“Global Fight Against Aids Threatens Russia’s National Security”

Yesterday, the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies, the official Kremlin advisory think-tank, presented its report titled “The Fight Against Aids: Global Trends and National Security.” It includes the following notable paragraphs:

“Today we are confronted with a well-structured, extensive global corporation dealing with the fight against HIV / AIDS. At its disposal is a global network of non-governmental organizations that make up the backbone of the corporation Global Fund, as well as 11 UN agencies mentioned as partners in the framework of the joint program, UNAIDS. Their activities are carried across borders of nation-states and are transnational in nature.
Their global strategy is in line with, and to the advantage of the United States.

Coordinated by the US, the course of action of these global organizations puts to the test national sovereignty, national cultural values ​​and historical traditions of the countries that are the object of their efforts. And Russia has been able to feel it for itself.

For several years, the Russian NGOs, while implementing a project of UNAIDS and the Global Fund, in fact, destroyed traditional values, including family values, and tried to introduce new behavioral norms. These programs of “harm reduction” and substitution therapy aimed at the legalization of drugs and prostitution. They openly aim to change the laws of the Russian Federation, in order to smoothly introduce Western values ​​and norms of behavior. And not only.
We must especially pay attention to the “care” offered by global coordinators to vulnerable groups (HIV-infected drug addicts, prisoners, migrants, LGBT). They, being the most dissatisfied, are seen as a potential force of protest, from which you can create opposition to the authorities…… As imposed by the United States through international organizations, programs to counter AIDS undoubtedly threaten Russia’s national security”.

Which reminds me of something Stalin said in 1947, when Molotov reported to him of the United State’s offer to provide economic and financial aid to Russia and Eastern Europe, along the lines of the Marshall Plan.

“This is a ploy by Truman. … They don’t want to help us.  What they want is to infiltrate European countries.”

Friendly Fire

Keeping Russian media on message is easy. It’s getting more difficult when you must count on a synchronized message stream from your allies. Even ones as loyal and authoritarian as Assad’s Syria.

Today Syria’s SANA agency broke the news [citing unnamed Syrian military sources], that “Russian air forces bombed ISIS positions in the city of Palmyra”.

That was an oops moment, for at least two reasons: first, because Palmyra is a densely populated town, and second, because it borders a unique UNESCO Heritage Site.


“Air strikes also targeted ISIS hideouts in Palmyra city in Homs, destroying 20 armored vehicles, 3 ammunition depots and 3 rocket launching pads, according to the source”

Major Russian media reported this story, but quickly retracted it when the Ministry of Defense said it wasn’t true.  Not only was it not true, but, said Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov of the MoD, it was part of the West’s information campaign targeting Russia.

“The Russian air force does not attack Syrian residential areas and even less architectural monuments. This is not the first time that we must refute reports from Western media in relation to the activities of the Russian air force in Syria”, said Maj Gen Konashenkov.

The same Russian media that originally carried the Syrian story now headlined the MoD’s rebuttal with the damning:  “Russian MoD responds to the West’s accusations: Palmyra was not bombed”.  The Russian Foreign Ministry was not slow in joining in: at a specially convened press conference, FM spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that

Western allegations regarding Russian operations in Syria are illogical and incorrect

All of which led to the following comical perfect storm on SANA’s website:



Putin’s Universe: The Commie-Con (UPDATED with photos and video)

Last year I wrote about the lengths to which Kremlin’s “online PR department” went to mark his birthday (that included various “spontaneous” murals and graffiti with Putin’s image and the catchphrase “Putin the Peacemaker”, strategically placed around the world).

That was not the first time the Kremlin went to extremes to mark the Leader’s birthday. But this year’s birthday, as organized on the tax-payer’s money, promises to top all ComiCons.

Here’s the announcement of a one-of-a-kind exhibition, organized and promoted by Kremlin’s own online troll army. Translation below:

Friends, we invite you all on October 6 to the exhibition “Putin Universe», where Vladimir Putin will be presented in the form of the most famous characters, from Nelson Mandela to Joan of Arc!

On October 6th – the birthday of Vladimir Putin, Moscow and London will host an international exhibition named “Putin Universe”, in which artists from all over the world will present the Russian president in the form of characters from different countries, nationalities and ages. Putin will appear as Buddha, Amenhotep, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Joan of Arc – as the image of the Russian president embodies heroism, justice, cunning, intelligence, courage, charm – qualities that are easily recognized and appreciated in many countries and cultures. The initiator and organizer of the exhibition is  the largest international fan club of the president of Russia – “The Group of Supporters of Vladimir Putin.”

