russia’s arbitrary and punitive moves against David Satter in the strongest possible terms, demands that his expulsion and ban be immediately reversed, and urges the U.S. government and international community to make every possible effort to ensure that David Satter is allowed to continue his scholarly activities in Russia without further delay or interference.”

The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. was quick to demand the release from custody in Egypt of Al Jazeera personnel said to be involved with the pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. But it’s not clear what, if anything, the prestigious journalism institution will do about the Satter case.

The two cases could not be more different. Al Jazeera is funded and controlled by the pro-jihadist undemocratic regime in Qatar that exports revolution and turmoil to neighboring Arab states. Satter, on the other hand, is a veteran Moscow correspondent determined to help democracy survive and grow in Russia.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Radio Liberty and other U.S. international media, put out a statement saying that “Russian journalists from RT and other media are able to work in the United States without interference or censorship. We insist on the same for our journalists and our broadcasts in Russia.”

In fact, Moscow operates several “news” agencies in the U.S., including Russia Today (RT), a propaganda channel funded by the Putin regime, which employs American “progressives” such as Thom Hartmann. It is not known how much Hartmann is paid by the Kremlin and he refuses to talk about his payments from Moscow. Former RT “journalist” Alyona Minkovski now works for The Huffington Post, where she promotes the idea that NSA leaker Edward Snowden, now living in Moscow under the protection of the Putin regime and the FSB, is a legitimate whistleblower.

Satter had moved to Moscow to advise the Russian Service of Radio Liberty, and work on a new book about Russia under Putin. But his visa to remain in the country was rejected. His work includes the book, Age of Delirium: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union, and a film based on the book is now being shown internationally.

On his website, he explains, “I was expelled from the country at the demand of the security services. This is an ominous precedent for all journalists and for freedom of speech in Russia.”

Historian Ronald Radosh writes at PJ Media, “Clearly, in this precarious time for Russia and as Putin stakes his reputation on an unsullied Olympics, his security forces do not want a man of character such as David Satter reporting. New terrorist attacks have been taking place, and Satter is the man who provided evidence that past terrorism acts, such as the 2007 apartment bombings which the Kremlin blamed on the Chechens, were really carried out by the FSB, the successor agency of the old KGB.”

In his Journal piece, Satter wrote that Putin is attempting to present Russia as “a moral alternative” to the West. But the failure to tolerate truthful reporting undermines this posturing and exposes the regime’s use of Soviet tactics of repression, propaganda and disinformation.

The reaction by the American media to Putin’s treatment of David Satter will speak volumes about the character of today’s U.S. media establishment.

As Radosh puts it, “How will the journalistic community respond? Will they take their credentials and just cover the Olympics—which would give much-welcome propaganda via publicity as determined by Putin’s controlled news apparatus—or will they protest Satter’s expulsion and threaten to report independently once in Russia?”

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.


The Council Has Spoken! This Weeks’ Watcher’s Council Results – 01/17/14

The Watcher’s Council

I wanna see you be brave!

Weapons of Legislative Warfare

The Council has spoken, the votes have been cast and the results are in for this week’s Watcher’s Council match-up.

As some of my esteemed Council mates remarked during the voting, this was a tough week to try to choose amongst apile o’ goodies. Hah! says I, because the quality this group pulls off each week is always pretty impressive, but yeah, this week we had a lot of great stuff to choose from. So, you know the winners had to have come up with something pretty special, no? Something that really struck a chord?

Leave it to The Right Planet to pull that off, with his heartfelt I’ve Had It With The GOP. Here’s a slice:

For several years now I have watched the GOP move toward the political center—even left of center at times. We have been told this was necessary; otherwise, we would have no chance of winning an election ever again. If this were true, how does one explain the overwhelming landslide victories of Ronald Reagan? Yet the GOP has seemingly learned nothing from the success of Ronald Reagan and his steadfast brand of conservatism.

Lately I have watched GOP stalwarts, like Sen. John McCain, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Jeff Flake, Rep. Peter King, and political operatives like Karl Rove, trash the Tea Party and pummel their conservative and libertarian-leaning GOP colleagues, like Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Justin Amash, etc. Yet they withhold their vitriol and indignation for the Democrats and the president, literally treating them with kid gloves.

I have voted Republican all my life. Why? Well, the first election I voted in was for Ronald Reagan. It was a no-brainer for me at the time. I have been a longtime student of military history, particularly the history of the Second World War. I believe in a very strong defense, since it has been proven throughout history that there are many nefarious forces in the world who wish to see the U.S. wiped off the map. If we are not able to project power and defend ourselves, we might as well throw up the white flag and simply submit. This is utterly repugnant and unacceptable to me as an American who values foremost the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

But when I voted in my first presidential election, at 18 years of age, I did not have the knowledge that I do now of the philosophy and ideology that drives the Right and the Left. It was simple for me at the time: who supports a strong defense? The answer was obvious to me at the time—Ronald Reagan.

It seems that all I have done for the past six years is study the history and ideology of the political movements within the United States since its founding. As I studied and studied, something became abundantly clear to me: there were profound changes to our form of government that occurred about a 100 years ago, starting with President Woodrow Wilson’s Administration. Of course one can argue it goes back farther than that. But I digress.

It was President Woodrow Wilson who first tried to re-brand the Democratic Party the “Progressive Party.” Some of the most significant and far-reaching changes to our present form of government occurred at this time around 1913 (a very bad year, indeed). These monumental structural changes came in the form of the Federal Reserve Act, the Sixteenth Amendment (progressive, i.e. graduated income tax) and the Seventeenth Amendment (the direct election of senators by popular vote). The Seventeenth Amendment effectively moved us toward direct democracy—something our Founders called “mobocracy,” and expressly warned us to avoid at all costs.

There are other reasons I decided at a young age to join up with the GOP. The Republican Party was originally formed in 1854 as the Abolitionist Party in opposition to the monstrous and evil institution known as slavery. Furthermore, I have identified myself as a Republican because that is the form of government that our Constitution requires in Article 4, Section 4, of the U.S. Constitution—meaning: we are to have a “republican form of government.” There is not a single occurrence of the term democracy in our Constitution (check it our for yourself).

Many times I have heard people tell me that the Republican and Democratic parties are really just one and the same. “There is no difference between the parties,” they say. I always bristled a bit at this assessment … until now. I still think we should exercise caution and not throw the baby out with the bath water. But I will return to this later.

I can no longer stand by and be trashed by the very Party that I have so wholeheartedly supported for so many years with my time and money. I can remember times when I defended folks like George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Karl Rove and the like, when they seemed unwilling, or incapable, of defending themselves. But was this by design? By the end of George W. Bush’s second term, the GOP was in a shambles. There’s no denying it, no matter how you try to spin it.

Much more at the link.

In our non-Council category, the winner was Amil Imani with a piece entitled An Open Letter To The God Of Islam, submitted by Joshuapundit. I won’t describe it further except to say that it is a must read if you have any interest in the subject at all.

Here are this week’s full results. Only The Mellow Jihadi was unable to vote this week, but was not subject to the normal 2/3 vote penalty:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week! Don’t forget to tune in on Monday AM for this week’s Watcher’s Forum, as the Council and their invited guests take apart one of the provocative issues of the day and weigh in… don’t you dare miss it. And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that!