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Author Amy Knight’s ‘Orders to Kill’ – a putrid wad of regurgitated Putin-hate and lies

The latest tome smearing Vladimir Putin repeats the mantra that ‘Putin kills journalists’ – unconvincingly

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(Irrussianality) – In her latest book, Orders to Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murder, Amy Knight wishes to convince us ‘how scary and unpredictable Russia has become.’ (p. 3) To this end, her book recounts multiples instances in which, she alleges, the ‘Putin regime’ has orchestrated the murder both of ordinary Russian citizens and of prominent political opponents. Knight is a respectable author whose 1993 biography of Beria I found quite informative. In Orders to Kill, however, she has abandoned academic neutrality in favour of political activism. The result is far from satisfactory.

orders to kill

Knight argues that ‘Russia has become a huge threat to the United States and its allies.’ (p. 7) The reason for this is the purportedly murderous nature of the Russian state and its leader, Vladimir Putin. Early on, though, Knight reveals a weakness in her argument. ‘I do not claim to have definitive proof of the complicity of Putin and his allies,’ she writes (p. 6) ‘but these many crimes form a familiar pattern.’ So, she doesn’t actually have any strong evidence to support her thesis; she just thinks that there’s a ‘pattern’. But she never explores alternative explanations for the ‘pattern’, nor does she consider the possibility that there isn’t really a pattern at all. Instead, Orders to Kill constitutes an extended attempt to squeeze all the cases studied into a predetermined system. This is a decidedly flawed methodology.

Knight begins her book with an analysis of political assassination in the Soviet period, in an apparent effort to suggest that assassination is part and parcel of Russian political culture. The problem is that the two main cases she uses to press her point – the murder of Sergei Kirov and the death of Maxim Gorky – are not very good ones. Knight has written another book about the Kirov murder, which I haven’t read but which apparently argues that Stalin ordered it. I’ve never found this point of view convincing, and was, for instance, not persuaded by Robert Conquest’s book on the subject, which argued the same thing. The Kirov case is speculation. So too is that of Maxim Gorky. There isn’t any firm proof that he was murdered. These two cases set the tone for much of that which follows in Orders to Kill – there’s a lot of speculation, only weakly supported by evidence.

After discussing the Soviet Union, Knight moves on to Putin era, mysteriously skipping almost all of the period when Boris Yeltsin was president of Russia. This is an important gap, and creates a false impression that ‘political’ murder began when Putin came on the scene. The first post-Soviet case that Knight covers is that of St Petersburg politician Galina Starovoitova, who was killed in 1998, before Putin became Prime Minister and then president. This is covered in Chapter 3 entitled ‘Galina Starovoitova: Putin’s first victim?’ The question mark is significant. Knight notes (p. 58) that ‘we still don’t know who ordered her murder’. It is a big leap from that to ‘Putin did it,’ especially as Knight fails to produce even single item of evidence linking Putin to the crime. The logic is solely that Knight thinks that the murder would have helped Putin politically, and therefore he must have been responsible. This isn’t good logic. Moreover, some people were convicted, Putin was no longer working in St Petersburg at the time, and as Knight points out, the Starovoitova murder was hardly the only one in the city – there had been several other murders in previous years, reflecting the relatively lawless state of the city. Divorcing the Starovoitova murder from that wider context seems disingenuous.

Next, Knight covers the apartment bombings which killed a large number of people in 1999. But again, she fails to provide any evidence to link the bombings to Putin. The logic is the same as before: Putin benefited, therefore he must have ordered them. Again, this is weak. It’s worth noting that Knight says that after the second apartment bombing, ‘Putin went ahead with a planned trip to New Zealand, as if to demonstrate that there was no cause for panic.’ ( p. 81) This is hardly compatible with a theory which says that Putin engineered the bombings in order to create panic and justify a clampdown in Chechnya.

