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PUTIN “LESS COMMUNIST THAN THE CURRENT OBAMA ADMINISTRATION”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Mar. 29, 2014) — The following is a continuation of our interview with Oleg Atbashian, political activist, satirist, artist, researcher and writer. His website, The People’s Cube, has its own Wikipedia entry and features Atbashian’s satirical art, which is an outgrowth of his former work as a Soviet propaganda artist.
The Post & Email discussed the crisis in Ukraine which arose after several months of street protests and culminated in President Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster from office on February 21, after which he fled the country. Russian troops then invaded Ukraine, ultimately taking over Crimea.
The protests were sparked when an expected trade agreement with the European Union (EU) fell through, which was announced on November 21.
Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union until its political structure crumbled in 1991. Atbashian, born in 1960 and raised in Ukraine, recalled to The Post & Email the “police state” in which he lived until communism’s fall and his eventual emigration to the United States in 1994.
On Sunday, March 16, Crimea reportedly voted to join the Russian Federation rather than remain politically aligned with Ukraine, but the results of the referendum were rejected by the White House.
Obama’s recent warnings to Putin to “pull back” troops from Crimea are reportedly going unheeded by the Russian president, who Atbashian described as a master at dispersing anti-Western propaganda. However, on Saturday it was also reported that “According to the White House, Putin called to talk about an American proposal ‘for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis’ and the two presidents agreed that their respective top diplomats ‘would meet to discuss next steps.'”
In response to our question about the relationship between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin given the upheaval in his native Ukraine, Atbashian had responded that Putin was “playing Obama easily, because Obama is not as competent as we were promised.”
In regard to the Ukraine crisis, he further told us:
What’s happening is that the same kind of rhetoric is also continuing in the West, although it’s much more sanitized. They stay away from gay bashing or any anti-Semitic remarks because they know it’s not OK here, but they continue with a lot of other misinformation. They come up with all kinds of different conspiracy theories. For instance, all of the accusations of neo-Nazis in the Ukraine and how Jews need to leave the country now for their safety because the fascists and internationalists are in power now are not true. Jews are not worried at all. There were actually a lot of Jews taking part in the revolution. It’s also not a conflict between Russians and Ukrainians or Russian-speakers and Ukrainian-speakers because a lot of people in Independence Square were Russian-speaking. I saw a lot of signs in Russian. There were people from all over supporting the Ukrainian revolution including Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Lithuanians, and even Russians, and they officially thanked the people who came from Russia during their victory at Independence Square, saying, “This is great; we need more Russians to support us and perhaps to spread this to Moscow,” and that is something that scares Putin most of all – that a “color revolution” will come to Moscow. That’s his biggest fear, so he needs to quench the Ukrainian Revolution.
There are, indeed, some nationalists and ultranationalists who actually have played the biggest part in defending people from the police. They are courageous, and quite a few of them died. But they are not in the majority. The latest opinion poll shows that Vitali Klitschko actually holds the lead, and the two nationalist leaders of the Svoboda Party and the Right Sector, collectively, have about 5% support. So how can you talk about neo-Nazis and ultranationalists spreading in the country?
If you go to Europe, you will see a lot bigger numbers of support for ultranationalists. In France, there is 10% of ultranationalists enjoying elected support. So that’s one thing. Internationalism is a positive thing in that there was support for the Ukrainian revolution in parts of the former USSR.
One of the first protesters in Kiev killed by Yanukovich’s police was a young Armenian man. His face has become an iconic one – a typical Armenian face with a short beard and dark skin and hair. There was a Georgian man who was killed by the police. Of course, most victims were local Ukrainians, and that includes both Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking. For people who do not know, in central and eastern Ukraine, it doesn’t matter what language you speak; a lot of people identify themselves as Ukrainians anyway.
In Ireland, all of them speak English, but they don’t identify themselves as English. It’s a similar thing.
The Post & Email asked, “Could this be the beginning of a major war?” to which Atbashian responded:
I hope not, but it is possible. Putin’s strategy is now becoming more clear.
“The American media seems to be enamored with dictators. How does Putin compare to Fidel Castro or Stalin?”
Putin distanced himself from communism and Marxism; he wants to rebuild the USSR, only without Marxism-Leninism. Russians want a strong national state and replaced the idea of communism with nationalism. When Putin came to power, the country was a mess, and he wanted to have a unifying idea to bring it together and make people all work together. He wouldn’t have been able to restore communism, so the next easiest step was to restore a jingoistic, nationalist sentiment.
“Does Putin allow freedom of the press?”
He is suppressing freedom of the press. Previously, he would close newspapers or transfer ownership, but there were still independent websites and opposition leaders who were getting their information through the internet. Putin gave an order to the hosting services to discontinue those websites, and a whole number of opposition news services is offline in the last couple of weeks.
“So he really is like a dictator in some ways?”
Yes. He’s not exactly entrenched in it like Hitler or Mao, but he is inching in that direction.
“What do you think about Obama? Does he remind you of a dictator at all, or is he not in that category?”
He would like to be; America is not ready for a dictatorship yet. Obama may talk all he wants about democracy and nice, good-natured ideas, but he knows very well that they cannot be implemented without dictatorial intervention. So at times, he acts dictatorially with his executive orders or he behaves in a certain way to influence the public and pressures people to achieve a certain result.
“About ten days ago, The Washington Examiner reported that former White House Counsel Gregory Craig issued a memo ‘reminding’ all executive-branch departments to forward FOIA requests concerning Obama or his family members to the White House for extra scrutiny. Are you familiar with the Obama birth certificate/eligibility issue?”
