Staunton, April 20 – Vladislav Surkov, who has served as a behind-the-scenes ideologist and operator for the Kremlin, has been involved in the funding of a Russian website that has done everything it can to boost Vladimir Putin and that now is producing lists of “national traitors,” according to Valery Shiryayev of Novaya Gazeta.
That undercuts the suggestions of those in Moscow and the West who view the appearance of such list as the work of marginal groups not connected with the Putin regime and indicates that the publication of such lists could have far more ominous consequences than would otherwise be the case.
In an article at the end of last week, Shiryaev says that “one of the most important abilities of professional lovers of the Motherland at all times has been the definition of its enemies.” After the Bolshevik revolution, such lists were compiled on the basis of social origin, church membership, or “personal antipathies”.
Many had hoped that that propensity had disappeared with the end of the communist regime, but in fact, it has resurfaced once again on websites like Politonline.ru which “has always served the Kremlin under the leadership of its editor Oleg Volodin and its creative direction (until last fall) Marina Yudenich.”
At the end of March, Shiryaev note, that site published what its authors describe as “the first-ever scientific rating of ‘national traitors’ of Russia”. Because of the way such lists have been used in the past and because Novaya Gazeta was ranked “an honorable third,” he continues, it is important to know who is behind such lists.
Who are these people who have given to themselves the right to say who is a patriot and who is not? Politonline.ru, Shiryayev continues, is part of the Pravda.ru media holding which is led by Vadim Gorshenin and his wife Inna Novikova. Its publications have always been distinguished by uncritical support of the regime and very critical attacks of its opponents.
In 2008, Shiryaev says, Gorenshin received an infusion of cash for the development of Politonline.ru, and in 2011, he continues, that portal along with yoki.ru, Pravda.ru, and electorat.info were being overseen and supported by Vladislav Surkov and “financed through Master Bank.”
That bank in turn distributed funds to the Nashi movement, to the Russky obozrevatel’ portal, the Strategy 2020 Foundation, and the Moscow Center for Modernized Decisions, according to a study by Marina Litvinovich’s group. It later came out that these Surkov-overseen groups were getting US $90 million a year.
Politonline.ru has earned its keep, Shryaev says, by pushing whatever has been the Kremlin position at the time and attacking anyone who disagrees with that. Of course, he continue, there are fewer independent media outlets to attack than there were only a few years ago.
But despite that, he says, “before Politonline as the heir of Pravda’s’ ‘enemies of the people’ in 1937, there are glorious prospects: it is time to begin to rank the personal enemies of society, calling them by name. Half of those on the Russian ‘Facebook’ and LiveJournal are next.” But just how those people will be ranked remains to be seen.