The other day, I dove into the Moscow-friendly rhetoric, the lacks of disclosure, and the support for Kremlin-sponsored outlets surrounding those who cover Russia for both The Nation and the American Committee for East-West Accord. (I also shared a message received from one of these figures, who demanded to know if I was "brave as BATMAN.") In light of the piece, and in the interest of compilation, I wanted to bundle a handful of my write-ups that looked at those voices - academics, journalists, lobbyists - who have lent their efforts to improving the images of post-Soviet dictatorships, most especially in Russia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan.
Their names deserve to be known. Their deeds deserve to be remembered. (If only in a blog.)
This is by no means a compilation of all of the Anglophone voices pushing rhetoric friendly to these post-Soviet autocrats. Some of the best reads on the matter include Ken Silverstein's Turkmeniscam, ESI's "Caviar Diplomacy," the work of George Washington University's Robert Orttung, Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy, and the Office of Congressional Ethics, among plenty of others. Shoulders of giants, and all that.
Still, here are the handful of write-ups I've contributed to the catalog, with plenty of links within each piece - and with more to be added as they come:
On Tony Blair, whose network continues enjoying the proceeds of the former prime minister's work with Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.
On Brenda Shaffer, for whom both The New York Times and Washington Post were forced to issue corrections because of her relationship with the Azeri government. (With cameos from Mark Adomanis and Hilary Kramer. More on Adomanis below.)
- On the entire team at RT, which remains the foremost Kremlin-funded outlet within American media.
- On James Carden, of both The Nation and American Committee for East-West Accord, who calls those who'd criticize his work for multiple Kremlin-funded outlets both an "asshole" and a "sniveling shit." (Stephen Cohen, whose Putinist rhetoric has been tabulated elsewhere, and Katrina vanden Heuvel, who allowed Carden to plug his organization sans disclosure, also make cameos.)
- On James Kimer, a PR specialist who speared the (now-defunct) Silk Road Reporters, an outlet with ties that can be traced back to the Kazakh government.
- On Steve Stockman and Robert Wexler, a pair of former House representatives who were more than willing to praise the foreordained elections of Kazakhstan.
- On Mark Adomanis, who worked - whether paid or voluntary, we still don't know - for the Kremlin's foremost propaganda outlet, post-Crimea, all while continuing to write for Forbes.
- On Glenn Greenwald, who - maliciously or otherwise - has continually opted to regurgitate Kremlin talking points regarding Ukraine. (With cameos from Carden and Cohen.)
On Vladimir Socor, Richard Weitz, Jacob Zenn, and Daniel Witt, for their continued work in whitewashing Kazakhstan's elections. (Also covered are Franco Panizza, Desislava Terzieva, Dragomir Karic, Walter Schwimmer, Alan Spence, and James Lewis. Other "election observers" praising Kazakhstan's elections include former US Rep. Dan Bonker - a Kazakhstani lobbyist, whose prior spin can be found here - as well as Andreas Jahn, Margaret Skok, and Wolfgang Grossruck.)