Kremlin Follows the Money Trail

Fallout from the Dissenters’ March continues. First, the three MVD officers charged with ensuring “order” during the protest have all received promotions. Putin signed a decree yesterday that promoted Vyacheslav Kozlov to deputy chief of Moscow GUVD, Arkady Gostev as head of the Department for Securing Public Order at Moscow GUVD, and Vyacheslav Khaustov to command Moscow’s OMON. Kommersant adds, “Spokesmen for the authorities urged that the appointments are not linked to the successful crackdown on the Dissenters’ Marches” and that move was “scheduled.” Uh, yeah right.

That is not all. The Kremlin is also moving more aggressively to identify the financial backers of the Other Russia movement. Within the Kremlin and United Russia, Other Russia has long been suspected of receiving funds from Western NGOs and, possibly, governments. A task force has now been created comprised of United Russia’s Alexander Gurov, the CPRF’s Viktor Ilyukhin, and Fair Russia’s Gennady Gudkov.

According to Mark Ames of the Exile, Other Russia’s connections particularly to American neoconservatives aren’t that hard to find. In his article, “Russian Protests: The Deleted Scenes,” he rhetorically asks what is wrong with the anti-Putin protest movement. After all, being against Putin increasing authoritarianism isn’t the problem. Just the opposite. What is wrong with it then?

[W]hat is wrong with how the protest movement is being sold to the West. Gary Kasparov, the man they’re making into the next Nelson Mandela, is what’s wrong. You probably haven’t read about this anywhere (unless you read the Russian blogger world), but Kasparov is so deep in bed with the vilest of America’s neo-con goons, a VIP member of their PR-politics-lobbying network, that it almost seems like a bad setup. The strangest thing of all is how no one in the major Western media has touched on Kasparov’s neo-con connections.

Gary Kasparov is a minor political figure at home, but he gets unusually high-profile access to every major media outlet in the West. The more far-right the media outlet, the more Kasparov-friendly it is. Case-in-point: The Wall Street Journal now identifies Kasparov as a “contributing editor” to that paper’s opinion page, largely because he has been such a regular contributor. The Cheney/neo-con agenda, spelled out in the Project for a New American Century, calls for containing Russia and keeping it weak in order both to control the Caspian Sea resources and to prevent a potential rival from checking American power. That agenda exactly describes the opinion page of The Wall Street Journal. The Journal has been stridently anti-Putin, particularly since the arrest of former Yukos owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky — an arrest which was a major blow to American oil interests.

Far more disturbing than Kasparov’s status as a “contributing editor” to the Wall Street Journal, even as the same paper writes up his role in the protest movement, are his ties to the far-right foreign policy machine. Specifically, Gary Kasparov is, or was, a member of the neo-con Center for Security Policy. The think-tank’s mission statement declares that it is “committed to the time-tested philosophy of promoting international peace through American strength.” And Kasparov is not just a casual member – he once served on the CSP’s National Security Advisory Council, an inner-working group headed by ex-CIA goon James Woolsey. It’s a group with extensive ties to the Pentagon. The Center for Security Policy’s member list reads like a Who’s Who of the neo-con elite: along with Woolsey, it boasts Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Elliott Abrams and Frank Gaffney, and was highly influential not just in formulating President Bush’s disastrous imperial strategy in his first term, but also in lobbying for the repeal of the ABM treaty, a move which was in many ways the start of the growing rift between Russia and America.

The major Western media has yet to report Kasparov’s role in the Center for Security Policy. And the organization has done its best to air-brush Kasparov’s membership from its history. Kasparov’s name no longer appears on the CSP’s website, although if you look through wikipedia, you’ll find the cached web pages that used to be up. Why would they try to erase the past?

One reason why Kasparov’s name was removed has to do with conflict of interest. After last weekend’s protest, not only did the Wall Street Journal shake its indignant fist at Putin’s authoritarianism on behalf of its own contributing editor, but the Washington Times and other outlets printed an equally damning, pro-Kasparov piece by none other than Frank Gaffney, the Center for Security Policy’s founder. Neither Gaffney nor the Washington Times mentioned his links to Kasparov.

Sounds like the task force’s work might already be done.