Last year, the largest international fan group of Vladimir Putin on Facebook  held an exhibition n Moscow entitled “12 Deeds of Putin”, where the achievements of the Russian president played upon images of ancient myths. The exhibition was a huge success in Russia and abroad.”

This year, the group decided to once again congratulate Vladimir Putin on his birthday with an exhibition, now at two sites: in Moscow and London. In the new project, the Russian leader will appear as characters from different countries, nationalities and eras: literature, folklore, history, comic books, embodied in a universal cross-cultural image, close to every person in the world.

Time of the exhibition: 12: 00-20: 00

Moscow, Starokonyushenny per., D. 43 (Studio “Promofoto”)

UPDATE: Today’s exhibition is co-organized and advertised in the UK by Mr. Lee West, a British citizen who, in his own words, “just returned from the best year of my life – sort of an extended holiday, living in Russia and teaching English“.

I asked Mr. West what the idea behind the exhibition in London was, to which he replied that he spontaneously got the idea “to present Mr. Putin in a positive light”.   I then asked what type of artists will contribute their “art” to the exhibition. Mr. West said that all artists were members of the “International Fan Club of Vladimir Putin”, and yes, they are all Russian citizens.

I then popped the obvious question: who is paying for the whole event. Mr. West replied that it’s being paid for by “the Fan Club”, and not by state funds. But who funds the Fan Club? “It’s all money from its members”, said Mr. Lee. And yes, he confirmed, he is a member himself.

Путин нажатием кнопки сделал свой фан-клуб в Facebook официальным. Facebook, Интернет, Путин, Селигер, фанаты. НТВ.Ru: новости, видео, программы телеканала НТВ

The Fan Club of Vladimir Putin, indeed, boasts  that it is the organizer of the exhibition. The club, however, was officially launched by none other than President Putin himself, during the Seliger youth Forum in 2013. During that event, where Putin famously spoke of the need to regulate the Internet in Russia, Pres. Putin agreed to fan-club founders’ request to “officialize the Fan Club”, and launched its website personally, by pressing the “launch” button on his tablet.

While launching his Fan Club into officialdom, Putin said, jokingly:

Sometimes the press of a single button can cost a lot. I would like for everyone to remember: Russia is a nuclear country. You press the wrong-button – and the consequences will be irreversible”

The so-called “independently funded” exhibition received extensive airtime on state-owned media in Russia, including this detailed report on state propaganda channel “RussiaToday”:



 Here is some of the notable “art” from the exhibition :(you may want to pay attention to the positive painting  of Putin kicking Obama’s head as a soccer ball)

Фото: Дни.Ру

cosmo mahar2 mahatreal putin2 putin3 putin-egy putingreen putinmil putinsaber putinsick putinsmth putinspook putrix quixote



The Great Photoshopic War

The Russian Ministry of Defense is no novice to “beautifying” aerial photography (you may remember the brazen attempt to push photo-shopped satellite imagery as “proof of a second plane” in the MH17 downing.

Today, the Photoshop experts at the MoD went into romantic comedy mode.

At 16:42 Moscow time, the official account of the MoD published the following tweet:

originalMOD“With a decision of the Supreme Commander of the Russian Military, the Airforce has started an air operation against ISIS”

Just an hour later, the MoD deleted this tweet, and posted the following, much cooler photo:

notoriginalMOD(identical caption as above)

You don’t need to do forensic analysis on the photos to conclude that the top photo is the original, and the bottom one is a photoshopped fake (a terrible one, at that – whoever did it added a new shadow below the airplane but forgot to remove the identical shades under the ladder and the wings).

Ok, so one could say: nothing TOO wrong with that, they took a less than glamorous photo from their Latakia airbase and re-positioned it in some movie-worthy desert.

Problem is, that first plane isn’t even in Syria. It is a photo from the MoD’s archive, taken at the Command-and-Staff Center 2015 Military Exercise. You can find the original here.


This was not the last time they put this geographically enhanced photo to use. In just one day following the original publication, the doctored photo has become a staple for illustrating Foreign Ministry tweets about the attacks in Syria.


The question is: if Russian MoD are lying about something as basic (and unnecessary) as this. what are they not lying about?

“Comintern 2.0” – A Security View from Prague

The Security Service of the Czech Republic has just published its annual counter-intelligence report, and it contains some enlightening paragraphs on Russia’s intelligence activities in Prague, as well as insights into the Kremlin’s strategy to influence global public opinion by creating an international network of useful idiots, nearly identical to the “Comunist International” strategy implemented by the Soviet Union in the 1930’s. I will re-publish some of the key insights here. (the full report is available in English here, in German here, and in French here).

