June 11, 2019
A journalist was caught with drugs on him and is now facing prison time.
Three leading publications in Russia had almost identical frontpages on Monday: a joint statement demanding transparency and accountability for narcotics police officers, whom they suspect of framing an investigative journalist.
The three business outlets: Kommersant, RBC and Vedomosti, led their editions with the words: ‘I am/We are Ivan Golunov,’ referring to a Moscow-based reporter, who was accused by the police of being a drug dealer. The joint statement says the case was highly suspicious, the police likely violated the law when arresting Golunov, and that the Russian journalistic community and civil society in general expect a thorough and transparent investigation into the suspected abuse of power.
The opinion seems to be shared by a lot of media professionals in Russia. Many public figures made similar remarks in the past few days, as Golunov’s case became a major scandal.
You can’t really understand this story or make anything out of it without understanding that there is a whole elaborate ecosystem involving corruption, journalism and the intelligence services within Russia that is at play whenever a story like this breaks. Unless you are aware of the… biosphere that it takes place in, you can’t properly contextualize any story coming out of Russia about internal Russian affairs involving scheming oligarchs, corrupt cops and jailed journalists.
But first things first.
You’ve got almost the same overarching problem in Russia as you do in the West because the media is full of liberal shills. This is a serious concern when you consider that no one can finish journalism school anywhere in the world (to my knowledge) without having to endure a thorough liberal indoctrination – and the only difference is just varying degrees of bad. What’s worse, in Russia’s case there are now Western-educated professionals who are returning home to pick up these jobs and promoting the same sort of Globo-Homo values that we rail against here at the Stormer.
Almost every single large publication with prestige and repute is liberal in Russia. There are a few genuine leftist (as in Communist) journals out there, but they don’t have any real money behind them. Huge and powerful companies like Gazprom, which promote vital Russian interests like the Nordstream II pipeline, turn right around and use their money to fund liberal outlets like Echo of Moscow among others. You’ll see why in a bit.
Basically, you’ve got powerful factions at the heart of every single internal scandal in Russia.
The first faction is the government.
More specifically, it’s the police, the FSB and other state organs that work like mini mafias in whatever city or region they’re operating in. These people are constantly at odds with businesses and many ambitious public servants want to pull hostile takeovers on profitable projects. Usually, the average business in Russia is breaking a whole slew of laws and regulations, sometimes maliciously like hiring cheap Moldovan cleaning crews, or importing Uzbek migrant labor, or doing something relatively benign like not having all their paperwork in order. With the help of comprador bureaucrats, these clerical errors can become multi-million rouble court cases that can only really be solved by coughing up a ransom. Usually, these businesses can get away with paying manageable monthly protection money – a hidden tax, basically – and the matter ends there, but occasionally, the government officials will want more than the businessmen are willing to give.
Which brings us to our second faction: businessmen.
Businessmen who do well in Russia quickly find that someone has been keenly following their recent successes and wants in on the pie. This can be another hostile business faction or it can be the government agencies. Sooner rather than later, they realize that they have to defend their business and that they can’t rely on the courts or the rule of law to do so. They usually resort to hiring investigative journalists to dig up dirt on their opponents to gain leverage over their rival factions.
Faction for hire: the Journissaries.
Most journalists in Russia make their bread and butter by acting as mercenaries for one businessman or another. To be fair, there are journassaries that work for the government as well, but the big money is to be made in the employ of one business faction or another. The alliance between big business and the journassaries is what the “liberal” position in Russia boils down to.
They are constantly calling for an end to “corruption,” but this basically boils down to a pro-business position that involves destroying the government factions with budget cuts, shuttering whole divisions and restructuring the court system to favor big businesses, not the government.
Most importantly, they want a loosening of government controls on what businesses can or can’t do in Russia so that they can start playing in politics for real. That means being able to use their money to lobby and promote their own politicians. Some journalist periodically gets in too much trouble with one faction or the other and gets whacked (not so often anymore) or thrown into jail, and this is basically the subtext at the heart of every single scandal in Russia.
It’s the corrupt government organs vs the dangerous business interests.
The latter faction favors pro-Western candidates like Aleksei Navalny – an astroturfed US asset who wants peace with the West at any cost and to loosen the shackles on big business.
So, if America has a system where you have business calling the shots on everything, so much so that every single politician is just a sack of meat with a spray tan that works for one business interest or another, Russia is not like that… yet.
Russia is a battle zone between business and government, that the government is winning. The idea is to create something more like what China has – which is state-controlled Capitalism. Business can make money, but they can’t play politics. Furthermore, only businessmen that have friends in the Kremlin are allowed to prosper.
This is the lens that you have to use when you interpret any and all news coming out of Russia.
You always have to ask:
- What faction does the (dead/jailed/missing) journalist work for?
- What dirt did he dig up?
This is just the preamble.
I don’t know why RT even reports on stories like this. I had to write one thousand words to just set the stage and bring everyone up to speed. Your average foreigner doesn’t care about this story.
But the people who run RT’s domestic news section are clearly Journissaries who belong to the same faction as Ivan, and they’re closing ranks on this. They want to make this guy a cause célèbre in Russia to justify street protests and to create anti-Putin propaganda.
Hopefully, some of this Russki political theater is starting to make sense.