Tag Archive: KGB


“For the American generation which has grown up since the downfall of the USSR, socialism is no longer the boo word it once was.” The Economist, Feb. 16, 2019

The youngest of all Millennials were gestating in 1980.

Reagan called upon Gorbachev to “Tear Down This Wall” in 1987.

The Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989.

The Soviet Union collapsed under its sheer weight in 1991.

The last of the Millennials arrived in the millennial year, 2000.

The largely overlooked question: How many Millennials personally remember the USSR?

Alas, the answer is very, very few.

Only the oldest Millennials may have any memory of the Wall coming down when they were nine or the Soviet Union imploding without a shot being fired when they were 11.

For the vast majority of Millennials including all of the younger members of the Y-Generation, none of them remember the USSR and most of all, its authoritarian brand (being charitable) of socialism/communism.

To top it off, they are thus easily impressionable for exploitation by politicians, entertainers and academics who absolutely adore all things Karl Marx including some wearing red star hats and sporting Che Guevara t-shirts and posters.

Instead of “We the people” and liberty, it’s “Dictatorship of the Proletariat.”

When someone says government can provide a whole cavalcade of goodies – government-paid health insurance, college, jobs — for free, including Universal Basic Income (UBI) for those “unwilling” to work … don’t you just know there will be Big Brother Orwellian strings attached?

Back From The USSR

“I’m back in the U.S.S.R.
You don’t know how lucky you are boy
Back in the U.S.S.R. (Yeah)”
– Lennon (Not Lenin) & McCartney

For Almost DailyBrett, a 1981 two-week trip to Leonid Brezhnev’s “Evil Empire” was an eye-opening, life-changing journey.

Kevin in Moscow – 1981

The flood-lit Wunder of Red Square (Красная площадь) in Moscow, the Swan Lake performance of the Bolshoi, the splendor of the Czar’s winter and summer palaces in St. Petersburg (Leningrad at the time) are all must see for any student of history and politics, let alone art.

Your author has placed a return-venture to modern-day Russia on his Bucket List, particularly what has changed and unfortunately what has remained the same (tyranny).

It’s safe to say that Russia has transformed itself after attempted Glasnost and Perestroika into an authoritarian oligarchical capitalist state with widespread corruption.

You can take the Vladimir Putin out of the KGB, but you can’t the KGB out of Vladimir Putin.

Looking back to your author’s trip to the Soviet Union, there were the wonders of Russia. There was also the socialist/communist police state reality of the USSR.

There were the jammed horrible motor coaches,

There were the lines for food and the basics of life.

There were well-stocked Beriozka or “little birch” stores, which accepted all currencies except for Russian rubles. It must suck to be you, Ivan and Tanya.

There were the tiny little cars with lawn-mower engines for the fortunate few (10 years wait), while Zil limousines carried Communist big shots to their exclusive dachas.

The Most Equal Of The Equals

“In an ideal socialist society, “the people” own the means of production. Everyone’s basic needs are met. Leaders are elected democratically. When implemented, however, human nature intervenes. Powerful elites take charge.” – Alex Berezow. USA Today Board of Contributors

Bummer.

There is so much discussion about the haves and the have-nots of American society.

There are cries for social justice: Translated some all-powerful state entity must level the playing field.

The question, which remains: Did socialist/communist USSR really even the score for everyone?

Whattya think AOC? How’s Venezuela working out? Is history repeating itself?

Even more to the point: Do Millennials in their lack of deep direct knowledge/remembrance of the USSR appreciate the stark dark truth of government provided socialism?

Karl Marx may be turning over in his grave but sorry to say, his idea did not work, and will not work regardless of the nation. Too many people want to achieve, and to do better for themselves and their families.

And yet there is hope for Millennials, and proof that many have not consumed the red cool aid.

It’s called Buy Low Sell High, and that beautifully simple concept applies to Millennials too.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/02/14/millennial-socialism

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/02/14/millennial-socialists-want-to-shake-up-the-economy-and-save-the-climate

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/02/21/cnn-thinks-socialism-cool-my-grandparents-ussr-would-disagree/349830002/

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/millennials-communism-sounds-pretty-chill-2017-11-01

“As for the future in Russia and what will happen there, I can’t say I’m safe. I don’t know.” – Edward Snowden, speaking via internet video last year to a crowd in Austria.

Reportedly, Snowden’s asylum status in Russia is assured until 2020, and then …?

Almost DailyBrett earlier conjectured whether Snowden would be a lowly pawn on Vladimir Putin’s chess board, ready to be traded back to the United States.

The question now must be rhetorically asked … does the US really want him back?

Given the choice of nationally televised show trial or a desultory life in exile, which is the best public relations course of action for the United States when it comes to “whistle blower” Edward Snowden?

Snowden has been Vladimir Putin’s guest since June 24, 2013, or 2,070 Moscow days and nights, if you are scoring at home. Snowden faces up to 30 years in the slam back here for two violations of the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917 … assuming he can be convicted in a court of law.

