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Why does Russia want to sell arms to the Central African Republic?

Russia’s “military diplomacy” in the war-torn Central African Republic is designed to stabilize part of Africa’s “Failed State Belt”

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(Oriental Review) – Russia’s “military diplomacy” in the war-torn Central African Republic is designed to stabilize part of Africa’s “Failed State Belt” and set the stage for Moscow to eventually move its peacemaking efforts to the continent’s next cauldron of chaos in the neighboring Congo, all with the intent of reasserting its historic Great Power role in Africa and providing more strategic value to its relationship with China.

Russian Arms In Central Africa

Some unexpected news surfaced earlier this week when it was revealed that Russia requested the UN to make an exception to its arms embargo on the Central African Republic so that Moscow could send weapons to two EU-trained battalions of its military by the beginning of next week. Even more surprisingly, the Western members of the UNSC reacted positively to this idea, though they asked that the measure be temporarily put on hold until they receive more details about how Russia plans to prevent these arms from inadvertently falling into the hands of the country’s rebel groups. They already seem satisfied to find out that Russia plans to store them in new containers under tight security, but they’d like to know the serial numbers for each unit so that they can be traced in the event that they end up in the wrong hands.

EU military training mission in Central African Republic
EU military training mission in Central African Republic

“Military Diplomacy”

Technical specifics about this news aside, many people are scratching their heads and wondering why Russia’s involving itself in one of the world’s most impoverished and conflict-wreaked countries, especially since the Central African Republic has been in a state of civil war since late 2012 that has since come to carry civilizational-religious overtones in degenerating into senseless Christian-Muslim killings. As with all of Russia’s arms sales abroad, this one is also part of its “military diplomacy” to promote regional stability, which in this particular context means to support government forces in defending themselves and their citizens against rebels and death squads. The idea is that the enhancement of the government’s military capabilities could then allow it to secure the population centers from rebels, destroy terrorists and death squads, and finally return to the prior peace agreement, which could then ultimately see the incorporation of a power-sharing component with the minority eastern-based Muslim rebels that possibly leads to a lasting “federal” (internally partitioned) “solution” to the country’s long-running crisis.

Should Russia’s Central African foray into “military diplomacy” be a success, then it might be able to emulate this model in the neighboring Congo, which has predictably been beset by Hybrid War ever since President Kabila delayed what would have been his country’s first-ever democratic transfer of power in late-2016. The spiraling situation in one of Africa’s largest and most strategically positioned states holds the dire risk of turning into another all-out civil war along the lines of the 1990s conflict that was tellingly referred to as “Africa’s World War” and eventually contributed to the deaths of an estimated 5 million people. It might be too late to avert a disastrous repeat of this scenario even in part, but Russia could be calculating that its Central African experience in “military diplomacy” might be of assistance in this regard if it can use its expected gains in Bangui to eventually reach a similar arms deal with Kinshasa that could give the edge to government forces and prevent the country’s collapse.

“Balancing” With China

All of this is ambitiously visionary and could serve to signify Russia’s return to the African continent from which it largely withdrew after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but the obvious question of intent and expected tangible dividends comes to mind. Russia, as with all Great Powers, isn’t just doing all of this out of the “kindness of its leadership’s heart”, but in order to procure physical benefits such as profitable extraction contracts in these two mineral-rich countries, with both impoverished societies sitting on a wealth of resources such as the Central African Republic’s diamond and uranium reserves and the Congo’s copper and cobalt ones. That’s not the only reason why Russia is doing this, however, since there’s a more pressing one to explain Moscow’s willingness to engage in African adventures, and that’s to provide strategic value to China in an effort to equalize the two states’ partnershipwith one another.

