October 17, 2012
By Toby Westerman

The online English language version of the state controlled Russian news agency RIA Novosti recently published an "exclusive interview" with Lt. Gen. (ret.) Nickolai Sergeyevich Leonov, a long-time spymaster, leftist politician, and friend to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Leonov was also a mentor to Putin, himself a KGB spymaster. Leonov once held the number two spot in the KGB, that of Deputy Chief of the KGB's First Chief Directorate. He is an author, a professor at Moscow's Institute of International Relations, and an acknowledged expert on Latin America.

He also remains a firm advocate of the Soviet Union and its ideology.

RIA Novosti's interview with Leonov centers upon his personal recollections of the Marxist guerrilla leader Che Guevara, but also speaks volumes about the direction of Russia under Putin and his allies.

Leonov's glowing memories of Che and the Soviet Union should be as out of place in the "new" Russia as would be the German newsmagazine Der Speigel doing a flattering remembrance of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.

That, however, is not the case. Leonov had absolutely no apologies for the defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and RIA Novosti made no comment about Leonov's overtly pro-Soviet views and his admiration for the Communist revolutionary Che.

Leonov first met Che Guevara in Mexico in 1956 and describes the Marxist icon as an "overwhelming figure," and "the embodiment of the mythical and literary types that have always struck a cord with people." Leonov included "Christ the Savior" in those "mythical"/"literary types."

Declaring that Che "dreamed about Man free from the lust for money," Leonov asserted that Che "very clear social goals" which were to "make life better for the people...." Che "always acted in Cuba's national interests, as well as in the interests of all Latin American nations," Leonov declared.

Che also admired the Soviet Union as a place where "...Soviet citizens were able to live without having to worry about becoming rich at the expense of others," said Leonov.

Neither RIA Novosti nor Leonov mentioned during the interview the Soviet Union's tendency to kill or imprison its opponents.

Ignoring Che's propensity to murder all whom he considered traitors and Che's urging the Soviet Union to stage a nuclear attack on the U.S., Leonov asserted that "no one who had ever known him could think of a case where Che Guevara was cruel.

Leonov also took the opportunity to subtly denounce the United States while criticizing the anti-Moscow "color revolutions."

The popular uprisings in several post-Soviet republics against pro-Moscow rulers and in favor of true democratic reform were named for the colors employed by opposition demonstrators, rose (or roses) in Georgia and orange in Ukraine, for instance.

Moscow felt itself directly threatened by the "color revolutions," and took steps to protect itself from similar events in Russia. Moscow, however, has been able to regain the upper hand against these political movements. Despite their decreasing importance, Leonov, nonetheless, took the opportunity of the RIA Novosti interview to compare the organizers of the Kremlin-hated color revolutions with his beloved Che.

In a sacrine laced comparison, Leonov stated that not one "of those who are now organizing color revolutions cry at the sight of other people's distress," but "Che Guevara cried."

Leonov also asserted that the "color revolutions" were instigated by the United States "across the world."

While Leonov's statements will seem absurd to most, he must be taken seriously, because he reflects the thinking of the Moscow elite of which he is a part.

The format used by Leonov is also significant, because RIA Novosti is one of the most important news sources in Russia. RIA Novosti went meekly along with Leonov's Communist nostalgia, with no hint of objection to a virtual advertisement for a return to the good-old-days of Soviet oppression and mayhem by ideology.

Leonov's sentiments about the defunct USSR fit perfectly with Putin's assessment that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the "worst geo-political catastrophe of the 20th century."

These "ex"-KGB officers are being direct with the world. They are seeking the return of a "new and improved" version of the Soviet Union. The spy-elite which advocates a new USSR is preparing to turn reverie into concrete reality. The pro-Soviet spy-elite controls a vast nuclear arsenal, is engaged in wide-ranging espionage as well as a cyber war efforts against the U.S., and is allied with every anti-U.S. regime around the world, including (or especially) Communist China.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of Moscow's allies, and Russian technical aid has enabled Iran to develop an atomic weapon and the means to deliver it.

We cannot afford to be myopic. Our struggles with terrorism have taken a tragic toll on the lives of our brave service members, but fundamentalist Islam is not our only challenge.

As a nation and a people we are not responding to the spy-elite in Moscow. The news media seldom reports on Moscow's actions, much of America's business community is anxious to invest in Russia, and many of our technological experts now engage in sharing important information with the spy-controlled Russian state.

At the same time that Moscow is doing all it can to field a sophisticated military force, we are slashing our military budget.

Our actions are suicidal. On the one hand, we are fighting a fundamentalist enemy who has limited means at its disposal, but on the other we are turning a blind eye to an international threat which is quickly developing the ability to completely overwhelm the defenses of our allies and ourselves.

We must recognize the spy-elite in Moscow for what it is. That should not be too hard, since, as with Leonov, this elite is telling us who it is and what it wants.

We appreciate your assistance:


Mr. Westerman is the editor/publisher of International News Analysis Today (www.inatoday.com ) and is author of the recently published monograph, "Putin's Process: From the 'New' Russia to a Reinvigorated Soviet State," and the book Lies, Terror and the Rise of the New Communist Empire: Origin and Directions.

International News Analysis
(Copyright 2012)

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