Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Little Disinformation Among Friends

To Our Readers

The Moscow Times welcomes letters to the editor. Letters for publication should be signed and bear the signatory's address and telephone number.
Letters to the editor should be sent by fax to (7-495) 232-6529, by e-mail to oped@imedia.ru, or by post. The Moscow Times reserves the right to edit letters.

Email the Opinion Page Editor



The intelligence agencies have once again confirmed their reputation as a reliable source of information. Several news agencies, citing intelligence sources, recently reported that the United States planned to attack Iran. The sources provided complete details, including the date of the attack -- April 4 -- and even the code name of the operation: Ukus, or Sting.

The United States didn't attack Iran, however, and Russian intelligence lost face. But the stories did wonders to pump up the price of oil. Who cares about eating a little crow when that kind of money is flowing in?

Information about what's happening here at home is no more reliable. Rumors have replaced facts when it comes to policy decisions and appointments. These rumors differ from normal, everyday rumors, which people far from the corridors of power buy into to show that they're in the know. In this case, the people buying into the rumors are the same ones who make policy and appointments. The sources of disinformation and decision making are so close as to be indistinguishable. When officials can make a buck by making a decision, they do. When they can't, they profit from rumors.

Rumors are a splendid form of mass communication that isn't vulnerable to legal recourse. They give people the feeling that they're privy to the authorities' secrets. Some acquire the status of axioms. No one likes to be in the dark. It's much better to be an insider.

The siloviki in any country -- intelligence, counter-intelligence, law enforcement and prosecutors -- derive their power primarily from their control of information. They're in charge of establishing the real state of affairs. But the siloviki inside and outside the Kremlin perform the opposite function: They trade in disinformation.

The reports and resolutions these agencies produce are not designed to create an objective picture of reality. They are designed to ensure that the officials who write them get paid, get ahead or get even. Reality has become a special case -- a minor variable in the larger function of making a buck. Even the highest-profile criminal cases become machines for generating cash. The Prosecutor General's Office has practically announced an open competition for the position of accomplice to Alexei Frenkel, the banker who was charged in January with ordering the murder of the Central Bank's first deputy chairman, Andrei Kozlov. But the worst part is that in addition to the constant commercial shakedowns there is also politics. And the atmosphere in the Kremlin.

The denizens of the Kremlin live in another top-secret world. A world where the heroic efforts of the security services flout the latest terrorist attack or attempt on a senior official's life. Where the United States is working overtime to stage an Orange Revolution in Russia. Where the Jews poisoned Yasser Arafat and Carla del Ponte -- previously the chief UN war crimes prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia -- rubbed out Slobodan Milosevic, and where Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili orchestrated the murder of that country's late Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania.

In this world everyone is an enemy except President Vladimir Putin's closest friends, who protect him against this multitude of enemies and who know everything -- even that the United States was going to attack Iran on April 4 in a special operation codenamed Sting.

The fact that the United States didn't attack Iran isn't all that important in the greater scheme of things. Reality is a special case. What matters is that the president, who lives in this world filled with enemies, has no one to rely on but his friends.

Yulia Latynina hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio.