Masha Gessen’s Latest Agitprop on Putin’s Speech at Valdai

How Gessen, twisting facts and words, comes to a fantastic conclusion that Putin believes War is an end in itself and it’s no use talking to him, based on a speech where Putin says that in the absence of respect from the USG for multi-polar views, adherence to the framework of international laws and negotiation frameworks that were formulated to avoid conflicts, conflict results.

November 2, 2015


It is always interesting to read Russophobe Masha Gessen’s latest vomitus on Russia – and especially on her bête noire Putin  – in the New York Times not for the wholly vacuous detritus within, but the signal from this so-called paper-of-record of its continued commitment to the agitprop against Russia.

This latest from Gessen – who has built a lucrative career as a Putinhatinista – builds on previous agitprop narratives to rail against Putin’s speech at Valdai.

Gessen Sets The Tone

This is the opening
Straightaway, with the pained, dyspeptic face of Gessen preceding the “This is war” statement, we are plunged into gloom and doom. (The self-referential irony of course is that for Gessen and her ilk, it is a war (against Putin) that they will never tire of declaring).

Her second para reads 

After taking a random, non sequitur  potshot at Sochi’s facilities, Gessen makes a throwaway statement about Putin being “usually inaccessible”. 

Inaccessible to who and compared to whom?  A cursory look at the freely available Kremlin website, shows around 10 Q&A sessions and one-on-one interviews with Russian and Western journalists since June, excluding Valdai, apart from many public statements.

For example reading  what exactly Putin had said on Syria  over a 20 day period, a literate individual can find he spoke on at least 10 occasions on it. 

In virtually the same period, this “inaccessible” President met with many world leaders 

 So Gessen’s reference to “inaccessibility” does not hold up to facts.

Gessen, goes on:  

 After a potshot at a smaller attendance in 2015 – if it had been larger, the potshot would have been about unnecessary expense – Gessen writes the whole off as a “junket”.  While Gessen no doubt is an expert on lavish junkets, her whole career being one long one, she contradicts her previous statement that it is useful in that it gives an opportunity for Russia specialists to interact with the President (and by extension many senior advisers of the Government.)

What Gessen seems upset about is that Russian “specialists” like her not being invited, though no doubt they would use the occasion not for some serious engaged discussion, but to blog either about the drabness of the decor or alternatively the unnecessary expense of the lavish surroundings.  Or possibly complain about the cheese offerings, as Gessen incredibly whinged about in a previous rant that the New York Times obligingly allowed.

In any case, the agenda for the 2015 Valdai Club is freely available to peruse and while Gessen’s preferred item “Putin: Hitler or Anti-Christ?” was not on the agenda, the topics and participants including senior Western scholars were as standard as one gets in other such venues in the West.

How Gessen Twists Putin’s Words

What Putin said at Valdai, sharing the stage with a panel that included the highly respected Jack Matlock, the US Ambassador to the Soviet Union in 1987-1991 under Ronald Reagan, can be seen in full (with English translation) or read in English.

It is important to have access to this because Gessen begins her attack on Putin’s Valdai speech with this following gem.   

Conflating Putin’s approach with the extremist NRA, (in an attempt to connect with the New York Times core readership)  Gessen makes the fantastical claim that Putin is saying that the only way to maintain Peace is War.

Not only is this the dead opposite of what Putin said, Gessen herself more or less accurately quotes what Putin said in the next few paras, to essentially contradict her inflammatory disinformation.  

What Putin who goes in extensively says (as he said several times before) is the main way to maintain peace between countries with naturally different interests and priorities is by a balance of forces and treaties (like Westphalia, the UN and so forth) and any country or group of countries acting unilaterally, declaring themselves exceptional and not respecting others’ points of view and disregarding existing frameworks of disputes are disrupting this precarious equilibrium and conflict results.

Gessen goes on to say:

 The reader should pause at this point and ask themselves: does anyone doubt that the USG declared itself the “winner” in the Cold War, threw off any pretentious of restraints and working within the UN, and engaged in over a dozen bombing wars starting with Iraq in 1991 and continuing till present?  No, this is historical fact, not something Putin is making up. 

Indeed Gessen does not appear to challenge this.  So what’s Gessen’s point?

After quoting/paraphrasing Putin reasonably accurately, Gessen then jumps to make a fantastic unsupported set of assertions: 

That Gessenn interprets anything Putin does as “pretexts” is not news, since in her twisted mind, Putin is the anti-Christ and necessarily Evil.  But how Gessen jumps to Putin saying War is necessary for Peace she does not say.

Putin has long called for negotiations whether in Ukraine pre-Maidan or post-Maidan or in Syria but rebuffed multiple times by the USG and its vassals, saying “Your interests / point-of-view does not matter”, Russia has asserted itself, something that rankles with Gessen who would prefer Russia to be a doormat for the USG like the EU. (Recall for Gessen, the quality of cheese is more important). 

In Syria, unlike the USG who plays footsies with “moderate” rebels – and who are at this moment holding Alawite women in cages to act as human shields against Airstrikes – Putin has made it very clear that there has to be an united front against not just ISIS but all extremist elements in Syria and Iraq, no matter what they call themselves.  Putin said:  

Playing off one against another in the hope of regime change – the USG’s modus operandi – creates more chaos and instability.

Gessen’s Key Conclusion

Gessen ends her rant with  

Of course that “Russia is totalitarian” is part of the standard Russophobic narrative Gessen promotes along with her fellow Putinhatinistas. So little comment on that. 

By twisting what Putin said, to say that he seeks more war – rather than the opposite, which is that in the absence of  recognizing each state’s self interests and an established  framework for negotiation, conflict results  – Gessen is resorting to routine scaremongering: it is useless to talk to Putin.  He just wants war.  Americans needs to gear up for it.

So by classic projection, it is actually Gessen who believes that Peace – the total submission of Russia to the USG – can only be achieved through by isolating Russia, not talking to them, by War.


About the only part of Gessen’s diatribe calling for War worth listening to is this single statement: “It is important to listen to what Mr. Putin is saying.”

I agree.   For those readers who prefer to read what he says in context, the Kremin website has an English version.  

Or one can read an objective Cliff Notes 20 point summary of what Putin said on Syria over a few weeks, and decide for one self which parts one agrees with and which not. 

One can also read the (long) Valdai speech itself, including the question and answer session where among other things, he says that in order to be a world power, it’s economic power that matters more than military.  It’s worth perusing if not reading in full not just for what Putin actually said but how Western media orgs twist it around when reporting on it.  



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2 Responses to Masha Gessen’s Latest Agitprop on Putin’s Speech at Valdai

  1. Pingback: On Leonid Bershidsky’s Laughable Rant on Putin’s “Siege Mentality” | ludwitt

  2. Pingback: How Maxim Trudolyubov Lets Ideology Trump Facts | ludwitt

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