The Ryan Fogle spy scandal is unfolding. Who knows what will come of it over the next hours, days, and weeks. At the moment it all seems very weird. But as someone on Twitter reminded me, the British spy rock looked crazy at the time and it turned out to be real.
What is really weird is what the FSB found in Fogle’s possession:
Ryan Fogle, a third secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, was carrying special technical equipment, disguises, written instructions and a large sum of money when he was detained overnight, the FSB said in a statement Tuesday. Fogle was handed over to U.S. embassy officials, the FSB said.
Bad wigs, cheap sunglasses, and primitive cell phone aside, those “written instructions” sure do read like one of those Nigerian scam emails.
Image: Russia Today
You Might also like
By Sean — 4 years ago
By William Risch @williamrisch
The Russian occupation of Crimea over the weekend has alarmed President Barack Obama, the UN, NATO, the EU, and, last but not least, the people of Ukraine. A week ago, it looked like the Euromaidan protest movement , which began in late November over President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an Association Agreement with the EU, and grew into a mass movement against Yanukovych’s authoritarian rule, had won. After an agreement with the political opposition on February 21, Yanukovych and his entourage fled Kyiv. The next day, Ukraine’s parliament, the Supreme Rada, overthrew Yanukovych. Most importantly, Ukraine had avoided civil war, despite significant differences over things like historical memory , relations with Russia, and attitudes toward the Euromaidan protest movement in Western and Eastern Ukraine. Pro-Yanukovych elites in Eastern Ukraine pledged their loyalty to Kyiv and accused Yanukovych of betraying them.
Then came Crimea.
On February 27, unknown armed men seized Crimea’s parliament in Simferopol. Then Russian military forces, some stationed in Crimea, took over or surrounded Ukrainian military installations. They claimed to be protecting Crimea’s citizens, of whom about 60 percent are ethnic Russian. Speaker of Russia’s Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, claimed that Russians had been killed there. Yet on March 2, the speaker of Crimea’s parliament said he knew nothing about it.
Ukraine, rather than facing civil war, is threatened with partition by Russia.
Take Kharkiv, an eastern industrial city. Hired thugs, some from Russian cities like Voronezh and Belgorod, came to a meeting of “patriotic Kharkivians,” stormed the governor’s office, dragged out about 30 Euromaidan activists inside, and beat them up and humiliated them on Freedom Square. They hoisted Russian flags from the governor’s office. Russians from outside Ukraine were involved. Over the weekend, Euromaidan activist Vitaly Umanets discovered an invitation from “Ukrainian Civil Self-Defense” to residents of Belgorod and Rostov-on-the-Don, Russian cities bordering Ukraine, to take part in organized resistance in Donetsk and Kharkiv while posing as ordinary tourists at the border.
Many in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea distrust the new regime. Yet this weekend’s acts of violence in Kharkiv and Donetsk, or fake stories about such acts in Crimea, are reminiscent of fictitious and semi-fictitious accounts of violence against ethnic Germans that Nazi Germany used to justify annexation of the Sudetenland and the conquest of Czechoslovakia and Poland. Russia’s Federation Council on March 1 had approved use of force in Ukraine “for the normalization of the political situation in this country.” With the Russian media since late November portraying Euromaidan protestors as extreme nationalists and hirelings of the West, Putin most likely is using Russian forces, and provocateurs from across the border, to take not just Crimea, but also Eastern Ukraine, and maybe even install a more loyal regime in Kyiv.Post Views: 917
By Sean — 10 years ago
Josh Kucera was kind enough to email me about my post yesterday about the aid bill to Georgia. According to Josh, the bill that passed was not HR 6911 or the STAND for Georgia Act. What passed was HR 2638, the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009. HR 2638 is an interesting piece of legislation indeed. A quick glance at the bill’s Table of Contents you will find appropriations for the FDA, FBI, the Department of Labor, US embassies, Department of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs. But tucked away under the heading Bilateral Economic Assistance, there is this paragraph:
For an additional amount for ‘Economic Support Fund’, $465,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2010, of which up to $5,000,000 may be made available for administrative expenses of the United States Agency for International Development, in addition to amounts otherwise made available for such purposes: Provided, That of the funds appropriated under this heading, $365,000,000 shall be made available for assistance for Georgia and the region for humanitarian and economic relief, reconstruction, energy-related programs and democracy activities, and may be transferred to, and merged with, funds appropriated under the headings ‘Assistance for the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union’ and ‘International Disaster Assistance’, of which up to $8,000,000 may be transferred to, and merged with, funds made available for ‘International Broadcasting Operations’ for broadcasting activities to Georgia, Russia and the region.
