New Eastern Outlook
by Tony Cartalucci
Martyrdom on demand: if not of use alive, perhaps of use dead? US-backed opposition groups in Russia have so far failed utterly to produce results. Their transparent subservience to Washington coupled with their distasteful brand of politics has left a rather unpleasant taste in the mouth of most Russians. Each attempt to spread the “virus” of color revolution to Moscow, as US Senator John McCain called it, has failed – and each attempt has fallen progressively flatter.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has never been more popular. His ability to weather serial provocations aimed at Russia by NATO has made him a champion against the perceived growing injustice exacted against the developing world by an increasingly militaristic and exploitative West.
So when US-backed opposition groups in Russia decided to gather again this coming March 1, Sunday, many wondered just exactly what they expected to accomplish.
Bloomberg just a day ago, would report in an article titled, “Anti-Putin Opposition Looks to Russian Spring for Revival,” that:
Just before he was jailed for handing out leaflets at a metro station, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny used his last moments in a Moscow court to record a video urging supporters to join a March 1 protest against President Vladimir Putin.
Navalny’s removal from the “Spring” rally by a 15-day sentence underlined the beleaguered state of an opposition movement that brought 100,000 onto Moscow’s streets three years ago as well as the Kremlin’s unease about the potential for unrest in Russia.
Squeezed by government persecution and Putin’s near-record approval rating, Russia’s opposition is betting that an unfolding economic crisis will spark a spring revolt on a scale last seen at the winter protests of 2011-2012, the largest since the collapse of Communism 20 years earlier. It seeks to draw as many as 100,000 people to the “anti-crisis march” in Moscow, with protests also planned in 15 other cities. They’ll highlight declining living standards and the conflict in eastern Ukraine that triggered U.S. and European Union sanctions against Russia.
The article however, also stated that:
The opposition “hasn’t been this weak for many years,” Stefan Meister, an analyst at the German Council of Foreign Relations in Berlin, said by phone. “Even when we have a growing economic crisis in Russia, there’s still high support for Putin.”
Clearly to match the expectations the “spring” rally was meant to have, to infuse the “virus” US Senator McCain had claimed was intended for Moscow, something drastic would have to be done to change the current calculus.
The prospect of triggering sustainable unrest aimed at the Kremlin was beyond impossible – that is – until the leader of the planned protest was shot dead, practically on the steps of the Kremlin itself in the heart of Moscow.
Boris Nemtsov, was reportedly shot four times in the back on Friday night in a drive-by shooting. His body laid conveniently for media photographers to capture the Kremlin looming in the background.
Russia immediately condemned the killing, with President Putin noting it was an act of “pure provocation.”
Nemtsov’s Questionable Ties to US Agitators
Nemtsov had led US-backed opposition protests for years. In 2012, he was caught literally walking into the US Embassy in Moscow to meet with then newly appointed US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul who had serve on the board of directors of Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
The significance of this cannot be overstated.
It was in 2004, when Michael McFaul would write in the Washington Post in an op-ed titled, “‘Meddling’ In Ukraine Democracy is not an American plot,” that:
Did Americans meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine? Yes. The American agents of influence would prefer different language to describe their activities — democratic assistance, democracy promotion, civil society support, etc. — but their work, however labeled, seeks to influence political change in Ukraine. The U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy and a few other foundations sponsored certain U.S. organizations, including Freedom House, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, the Solidarity Center, the Eurasia Foundation, Internews and several others to provide small grants and technical assistance to Ukrainian civil society. The European Union, individual European countries and the Soros-funded International Renaissance Foundation did the same.
Added to McFaul’s confession, are similar reports such as the Guardian’s 2004 article titled, “US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev,” which reported:
But while the gains of the orange-bedecked “chestnut revolution” are Ukraine’s, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.
Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.
Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze.
Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in central America, notably in Nicaragua, organised a near identical campaign to try to defeat the Belarus hardman, Alexander Lukashenko.
That one failed. “There will be no Kostunica in Belarus,” the Belarus president declared, referring to the victory in Belgrade.
But experience gained in Serbia, Georgia and Belarus has been invaluable in plotting to beat the regime of Leonid Kuchma in Kiev.
The operation – engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience – is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people’s elections.
It is important to understand what the US did in Ukraine, Serbia, Georgia, Belarus, and Nicaragua, and who was involved, because that is precisely what the US repeated in 2011 amid the so-called “Arab Spring,” and again in 2013-2014 during the so-called “Euromaidan,” and precisely what they are attempting to do in Russia itself today.
That Nemtsov was meeting directly with McFaul who openly works to subvert governments to suit special interests in Washington and on Wall Street, gives some indication of just how closely tied to US meddling Nemtsov was.
In addition to Nemtsov’s direct contact with representatives of US-backed sedition, Nemtsov’s adviser, Vladimir Kara-Murza, has attended NED forums including one in 2011 titled, “Elections in Russia: Polling and Perspectives,” and an NED forum in 2013 titled, “Russia: A Postmodern Dictatorship?” which was jointly presented by Kara-Murza’s “Institute ofModern Russia,” a joint-US Neo-Con/US-backed Russian opposition propaganda clearing house.
