Russia: “We love Wikileaks!”

Russia seems to be having great fun with the whole wikileaks affair.

Although there were initial worries that Russia would be embarrassed by revelations coming out of the leaked US embassy cables, it seems like there isn’t anything in them that wasn’t already common knowledge and certainly – to date – no smoking guns have been found that would provide any real evidence of corruption by high level Russian officials, let alone the hoped for revelations that Putin was on the take.

Instead, the Russian Government have realised that the US, by taking the whole affair far to seriously, is the party looking stupid, and the Kremlin is contentedly crowing.

Calls in the US for wikileaks to be prosecuted have given great ammunition to those who want to criticise the US for talking the talk when it comes to freedom of speech, but not walking the walk. And the arrest of Wikileaks head Julian Assange has allowed people like Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian Ambassador to NATO, to criticise the United Kingdom for not respecting freedom of speech – in a tweet he noted drily that Assange’s arrest demonstrated that political persecution was still alive and well in the West:

На мой взгляд, судьба Ассанжа говорит об отсутствии свободы СМИ на Западе, наличии политических преследований и нарушений прав человека.

And the latest – Russia has gleefully seized the opportunity to suggest that Assange has done such a service to the world that he should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Guardian reports:

“Public and non-governmental organisations should think of how to help him,” the source from inside president Dmitry Medvedev’s office told Russian news agencies. Speaking in Brussels, where Medvedev was attending a Russia-EU summit yesterday , the source went on: “Maybe, nominate him as a Nobel Prize laureate.”

Next thing you know, they’ll be offering Assange a seat in the Duma, so that he can claim immunity from prosecution…

Update: A day later, and Putin weighs in directly, telling journalists at a press conference:

“If there is democracy, it must be a full one. Why did they jail Mr. Assange? Is that democracy?

You know what our villagers say: while someone’s cow is mooing, yours better be silent.”

Source: ABC News

I don’t actually think that this particular arrest of Assange is politically motivated (although I think it’s likely he might have faced a politically motivated arrest sooner or later if this handily timed Swedish prosecution hadn’t been available). Putin’s comments do, though, put into perspective US and UK criticisms of Russia. Sure, there are politically motivated arrests in Russia, but not as many as the regular knee jerk reactions coming out of the US and UK would make you believe.

Comments

  1. Sublime Oblivion

    Who knows? The alpha dogg has also spoken: “If it is full democracy, then why have they hidden Mr. Assange in prison? That’s what, democracy?… So, you know, as they say in the countryside, some people’s cows can moo, but yours should keep quiet. So I would like to shoot the puck back at our American colleagues.”

  2. TE Wonder

    Rogozin’s tweet on the cable about a NATO plan to defend the Baltic states was also pretty good
    От кого все-таки собирается оборонять НАТО Прибалтику? От своего стратегического партнера? )))

    Dima, you rascal, you

  3. Pingback: Russia: Assange for Nobel Peace Prize? · Global Voices

  4. Sublime Oblivion

    I disagree Andy, I think Assange’s arrest *is* politically motivated. In fact I’m 95% sure of it.
    (1) Flimsy pretexts. The circumstantial evidence strongly indicates that the dual rape accusations against Assange only came after the two women met each other and realized he had played them.
    (2) The original Swedish prosecution was dropped, and only picked up by another prosecutor around the time when Wikileaks told they had the bank emails.
    (3) An Interpol red alert for “sex by surprise”? Please.
    (4) Assange is refused bail. The next day, the very same court grants bail to a South African alleged to have hired a hitman to off his bride. Or perhaps they just liked his cool wedding outfit?.
    (5) Now there are reports that Wandsworth Prison has Assange under close surveillance and denies him the usual amenities offered to other prisoners. And there are rumors that the US has a sealed indictment out on him and will soon try to extradite him.
    (6) This all puts serious questions on just how far Britain’s (self-)vaunted separation between executive and judiciary goes, at least when truly serious interests are concerned.

    As for Putin’s comment, of course it’s hypocritical. And he no doubt knows it and made it tongue in cheek. Kind of reminds me of his joke about being the world’s only true democrat and having no-one to talk to since Gandhi’s death. And many idiot journalists actually took that seriously…

  5. Tim Newman

    This all puts serious questions on just how far Britain’s (self-)vaunted separation between executive and judiciary goes, at least when truly serious interests are concerned.

    Agreed, it does. On this measure, Britain does better than most, and certainly better than Russia, but is heading in very much the wrong direction. What you will find though are plenty of commenters who are as consistently disgusted with this as they are with similar violations in other countries. I’ve certainly not read too many defences of the arrest of Assange from those who also criticise Russia’s lack of independent judiciary.

  6. Ozzy

    The Russian Federation is part of BRIC, the emerging markets with the 2nd-3rd largest currency and precious metal reserves, the largest global energy reserves and production and a growing middle-class that has benefited in a major league way from the Medvedev/Putin tandem over the last 10yrs after the Soviet-era, post Yeltsin’ Post-Soviet stagnation and economic shock.

    You folks miss the boat, the Kremlin is saying we in the West use double-standards all the time when it comes to freedom of the press, WikiLeaks or not. A Chinese imprisoned dissident is awarded the Nobel (and rightly so), while in the State Dept’s own secret cables have indicated we are a very paranoid society, WMDs, endless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and terror from every corner, etc.

    We need the RF for space launch to ISS after the shuttle and their military supplies and transit corridors to Afghanistan for NATO, and now they discover we had secret plans to attack them through the Baltics after the Russian-Georgian conflict of August 2008.

    Wrong move for Gates/Clinton – Baltic countries would be under the thumb of the Red Army in a matter of days, if not hours and it would go nuclear almost immediately. So stop beating the war drums and take the comments for what they were – it is called the irony of a jailed individual because he had possession of embarrassing information to the US.

  7. Pingback: Russia: Year in Review | Russia

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