DEZINFORMATSIYA ALIVE BUT TRANSPARENT

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 139

Two forgeries now circulating in Europe and North America bear the classic imprint of Soviet disinformation, presented, however, in modern-looking packaging developed by Modest Kolerov’s department of the presidential administration in the Kremlin.

One of these forgeries attempts to portray Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili as suffering from “psychiatric disturbances.” Handed out discretely to Western journalists in recent weeks, this “study” is attributed to mental health institutes with prestigious-looking titles in six West European countries. However, the document is written in awkward English and with occasional telltale Russianisms (“convinced in,” “diceased.”) It purports to “diagnose” Saakashvili with various psychiatric “syndromes” and “dysfunctions” without substantiating these in any way, resorting instead to simple assertions and occasionally innuendo. Significantly, no direct claim is made that any of those six institutes ever examined or interviewed the Georgian president; instead, their “contribution to the study” is acknowledged.

The “study’s” political goals are also apparent in the forecasts it derives from that “diagnosis.” It warns that the Georgian president may provoke social and military conflicts and that he tends to situate himself in opposition to the Georgian public.

To lend credence to such predictions it clearly misrepresents Saakashvili as an insecure, “paranoid” personality; and his public speaking style as reflecting those alleged traits as well as difficulties of expression while under pressure. In reality, however, this Georgian president’s defining message is one of optimism and confidence in the nation, while his speaking style in English and Russian makes him undoubtedly one of the most effective political orators in today’s international arena (albeit one in which oratorical talent is in short supply). Even as this “study” was being circulated, the June meeting of Saakashvili with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg saw a relaxed and articulate Georgian president easily dominating his stilted Russian counterpart throughout their lengthy joint news conference (see EDM, June 16). Economist correspondent Edward Lucas has wittily debunked the psychological “study” on his widely read blog (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EdwardLucas).

Concurrently with the anti-Georgian “study,” a report on Transnistria was released apparently by the same workshop or a related one, with false attribution to seven highly reputed academics from leading U.S. and British universities. This report backs Transnistria’s “right” to secede from Moldova and to be granted international recognition. The document describes Transnistria as a “democratic” polity meeting the criteria of state sovereignty under international law. It passes over in silence Russia’s military and economic support that enabled Transnistria’s secession from Moldova.

Some parts of this report are easily recognized as having been lifted from an earlier report about Karabakh. Other parts are written in awkward English. The news agency Regnum, a Kolerov outlet (he was its founder and chief executive prior to his move into the Kremlin) first publicized this report.

The seven purported co-authors have, in the meantime, denied any involvement in the preparation of the report on Transnistria and asked that their names be removed from the authors’ roster. Some other scholars, whose work is referenced in the report’s footnotes in distorted or misleading ways, have similarly asked for removal of those references. Indeed, most of those names have in the meantime disappeared the website of the organization that sponsors this report.

The sponsoring organization, the “International Council for Democratic Institutions and State Sovereignty,” at www.icdiss.org, was found to share an IP address with www.pridnestrovie.net when it posted the report. The reference to democratic institutions and state sovereignty reflects this Council’s function to advocate for recognition of the post-Soviet secessionist enclaves. Meanwhile, that same “Council,” along with something called the “United Euro-Atlantic Forum,” has released a report criticizing Ukraine’s cooperation with the European Union in enforcing customs regulations against Transnistria’s “external trade.” Names of disinformation outlets that use misleading references to Western values (the “Free Europe Foundation,” also propagandizing for recognition of the secessionist enclaves, is another case) are typical of Kolerov’s growing network of such organizations.