The western press reports over Vladimir Gusinsky sound like the articles written during the cold war. President Vladimir Putin is seen as the villain, Gusinsky the innocent victim. One report, from the British newspaper “Guardian” even contains references to President Putin as “monster” and “dog”, such is the hype and paranoia over the Media Most affair. Holed up in his comfortable villa, called “El Crucero”, in the exclusive Sotogrande estate in the council of Cadiz, Vladimir Gusinsky, swollen by the recent decision by Spanish judges not to extradite him to Russia, where he is wanted on charges of fraud, launched a blistering attack on President Vladimir Putin, a story lapped up eagerly by western press reports. This comes as no surprise. In the post-Gorbachev days, when Russia was struggling with Boris Yeltsin at the helm, the most used words were “friend”, “partner”, “new ally”. Now, as Russia puts her house in order, improves the economy and commands the respect of the rest of the world, the temptation to insult, belittle and misunderstand returns, hence the hysterical note of the articles. It is true that the press in western Europe has a freedom of expression which many times intrudes into the private lives of citizens. One example was a microphone being placed in the WC of Prince Charles, to record what, one shudders to think. Any attempt to curtail the great power that the press has come to gain is viciously attacked. What happened in Russia with Media Most was seen by the western press as a direct attack on journalists and journalism, without understanding the real issues. For example, in many reports, one can read that the Media Most t.v. channel, magazine and newspaper were “the most professional in Russia”, without taking into account the others. The old references to communism and totalitarianism are back. Gusinsky is seen as a victim of communism, which he claims he helped to destroy. “The liberal media worked for several months like the propaganda machine against communism. I am responsible. Now I am paying for it”, referring to the time when he backed president Yeltsin against a communist-led attempt to gain power in 1996. Gusinsky is quoted as having referred to President Putin as “a new monster”, and, in one report, in the “Guardian” newspaper, one can read the phrase “Now the dog has turned” as President Putin is reported to have turned against the oligarchs who brought him to power. One would remind these newspapers that president Putin was democratically elected by the people of the Russian Federation by a clear margin over his political opponents after a fair election. He did not need to go to the courts. Gusinsky’s hysterical discourse drones on in the reports. “Any totalitarian regime must produce fear in the country” (the word “totalitarian” is a great hit). The jewel in the crown of Gusinsky’s discourse is the comparison of President Putin’s Russia to Nazi Germany of the 1930s. If he were a Russian, such an accusation would sound like treason but the fact is that now he travels on an Israeli passport and considers himself a citizen of Israel. “I am a Jew. We know what genocide is. That is why I care about Chechnya”. Interesting. The same Islamic argument for extremism which is being used against the Russian Federation in Chechnya is also being used by the Intifada against the state of Israel, to which Mr. Vladimir Gusinsky now purports to belong to. What happens to Mr. Gusinsky next is unclear. He states he is by no means bankrupt, that he is going to spend holidays in Israel, then he intends to visit London and the USA. It is reported that London could be a possible future place of residence, but it is unclear whether the British or US authorities would allow the extradition of Mr. Gusinsky to Russia. Whether or not Mr. Gusinsky is bankrupt outside Russia, he was certainly bankrupt inside the country. When called on to pay the 250 million USD loan Gazprom had given him, he was unable to pay, although he now claims he had that capacity. With 800 million USD losses at Media Most, such a statement is surprising. Mr. Gusinsky’s interviews to the western press read, not unsurprisingly, like attempts at self-justification after a humiliating defeat. The angle used by the western press in general proves that there remains the general desire outside Russia to taint the image of the country and to assume a position of confrontation. It is the western media which is trying to create a cold war climate, appealing to not-too-distant emotions of “us” and “them”. Now finally, we see who are the true pacifists and who are the aggressors.
JOHN ASHTEAD, PRAVDA.RU, LONDON
Following the missile attack on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Crimea, Russia will obliterate airfields in Western Ukraine where Sukhoi Su-24 bombers are stationed