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CAN “PROGRESSIVE ILLUSIONISM” BE DEFEATED?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Mar. 26, 2014) — Approximately two weeks ago, radio host Andrea Shea King interviewed native Ukrainian political activist and satirist Oleg Atbashian, owner of the website “The People’s Cube,” about the volatile and deadly situation in Ukraine.
Atbashian had appeared on King’s show previously as well as on numerous other radio shows including Blaze TV, PJTV, the Dr. Rich Swier Show, and the Republic Broadcasting Network, among others. He grew up in the former Soviet Union under communism and came to the United States in 1994, three years after the 74-year-old empire, begun under Vladimir Lenin in 1917 with the Russian Revolution, toppled.
Last month, Russian paramilitary forces invaded Crimea with the alleged purpose of “protecting ethnic Russians in the region against Ukrainian authorities.”
The U.S. and other Western nations consider the Russians to have committed a violation of international law by invading Crimea, after which Obama issued a “threat” to impose sanctions on Russia. Located on the Black Sea, Crimea is known as a vacation resort with temperate winters and lovely summers.
While Obama claimed that Putin’s “action violates Ukraine’s sovereignty,” he has used the pejorative term “sovereign citizen” against those concerned about corruption within the United States government and their own local communities. Many Americans believe that the sovereignty of the U.S. has suffered under the Obama regime.
On March 19, Atbashian stated on his website that Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov had tweeted a mockery of Obama, depicting him as wearing a Russian military uniform “seen on various Russian websites and forums since he first became president.” Atbashian noted that The Huffington Post first reported the tweet but quickly removed its story, replacing it with another about Aksyonov.
As to Putin’s move to send troops into Crimea, a former Russian government adviser opined that “The debate about the legality of the referendum in Crimea will ramble on for a while but it is very difficult to imagine how the result can now be reversed,” describing Obama’s “smart sanctions” as “an anti-climax and a confirmation of a total lack of any desire on the part of the West to take the fight with Russia any further.”
Atbashian believes that much of the news reaching Western media about the conflict is a result of Russian propaganda. He cited a March 17 Forbes article as “very credible and scary” which reported that a former Putin adviser stated that “Putin has already declared war on Kiev,” the capital of Ukraine. According to the former aide, “Putin’s war is being conducted by Russian Spetsnaz (special operations) forces and KGB (now called FSB) agents and is aimed at toppling the pro-Western government in Kiev. The Spetsnaz forces’ orders include the sowing of civil unrest throughout Ukraine via strikes, demonstrations, staged incidents, and street battles. Putin’s subversive forces will also gin up neo-Nazi incidents with Nazi regalia and Swastikas on full display. Their orders include as well the deliberate killing of Russian soldiers and of ethnic Russian civilians to prove the hatred and extremism of radical Ukrainian nationalists. These orders come from Putin himself. Their goal is to create an image of intolerable chaos and loss of civil authority to justify a Russian takeover of all Ukraine. Putin’s goal is the destruction of pro-Western authority in Ukraine, the total humiliation of the West, and a makeover of the geopolitical balance.”
According to a Ukrainian travel website, Kiev, or “Kyiv,” as it is known in Russian, is a center for world art, architecture and history with an opera house featuring live plays, ballets and operas in the Ukrainian or Russian languages. Kiev became the capital of ancient Rus while it was settled by Slavs prior to the year 1000 and was considered a portal between eastern Europe and the West.
Nineteenth-century Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky wrote a famous suite for piano “inspired by Russian history” titled “Pictures at an Exhibition” which included a movement called “The Great Gate of Kiev.” The composition has since been arranged for orchestra by French composer Maurice Ravel and many others.
Atbashian has recently been interviewed by America’s Survival’s Cliff Kincaid and Breitbart. He is a columnist at The Washington Times and an artist who once created propaganda posters for the former Soviet Union, now using his talent to parody current events, legislation, and political propaganda.