Emphasis in bold is mine, and so are [parenthesized comments in italic].

2. 3. Counterintelligence Activities

In 2014, based on the international and domestic political situation and threat level posed to the interests of the Czech Republic and its citizens the BIS [the Czech counter-intelligence service] focused mainly on Russian, Chinese and Ukrainian activities in the Czech Republic. [in previous annual reports, BIS had only spoken of intensive activity by Russian and Chinese spies, so Ukraine apparently has stepped up its international intelligence & counter-intelligence activity after the Russian intervention began. As can be seen in the last paragraph below, none of Ukraine’s secret activities were aimed at the Czech Republic or the EU]

As in previous years, the BIS concentrated on the high number of Russian intelligence officers living or engaging in activities in the Czech Republic. [In previous reports, BIS has referred to “an extremely high number of spies working permanently at the Russian embassy, complemented by “commuting” spies under the guise of journalists and business travelers]. Given the high numbers of Russian intelligence officers travelling to the Czech Republic and to the Czech Republic’s responsibility to secure not only its own security but also the security of its allies in the Schengen Area, the BIS aimed to decrease the number of Russian intelligence officers entering the Schengen Area via the Czech Republic.

In 2014, Russian intelligence services focused on Czech power engineering, on issues related to its further development, and on the scientific and technical sector. Russia continued in its attempts to exert influence over the Russian community in the Czech Republic, or more specifically to establish pro-Kremlin organizations and individuals as representatives of the Russian community responsible for the communication with Czech state institutions and bodies.

Intelligence has confirmed that Russia does not consider its ongoing interest in Czech nuclear power engineering as fighting a losing battle. This interest has only become less conspicuous. In 2014, Russian interests in the Czech Republic have broadened (the Temelín and Dukovany nuclear power plants, supplies of nuclear fuel) and include also the State Energy Concept and all entities even indirectly involved in fulfilling the goals of Czech energy policies. Russia started perceiving Czech nuclear power engineering in a broader Central European context aiming to make good use of investments and efforts devoted to creating, managing, stabilizing and future exploitation of networks expanding Russian influence in Central Europe. [In this context see also Russia’s €1 bn lawsuit against Bulgaria over the cancellation of Russia’s contract to build the Belene nuclear plant]

Activities of Russian intelligence officers and their associates in the Czech Republic are in direct contradiction to “expert and knowledgeable” comments claiming the Czech Republic does not have anything of interest to Russian espionage. However, Russia is greatly interested in Czech Republic’s participation in international scientific and technical projects linked to obtaining access to funds from Czech and European grants. This access could be provided by Czech middlemen working with Russia. Russia not only aims to gain competitive advantage over the Czech Republic and the EU but also strives to secure funding for its activities from the Czech Republic and the EU.

In relation to the Ukraine crisis Russia and its sympathizers engaged in white, grey and black propaganda.

Russian methods of exerting influence and spreading propaganda were based on time-tested Soviet practices, i.e. concealing or covering up own (Russian/Soviet) steps and highlighting or demonizing Western reactions1.

Russia has been creating influence and propaganda structures in the Czech Republic over a long period of time. The role of these structures is to promote and protect Russian economic and political interest to the detriment of the interests of the Czech Republic, the NATO and the EU. Russia was able to draw on these structures after the situation in Ukraine deteriorated and did not need to start creating influence structures from scratch.

Russian propaganda in the Czech Republic makes use of a number of tools: from ideologically manipulated citizens supporting Russian propaganda unknowingly, to professionals intentionally working with the Russians.

Unveiling the memorial commemorating Internationalists (March 2014) demonstrated that the Czech public is highly perceptive to [wary of] direct Russian (or other foreign) involvement in the Czech Republic. Russia is well aware of this fact; therefore, Russian-language propaganda related to the Ukraine crisis spread by Russian (state and non-state) actors did not play a major role in the Czech Republic. However, the Czech public was and is greatly influenced by Czech pro-Russian organizations and individuals using websites to present their interpretations of Russian stances. The arguments are put forward in a way leading Czech citizens to believe they are recipients of opinions held by fellow citizens, not of Russian propaganda. On the one hand, a part of the Czech public is willing to protest a memorial commemorating Soviet occupants – internationalists from 1968, but on the other hand it defends the Russian occupation of Crimea and the presence of Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine. 

In general, Russian and pro-Russian propaganda in the Czech Republic and other EU member states is aimed not only against the integrity of the EU and NATO.

It is assessed that Russia is creating a structure in Europe drawing on the concept of the Comintern (the Communist International; the Third International) founded by the Soviet Union.