From there Knight moves on to murders of journalists in the early 2000s. She writes, ‘scores of other Russian journalists were killed during Putin’s first term in office.’ This is simply untrue. The Committee to Protect Journalists keeps track of the number of journalists killed worldwide, and the data for Russia can be seen here:

dead journalists russia

According to these statistics, in Putin’s first term in office (2000-2003), 15 journalists were murdered in Russia. That’s not good, but it’s not even one score let alone ‘scores’ as Knight claims. Knight says (p. 104): ‘These cases could not be attributed directly to the Kremlin, because they often involved reporters covering local corruption throughout the country. But the general atmosphere of lawlessness and impunity that the Kremlin did nothing to discourage was what gave rise to these crimes.’ But as we can see from the graph above, the ‘general atmosphere of lawlessness and impunity’ has actually improved during Putin’s presidency – quite substantially, in fact. This is where the lack of broader context becomes a major failing. In starting her work in late 1999, and almost ignoring entirely the Yeltsin period, Knight presents the murder of prominent persons in modern Russia as an invention of Putin’s leadership, and as a matter of deliberate state policy, rather than a continuation, on a much reduced scale, of an ‘atmosphere of lawlessness’ which began under Yeltsin. This is deceitful.

A typical argument used by Knight is to quote the opinion of relatives or friends of a murdered person as evidence of Putin’s involvement. For instance (p. 120), she writes that, ‘Musa (wife of murdered journalist Paul Klebnikov) and Peter (his brother) have not seen evidence of Putin’s involvement in the murder, but they are convinced that the order to assassinate Paul came from the upper echelons of power.’ Maybe it did, but Musa’s and Paul’s opinion isn’t evidence. The same goes for the many other instances in which Knight makes this form of argument. For instance, discussing the murder of Central Bank official Andrei Kozlov, she says that ‘many observers … thought it unlikely that [Aleksei] Frenkel (former chairman of VIP-Bank who was convicted of ordering the crime) was behind the murder.’ Well, perhaps he wasn’t, but the fact that ‘many observers’ thought so doesn’t prove anything.

Similar problems lurk in the stories which follow. Knight devotes considerable space to the murder in London by polonium poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. She describes the case well, and it is clear that there is compelling evidence to believe that the two main suspects, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitrii Kovtun, were guilty of the crime, and given the difficulty of getting hold of the murder weapon, it isn’t unreasonable to believe that the Russian intelligence and security services were involved. This is the most compelling part of Orders to Kill. But as Knight has to admit, while ‘suspicions of his [Putin’s] involvement were widespread … there was no smoking gun.’ (p. 187) Likewise, she can’t provide any solid evidence linking Putin to any of the other murders studied in the book. This is a problem, especially as there quite credible explanations for many of them which have nothing to do with Putin or the Russian state (for instance, organized crime or aggrieved businessmen).

In other cases, it’s not even obvious that the death described was murder. A notable example is that of Boris Berezovsky. Knight spends a long time discussing his life and death, and concludes that ‘Berezovsky’s death remains a mystery.’ (p. 230) But is it? Berezovsky was financially ruined, and had just lost a major court case in which the judge had called him ‘an unimpressive and inherently unreliable witness who regarded truth as transitory, flexible concept, which could be molded to suit his current purpose.’ (p. 226) As Knight admits, Berezovsky suffered from depression but had stopped taking his medication. And the police investigation revealed that ‘there were no signs of trauma suggesting force had been used. No intruders were seen on the CTV cameras that surrounded the home. … there was good reason to assume that he had taken his own life.’ (p. 227) By devoting so much space to this case, Knight is clearly trying to imply that Berezovsky too might have been murdered by Putin, but in fact the evidence points in the opposite direction.

Similarly, Knight stretches credibility by insinuating that the Russian state (and therefore, Putin) was responsible for the Boston marathon bombings which killed 3 people and wounded 260 in the United States in April 2013. The sole ‘evidence’, if you can call it that, for this claim is that one of the bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, returned home to Dagestan from the United States for a few months in 2012. The insinuation seems to be that during that period the Russian secret services recruited Tsarnaev to carry out the bombing. But, as so often in this book, the suggestion is pure speculation not supported by any firm evidence. The logic is purely that Putin allegedly benefitted from the bombing as it encouraged the United States to believe that Russia and the USA faced a common enemy in Islamic terrorism, and because Putin benefitted from it, he must have done it. Knight writes (p. 236) that, ‘The Kremlin needed to distract Western attention from Russia’s insurgency [in Chechnya] and show that other nations faced the same problem.’ Based on this, she concludes (p. 237) that ‘a close look at the facts … point strongly to Russian involvement’ in the Boston bombings. This is quite a leap.