The height of US-backed regime change appeared to be the so-called “Arab Spring.” The Atlantic in an article titled, “The Arab Spring: ‘A Virus That Will Attack Moscow and Beijing’,” would state:
[US Senator John McCain] said, “A year ago, Ben-Ali and Gaddafi were not in power. Assad won’t be in power this time next year. This Arab Spring is a virus that will attack Moscow and Beijing.” McCain then walked off the stage.
Comparing the Arab Spring to a virus is not new for the Senator — but to my knowledge, coupling Russia and China to the comment is.
Senator McCain’s framing reflects a triumphalism bouncing around at this conference. It sees the Arab Spring as a product of Western design — and potentially as a tool to take on other non-democratic governments.
At an earlier session, Senator Udall said that those who believed that the Arab Spring was an organic revolution from within these countries were wrong — and that the West and NATO in particular had been primary drivers of results in Libya — and that the West had helped animate and move affairs in Egypt. Udall provocatively added Syria to that list as well.
“This virus” may have overwhelmed governments around the world at first, but since then, success has been limited with major setbacks in Thailand, Malaysia, and even in Egypt where US-backed regimes were either ousted by military coups, or never made it into power to begin with. Ukraine’s “Euromaidan,” while successful in Kiev, has led to Crimea’s return to Russia and a bitter civil war in the country’s eastern most provinces that have drained the lifeblood from Washington’s newly acquired client state.
It was clear that Washington’s “template” needed an upgrade. What could be done, just days ahead of another attempt to trigger sustainable unrest in Moscow? What could the movement use? A martyr.
Nemtsov, A Convenient Martyr… Too Convenient
The provocative murder in the center of Moscow, in close proximity to the Kremlin itself, would lead the more gullible members of the general public to imagine President Putin himself leaning back in his office chair with a rifle sticking out the window of the Kremlin, and gunning down his rival – in true super villain form.
Already, before any investigation has been conducted, Western news sources are attempting to imply the Kremlin was behind his murder – hoping the general public believes Russia’s leadership would be careless and thoughtless enough to commit such a provocative act just two days ahead of protests.
The BBC in its report, “Russia opposition politician Boris Nemtsov shot dead,” would claim:
He died hours after appealing for support for a march on Sunday in Moscow against the war in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned the murder, the Kremlin says.
In a recent interview, Mr Nemtsov had said he feared Mr Putin would have him killed because of his opposition to the war in Ukraine.
Of course, the BBC also mentioned Nemtsov’s intentions of exploiting growing economic concerns in Russia, brought on entirely by sanctions placed on Russia by the United States and its allies regarding chaos admittedly caused by overt, admitted US meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs.
It appears likely that rather than the Kremlin clumsily killing an opponent on their doorstep on the eve of a major protest, he was instead killed by either members of his own opposition movement, or by his US backers themselves. The combination of economic strain brought on by US sanctions, US-backed mobs planning to take to the streets, and now a martyr conventionality delivered just 2 days before the protest he was meant to lead was to take place, has the deck stacked with the most favorable cards to deliver the West the sort of sustainable chaos and unrest it has desired to create in Russia, and has admittedly created in neighboring Ukraine, according to America’s own former Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul.
A Message to America’s Proxies – Be Useful Alive, or Be Useful Dead
What must be going through the minds of Nemtsov’s colleagues who will undoubtedly repeat the West’s propaganda implying the Kremlin was behind his murder, but who know the Kremlin well enough to know that isn’t true?
They must now realize that any one of them could be next – that if their utility to their foreign sponsors alive is outweighed by their utility to them dead, they may be in tomorrow’s headlines for all the wrong reasons. Their options are limited – continuing as pawns of an increasingly violent, dangerous, and unstable collection of foreign interests or divesting from their roles as foreign-sponsored agitators, and reapproaching Russian politics in a more honest and constructive manner, even if their capacity remains in opposition to the current government – albeit in a diminished role lacking the resources Washington has lavished upon them.
To America’s proxies beyond Russia’s borders, they too must understand that the days of “color revolutions” sweeping targeted governments from power are over and that their lives are equally in danger of being spent for the cause of “martyrdom” to supercharge their floundering opposition movements.
Regarding Nemtsov’s murder, any good investigator would be tasked with the question, “to whose benefit?” Surely it would benefit the Kremlin to rid themselves of an opponents, but not in this manner. In fact, the only party that stood to benefit from his high-profile execution in the streets of Moscow were his own compatriots and his foreign backers who faced the prospect of yet another failed protest. Sympathy, they hope, will spur Russians who are on the fence politically to take to the streets, joining others who may have previously avoided protests because of Russia’s economic strength before US sanctions sank in.
The opposition, if they were not behind the murder of one of their own leaders, would not dare hold the protest this week – as it would be a shameless exploitation of this tragedy – and they would instead, for both security and respect, mourn the loss of Nemtsov thoughtfully. However, since they and their foreign backers were undoubtedly behind the murder, they will protest, shamelessly leveraging Nemtsov’s death to its fullest – using mourners to bolster their ranks.
When US Senator John McCain called America’s meddling abroad a “virus,” he meant it. It truly is a disease. And if Russians allow it to, it will corrupt and consume their entire nation just as it has corrupted and consumed the opposition planning to march.