This structure is ideologically based on Dugin’s expansionist Neo-Eurasianism2 (which is in a way acceptable to all European political parties, from left-wing extremists and populists to right-wing extremists).

The Comintern was founded in Moscow in 1919 with the goal of protecting the Soviet Union by exporting the revolution to neighboring states, i.e. weakening potential enemies by internal disputes and creating a buffer zone of befriended (or more precisely subordinated) states around the Soviet Union. The Comintern became a tool used for promoting Soviet influence and interests beyond the borders of the Soviet Union by controlling communist parties abroad (in 1928 the Comintern had 580 000 foreign members), spreading propaganda3, covertly financing communist parties abroad4, and by serving as an important and successful espionage platform. The Comintern employed skillful Soviet intelligence officers (e.g. acting under cover as academics or journalists) [see story on prof. Georgy Gavrish in Greece] who recruited young people (especially students with the potential of pursuing a career as civil servants or politicians) helping Soviet espionage activities. The recruiters exploited the ideological naivety, zeal or activism of the young people they targeted. The recruits were not requested to spy against their country, but asked to help in the fight against Fascism (Nazism, Imperialism, etc.) – a relevant issue even today with Fascism, Nazism and Imperialism joined by anti-American, anti-NATO and anti-EU sentiments.

The current international, political and societal climate is very close to that of the 1930’s – the golden era of the Comintern5.

It is assessed that the functioning and administration of the new reincarnation of the Comintern (NRI) is not as strict (almost military-like) as in the case of the original Comintern. However, this does not mean the NRI has lesser propaganda and espionage capabilities than the Comintern. The NRI being a more liberal and activist platform is attractive for today’s Western activists (with pro-Russian stances or fighting against the system – USA, NATO, EU, globalization, multiculturalism, liberalism, capitalism, etc.). [see “Anti-fascist support center” for Ukraine, promoted by Workers’ World] Even though the NRI does not have the capability of creating a traditional espionage network (agent – handler – the center) as was the case of the Comintern, it has great potential for recruiting active informants.

In 2014, the BIS did not detect any activities of Ukrainian intelligence services aimed against the Czech Republic and its interests or with a harmful effect on the international status and good name of the Czech Republic. Furthermore, there are no indications of Ukrainian intelligence services engaging in activities aiming to destabilize political, societal and ethnic relations in the Czech Republic.

In 2014, Chinese intelligence services focused on gaining influence in Czech political and state structures and on political intelligence. These activities were actively aided by several Czech citizens, including politicians and civil servants.



1         An example from history: Step: the basing of Soviet SS-20 missiles – Reaction: the basing of American Pershing II missiles. 


2        Expansionists believe that Russian interests are to be promoted by expanding beyond Russia’s western and eastern borders. They advocate a radical foreign policy aiming to secure the safety and dominance of the Russian Federation. Russia is perceived as a culturally anti-Western state aiming for constant expansion.

Russia’s geopolitical and strategic goals are not only regaining control over the near abroad and re-establishing alliances with Eastern and some Western European states (France, Germany), but also creating a new global geopolitical system based on alliances with those willing to stand up to U.S. hegemony. 


3        Radio-telegram, illegal Communist Party in the Protectorate (September 8, 1939): “The current war is imperialistic and unjust. The fault lies with the bourgeoisie of all the countries at war. The working class and communist parties must never support this war /…/ of two groups of capitalist countries fighting for world rule. The Communist Party must emphasize the imperialist character of this war and speak against the traitorous politics of the Social Democrats.”

President Gottwald’s radio-telegram sent to the I. illegal leadership of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (September 14, 1939): “We call on the communists and the working class to engage in the national liberation fight, and to oppose the resistance movement supporting Benes’ exile group which is in the service of imperialism and enemies of the Soviets.”


4  E.g. Osip Piatnitsky organized the covert financing of the Communist Party USA via straw companies.


Draft text of MH17 Tribunal Statutes

Article 7 of the proposed Statues of the MH17 International Tribunal may hold the answer to why Russia so adamantly opposes its creation:

Article 7

Irrelevance of official capacity

This Statute shall apply equally to all persons without any distinction based on official capacity. In particular, official capacity as a Head of State or Government, a member of a government or parliament, an elected representative or a government official shall in no case exempt a person from criminal responsibility under this Statute, nor shall it, in and of itself, constitute a ground for reduction of sentence.

Immunities or special procedural rules which may attach to the official capacity of a person, whether under national or international law, shall not bar the Tribunal from exercising its jurisdiction over such a person.

Below is the full text of the draft Statutes for operation of the proposed MH17 Tribunal.