On March 5, he told Kincaid that he sees the threat of Marxism, under which he was raised, rising in America (16:00), and the continuation of blame assigned to former President George W. Bush for America’s ills. In 2010, Atbashian authored a book titled “Shakedown Socialism” to expose “the fallacy of economic equality” stemming from “progressive illusionism.”
As a young man, Atbashian voluntarily went to Siberia to work “because they had large deposits of oil. They needed workers, not just oil workers, but if you have oil workers there, you also need construction workers and road-builders, people supplying them with food and products, and you need schools and teachers…they were paying double the salary of what would they would pay in the mainland, so that encouraged a lot of people to come because the salaries were really meager around the country.”
Under the Soviets, Siberia had been a penal colony where people were consigned to work in coal-mining and construction. Siberia is known for its harsh climate and is believed to be the source of the extreme cold experienced by much of the United States this winter.
Atbashian emigrated to the United States and became politically active after the 9/11 attacks, which he witnessed as a resident of New York City at the time.
At the beginning of The Post & Email’s interview with Atbashian, it was discovered that we hold two things in common: an Armenian father and Ukrainian mother and knowledge of “only a few words of Armenian.”
[Editor’s Note: While this writer’s parents are of Armenian and Ukrainian descent, respectively, both were born in the United States and were U.S. citizens at the time of her birth, making her a “natural born Citizen,” according to a U.S. Supreme Court opinion.]
During the first century A.D., the apostles St. Bartholomew and St. Thaddeus brought Christ’s message to what was then Armenia, and the nation became the first to make Christianity the official state faith through the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Atbashian was born in 1960, seven years after Soviet dictator Josef Stalin died. He told us that at that time, “Things had loosened up in Russia, but it was still a police state.”
On March 14, Atbashian wrote a report about a young man who was killed in violence between Russians and Ukrainians in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. Russia has since “annexed” Crimea, a section of Ukraine which held a referendum last Sunday as to whether or not to remain part of Ukraine or to join the Russian Federation. In his article, Atbashian stated that Russian propaganda has resulted in the popular beliefs that “(a) The Ukrainian revolution was the result of a vast Western-Zionist conspiracy against Russia; (b) all pro-Ukrainian demonstrators are violent Nazis, fascists, and traitors who have been paid with dollars by their American, European, and Zionist masters; and (c) the demonstrators are all intruders from Western Ukraine, the land of hateful worshipers of the ‘Nazi collaborator’ Stepan Bandera.”
The results of the March 16 referendum were reportedly 97% in favor of joining the Russian Federation. In an article cited by Atbashian, Russian soldiers without uniforms were reported arrested by Ukrainian forces on the same day.
On March 22, The New York Times reported that “Russian forces pushed Saturday to complete their expulsion of the Ukrainian military from the disputed Crimean Peninsula, smashing through the gates of a base here with armored vehicles, firing weapons into the air and demanding that the cornered Ukrainian soldiers surrender.”
Of the current situation among Ukraine, Russia and the West, Atbashian told us:
I noticed there’s a tendency in the academic circles to blame America for everything that goes bad in the world, and it borders on the irrational. The US is not perfect, and has a share of stupid politicians, but often times other countries are much worse. There was little that the US could have done with Putin’s idea to unite the country by stirring up jingoistic nationalism inside Russia and creating the image of the West as the evil conniving enemy, which is the easiest road that all wannabe dictators go. I’ve been seeing that develop for years, and now we have the results.
Putin’s goal is a strong Russia, which is great, I only wish the best for that country. But he is not making it strong by fostering growth on the grassroots level. He divides the economy among those oligarchs who stay loyal to him, while destroying those who dare oppose him. In this situation, the only way he can make Russia appear stronger is by undermining and weakening the competition. Hence all the anti-Western propaganda at home and abroad. The KGB used to have a developed network for disseminating and planting disinformation and propaganda in the West, and Putin seems to have brought it back to full speed now, especially with the Ukrainian situation.
