Saturday, July 20, 2019

Moscow Plans to Use Targeted Economic Pressure to Bring Former Republics to Heel, 'Legitimate' Telegram Portal Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 17 – There is a good reason that Mikhail Babich, the former Russian ambassador who is now deputy economic development minister, has dropped off the media radar screen, a source close to him says. He is now focusing on using the strategy he employed in Belarus across the CIS, the Legitimate Telegram Channel says.

            Babich is too busy doing so, the channel continues; but he is also keeping a low public profile lest his name become a lightning rod once governments in the former Soviet republics recognize what he is about: identifying in their countries specific businessmen who can be bought off and then taking steps to do so (

            The latest successful talks by Dmitry Kozak about Moldova “have demonstrated the effectiveness of such economic pressure on political groups,” the channel continues. “In each of the trends, there are beneficiaries who are interested in receiving concessions and profits and not in the prestige of their own countries.”

            “The list of these people has long been known, but now a format of working with these groups and of using this method of pressure is defined. By fall, we expect a major shift in a number of countries and in the first instance in Belarus and Ukraine” where such lists are being compiled.

            “The participation of Mikhail Babich” in this operation as far as the public is concerned “will be minimal,” the Legitimate Telegram Channel says, “in order to minimize the negative associations” many non-Russians have with his person after his controversial embassy in the Belarusian capital.

            While it is possible that this is simply a leak by Babich’s friends to keep him in the public eye indirectly, it is far more likely that this in fact reflects what he is doing – and that Moscow will be making pitches involving concessions, benefits and outright bribes to key business leaders in the CIS countries. 

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