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Putin’s Lost His Mojo – OpEd

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Washington claims catching Putin red handed in a long-running secret cyberattack on the United States. Meanwhile he was also losing his cover back home in Russia in an alleged scary murder plot.

International media say they have him dead to rights in an attempt to get rid of his most vocal opponent in Russia. That would be Alexei Navalny. It was an explosive story back in late August. But it still pops up in the news today.

As a media business analyst I look at stories like these and analyze them for validity. I’ve not looked into the cyberattack story. But I did delve into the Navalny saga. And frankly, I am finding it hard to believe.

If you take a step back and look at all the components of the story objectively, it seems absurd. The media have reported a volley of poisoning attempts. They all happened in the final days of Navalny’s August trip to Siberia.

First, his morning tea was poisoned. Then it came out that someone slipped a mickey into his drink the previous night, then poison discovered on a hotel water bottle was blamed, then poison was found planted in his underwear, and finally, when he didn’t die after all that, Putin’s agents administered another dose of poison before they allowed Navalny to be flown off to safety in Berlin. Can you believe all that? Yet, it was reported straight-faced in mainstream media.

Contrast that with the background of Putin’s alleged past work in murdering journalists and others who have opposed him. It certainly seemed that Putin (almost) always got his man (or woman).

But then we come to Navalny. He’s been regarded as Putin’s top political enemy in Russia. Navalny claims Putin had put a hit out on him. Multiple attempts have been made. But unlike the other victims, Navalny just won’t die.

Navalny seems to have more staying power than Rasputin! He was an early 20th century mystic. Some nobles believed his influence over Empress Alexandra was threatening the Romanov monarchy. They set out to kill him. But he had some kind of survival magic, too. The uncles of one of my old Russian teachers (Prince Alexis Scherbatow) had a devil of a time at it, but finally got their man.

But now Putin in the minds of many got caught trying but failing to execute Navalny. At the same time he’s been caught, they say, failing to keep his cyberattack secret.

Has Putin really lost his mojo? Or did he have it in the first place? Lets take a look at the background of his skullduggery:

First Vladimir Putin became president. Then the murder of journalists mysteriously began. Here are some names from the murdered journalists lists:

Paul Klebnikov, investigative journalist, murdered gangland style outside his office building.

Anna Politkovskaya, mother of two, Putin critic, shot in her apartment building on Putin’s birthday.

Arkady Babchenko, Chechen war reporter and dissident journalist, shot dead in his apartment.

These are but a few of the names. There are many more to be found in media reports.

Putin’s reign of terror didn’t stop just with journalists.

There was opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, shot not far from the Kremlin wall.

FSB defector Alexander Litvinenko, poisoned in London by polonium.

Stanislav Markelov, a human rights lawyer, also shot nearby the Kremlin.

It certainly seemed that Putin always got his man (or woman). He was living the life admired by Hillary Clinton when she famously bragged, “We came, we saw, he died,” referring to US enemy Osama Bin Laden.

So with that kind of record, how did Putin miss with Navalny? It had seemed whoever Putin wanted, Putin got. Dead, that is. Has Putin indeed lost his mojo? Or is Navalny a guy with nine lives?

My bet is that neither is the case.

I can show that all the foregoing instances are, replete with media distortion, fabrication, and sensationalization.

It seems designed to play upon weaknesses of us Americans. By and large we don’t see how Russia affects our daily lives. Therefore we don’t carefully scrutinize news stories we hear about Russia. And so we get sucked into believing what in reality is nonsense.

Here’s the proof: Let’s start with the journalist murders. Putin’s been widely blamed with a dramatic escalation when he came to the presidency.

In reality, however, according to the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists, Putin ushered in a dramatic drop in journalist deaths compared to the Yeltsin era. The statistics prove it.

Paul Klebnikov, often found on lists of murdered journalists was an American working in Russia. He’s on record admiring Putin for what he was doing to rebuild Russia. He was no critic to be silenced.

Anna Politkovskaya was indeed a Putin critic. But surprisingly it’s been little reported that she possessed American citizenship. Why was that largely hushed up?

And as for Arkady Babchenko — also a critic: Soon after his headlined shooting death he was found hiding out, alive and well. It was a hoax to embarrass Putin.

Reports of Putin’s acts of vengeance on journalists often fail to meet normal ethical standards in journalism.

It’s the same story all over again with the political murders. I’m particularly conversant with the Litvinenko case. Months after his death the International Federation of Journalists commissioned me to analyze the attendant media coverage.

That ultimately resulted in my writing two books on the subject: The Phony Litvinenko Murder and Litvinenko Murder Case Solved.

The long and short of it all is that the story we heard was a sheer fabrication. It was shrewdly orchestrated by a Putin foe, Boris Berezovsky.

He openly sought to foment a violent revolution in Russia and install a monarchy with Prince Harry as King. No kidding. I’ll document that in my upcoming book, Oligarch Schmologarch.

The Navalny story is just a new addition to a wealth of fabrications that have been foisted upon us.

One telltale sign here is the use of the phrase “fell into a coma.” Navalny did not fall into a coma, but was placed into a medically induced coma in Omsk to save his life. Doctors in Berlin continued to keep him in that state for the same reason.

The use of the phrase “fell into a coma” is what’s called a linguistic intensifier. It makes his illness sound even more alarming than it was. In a video narrated by Navalny he says himself that he fell into a coma. He knows that’s not true. He’s playing the intensifier card.

I consider any reporter that uses that specific linguistic intensifier to be either complicit with the fabrication or to have been sucked in by the fabrication. It’s interesting that both TASS and RT have employed the phrase. One wonders if that’s a sign of anti-Putinism from within or just incompetent journalism. (See Pascal Najadi: “Navalny and a Palace Coup Against Putin?”) The last RT report I saw, however, properly says that the coma was medically induced.

Oh, one more thing. You may have seen that German Chancellor Angela Merkel came out in support of the mainstream nonsense about Navalny’s poisoning. She claimed to have proof of a poison substance linked to Putin. But when I last checked Charite hospital, where Navalny was treated in Berlin, never bought into her story. They called it speculative. What’s more, the Germans and the Navalny’s are quick to allege that he was victim of a crime in Russia for which they possess evidence, but refuse to share the evidence with the Russian investigators. That seems to belie the seriousness of their allegations.

By now many of you may well be in disbelief of what I’ve explained here. That’s especially likely if you’ve been committed to belief in all those questionable stories. That’s a natural egosyntonic reaction. It’s okay with me if you hold on to those beliefs. But perhaps this presentation will give others some food for thought.

I have no idea what really happened to Navalny. But it seems clear that the story we’ve been told about it is a fraud. That’s worth thinking about.

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William Dunkerley

William Dunkerley is a media business analyst and consultant based in New Britain, Connecticut, USA. He works extensively with media organizations in Russia and other post-communist countries, and has advised government leaders on strategies for building press freedom and a healthy media sector. He is a Senior Fellow at the American University in Moscow.

One thought on “Putin’s Lost His Mojo – OpEd

  • February 18, 2021 at 7:37 am
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    Correction: In the above text I quoted Hillary Clinton saying “We came, we saw, he died” and erroneously remarked that she was referring to Osama Bin Laden. Actually, it was a different victim, Muammar Gaddafi.

    Reply

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