Monday, April 09, 2012

Will we ask the questions?

An article published today, 09 April 2012, by Reuters [1] carried the headline “Ex-KGB man wins South Ossetia presidential election”.

It describes the winner of the Presidency, Leonid Tibilov, as a former KGB officer and as being pro-Russian. These two are the only attributes the article feels appropriate to assign to Mr. Tibilov. Apart from his gender and his age.

The KGB hardly has a happy reputation. In many minds, it may well be associated with the cellars of the Lubyanka in Moscow, where horrible crimes were committed. And, of course, with the Gulags, and the general repression of the Stalin era. Being an ex-employee of this organization may not instantly recommend one in many drawing-rooms on this planet.

However, the article does not state how long Mr. Tibilov worked for the KGB, nor in which period or periods, nor in which capacity. Surely, there is a difference if he was a senior official in a remote Soviet city, or a polisher of computer screens in a large office complex. Was he at the KGB as an eighteen-year old, for three weeks, or as a thirty-five-year-old for a few years? Was he convicted of crimes? Accused of any? Are there grounds to suspect that he was involved in deportations, or corruption, or targeted killings? Or can it be he was in the Press Office, translating Japanese press-articles into Russian for another department?

Incidentally, Mr. Putin of Russia also worked for the KGB. And Mr. Bush of the USA worked for the CIA, roughly the equivalent of the KGB in the USA. Do we imagine Reuters reporting Mr. Bush’s ascendancy to the Presidency as “Ex-CIA man wins US presidential election”?

The article goes on to say that Mr. Tibilov “headed South Ossetia’s security agency”, but does not name this agency. Perhaps because it is not as infamous as the KGB?

Ø “…the West, which accuses Russia of seeking to redraw borders by recognizing South Ossetia as independent.

The article suggests that the West has a unified voice. This is a little presumptuous.

And even more presumptuous is the insinuation that the West has problems with the redrawing of borders.

The BBC, also today [2], chose to go with the headline “Ex-KGB chief Leonid Tibilov wins South Ossetia poll”.

This other article sheds some more light on Mr. Tibilov’s past offices:

Ø “The head of the South Ossetian KGB from 1992-98, Leonid Tibilov later became first deputy prime minister and then co-chairman of the Georgian-Ossetian peacekeeping commission.”

The BBC does not appear to approve of South Ossetia either, but chooses the “International community”, and not “the West” as its proxy of choice.

Ø “But almost all the international community except Russia considers South Ossetia as still part of Georgia.”

The article does not, however, describe the de-facto situation. Are Western energy companies investing in this country? Do other countries have an issue doing business with Russia on this score? Is there any influential international organization, or country in America, Asia, Africa or Western Europe that intends to deny South Ossetia its statehood?



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