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“Corporations killed Lincoln, London broke apart the Russian Empire, and Soros governs Europe”: 12 fakes by Patrushev

Nikolay Patrushev, Russia’s Security Council Secretary, gave a large interview to the pro-Kremlin publication Argumenty i Fakty. As usual, he entertained his audience with a fountain of fake news and conspiracy theories. The Insider has selected the twelve most flagrant examples.

  • On Soros the Almighty

  • On transnational corporations killing US presidents

  • On US' and UK's foreign debt

  • On transnational corporations siphoning other countries' resources

  • On the golden billion

  • On London breaking empires apart

  • On Ukraine prohibiting Russian speech

  • On the US being responsible for Russia's attack on Ukraine

  • On Crimea fostering the Ukrainian language and culture

  • On the US creating terrorist organizations, from al-Qaeda to the Taliban and ISIS

  • On the US withdrawing troops from Afghanistan to focus on Ukraine

  • On US intelligence agencies recruiting former Nazis during the Cold War

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On Soros the Almighty

“As it turned out, dozens of European Parliament members report to George Soros’ organizations, and the European Commission established a wide range of corruption schemes for the purchase of vaccines worth dozens of billions of euros at the behest of a major American pharmaceutical corporation.”

The conspiracy theory about businessman and philanthropist George Soros acting as a puppeteer for Western politicians follows in the steps of older Jewish conspiracy theories that featured the names of the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers. For some reason, the new iteration – with Soros as “the omnipotent Jew” – often features the European Parliament (which has a very limited mandate and hardly meets the definition of the “global government”). Thus, in October 2021, Slovenian prime minister Janez Jansa published an image on Twitter, captioning it “13 out of the 226 known Soros puppets in the EU Parliament”. Among others, the image featured Sophie in ‘t Veld, the then chair of a fact-finding mission examining Slovenia’s compliance with the rule of law and media freedom covenants who is now on a similar mission in Malta. Some of the people in the photo had stepped down from their MP posts by then, and one of them had died six months prior. Jansa subsequently took down his Tweet, facing the condemnation of European MPs and political leaders and accusations of anti-Semitism (in the West, the “almighty Soros” theory is peddled mostly by anti-Semits).

As for the “vaccine case”, it indeed exists and is being investigated by the European Public Prosecutor's Office. However, the charges are yet to include corruption. In April 2021, The New York Times first reported that the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, was in talks with Pfizer CEO Albert Burl via text messaging to buy 1.8 billion doses. Journalists and the aforementioned European MP Sophie in't Veld requested to know the content of these negotiations. However, Vera Jourova, the Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency, responded by saying that SMS messages are not archived and are not subject to EU transparency rules. The lack of transparency in von der Leyen's “correspondence” sparked outrage among members of the European Parliament and civil society organizations, who criticized the Commission for trying to avoid responsibility.

On transnational corporations killing US presidents

«For transnational corporations, even US presidents are just extras who are easy to silence, like Trump. All four assassinations of American leaders feature a corporate trail.”

This take on America's four presidential assassinations is a bold hypothesis even for Patrushev. Everyone knows the conspiracy stories surrounding the Kennedy assassination, and one of the most popular ones was invented and purposely spread through American newspapers by KGB agents, primarily from Service A of the KGB’s First Main Directorate. In the 1970s and the 1980s, when Patrushev served in the KGB, the disinformation effort continued. However, even the KGB did not go as far as placing the blame on transnational corporations. Back in Abraham Lincoln’s time, they weren’t even a thing. Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth, a sympathizer of the South in the Civil War; there is no data on his involvement with any kind of corporations, even domestic ones. His three accomplices also favored the Confederation. President James Garfield was assassinated by Charles Guiteau, a mental health patient who believed he had secured Garfield's victory in the presidential election and demanded the position of a consul in Paris. President William McKinley was shot and killed by anarchist Leon Czolgosz, who declared that he’d killed the president because a single man cannot hold immense privileges while others have nothing.