Russia, like all of Beijing’s partners, has a lingering fear – whether legitimate or not – that it could become politically subservient to the People’s Republic in the future because the sheer scale and magnitude of China’s economic power is multiple levels higher than Moscow’s own. As such, Russia feels compelled to pioneer creative solutions to prove its worth to China and retain equilibirum in this Great Power relationship, which explains its diplomatic balancing act in Asiafast-moving rapprochement with Pakistan, and exercise of “military diplomacy” in Africa. This latter element is especially important because China needs African stability in order to ensure the success of its Silk Road vision in solidifying the Multipolar World Order, yet the continent has become a battleground in the New Cold War and frighteningly runs the future risk of one day sucking Beijing into an Afghan-like quagmire as a result.

Spreading The Syrian Model

It’s at this point where Russia’s “military diplomacy” in Africa takes on its true value. Moscow gained tremendous military and diplomatic experience from Syria in learning how to leverage these two factors to streamline a “political solution” to what was previously thought to be one of the world’s most intractable conflicts. Now that some mild success has been made on this front, Russia has turned its attention to Afghanistan and Libya in preparation for possibly getting diplomatically involved in Yemen sometime further down the line as well. All four of these conflicts were caused by the US, so it can be said that Russia is using Syria as its springboard for “cleaning up” the mess that its American rival made elsewhere in Afro-Eurasia. Up until now, however, it hadn’t signaled any interest in sub-Saharan conflicts, but that’s evidently changing due to its newfound interest in Sudan, the Central African Republic, and maybe even eventually the Congo, all per the aforementioned strategic imperative vis-à-vis China.

Russia’s African Return

Most readers probably missed the recent news, but Russia is seriously deliberating Sudan’s offer to provide it with a naval base on the country’s Red Sea coast, which could allow Moscow to maintain a strategic presence at the northern mainland-maritime interface of one of China’s African Silk Roads, the Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road. This still doesn’t explain the value that Russia believes that it could provide to China via its prospective “military diplomacy” in the Central African Republic, as this landlocked state doesn’t sit astride the previously mentioned route, but it could have, though, and that’s the point. In the introductory chapters of the author’s book-length analytical series on African geopolitics, it was mentioned that one of China’s greatest goals is to link Africa’s most populous state of Nigeria with its second-largest one of Ethiopia via an overland route, which could in the future be fulfilled via the Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road but at one time could have more profitably gone through resource-rich South Sudan and the Central African Republic instead as opposed to the barren desert.

CAR children

The “Failed State Belt”

The US’ psy-op campaign of “Kony 2012” in the early months of the same year was nothing more than a cover for deploying its special forces into the tri-border region between those two states and the Congo in order to foment instability for preemptively disrupting China’s plans. By the end of the year, the Seleka rebels from the eastern Muslim-majority part of the mostly Christian Central African Republic were in open revolt against the authorities and thus began their march on the western capital of Bangui, which had not too long beforehand signed somehigh-level deals with China. They succeeded in capturing the capital and overthrowing the government in early 2013, which was the first step in forming the “Failed State Belt” that the author described in his earlier mentioned book-length series. Soon thereafter, South Sudan erupted in civil war at the end of 2013, and the second component of the said “belt” was in play.

Joseph Kony
Joseph Kony

While it can’t be known for certain, the case can be made for arguing that the US’ regional Kony 2012 special operations forces was just a front for sparking these two conflicts in order to sabotage any of China’s future Ethiopia-Nigeria Silk Road plans for transiting through these countries. In all actuality, it would have been naïve if China ever seriously thought that it could incorporate the Central African Republic and South Sudan into its connectivity vision without having their inherently unstable situation exploited by the US for Hybrid War ends, but then again, Beijing does believe that its Silk Road strategy represents a new model of International Relations capable of overcoming the burdens of the past. It would therefore be a strong sign of Russia’s strategic value to China as an equal partner if Moscow could contribute to the restoration of stability in one of the “Failed State Belt” countries and help revive Beijing’s Silk Road dreams there.

