Going From Georgian Wine to U.S. Adoptions
Published: January 16, 2013 (Issue # 1742)
The Kremlin is conducting its current anti-U.S. campaign according to the same scenario it used in all previous campaigns against countries that irritated President Vladimir Putin and were labeled as “enemies.” Similar campaigns were waged against Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland.
The Kremlin’s approach to these propaganda campaigns follows the same basic standard. First, every campaign is reactive in nature and never the result of a deliberate strategy. Instead, the campaigns are spontaneous and often reckless, knee-jerk reactions to specific events the Kremlin finds annoying. For example, the large-scale campaign against Georgia in the fall of 2006 was launched after Tbilisi detained five officers of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate on charges of espionage. Similarly, a campaign was unleashed against Estonia in 2007 after that country moved a monument to fallen Soviet soldiers out of the Tallinn city center. The Kremlin initiated the current anti-U.S. campaign as a spontaneous retaliation for passage of the Magnitsky Act.
Second, the decision to initiate a defamation campaign against a designated country is almost always made by Putin and usually confirmed in a special meeting with members of the Security Council. As a rule, the campaigns are emotional reactions without any somber or thorough analysis of its predictable consequences. For example, a special session of the Security Council was called immediately after the Russian intelligence officers were detained in Georgia, and the series of measures to take in response was hurriedly worked out during that meeting.
Third, the measures used are always selected so as to cause maximum damage or discomfort for the “enemy” and without any regard for moral or legal considerations. For example, the anti-Georgia campaign in 2006 incorporated a no-holds-barred strategy. Air and automobile traffic between the countries was halted, as were mail and money transfers. House-to-house searches were conducted for people with Georgian surnames under the pretext of “the struggle against illegal immigration.” Detainees were subjected to abuse, and more than 800 people were quickly deported, two of whom died. A number of Georgian children — even those with Russian citizenship — were evicted from schools. Georgian restaurants and cafes were subjected to punitive inspections, some of which were forced to shut down.
The same fate befell major Georgian-owned casinos and entertainment complexes such as Kristall, Golden Palace and Bakkara, while casinos owned by other nationalities were left untouched. Publishers putting out books by renowned Georgian author Grigory Chkhartishvili, better known as Boris Akunin, were subjected to tax inspections. The Kremlin enlisted chief sanitary doctor Gennady Onishchenko, who has served the same function in similar campaigns, to ban Georgian food products and wine. Most of those sanctions against Georgia remain in force to this day, and even more were added following the Russia-Georgia war in 2008.
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