Claims that Russia is being constantly provoked by the West are laughable. It’s just like in any group of people some can work with others and take constructive criticism rationally, while some others see the same things and perceive them as personal insults. It’s like saying that a street thug is not guilty for attacking a passer-by who accidentally brushed his shoulder because the passer-by should have been more sensitive to the thug’s sensibilities.
The mistake most observers are making is based on the false EU vs. Russia dichotomy, which is certainly useful to Russia but does not describe the true state of affairs. It’s true that the protests in Ukraine started with Yanukovich’s decision to stay with Russia as opposed to the EU. But from there it went to the demands of the complete overhaul of the corrupt government made of Moscow-backed politicians. If Ukraine doesn’t distance itself from Moscow, it will forever remain in its shadow – a small, corrupt, dependent, incompetent, and ridiculed Little Russia. It’s time for Ukraine to grow up and act as an independent adult.
I know you’ll say that EU is not better, but has there really been any talk of Ukraine actually joining EU as a member? I thought it was about entering the European economic space only.
When we asked Atbashian what he thought of the relationship between Obama and Putin in light of the invasion of Ukraine, he said:
Putin is playing Obama easily, because Obama is not as competent as we were promised. We were promised that he would fill the government with the brightest, most advanced thinkers, that we would have a great economy and prosperity, complete peace and sunshine. That all turned out to be a big utopia, pie-in-the-sky, a dream that never happened and can never happen, because all those people that he put in charge were overrated. The ones running the State Department are incompetent. It started with Hillary and now it’s John Kerry. Victoria Nuland, who’s handling Eurasian relations, is also incompetent. Obama himself was described as the ‘voracious consumer of intelligence’ by one of his sycophants. Apparently, that is not true, because as you can see, Putin has outclassed him and outplayed him on the international stage easily.
One of Putin’s main instruments is propaganda. The KGB was very savvy in developing propaganda; that was a large part of their campaign, and the influencing of people’s minds was more important than espionage or conducting any type of subversive operations or sabotage. The KGB had a very highly developed technology for developing propaganda material and distributing it around the world, planting disinformation lies in Western media. That went away for a little while after the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union fell apart, and of course, the major part of the KGB was inherited by Russia and renamed the FSB. For a while, they had a lot of domestic things to worry about, and domestically, they’ve done well. They’ve quenched most of the corruption that ended the lawless period in Russia, but at the same time, the FSB basically covered the protection racket and they themselves became the big protection racket.
They had a developed network of distributing information, lies and distortions. It subsided for a while, but now Putin has brought it back, even doubling down with Ukraine. They have also mastered the internet and social media. So Russian stories have been planted all over the Western media. I’ve seen a clip, because I go to Russian websites, and I have seen a German comedy show that was ridiculing Ukraine, the Ukrainian revolution, and Putin, and it sounded like something that was paid for by Russian intelligence, then it was translated into Russian and posted in Russian.
There are armies of paid internet trolls who have been active on the Russian internet for a long time. It was really disgusting to see it everywhere. They weren’t allowing any discussion to go on; they were immediately insulting, and a lot of that was based on anti-Semitic rhetoric, an ultra-nationalist, jingoistic rhetoric, and gay-bashing, too. If Ukraine wanted to join Europe, as it claimed, then “Europe was all taken over by gays and that meant that those Ukrainian revolutionaries must have been gay themselves, and so you shouldn’t be supporting them.” That was the main idea.
At some point, this propaganda started spreading West. There are armies of trolls who go to different websites, Facebook, YouTube, anywhere. I’ve noticed it even at my Facebook account – that people will suddenly pop out. If one of the discussions is about Ukraine, suddenly I have visitors who have never been there before and they immediately start posting their side of the story, calling whatever I say false. If you go to YouTube, it’s full of those comments. Some of the bloggers, even the right-wing bloggers, are falling for it.