On US' and UK's foreign debt

“The American national debt has reached some $31 trillion. England's debt, 2.4 trillion pounds, is the highest since World War Two, exceeding 101% of the GDP.”

As a matter of fact, the US national debt is gradually shrinking as compared to the nation's GDP (which is in part explained by the 2020 spike caused by the COVID-19 pandemic).

The same is true about the UK, where the ratio of the overall national debt to GDP is decreasing even regardless of the pandemic hike.

Patrushev's unhealthy obsession with America’s national debt goes back a few years; in July 2022, he even prophesied imminent default in the US. Apparently, economics was not the KGB’s strong suit: since the U.S. government debt is denominated in dollars, it cannot by itself lead to a default, especially when the share of the dollar in foreign exchange reserves of central banks worldwide is 62% and the dollar is involved in 88% of currency trading transactions. U.S. debt is important to the global financial market and is used by private companies and foreign governments as a way to safely store capital, and the buyers of the securities need these instruments almost as much as the United States, which issues them. If any of the countries holding US bonds suddenly wants to get rid of them completely, it will have to either wait for their maturities or sell its bonds on the open market. A one-time sale of a large volume of securities would cause their prices to collapse, and other holders of US debt will simply buy bonds at a lower price, significantly increasing the profitability of their investment portfolios.

And there is no reason to consider the U.S. national debt “too high” because it roughly matches the nation's GDP: a serious but not critical value. Say, Japan's foreign debt is twice the size of its GDP, but even the Kremlin propagandists are not talking about an impending Japanese default.

On transnational corporations siphoning other countries' resources

“This is how multinational companies act today, preferring to hoard capital by siphoning resources from other countries.”

When Patrushev was a KGB higher school graduate in the mid-1970s, the playbook was different, but the world has changed, and today the largest Western corporations have nothing to do with resources and cannot “siphon” anything. They are mostly IT giants: four out of the world’s five largest corporations are Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), and Amazon. The fifth company in this cohort, Saudi Aramco, is indeed from the oil extracting industry, but it is a Saudi company, and Patrushev seems to have no grief with the Saudis.

In many developing countries, multinational companies are creating additional jobs and making investments to lift them out of poverty, including through the taxes paid to local budgets. If big corporations only “siphon resources”, as Patrushev claims, it is unclear why Vladimir Putin holds the annual St. Petersburg Economic Forum, which focuses on attracting these corporations to work in Russia.

On the golden billion

“In a drastically changing world, corporations seek to maintain the system of global exploitation. At its head is a business elite that does not associate itself with any state. Below it, there are the so-called developed countries and the 'golden billion'. And then there is the rest of humanity, contemptuously referred to as the “third world”.

The notion of the “golden billion”, which Putin also regularly mentions in his speeches, refers to a conspiracy theory suggesting that the planet's resources are limited and that the richest countries, with a total population of about a billion, artificially restrict the development of the remaining countries to keep the monopoly on the resources. This idea is foreign to the West – or any region, for that matter, except the post-Soviet space. The expression “golden billion” seems to have been coined in 1990, in an article by Soviet economist Anatoly Tsikunov (pen name A. Kuzmich) titled “What is the 'golden billion' of people on Earth, and why are the Soviet people getting poor?” in the little-known publication Voskresenye.

The author argued that the Soviet perestroika occurred as part of a similar global process aimed at subjugating the rest of the world to the developed Western countries and turning it into a resource colony with the help of transnational corporations. According to the Soviet pundit, the true goal of the Soviet Union’s transition to capitalist relations was to offer transnational corporations access to the country's resources. In Russia, this conspiracy concept is still popular in some circles, although its proponents fail to explain why the living standards and development pace of Third World countries correlate positively with the arrival of transnational corporations, and not negatively, as their theory would have us believe.

On London breaking empires apart

“This has been done before, for example, when London broke up empires at the end of World War I, causing dozens of would-be countries to appear.”

The only empire that London has ever ruined is the British empire, but it is unclear why Patrushev has a problem with this as he never advocated British imperialism before.

