Vladimir Vladimirovich and the Grey Lady

Bill Keller, editorialist for The
NY Times
and former executive editor of the paper, has recently penned a
attack on Vladimir Putin arguing
that Putin’s leadership “
deliberately distances Russia from the socially
and culturally liberal West” and describing the Kremlin’s policies as “laws
giving official sanction to the terrorizing of gays and lesbians, the jailing
of members of a punk protest group for offenses against the Russian Orthodox
Church, the demonizing of Western-backed pro-democracy organizations as ‘foreign
agents’, expansive new laws on treason, limits on foreign adoptions.”
Keller, who during his tenure as executive editor of The NY Times argued for the invasion of
Iraq and wrote
glowingly of Paul Wolfowitz, makes no
mention of Moscow’s diplomatic maneuvers that successfully avoided a US military
intervention in Syria or the Russian asylum given to Eric Snowden. Keller, who had
supported the US intervention in
Syria by writing “b
ut in Syria, I fear prudence has become fatalism, and
our caution has been the father of missed opportunities, diminished credibility
and enlarged tragedy,” also made no mention of Seymour Hersh’s stinging
dissection of the Obama administration’s misinformation campaign regarding the
sarin attacks in Syria. Hersh’s
piece, which drives grave
doubts into the case against Assad actually having carried out the attacks, was
not published in The New Yorker or in the Washington
, publications that regularly run his work.

Keller focuses on a Russian law that bans promotion of gay lifestyles in
Russia, a far cry from “giving official sanction to the terrorizing of gays and
lesbians”, while failing to mention that  according to his own paper, 88% of Russians
support the law.
Putin did expel USIAD from Russia,
cutting off the $50 million in aid which went to pro-democracy and
anti-corruption groups. The Kremlin
believed that much of this money wound up supporting the protest movement
against Putin that emerged in 2011. If
Russian funding had been suspected in the Occupy Wall Street Movement would The New York Times have supported Putin
for promoting democracy in the US? If
the Pussy Riot crew had broken into a prominent Jewish temple in New York and
defamed it as a protest against the millions of Palestinian refugees, would the
young ladies have have done some time? And if so, would they have received
support from all corners of stardom?

European Model

Quoting Dmitri Trenin, Keller argues that Putin sees Europe in decline, “it’s
national sovereignty… is superseded by supranational institutions.” Is Putin mistaken in his assumption? Maybe ask the people of
Greece, Spain or Ireland? Keller also mentions “limits on foreign
adoptions” but fails to mention the cause, the Magnitsky Affair, which was the
perfect example of what the Kremlin feels is US meddling in internal Russian
The heart of the Magnistsky
saga was the death in Russia, while under custody, of an attorney for Hermitage Capital, a hedge fund run by British
citizen William Browder. Browder made
billions in Russia before running afoul of Russian authorities. His Hermitage Capital was funded by the
Lebanese national Edmond Safra and eventually claimed to have lost $300
million while moving billions out of Russia. 
Browder, who has renounced his US citizenship, lobbied hard in
Washington to have the Magnitsky Law enacted. 
The law imposed
“visa and banking restrictions on Russian
officials implicated in human rights abuses.” Why was the US involved in passing laws to
protect Lebanese and British capital and a Russian prisoner? America hasn’t enough trouble
with its own prison system that it needs to legislate on the Russian penal
system? Are no American politicians
potential candidates for war crimes?

Keller’s final point is that Putin is being heavy handed over the Ukrainian/EU integration crisis, but Keller avoids discussing the deep historic and ethnic links between the two nations. Most Americans would agree that Russia should stay out of NAFTA negotiations, seeing North America as clearly not within the Russian sphere of influence. Ukrainians are deeply divided over the integration with Europe, so why not let the Ukrainians and Russians work out their trade relations without the American government getting involved? 


Probably more than any other topic, The
NY Times
has repeatedly published articles in defense of the long imprisoned and recently freed Russian
oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky,
a man whose rise to power was filled with
unsavory schemes to appropriate
businesses that where once the property of the Russian people. The NY
’s Sabrina Tavernese wrote
in 2001 that he had “
orchestrated a series of flagrant corporate abuses of
minority shareholders unparalleled in the short history of modern Russian
Khdorkovsky eventually
wound up the billionaire owner of Yukos Oil, which he planned to sell to
Exxon Mobil . Khdorkovsky also had political ambitions,
creating the Open Russian Foundation and putting Henry Kissinger and Lord Jacob
Rothschild on the board of directors. He
was clearly eyeing political power by making close ties with the West, too
close for the Kremlin, even being named to the Advisory Board of the Carlyle
The Khodorovsky affair was a complex battle for power in Russia, with
Khodorkovsky playing the Western powers against the strongly nationalistic
Putin. But at The NY Times, editorialist Joe Nocera in
four pieces on Khodorkovsky never
delves into the complexities of Putin’s strategy to keep Western interests at
bay, preferring to present a black and white scenario of ‘western liberal’ rule
of law against the ‘authoritarian’ Putin. 
Curiously, The NY Times doesn’t
seem so interested in Harvard’s Russia Project which ended in disgrace and
professor Andrei Shleifer, Larry Summers mentor, being forced to pay a $2 million
fine for enriching
himself under the guise of a USIAD program where he was to ‘teach’ Russians
about capitalism. He gave them an
interesting lesson yet but was not forced to resign, possibly due to his close
relation with Summers. Nocera hasn’t
written one article on that scandal which is much more relevant to Americans
and their iconic institutions, but which also might make him a few enemies
closer to home.