up to$8,000,000 may be transferred
As Kucera originally reported, the bill passed the House (268 to 150), the Senate (89 to 4), and signed by President Bush. Now the majority of congressmen can pat themselves on the back for paying off Saakashvili, er protecting democracy, for his little war.
So I was wrong on another point. The US Congress is perverse enough to give the Georgians $365 million as the American economy tanks. Nice. Real nice.
My sincerest apologies to Josh for the misunderstanding. I thank him for clearing it up.Post Views: 361
By Sean — 11 years ago
The consecration of two memorials, one in the US the other in Russia, caught my attention as I was perusing the Russian news. The first is the so-called Victims of Communism Memorial which was dedicated in Washington DC today. The Memorial is the work of the Victim’s of Communism Memorial Foundation which seeks “to commemorate the more than 100 million victims of communism; to honor those who successfully resisted communist tyranny; to educate current and future generations about communism’s crimes against humanity; and to pay tribute to those who helped win the Cold War.” As a whole the Foundation seeks to make combat the “moral blind spot” and “moral failure” of “free societies” to not equate Communism with Nazism.
The Foundation’s origins date to HR 3000 which was sponsored by US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Senator Claiborne Pell, and Senator Jesse Helms and passed unanimously 17 December 1993 and then renewed in October 1998. The bill charged the National Captive Nations Committee “to construct, maintain, and operate in the District of Columbia an appropriate international memorial to honor victims of communism, tragically numbering more than 100 million, struck down in an unprecedented imperial communist holocaust through conquests, revolutions, civil wars, purges, wars by proxy, and other violent means.” Former President H. W. Bush serves as it honorary chairman and its National Advisory Board features such Russian studies necrophiliologists Robert Conquest and Richard Pipes. The Russian representation of its International Advisory Board includes former Soviet dissidents Elena Bonner and Vladimir Bukovsky.
Tuesday’s groundbreaking featured a keynote address by D.C. Rep. Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and remarks by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. President George W. Bush also spoke to the audience (see below).
I find having such a memorial rather strange. The millions of victims of communist regimes can’t be denied and their memory should live for a variety of reasons. But many of those reasons, I think, pertain to the nations where these tragedies occurred not in the United States. Having such a memorial seems to only twist the horrors of Communism into yet another example of self reflexive ideological grandstanding by the United States. After all, one must ask how many actual “survivors” of communism will actually get to visit the memorial? In fact, the Foundation’s own statements point to it as simple American triumphalism. Here are some examples from the Foundation’s “History of Communism”:
“The West’s triumph over the “evil empire” was no accident of history. It was the result of a calculated strategy by a grand alliance of political, military, religious, business and labor leaders. These leaders deserve credit for the victory over Communism many thought impossible.”
“And yet the United States, communism’s greatest challenger and a symbol of freedom to the world, has no memorial to commemorate these victims,” it said.
“This memorial will assure that they are, instead, remembered forever and that the history of communist tyranny will be taught to future generations.”