Yes. It’s not just the birth certificate. There are also his college records, his Social Security number from a state where he’s never lived…Whether he’s legitimate or not we can’t decide on this call, but the fact that he has a lot of things that he’s hiding from the American public…Even if the American public does not have access to it, that doesn’t mean that the FSB (or former KGB) doesn’t have access to that, so it is an opportunity for Putin to blackmail Obama and put pressure on him in that way. That’s another reason to vet our politicians thoroughly.
“The Post & Email interviewed someone from Great Britain a couple of weeks ago who said that Edward Snowden gave Putin all of the information on Obama and his family and therefore the ability to blackmail Obama.”
That’s a very interesting theory, and we can’t discount it, but I can’t discuss it because I don’t know.
“What could Putin blackmail Obama about other than the birth controversy?”
There are certain things with American foreign policy that Putin got hold of because there were some overt and covert operations. For instance, one of the biggest lies that Putin propaganda is spreading is that the entire Ukrainian revolution was engineered by the United States. If you go on the Russian websites and see the comments, everybody believes that this was America’s doing. Now that blood is shedding, they’re not blaming Putin; they’re blaming the Yankees, saying, “The Americans are now happy to see what they started.”
“About two weeks ago, Judge Andrew Napolitano said that we are paying protesters there; is that true?”
Not likely. They may have some overt support; for instance, Victoria Nuland was there distributing cookies. I understand she wanted to do moral support, but that gave more ammunition to anti-American, anti-Ukrainian propaganda. So the claim is that it was all created by America. George Soros groups are indeed active in Ukraine; they’re active all over the world and especially in eastern Europe. I’m not an admirer of George Soros. If George Soros’s presence there indicated America’s involvement on the side of the revolution, then the Yanukovych party (Party of Regions) actually paid a little under a million to a Podesta group to run their public relations. John Podesta used to run Obama’s campaign. So they were running the true government campaign, and I don’t know to what extent: if it was only the United States or it was also in the international arena or what kind of campaigns they devised for them. If you follow the same logic, then you may as well claim that the United States supported the Yanukovych regime. So it’s not an argument.
There are a few conspiracy theories they have generated: intercepted phone calls about this and that…
When a lot of people in the world say that the revolution was started by the United States, that’s how Putin is outplaying Obama. In politics, perception is reality. No matter what America really did, what matters is what people think America did. If they think that America had a big hand in that revolution and killed the protesters on purpose in order to ignite anger, then anything Obama does now will turn against him. All of the demands that he places on Putin will be met with indignation and anger on the part of people who believe that America started it in the first place and that Putin is only protecting his interests.
“Do you see Obama and Putin going head-to-head, or is Obama no match for Putin?”
He is no match for Putin. Obama is actually a joke inside the Russian government. I just wrote an article published at PJ Media about that, the jokes in Russia about Obama and the fact that the Russian government is picking up on those jokes and openly making fun. If American politicians were making fun of the president or the country, they would be in trouble. In Russia, they’re not afraid to be in trouble, because they know they’ll get all the support they need. So Obama is an open joke. They call him a “comrade;” they call his organization the “Regional Communist Party Committee” in Washington, and it’s interesting that right now, they are less communist than the current Obama administration. They distanced themselves from that, and for them, communism is now a joke. They say that Obama is picking up those ideas – maybe not exactly communist, but still Marxist-oriented – and to them, it’s ridiculous and stupid, and the way Obama acts now is also similar to how the original party bosses acted, not in Moscow, but in the regions.
The American media is on the side of Ukraine this time. For once, they’re covering it correctly. I spent all night writing the story you read in PJ Media because I wanted to be the first to break it. Seven hours later, The New York Times published a very similar report.
“I remember you said you were first. I know that’s a really good feeling.”
Yes, that’s good. So now, I discovered in Forbes Magazine that there is an American in Ukraine, and his coverage is very similar in attitude to mine. Forbes is set up so that if you read one post, you can scroll down and read the next post by the same writer. He and I see eye-to-eye.
The Post & Email mentioned the Sheriff Joe Arpaio investigation, of which Atbashian said he is aware. “Obama’s propaganda is pretty good, but they know only how to do it domestically,” he said. “Fortunately, that propaganda isn’t working abroad. For instance, with countering Putin’s propaganda, I feel really bad that I have to carry the water for Victoria Nuland and John Kerry. It’s their job to defend themselves and debunk all of the rumors, but they’re not doing anything.”
Speaking of Snowden, if there were any proof of America’s involvement in the Ukrainian revolution, some of that would have been in Snowden’s files. Russia publishes everything, every bit of compromising information, right now, so if there was really American involvement in the Ukraine, it would have been published already.
I spoke with a few former CIA people and asked them the same question, just to make sure, and they also said that in the 1980s, they did have covert operations in eastern Europe when Reagan was in power, and Reagan usually supported those covert operations with his overt acts and approach to the “Evil Empire.” Right now, the CIA has been emasculated; they don’t have the power, the structure, the people, the human resources, to handle all that. Both of them agreed that it’s completely impossible to imagine that the CIA was doing anything like that.
The Post & Email is looking forward to speaking with Atbashian again in the near future, at which time we hope to learn more of his life in the former Soviet Union, his work as a propaganda artist for the regime, and his reaction following the much-anticipated announcement from Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the coming days or weeks.