Staunton, September 13 – The Kremlin has approached the Navalny poisoning case the way any defense lawyer dealing with an all too obviously guilty client would: delaying things so that people can calm down, denying everything regardless of the evidence, and then putting out alternative theories to confuse the situation, Vladimir Pastukhov says.
In the Navalny matter, the third is especially important for the Kremlin because it has long counted on useful idiots in the West to come to its aid, arguing for one or another version of events Russian propagandists have put out and knowing that the Western media will report the backing such alternatives have (mbk-news.appspot.com/sences/kto-konsultiruet-kreml/).
Even if the evidence shows that the Kremlin is guilty and even if most people in the West recognize that, such efforts will sow just enough doubt that Western publics and Western governments will be less willing to impose the kind of penalties they might otherwise have backed given this fog of disinformation.
That is enough for the Kremlin. Indeed, it may prefer things this way. People in the West will simultaneously be intimidated by the Kremlin’s willingness to violate the rules and unwilling to do anything about it because they are not certain “beyond a reasonable doubt,” to use a locution from court cases in Western countries.
According to Pastukhov, the Kremlin has used its period of delay to test market these alternative explanations, including coming up with “a certain mysterious Mata Hari” character who could be blamed easily because of her all too obvious non-existence outside of these official stories.
In this as in many other Kremlin operations, the greater the imagination its operatives show, “the more attractive will be the development” of what they want people to see, the London-based Russian analysts says. He suggests that in the coming week, after the elections, Moscow will move into the third phase in high gear.
Indeed, it is entirely possible that the Kremlin “will stage in the style of Primakov’s turning around of his plane over the Atlantic” a shift in positions on this case that will keep the West off balance once again. It is likely to be “a grandiose show” based on the idea that if the West wants an investigation, we’ll give it one.
The most important players in this show will be “not diplomats and propagandists,” the analyst says, but rather “investigators and prosecutors who will put in place such a complex of ‘fake news’ that Trump will be envious.” And the mix of facts and inventions will become so large that most people will simply give up trying to make up their minds.
That will be a victory for the Kremlin, and experience suggests that with the useful idiots in its corner already, it is entirely justified in counting on that outcome.