Underlying the entirety of Orders to Kill is a particular view of Russia as a country in which nothing significant ever happens without the direct participation of Vladimir Putin. Knight therefore asks of the killing of Boris Nemtsov, ‘would anyone dare kill such as prominent figure as Nemtsov without the Russian president’s permission?’ (p. 269) ‘Quite possibly, yes’ would be the answer, especially since Knight, as mentioned, speaks of a ‘general atmosphere of lawlessness and impunity.’ The idea that Russia is a highly controlled state in which the president controls everything is surely wide of the mark; Russia’s problems derive as much, if not more, from an overly weak state as from an overly strong one.

Knight finishes her book by moving on from the murder of alleged domestic opponents of the Putin regime, and arguing that the murders show that ‘Russia is a dangerous and unpredictable adversary.’ (p. 309) In the process, she repeats some quite unproven complaints. For instance, she speaks of Russian ‘collusion with the Taliban in Afghanistan.’ (p. 308) But even if she is correct that all the murders described in her book were ordered by the Russian state, the killing of domestic political enemies is unrelated to foreign policy and whether Russia is, or is not, a ‘threat’ to the West. The two are entirely separate – a state can be entirely oppressive and yet very friendly with Western powers. The linkage is revealing, however. It shows that the ultimate purpose of this book is to propel a specific foreign policy agenda for Western powers – one which involves confronting Russia. This isn’t, then, an academic study; it’s one pursuing a definite political agenda. Readers should bear this in mind.

Certainly, there have been an alarming number of murders of journalists, politicians, and human rights activists in Russia in the 25 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is far from desirable and indicates that Russia still has a long way to go towards establishing a firm rule of law. The problem long predates Vladimir Putin’s presidency, however, and Amy Knight’s efforts to show that the murders of prominent persons in Russia form part of a concerted campaign by Putin to cow political opposition into submission are not at all convincing. Orders to Kill fails to provide any compelling evidence to prove that the cases it examines are connected or that they represent a peculiarity of the ‘Putin regime.’ This book isn’t as egregiously awful as Luke Harding’s Collusion, but it suffers from many of the same deficiencies, above all a tendency to treat speculation as proof. I wouldn’t advise people to read it, but if they do, they should treat its claims with some caution.

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Trump Demands Tribute from NATO Vassals

The one thing that we should all understand, and which Trump perfectly and clearly understands, is that the members of NATO are a captive audience.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Tim Kirby via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Regardless of whether one loves or hates President Trump at least we can say that his presidency has a unique flavor and is full of surprises. Bush and Obama were horribly dull by comparison. Trump as a non-politician from the world of big (real estate) business and media has a different take on many issues including NATO.

Many, especially in Russia were hoping that “The Donald’s” campaign criticism of NATO would move towards finally putting an end to this anti-Russian alliance, which, after the fall of Communism really has no purpose, as any real traditional military threats to Europe have faded into history. However, Trump as President of the United States has to engage in the “realpolitik” of 21st century America and try to survive and since Trump seems rather willing to lie to get what he wants, who can really say which promises from his campaign were a shoot and which were a work.

So as it stands now Trump’s recent decision to maintain and build US/NATO bases across the world “and make country X pay for it” could mean anything from him trying to keep his campaign promises in some sort of skewed way, to an utter abandonment of them and submission to the swamp. Perhaps it could simply be his business instincts taking over in the face of “wasteful spending”. Making allies have to pay to have US/NATO forces on their territory is a massive policy shift that one could only predict coming from the unpredictable 45th President.

The one thing that we should all understand, and which Trump perfectly and clearly understands, is that the members of NATO (and other “allies”) are a captive audience, especially Germany, Japan and South Korea, which “coincidentally” are the first set of countries that will have to pay the “cost + 50%” to keep bases and US soldiers on their soil. Japan’s constitution, written primarily by American occupation forces forbids them from having a real military which is convenient for Trump’s plan. South Korea, although a very advanced and wealthy nation has no choice but to hide behind the US might because if it were to disappear overnight, then Gangnam would be filled with pictures of the Kim family within a few weeks.

In the past with regard to these three countries NATO has had to keep up the illusion of wanting to “help” them and work as “partners” for common defense as if nuclear and economic titan America needs countries like them to protect itself. Trump whether consciously or not is changing the dynamic of US/NATO occupation of these territories to be much more honest. His attitude seems to be that the US has the possibility to earn a lot of money from a worldwide mafia-style protection scam. Vassals have no choice but to pay the lord so Trump wants to drop the illusions and make the military industrial complex profitable again and God bless him for it. This level of honesty in politics is refreshing and it reflects the Orange Man’s pro-business and “America will never be a socialist country” attitude. It is blunt and ideologically consistent with his worldview.

