Friday, November 2, 2018

Sanctioning Journalists Shows Russia Now in Its Death Throes, Portnikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 1 – Vitaly Portnikov, one of the journalists Moscow has imposed sanctions on in its new Ukrainian list, says that the Russian government’s moves against journalists is intended as a threat and act of intimidation but instead shows that Russia is in its death throes.

            In a comment to Kyiv’s Espreso TV, the commentator points out that he has no assets in Russia and hasn’t visited the country since 2013 since he considers it “amoral” to visit one that has invaded his country. Consequently, sanctions against him in the first instance appear “comic” (

                But Portnikov continues, he understands perfectly “the logic of people who have included [him] in the sanctions list: These people fear the truth. They understand that sooner or later truth will destroy their regime.” To put someone on the sanctions list, he says, is “a signal” and “a warning,” the kind of “warning” murderers give to those they intend as victims.

            The Ukrainian commentator says that he won’t conceal the fact that he would be interested in visiting Russia. “For a journalist, to have the chance to have the chance to describe the collapse of an empire is a rare opportunity, one similar to that of an oncologist who is able to keep track of a seriously ill patient and to consider whether there is any cure.”

            “But since 2014,” Portnikov says, “Russia is not even a cancer ward; it is a gigantic hospice. The sick man has refused to be cured and there is nothing for anyone else to do. And for that matter, the keys to the collapse of the empire now are here in Kyiv.” That is where the real action is; not in a place which increasingly consists of officials waiting for the end.

            Consequently, the Ukrainian commentator says,  he will treat his inclusion in the sanctions list as a kind of honor and a stimulation to continue to work, exactly the opposite conclusions that the Moscow authors of this list hope for – but exactly the ones they deserve. 

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