Monday, October 20, 2008

Disinformation blues

At RFE/RL, Liz Fuller writes about the flagging Russian disinformation campaign currently directed against Georgia, but losing momentum and conviction day by day:

A Stratfor analysis...expressed skepticism, pointing out, first, that tactics such as suicide bombings are typical of the North Caucasus Islamic resistance, but not of a Christian culture such as Georgia's; and second, that the terror attacks the Georgians have perpetrated to date have been amateurish and inflicted only limited damage.

The analysis suggested the "Izvestia" story was pure disinformation intended both to discredit Georgia and to serve as a warning to the country's leaders not to risk any military or covert actions that could trigger a new Russian counterattack.

There is some circumstantial evidence out there suggesting that Georgian special forces may have acquired additional expert training in the use of explosives. Photographs from a computer reportedly seized in August 2008 when Russian troops expelled Georgian forces from the upper reaches of Abkhazia's Kodori Gorge and posted on a Russian website apparently show U.S. military instructors or contractors demonstrating to Georgian troops how to construct explosive devices. But it's not clear where or when the photographs were taken.

Assuming, however, that the photographs are genuine, it seems strange that Moscow has opted not to publicize them more widely in the context of its warnings of a purported nebulous Georgian terrorist threat -- unless the Russian leadership considers it pointless and counterproductive to raise the issue with a lame-duck administration in Washington, especially at a time when bilateral relations are still strained in the wake of the war in Georgia.

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