On the other hand, one could look at this development as a possible move not to turn NATO into a profitable protection scam but as a means to covertly destroy it. Lies and illusion in politics are very important, people who believe they are free will not rebel even if they have no freedom whatsoever. If people are sure their local leaders are responsible for their nation they will blame them for its failings rather than any foreign influence that may actually be pulling the real strings.

Even if everyone in Germany, Japan and South Korea in their subconscious knows they are basically occupied by US forces it is much harder to take action, than if the “lord” directly demands yearly tribute. The fact that up to this point US maintains its bases on its own dime sure adds to the illusion of help and friendship. This illusion is strong enough for local politicians to just let the status quo slide on further and further into the future. Nothing is burning at their feet to make them act… having to pay cost + 50% could light that fire.

Forcing the locals to pay for these bases changes the dynamic in the subconscious and may force people’s brains to contemplate why after multiple-generations the former Axis nations still have to be occupied. Once occupation becomes expensive and uncomfortable, this drops the illusion of friendship and cooperation making said occupation much harder to maintain.

South Korea knows it needs the US to keep out the North but when being forced to pay for it this may push them towards developing the ability to actually defend themselves. Trump’s intellectual “honesty” in regards to NATO could very well plant the necessary intellectual seeds to not just change public opinion but make public action against US/NATO bases in foreign countries. Japan has had many protests over the years against US bases surging into the tens of thousands. This new open vassal status for the proud Japanese could be the straw to break the camel’s back.

Predicting the future is impossible. But it is clear that, changing the fundamental dynamic by which the US maintains foreign bases in a way that will make locals financially motivated to have them removed, shall significantly affect the operations of US forces outside the borders of the 50 States and make maintaining a global presence even more difficult, but perhaps this is exactly what the Orange Man wants or is just too blind to see.

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High-ranking Ukrainian official reports on US interference in Ukraine

It is not usually the case that an American media outlet tells the truth about Ukraine, but it appears to have happened here.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Hill committed what may well have been a random act of journalism when it reported that Ukrainian Prosecutor General, Yuriy Lutsenko, told Hill.tv’s reporter John Solomon that the American ambassador to that country, Marie Yovanovitch, gave him a “do not prosecute” list at their first meeting.

Normally, all things Russia are covered by the American press as “bad”, and all things Ukraine are covered by the same as “good.” Yet this report reveals quite a bit about the nature of the deeply embedded US interests that are involved in Ukraine, and which also attempt to control and manipulate policy in the former Soviet republic.

The Hill’s piece continues (with our added emphases):

“Unfortunately, from the first meeting with the U.S. ambassador in Kiev, [Yovanovitch] gave me a list of people whom we should not prosecute,” Lutsenko, who took his post in 2016, told Hill.TV last week.

“My response of that is it is inadmissible. Nobody in this country, neither our president nor our parliament nor our ambassador, will stop me from prosecuting whether there is a crime,” he continued.

Indeed, the Prosecutor General appears to be a man of some principles. When this report was brought to the attention of the US State Department, the response was predictable:

The State Department called Lutsenko’s claim of receiving a do not prosecute list, “an outright fabrication.” 

“We have seen reports of the allegations,” a department spokesperson told Hill.TV. “The United States is not currently providing any assistance to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO), but did previously attempt to support fundamental justice sector reform, including in the PGO, in the aftermath of the 2014 Revolution of Dignity. When the political will for genuine reform by successive Prosecutors General proved lacking, we exercised our fiduciary responsibility to the American taxpayer and redirected assistance to more productive projects.”

This is an amazing statement in itself. “Our fiduciary responsibility to the American taxpayer”? Are Americans even aware that their country is spending their tax dollars in an effort to manipulate a foreign government in what can probably well be called a low-grade proxy war with the Russian Federation? Again, this appears to be a slip, as most American media do a fair job of maintaining the narrative that Ukraine is completely independent and that its actions regarding the United States and Russia are taken in complete freedom.

Hill.TV has reached out to the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine for comment.

Lutsenko also said that he has not received funds amounting to nearly $4 million that the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine was supposed to allocate to his office, saying that “the situation was actually rather strange” and pointing to the fact that the funds were designated, but “never received.”