and the American People

Most Americans see Eric Snowden as whistle blower and not a traitor, yet
the NY Times star editorialist,
Thomas Friedman, isn’t so sure, “The fact is, he dumped his data and fled to
countries that are hostile to us,” though he doesn’t elaborate on why Russia is
a ‘hostile’ nation and he advises Snowden to come home and face the music if he’s
truly a patriot, “It would mean risking a lengthy jail term, but also trusting
the fair-mindedness of the American people.”
Putin is a social conservative and a fierce patriot who, like many
Americans, opposes regime change in the name of democracy. The American people, after failed
interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, also seem to
agree with him- both Putin and the American people, unlike the NY Times, vehemently opposed a US intervention in Syria. It seems Putin has more in common with the
opinions of Americans than does the NY
, which begs the question, why is the NY Times so hell bent on demonizing the President of the Russian
Federation when he’s supported by more than
60% of the Russian people?
The New York Times has written extensively about the gay rights
issue in Russia but
45% of Americans still think
that homosexuality is a sin and as the ‘Duck Dynasty’ controversy has revealed, homosexuality in America is still a very divisive issue. Is the fact it’s prohibited to speak in public in favor of gay lifestyles in Russia such an
important stumbling block between relations when the vast majority of Russians
support the law?

Americans probably don’t approve of roads where members of one religion can drive, but members of another religion must walk, as occurs in Hebron and reported on by Ynet, “Jewish residents are allowed to cross the road by vehicle, but Palestinians are now only permitted to cross by foot or by bicycle.”  They probably wouldn’t look fondly on back of the bus seating for women, yet in spite of this type of segregation in a country that claims to be democratic, the NY Times doesn’t feel compelled to demonize Mr. Netanyahu and his ‘socially conservative’ Likud party.  

Interests of the American People

Just as The NY Times despises Putin and Russia, it’s equally enamored with Israel. Imagine if the millions of Palestinian
refugees were not in camps because of their mother’s religion, but instead
because they were LGBT? What if Netanyahu were held to the same
standard as Mr. Putin? How many millions
of Palestinian Khodorkovsky’s are languishing in refugee camps in their own
country? Mr. Keller, Mr. Friedman and
Mr. Nocera are much more interested in the Khodorkovsky’s and William Browder’s
rights then they are in the Palestinian children living in squalor under an Israeli
blockade in Gaza.
Saudi Arabia and Israel, through its surrogate AIPAC, lobbied hard for war in
Syria and both supposed allies are furiously attempting to
undermine peace talks with Iran. Putin’s
Russia brokered the deal to avoid a US involvement in Syria, played an
important role in the Iranian peace initiative and also allowed Americans a
glimpse into the massive surveillance program the NSA has hoisted upon them by giving
refuge to Eric Snowden.

Just as Americans would not look fondly at the Kremlin interfering in
domestic American politics, so the Kremlin pushes back when it see US
interference in it’s internal affairs, a good example being being American
aid to the protest groups
during the 2011 Moscow protests against Putin.
If the US can accept serious human rights violations by supposed allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, can’t it also accept
that Russia has its own way of governing itself, based on its own history and culture?

The NY Times does not represent the
best interests of most Americans, nor does it use its powerful voice to protect
the millions persecuted within the realms of so called allies. The NY
represents a small sector of US power, bent on propagating special
interests at the expense of the powerless.
Mr. Putin certainly acts in the best interests of Russia, but curiously enough, by working in his own interest, he has done more to protect the 4th
Amendment than the constitutional law professor currently occupying the White
In Syria he was protecting
Russian interests, but by doing so he kept the US out of an intervention that
could have easily developed into a major war.
 If it had been up to The NY Times, we would have intervened in Syria and Snowden would
be behind bars awaiting the mercy of the Obama Administration.
So who is a better friend of the American
There are no doubts that The NY Times is a better friend of the
Khodorkovsky’s and William Browder’s of the world but Americans might
actually be better off it’s government listened more to Putin and less the Grey