Babitskii

by Gordon M. Hahn

The British paper The Guardian reports that the formerly Russian opposition journalist Andrei Babitskii is leading the efforts of the pro-Russian Ukrainian breakaway region Donetsk People’s Republic’s to set up a new television channel According to the paper, Babitskii said the following in a recent interview in Donetsk: “I think the situation has changed a lot since the conflict sprung up between Russia and the west. And to a significant extent, Radio Liberty, which for a long time was a journalistic organisation, has become a propaganda instrument.” Babitskii also told The Guardian: “I had filmed a piece about the exhumation of bodies of people shot by the Aidar [pro-Ukraine volunteer] battalion, and they cut it heavily and created a huge scandal. The Ukrainian service (of RFERL) said that with my views I should not be sent to Donbass.” In September 2014, RFERL fired Babitskii (www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/10/putin-russia-donetsk-andrei-babitsky).

As I wrote on this site on March 16th:

The anti-Putin opposition newspaper Novaya gazeta as well as Tass are reporting that Andrei Babitskii has been fired for taking an “incorrect position on Crimea” by supporting Russia’s reunification of the peninsula with Russia. Babitskii took the politically incorrect position in a blog not in an article or broadcast connected with RFERL. In the blog commentary, he also criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin, of whom Babitskii has always been a critic (http://www.novayagazeta.ru/news/1680987.html).

Tass reported that Babitskiy had been terminated because he had exposed some of the many war crimes committed by Ukrainian neo-fascists fighting alongside the Western-backed Ukrainian army in its civil war with the Donbass insurgents, citing the Czech newspaper Lidove noviny (http://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/1829143).

Ironically, the US government correctly supported Babitskii in the 1990s when he was temporarily detained by Russian security services for his coverage of the war in Chechnya and an interview he conducted with Chechen terrorist Shamil Basayev.

Perhaps, this is what the great Soviet dissident and human rights champion Andrei Sakharov meant when he referred to the inevitable “convergence” of our respective political systems.

The significance of Babitskii’s ‘defection’ back to the Russian fold is at least three-fold:

First, it demonstrates my contention of the ongoing intellectual corruption of the US government, media, academia, and especially rusology.

Second, it demonstrates the extent to which the US position that the crisis and civil war in Ukraine were of Russia’s making – “Putin’s war” etc. – is gravely overstated and counter-productive.

Third, just as with the 2008 Georgian war, slowly but surely people are beginning to wake up to the fact that the crisis and war in Ukraine is no less the fault of Western policies — such as NATO expansion, (more so in its implementation than the policy itself) EU expansion, and revolution-promotion — than they are the fault of Russian policy.

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Gordon M. Hahn is an Analyst and Advisory Board Member of the Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, Illinois; Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California Analyst/Consultant, Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch; and Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor, MonTREP, Monterey, California. Dr Hahn is author of three well-received books, Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), which was named an outstanding title of 2007 by Choice magazine, and The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014).  He has been a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (2011-2013) and a Visiting Scholar at the Hoover Institution and the Kennan Institute. Dr. Hahn has authored hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and other publications on Russian, Eurasian and international politics and wrote, edited and published the Islam, Islamism, and Politics in Eurasia Report (IIPER) at CSIS from 2010-2013.