“At that time we had a case for the embezzlement of the U.S. government technical assistance worth 4 million U.S. dollars, and in that regard, we had this dialogue,” he said. “At that time, [Yovanovitch] thought that our interviews of Ukrainian citizens, of Ukrainian civil servants, who were frequent visitors of the U.S. Embassy put a shadow on that anti-corruption policy.”

“Actually, we got the letter from the U.S. Embassy, from the ambassador, that the money that we are speaking about [was] under full control of the U.S. Embassy, and that the U.S. Embassy did not require our legal assessment of these facts,” he said. “The situation was actually rather strange because the funds we are talking about were designated for the prosecutor general’s office also and we told [them] we have never seen those, and the U.S. Embassy replied there was no problem.”

“The portion of the funds, namely 4.4 million U.S. dollars were designated and were foreseen for the recipient Prosecutor General’s office. But we have never received it,” he said.

Yovanovitch previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Armenia under former presidents Obama and George W. Bush, as well as ambassador to Kyrgyzstan under Bush. She also served as ambassador to Ukraine under Obama.

Former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who was at the time House Rules Committee chairman, voiced concerns about Yovanovitch in a letter to the State Department last year in which he said he had proof the ambassador had spoken of her “disdain” for the Trump administration.

This last sentence may be a way to try to narrow the scope of American interference in Ukraine down to the shenanigans of just a single person with a personal agenda. However, many who have followed the story of Ukraine and its surge in anti-Russian rhetoric, neo-Naziism, ultra-nationalism, and the most recent events surrounding the creation of a pseudo-Orthodox “church” full of Ukrainian nationalists and atheists as a vehicle to import “Western values” into a still extremely traditional and Christian land, know that there are fingerprints of the United States “deep state” embeds all over this situation.

It is somewhat surprising that so much that reveals the problem showed up in just one report. It will be interesting to see if this gets any follow-up in the US press.

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President Putin’s anti-fake news law is brilliant, but the West makes more

Western media slams President Putin and his fake news law, accusing him of censorship, but an actual look at the law reveals some wisdom.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The TASS Russian News Agency reported on March 18th that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on a new law intended to block distorted or untrue information being reported as news. Promptly after he did so, Western news organizations began their attempt to “spin” this event as some sort of proof of “state censorship” in the oppressive sense of the old Soviet Union. In other words, a law designed to prevent fake news was used to create more fake news.

One of the lead publications is a news site that is itself ostensibly a “fake news” site. The Moscow Times tries to portray itself as a Russian publication that is conducted from within Russian borders. However, this site and paper is really a Western publication, run by a Dutch foundation located in the Netherlands. As such, the paper and the website associated have a distinctly pro-West slant in their reporting. Even Wikipedia noted this with this comment from their entry about the publication:

In the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis, The Moscow Times was criticized by a number of journalists including Izvestia columnist Israel Shamir, who in December 2014 called it a “militant anti-Putin paper, a digest of the Western press with extreme bias in covering events in Russia”.[3] In October 2014 The Moscow Times made the decision to suspend online comments after an increase in offensive comments. The paper said it disabled comments for two reasons—it was an inconvenience for its readers as well as being a legal liability, because under Russian law websites are liable for all content, including user-generated content like comments.[14]

This bias is still notably present in what is left of the publication, which is now an online-only news source. This is some of what The Moscow Times had to say about the new fake news legislation:

The bills amending existing information laws overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Russian parliament in less than two months. Observers and some lawmakers have criticized the legislation for its vague language and potential to stifle free speech.

The legislation will establish punishments for spreading information that “exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia.”

Insulting state symbols and the authorities, including Putin, will carry a fine of up to 300,000 rubles and 15 days in jail for repeat offenses.

As is the case with other Russian laws, the fines are calculated based on whether the offender is a citizen, an official or a legal entity.

More than 100 journalists and public figures, including human rights activist Zoya Svetova and popular writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya, signed a petition opposing the laws, which they labeled “direct censorship.”

This piece does give a bit of explanation from Dmitry Peskov, showing that European countries also have strict laws governing fake news distribution. However, the Times made the point of pointing out the idea of “insulting governmental bodies of Russia… including Putin” to bolster their claim that this law amounts to real censorship of the press. It developed its point of view based on a very short article from Reuters which says even less about the legislation and how it works.

However, TASS goes into rather exhaustive detail about this law, and it also gives rather precise wording on the reason for the law’s passage, as well as how it is to be enforced. This law is brilliant, for it hits the would-be slanderer right where it counts – in the pocketbook.

We include most of this text here, with emphases added:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law on blocking untrue and distorting information (fake news). The document was posted on the government’s legal information web portal.

The document supplements the list of information, the access to which may be restricted on the demand by Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies. In particular, it imposes a ban on “untrue publicly significant information disseminated in the media and in the Internet under the guise of true reports, which creates a threat to the life and (or) the health of citizens, property, a threat of the mass violation of public order and (or) public security, or the threat of impeding or halting the functioning of vital infrastructural facilities, transport or social infrastructure, credit institutions, energy, industrial or communications facilities.”

Pursuant to the document, in case of finding such materials in Internet resources registered in accordance with the Russian law on the mass media as an online media resource, Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies will request the media watchdog Roskomnadzor to restrict access to the corresponding websites.

Based on this request, Roskomnadzor will immediately notify the editorial board of the online media resource, which is in violation of the legislation, about the need to remove untrue information and the media resource will be required to delete such materials immediately. If the editorial board fails to take the necessary measures, Roskomnadzor will send communications operators “a demand to take measures to restrict access to the online resource.”

In case of deleting such untrue information, the website owner will notify Roskomnadzor thereof, following which the media watchdog will “hold a check into the authenticity of this notice” and immediately inform the communications operator about the resumption of the access to the information resource.
The conditions for the law are very specific, as are the penalties for breaking it. TASS continued:

Liability for breaching the law

Simultaneously, the Federation Council approved the associated law with amendments to Russia’s Code of Administrative Offences, which stipulates liability in the form of penalties of up to 1.5 million rubles (around $23,000) for the spread of untrue and distorting information.

The Code’s new article, “The Abuse of the Freedom of Mass Information,” stipulates liability for disseminating “deliberately untrue publicly significant information” in the media or in the Internet. The penalty will range from 30,000 rubles ($450) to 100,000 rubles ($1,520) for citizens, from 60,000 rubles ($915) to 200,000 rubles ($3,040) for officials and from 200,000 rubles to 500,000 rubles ($7,620) for corporate entities with the possible confiscation of the subject of the administrative offence.

Another element of offence imposes tighter liability for the cases when the publication of false publicly significant information has resulted in the deaths of people, has caused damage to the health or property, prompted the mass violation of public order and security or has caused disruption to the functioning of transport or social infrastructure facilities, communications, energy and industrial facilities and banks. In such instances, the fines will range from 300,000 rubles to 400,000 rubles ($6,090) for citizens, from 600,000 rubles to 900,000 rubles ($13,720) for officials, and from 1 million rubles to 1.5 million rubles for corporate entities.

While this legislation can be spun (and is) in the West as anti-free speech, one may also consider the damage that has taken place in the American government through a relentless attack of fake news from most US news outlets against President Trump. One of the most notable effects of this barrage has been to further degrade and destroy the US’ relationship with the Russian Federation, because even the Helsinki Summit was attacked so badly that the two leaders have not been able to get a second summit together.

While it is certainly a valued right of the American press to be unfettered by Congress, and while it is also certainly vital to criticize improper practices by government officials, the American news agencies have gone far past that, to deliberately dishonest attacks, based in innuendo and everything possible that was formerly only the province of gossip tabloid publications. The effort has been to defame the President, not to give proper or due criticism to his policies, nor credit. It can be properly stated that the American press has abused its freedom of late.

This level of abuse drew a very unusual comment from the US president, who wondered on Twitter about the possibility of creating a state-run media center in the US to counter fake news:

Politically correct for US audiences? No. But an astute point?

Definitely.

Freedom in anything also presumes that those with that freedom respect it, and further, that they respect and apply the principle that slandering people and institutions for one’s own personal, business or political gain is wrong. Implied in the US Constitution’s protection of the press is the notion that the press itself, as the rest of the country, is accountable to a much Higher Authority than the State. But when that Authority is rejected, as so much present evidence suggests, then freedom becomes the freedom to misbehave and to agitate. It appears largely within this context that the Russian law exists, based on the text given.

Further, by hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook, rather than prison sentences, the law appears to be very smart in its message: “Do not lie. If you do, you will suffer where it counts most.”

Considering that news media’s purpose is to make money, this may actually be a very smart piece of legislation.

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