A total of four empires collapsed during and after World War I: the Russian, the Austro-Hungarian, the Ottoman, and the German. The Russian Empire ceased to exist after the February and the October revolutions of 1917; what Britain had to do with it remains unclear. Lenin was accused of being a German spy, not an English one (England, as part of the Entente, fought against the Bolsheviks, not for them).

The same goes for the disintegration of other empires. Under the Treaty of Versailles, Austria-Hungary and Germany lost some of their territories, of course, but the collapse of both empires was triggered by pressure from below, not from the top down. The constituent states of Austria-Hungary began to declare independence mainly because of the mass protests sparking all across the empire. The rallies were in turn caused by its defeat in World War I, the crop failure of 1918, and the economic crisis. The collapse of the German Empire resulted from the November Revolution, an uprising in November 1918 involving workers, soldiers, Communists, Social Democrats, and other forces, and the subsequent abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Germany's revolution also stemmed from its defeat in World War I and economic hardship.

Patrushev's words are partly true only concerning the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, which was divided under the Treaty of Sèvres. However, the treaty completed a process that had been ongoing for a long time. Even before the outbreak of World War I, many territories had been taken away from Constantinople (mostly by the Russian Empire), and some of the Ottoman countries unilaterally withdrew from the empire (as did Bulgaria in 1908).

On Ukraine prohibiting Russian speech

“Millions of people are forbidden to speak their native Russian language, forced to forget their origins.”

Ukraine has never banned the use of the Russian language or even planned to do so. The current constitution even contains guarantees for minority languages, especially Russian:

“Ukraine guarantees the free development, use, and protection of the Russian language and other languages of its national minorities.”

On the US being responsible for Russia's attack on Ukraine

“Driven by its ambitions, the West is virtually destroying the Ukrainian people, forcing the active generation to die on the battlefield and driving the rest of the population into poverty... The events in Ukraine are not a clash between Moscow and Kyiv, but a military confrontation between NATO – primarily, the US and Britain, and Russia. Fearful of direct engagement, NATO instructors are driving Ukrainian guys to certain death.”

Here, Patrushev's logic is questionable at best. If the war in Ukraine was NATO's insidious plan, why did Putin decide to partake in it? How would the instructors be driving Ukrainian guys to their deaths, had the Russian president not declared a “special military operation”?

On Crimea fostering the Ukrainian language and culture

“Please note that Crimea preserves the Ukrainian language as one of the state languages. Ukrainian cultural centers and ensembles of Ukrainian song and dance continue to operate in many [Crimean] cities.”

Technically speaking, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar still enjoy the status of Crimea’s official languages, but in practice, they are being squeezed out in every possible way. The official figures speak for themselves: in the academic year 2022-2023, Crimea's general education establishments offer tuition in Russian to 222,800 students (96,7%), in the Crimean Tatar language to 7,300 students (3,2%), and in the Ukrainian language, only to 197 students (0,1%). However, even those numbers could be exaggerated. Thus, as the head of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, Eskender Bariev, shared in a 2020 interview with Krym.Realii, only one school in annexed Crimea officially teaches the Ukrainian language, in Feodosia, “but locals have denied it, saying there are no Ukrainian lessons”. According to Krym.Realii, school administrations refuse students the opportunity even to study Ukrainian as a language course, let alone choose Ukrainian-language tuition, under various pretexts (excessive workload, lack of teachers, lack of classrooms, and so on).

Crimean lawyers have been facing refusals to conduct court proceedings in any language other than Russian. And in June 2022, the Russian Orthodox Church took control of the remaining Ukrainian Orthodox Church parishes on the peninsula that held services in Ukrainian.

As for Ukrainian songs in Crimea, it is enough to recall the numerous cases of prosecution for their performance. For example, when «Mrs. Crimea 2022» Olga Valeeva and her friend sang the Ukrainian patriotic march Oi u Luzi Chervona Kalyna (“Oh, the Red Viburnum in the Meadow”) in October 2022, the two women were charged, tried, and found guilty of discrediting the Russian army and propaganda of Nazi or extremist symbols. Valeeva was fined, and her friend was jailed for 10 days.

On the US creating terrorist organizations, from al-Qaeda to the Taliban and ISIS

“They themselves created terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or ISIS to drive their agenda and then fought them. While staging demonstrative elimination of terrorist leaders like Osama bin Laden, they trained and armed a hundred new ones.”

This conspiracy theory, which The Insider has already debunked, is Patrushev's hobby horse. In the 1980s, Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden supported Afghan mujahedeen, who fought against the Soviet occupation. The US was then cooperating with the mujahideen; according to some versions (none of which have been confirmed to this date), Bin Laden also received US funding.

But the situation with the Taliban is fundamentally different. This radical Sunni Islamist movement emerged as early as in the 1990s and aimed to overthrow President Burhanuddin Rabbani's government, which the mujahideen installed after the withdrawal of Soviet troops. The early sources of the Taliban’s funding are unknown; some speculate that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Pakistan may have been involved. But it is a complete enigma why the United States would want to support an aggressive, anti-Western Islamist group fighting Burhanuddin Rabbani's pro-Western government of Afghanistan and the Northern Alliance at a time when the USSR left Afghanistan and collapsed and the Cold War was generally considered over. Incidentally, it’s worth keeping in mind that Russia, and not the US, receives Taliban representatives with official visits.

The version that the Americans created ISIS is even more absurd because the U.S. waged a bloody war against this terrorist organization from its very foundation. All we can say is that after the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the country saw a rise in terrorist activity, which contributed to the growing popularity of the Islamic State. These mistakes of the US administration were later acknowledged by Barack Obama, among others.

On the US withdrawing troops from Afghanistan to focus on Ukraine

“The US presence in Afghanistan has not turned out to be a fight against terrorism but the creation of multi-million dollar corruption schemes and a multifold increase in drug production. As it turned out, the Americans’ sudden departure from this country had much to do with the need to concentrate on Ukraine, where, according to their assessments, the Kyiv puppet regime was successfully preparing for offensive anti-Russian actions. Besides, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed it, saying that, unless the US military had left Afghanistan, Washington would not have been able to allocate so much money to Ukraine. Furthermore, some of the equipment withdrawn from Afghan soil was moved to Europe, mainly to Poland, allowing the Europeans to militarize the Kyiv regime.”

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan did facilitate subsequent aid to Ukraine. But the contradiction we already mentioned reveals itself again: withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, how would Washington know for sure that Putin would attack Ukraine in February 2022? All of this characterizes the Russian president as a puppet fulfilling America’s insidious plans “to militarize the Kyiv regime”.

On US intelligence agencies recruiting former Nazis during the Cold War

“After 1945, the Americans, the British, and the West German authorities under their control reported on the successful de-Nazification of their German occupation zone, while the Nazis who escaped punishment joined the FRG’s armed forces and American and British intelligence networks, including covert agents working against the Soviet Bloc.

The CIA, which was called the Office of Strategic Services of the United States up to 1948, actively used former employees of the Abwehr and the Imperial Security Directorate of Hitler's Reich to create new German secret services.”

Indeed, the CIA helped the head of the Gestapo in Vienna, Franz Huber, who had sent tens of thousands of people to death camps, get away with it. In the decades following World War II, US intelligence recruited at least 1,000 former Nazis to work against the “Communist bloc” countries in the Cold War. However, Patrushev failed to mention that the KGB also actively used former Nazis for undercover work, such as SS officer Heinz Felfe. As a KGB agent, Felfe headed the Soviet Union Counterintelligence section in the FRG, effectively spying on himself. Today, Russian media and public officials paint Felfe as a “hero” and “KGB’s super-agent”. In 2008, he received congratulations on his 90th birthday from the FSB and the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service). Finally, let us not forget that the NKVD (the Soviet interior ministry) collaborated with the Gestapo during World War II until the summer of 1941, deporting German and Austrian refugees who tried to escape the Nazis.

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