Oh, the hyperbole! In regard to the last one, remembered by who? Americans? It seems that such a memory should be for the nations that experienced, allowed, and participated these tragedies. Memorials like this should be in former Communist countries so there can be some social, political, and cultural reconciliation to these tragedies, not for the victors to beat their chest and claim the providence of History. The memory presented by the Victim’s of Communism Memorial Foundation is more like that memory’s hijacking rather than its preservation.
This brings me to the next memorial to the victims of Communism: the memorial dedicated to some 20,000 victims of Stalinist repression located in Butovo outside of Moscow. The memorial features a timeline of the repression and photographs and case files of victims (which ironically were given to the memorial by sympathetic KGB veterans) executed as part of Stalin’s “mass operations” carried out between August 1937 and November 1938. The “mass operation” or “kulak operation,” as Party documents called it, was the bloodiest moment of the Great Terror. According to historian Arch Getty, “By the time it ended in November 1938, 767,397 persons had been sentenced by summary troikas; 386,798 of them to death and the remainder to terms in GULAG camps. The process saw systematic, physical tortures (approved personally by Stalin) of a savage nature and scale, fabricated conspiracies, false charges, and mass executions. As such, the kulak operation of 1937-38 must be counted among the major massacres of a bloody twentieth century.” (J. Arch Getty, “‘Excesses are not permitted’: Mass Terror and Stalinist Governance in the Late 1930s,” Russian Review, 61, 2002, 113-114.)
What is more horrifying beyond Stalin’s personal hand in this operation is how, Getty argues, local leaders were more zealous and eager in implementing the operations than even Stalin and Ezhov desired. The result was an “operation far from centralized and quickly degenerated into the kind of chaos, confusion, and contradiction endemic to Stalinist campaign mode, but there is little reason to think that Stalin sought or expected the mess he created.” (116). The mass bloodletting was in part the result of the Soviet regimes own central institutional weakness.
The memorial at Butovo seeks to rescue some of the victims’ humanity from the violent chaos through memory. But that doesn’t mean that the effort is without controversy. Memory is never devoid of politics no matter how sincere the effort. As the New York Times explains:
The killing ground is a symbol of a much larger, bloodier conflict in Russian society, that between the Bolsheviks and the Russian Orthodox Church. One thousand of those killed here are known to have died for their Orthodox faith. More than 320 have been canonized as “new martyrs” of the church — bishops, monks, nuns and lay people who were victims of Soviet rule.
The new church was consecrated on May 19 as part of the celebration of the reunion of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Church Abroad, an ?migr? group that broke away in the 1920s. The walls of the church are filled with icons of the new martyrs, including one depicting their executioners shooting them. Glass cases in the lower church are filled with their personal items, like an executed priest’s prayer book and his violin.
Some visitors see the focus on Orthodoxy as insulting to the memory victims at Butovo, especially since many were not Orthodox nor Russian but resembled a snap shot how a variety of groups in Soviet society could be labeled “enemies of the people.”
Despite its focus on Orthodoxy, the Butovo memorial is exactly where a monument to the victims of Stalinism should be: where the trauma actually occurred and where those who’s families were directly or indirectly effected by the violence can construct a memory, and hopefully some sense and reconciliation of their own.
Update: According to the LA Times, the reason why the groundbreaking of the Victims of Communism Memorial was today was because today is the 20th anniversary of President Reagan’s “Tear down this wall” speech.
Another correction, President Bush did attend the event. As for what he said, the LA Times reports:
Bush paid tribute to Ukrainians who starved during Stalin’s purges, and to Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians put on box cars for deportation to concentration camps, and to East Germans shot attempting the scale the Berlin Wall.
“Regimes did more than take their victims’ lives,” Bush said. “They sought to erase their memory.”
Bush also used the occasion to compare communist tyrants to today’s terrorists. “Like communists,” he said, “followers of radical Islamic terrorism are doomed to fail.”Tags: Soviet Union|Russia|Stalinism|Great Terror|history|memory|Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation|ButovoPost Views: 798