Friday, May 1, 2009

The Art of Deflecting Attention

Have you noticed how the Moldovan communists and their Russian backers keep changing the subject?

The two central issues relating to events in Chisinau over the last month are (1) the falsification of the election results through multiple voting and roll-stuffing, and (2) the illegal arrests, beatings, rapes and murders in police custody following the protests of April 7th.

Obviously the communists don't want to hear about either of these issues, and are using the following devices to try to crowd them out of the debate:

1. Simply change the subject. Talk about a Romanian conspiracy. Talk about visas. Talk about the mayoral election of 2007. Go about the normal business of government as if nothing has happened.

2. Turn your actions back on your opponents.

The second technique is a favourite KGB trick from soviet times. Prior to the events in Moldova, it was most recently wheeled out during last August's war in Georgia. Here, the Russians were able to persuade many European capitals that the Georgians had started the war in a fit of irresponsibility and were oppressing the Ossetians. In fact it was a long-planned operation by the Russian side in which the Georgians for the most part showed admirable respect for the rights of the Ossetians.

In Moldova it has played out as follows:
A. Voronin displays mental instability through his conspiracy allegations and toleration of human rights abuses. Voronin accuses Chirtoaca of being mentally ill.
B. Russia interferes explicitly in Moldova's election process through its media and through photo ops given to the communists. Russia accuses Romania of interference.
C. Voronin brings down a new iron curtain on the Prut by requiring visas for Romanians. Voronin complains that the EU is bringing down an iron curtain on the Prut.
D. The communists betray the country by allowing Russian forces to remain in Transnistria and by collaborating with Tiraspol's security services. It is the opposition, however, which is accused of a lack of patriotism.
E. The Russians undermine Moldova's statehood by distributing in Moldova 30,000 black and gold St. George ribbons, symbols of Russian nationalism & militarism. The Russians accuse Romania of undermining Moldova's statehood because the Romanian flag was raised over the Moldovan parliament.

The problem with these strategies is that they work. The core issues get lost amnngst a cacophany of discussion about related topics. Untrained observers are unable to discern the guilty party as they see blame being apportioned to both sides.

Let's hope the western powers don't fall for it.

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