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Wikileaks, the United States and pro-democracy movements in Russia, Belarus and Egypt

by Joseph W

A couple of weeks ago, Israel Shamir co-authored an article in the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, claiming to show new Wikileaks documents which prove that the US ’somehow tried to manage what is happening in Russia.’

In the article, Shamir labels Moscow’s liberals as a “fifth column”, and claims that finally we have uncovered evidence of the US directing human rights activists, journalists and politicians against Russian interests.

Shamir is an odious character allied with Julian Assange who sells Wikileaks cables to Russian publications, concocts anti-Semitic and anti-American conspiracy theories.

In Europe, anti-fascists have successfully campaigned to keep Shamir on the margins of public discourse, although his writings have re-emerged in the meme about Swedish women who claim to have been sexually assaulted by Assange being CIA honeytraps.

In Russia and Eastern Europe, Shamir has far more influence. Since Assange passed him the Wikileaks cables, Shamir has been all over the Russian-language press.

Now the head of the Putin youth movement Nashi, Christina Potupchik has cited Shamir’s cables, trying to link the Russian democratic opposition with the airport terror bombing in Domodedovo. The story was broken by NewsRU, and provoked a strong response from Anatoly Baranov, a journalist associated with The Other Russia.

Shamir has not commented on Potupchik’s conspiracy theory, and I doubt it would upset him greatly. Shamir strongly believes that pro-democratic movements and colour revolutions in Eastern Europe are part of a US conspiracy controlled by Jews.

Julian Assange is no less cynical about Eastern Europeans who prefer Western democracy to totalitarian rule.

Assange on Bulgaria:

“The global security shadow state is not a small group of people acting in a conspiracy to take over the world,” he says “although the system as a whole may be heading that way.” This is no more the cabalistic trilateral commission sketched by the American libertarian right any more than it is Chomsky. Assange tries an analogy of its undemocracy: “It’s a bit like Bulgaria on a grand scale. There it is, Bulgaria, a phantom state that adapts its overt policies to the stated desires of western Europe.”

In other parts of Eastern Europe, Wikileaks takes this theme of pro-Western phantom states even further.

In Belarus, Israel Shamir has handed documents to Belarussian authorities damning members of the democratic opposition to Lukashenko’s rule, and assisted Lukashenko in establishing his own “leaks”: documents which he confiscated from his opponents when arresting them. Julian Assange has dismissed these actions as false rumours.

It is true, of course, that the USA assists democratic opponents of authoritarian rule across the world.

This is something to celebrate not condemn, as Wikileaks would have us do.

Today, new evidence emerges of how the USA has been helping out the pro-democracy movement in Egypt.

The Daily Telegraph reports:

The American Embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police.

On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011.

[...]

The disclosures, contained in previously secret US diplomatic dispatches released by the WikiLeaks website, show American officials pressed the Egyptian government to release other dissidents who had been detained by the police.

There are, I think, two great ironies about Wikileaks and the USA.

The first one is this:

Some commentators assessing the situation and timing of the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia have praised Wikileaks for its passive role in bringing to light what US diplomats really thought about these regimes, and so bolstering the democratic opposition in these countries.

Yet, when given a chance to comment on the oppressed democratic opposition in authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe, Wikileaks spokesmen themselves have often accused these democrats of being Western stooges. Moreover, Wikileaks has played an active role in helping dictators to persecute people they dislike.

Here is the second point:

Julian Assange has accused Arab officials in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt of being spies for the US in their own countries, as if the American and Arab-authoritarian agenda were one and the same.

Yet the US’ support and lobbying for the democratic opposition in Egypt (as revealed by Wikileaks!) tells a far different story. America’s agenda frequently clashes with the Egyptian state.

Therefore, the US is not the enemy of freedom as Assange and Shamir have tried to paint them as. When considering the overall impact of Cablegate, I think the US diplomatic corps comes across as far more noble than Wikileaks, and much more sincere about freedom than Shamir and Assange’s organisation.

Wikileaks has much explaining to do.