The Russian-Chinese Tag Team

Furthermore, China might even consider dispatching peacekeepers to the Central African Republic if the military can restore order throughout most of the country and calm the situation down, just like the People’s Republic already has done in neighboring South Sudan, with both operations directed out of Beijing’s first-ever overseas base in nearby Djibouti. This isn’t a groundless forecast either, since the French were forced to unceremoniously withdraw their peacekeeping forces in utter disgrace after a string of child and even animal sex scandals discredited their presence there (though they did retain a few hundred regular troops). China, however, doesn’t want to send its soldiers into a hot warzone, no matter how badly it would still like to acquire some active combat experience (which is one of the reasons why it’s the largest contributor of UN peacekeeping forces out of the five Security Council members), so it would be reluctant to undertake this mission with full gusto unless the situation stabilizes, ergo the purpose of Russia’s “military diplomacy” in this context.

Should this turn out to be the case, then it would signify the development of a new conflict resolution model for Africa, whereby Russia’s “military diplomacy” helps stabilize the situation in war-torn states, and then China follows through by deploying peacekeepers to maintain the progress that Moscow’s munitions helped government forces attain. The next logical step would be for these two multipolar Great Powers to actively involve themselves in UN-backed peace talks and political negotiations, as they would each have a tangible stake in these countries’ success by that point because of their arms relationship and peacekeeper deployment respectively, both of which could eventually yield economic “rewards” for them with time if they can pull off a peacemaking victory. Even though the “Failed State Belt” of the Central African Republic and South Sudan might seem relatively insignificant of a “prize” for Russia and China to focus on, the fact remains that the continuing unrest in these two countries complicates the ongoing Congo Crisis and could lead to the creation of a transnational terrorist nest if left unaddressed.

Congo Crisis
Congo Crisis

That, though, is exactly what the US planned in advance when it deployed its special forces to these three countries in 2012 in order to “find Kony”, anticipating that the civil wars in the Central African Republic and South Sudan that its troops would later help set off could forever subvert China’s Silk Road plans and eventually cause pandemonium in the Congo. The author’s June 2016 analysis for The Duran titled “China vs. The US: The Struggle For Central Africa And The Congo” explains the reasoning for this more in depth, but the simplified motivation is that the US also wants to cut off China’s cobalt connection in the country’s southeastern mineral-rich region of Katanga, which could conceivably relive its immediate post-colonial history in once again aspiring for independence as a potential outcome of this century’s Congo Crisis (the third since 1960). China doesn’t want a hostile pro-Western government to come to power there that might nationalize its mining assets and/or re-appropriate them into Western hands, since Beijing is counting on its cobalt reserves there to fuel its emergence as a global superpower in the electric vehicle industry.

Concluding Thoughts

Prognosticating that Russia and China will learn valuable lessons from their joint coordination in the Central African Republic, it’s reasonable then to reckon that they’ll take their African partnership to the Congo afterwards, particularly its mineral-rich and former breakaway region of Katanga in order to safeguard Beijing’s assets there, though their diplomatic-peacekeeping efforts would naturally affect other corners of the country as well. Moscow might even exercise its “military diplomacy” so that its national companies can acquire a stake in Katanga in exchange for Russia’s support of Kinshasa and the Congo’s territorial integrity following a successful conclusion of the current crisis, though provided that it dramatically devolves to the point of teetering near or actually becoming a civil war to “justify” such a handsome “reward”.

In concluding the analysis, Russia’s sub-Saharan Africa policy previously relied on its traditional Cold War partnerships with AngolaEthiopia, and South Africa – and even those have been very limited in their scope and concentrated only on a few industries – but its “pivot/return” to the region is now seeing it overcome its post-Soviet aversion to getting involved in the continent’s civil conflicts as Russia races to establish a presence for itself in Africa’s geostrategic heartland. There are certainly pecuniary interests at stake, as well as less tangible ones dealing with Great Power prestige, but the main impetus for all of this is for Russia to enhance its strategic value to China and therefore creatively ensure that their relations remain on an equal footing for the foreseeable future.

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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 signs law blocking fake news, 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. 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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