It was inevitable. Some Russian newspapers have taken advantage of Wikileaks’ latest “exposures” and have tried to sneak a few items to the public, that may ring true but upon closer inspection seem fabricated.
Estonia has been the target of a supposedly Wikileaks-based, Komsomolskaja Pravda article. It claimed that a 2007 diplomatic cable from Tallinn, authored by then US chargé d’affaires Jeff Goldstein stated that Estonia had chosen deliberate confrontation with Russia as a tactic. It stressed the security police had been given the green light to make Russians “uncomfortable” (in moving the “Bronze Soldier”) and the ensuing street riots were not planned but spontaneous. In the dispatch Goldstein was to have indicated that Estonia was isolating itself from Europe and was nearly paranoid in its distrust of Russia and possible aggression originating from there.
The Kremlin-friendly Russkii Reporter stated that the walkout of Western diplomats from the UN General Assmebly speech of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was not a spontaneous protest, but preplanned by Washington from where European representatives received precise instructions. Since a search of the Wikileaks database did not uncover any content that would have confirmed this, Radio Free Europe has concluded that articles could be unreliable and even invented.
Consternation has been raised amongst Western journalists about another Russkii Reporter article which claimed thet the Russia-Georgia war was initiated by Georgia’s Mihhail Saakashvili and that nobody in the world has stated otherwise. In fact cables sent from the US embassy in Tbilisi stated the opposite, that Georgia did not plan the war. Russian journalist Leonid Velihov stated that Russkii Reporter’s stories have been distorted, even forged. It’s known that Russkii Reporter has not used any Wikileaks’ material that would cast the Kremlin in a negative light.
Radio Free Europe has pointed out that Wikileaks activist Isreal Shamir has been involved in the suspect Wikileaks revelations of both Russkii Repoerter and Komsomolskaja Pravda. Shamir, a friend of Julian Assange, is currently unavailable.
Time and agin the Kremlin has used Russian media to plant its propaganda. This time the reports attributed to Wikileaks have not been wildly improbable, but rather tendentious possibilities, maybe even plausible to those unfamiliar with the situations.
Some of Moscow’s previous attempts to discredit Estonia and its government have simply invoked laughable incredulity: at least twice a Russian newspaper reported that some Estonian farmers desired to re-establish the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic in north-east Estonia; that an explosion on railway tracks somewhere east of Estonia could have ben perpetrated by Estonian reserve forces who had just finished an international military competition in Estonia.
It’s been said that Russia’s international propaganda budget exceeds that of their fund that supports the unemployed. Often their smear campaigns have not been cost effective, have not produced the desired effect the authors intended: to discredit a country and render it untrustworthy and unreliable in the eyes of their international friends and allies. Moscow’s propaganda efforts have often provided cheap entertainment amongst its recipients. One could assume that keeping the international community amused would have a lower priority than alleviating the problems of those Russians out of work. But, then again, these assumptions could be misplaced.
Wikileaks and Russian newspapers: information that lacks accuracy and credibility