And if Snowden is actually convicted, what would be the cost in terms on the reputation and image of the United States of America? There are some who see Snowden as some kind of champion … their hero … who will openly root against the U.S. Department of Justice.

Can you think of any celebrity lawyers, who would eagerly defend Snowden in an upcoming epic made-for-television-and-social media trial under the glare of the television lights, cameras and boom microphones?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ringo H W Chiu/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9691996n)

After representing porn star Stormy Daniels, the ubiquitous Michael Avenatti … and other reptilian lawyer types just like him … presumably would have zero compunction defending leaker Snowden, maybe even on a pro bono basis.

The question, which would predictably and eventually ensue: Is Snowden on trial or the National Security Agency (NSA)?

A preview of coming attractions would be the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial in which the guilty football stud was acquitted in a court of law, and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was convicted (in the courtroom of public opinion).

Even though parallels are never perfect, the flight of another traitor to Russia, Kim Philby, brings into the discussion whether it is best of leave the housing, feeding, caring and nurturing of Snowden to warm and fuzzy Vladimir Putin?

Kim Philby Died in Russia. What Will Happen to Snowden?

“How sleepless must be Kim Philby’s nights in Moscow? … How profound he and others like him must be aware that the people they betrayed are going to be the victors in the end.” – President Ronald Reagan

British spy novelist Ben Macintyre in his 2014 best-selling “A Spy Among Friends,” provides nearly exhaustive detail of Philby’s treachery and betrayal of Mother England as he labored as a mole for Russia’s KGB for three decades … at a cost of hundreds of allied agents.

When Kilby finally confessed in his Beirut apartment in 1963, and his words were recorded by Britain’s counterespionage MI6, it seemed relatively easy for the Brits to simply arrest Philby and transport him back to London for the Mother of All Trials … and yet he was able to easily defect to Russia.

Was MI6 lame in carrying out its responsibilities or was it better … for Philby to simply escape into the outstretched arms of the KGB? Philby lived out the rest of his days — even though he once tried to slash his wrists — in numbing exile in Communist Russia until he passed away in 1988 at the age of 76.

Did the Brits suspect that transferring Philby back to London would result in embarrassing courtroom proceedings in which MI6 would also be on trial? Maybe it would be less painful, if the Soviet Union used Philby for propaganda purposes, which is actually what transpired.

Snowden, 35, will celebrate his sixth anniversary in Russia on June 24. If the American whistle-blower reaches Philby’s final birthday at 76-years-young, the year will be 2060.

What will Snowden say on his 47th anniversary as presumably a citizen of Russia? Will he have anything new to offer? Will he deep down inside miss the opportunity of another Oliver Stone Hollywood epic, complete with his show trial?

Would Alec Baldwin play Snowden?

Maybe he could be buried in the Kremlin Wall with traitor John Reed as played by Warren Beatty in “Reds?”

Or Snowden could join Kim Philby in Moscow’s Kuntsevo Cemetery?

Most of all … will we care?

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/oct/19/edward-snowden-nsa-leaker-says-hes-not-safe-russia/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/has-edward-snowden-become-putins-pawn/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/the-coming-presidential-pardon-of-edward-snowden/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/pr-advice-for-edward-snowden/

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/profits-and-losses-of-treachery-victims-of-kim-philbys-betrayals-are-staking-a-claim-to-the-cash-1447065.html

 

 

 

 

 

“Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” – Winston Churchill

Relationships matter, now more than ever.

Tact also counts more than ever, even for those not known for gentile diplomacy.

It’s way too easy to obsess about our digital world with instantaneous global communication in mere nanoseconds, which was unthinkable three decades ago.

These “destructive” technologies have forever changed the world (note Facebook and Google privacy concerns).

Even more destructive is the ability to plunge the world into an unthinkable thermonuclear exchange.

And let’s not forget trying to deflect attention from the ubiquitous, addictive smart phone.

Despite all these seismic shifts in the form of digital ones-and-zeroes, personal relationships are more than ever taking center-stage, particularly in the global political arena.

Think of it as “The Art of the Deal” on steroids.

Not So Warm and Fuzzy

What are the most important public relations of all?

The answers are personal public relations and reputation management.

Do Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have the best personal PR, let alone Kim Jong Un?

This question seems almost silly, but the ability and willingness of these gents (and at least one Frau) to establish and maintain fragile bromances and romances in our scary digital world are absolutely vital for our survival.

Consider that Trump and Kim (dubbed by The Donald as “Rocket Man”) were bragging about the capability of their nuclear buttons a few months ago, yet they still may or may not meet in Singapore on June 12.

Despite the low expectations for lasting, meaningful success, the prospect of a Trump-Kim summit is far better than a potential nuclear war.

Arm-in-Arm gehen Francois Mitterrand (l) und Helmut Kohl (r)

When it comes to war and peace, bromances and romances matter. The longest sustained peace in Europe has been maintained by the establishment of The European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957, followed by the European Community (EU) in 1993.

If you are scoring at home there has been peace for the most part on the European continent for 73 years and counting. The relationship between the two most influential EU members – Germany and France – has survived and prospered by means of the relationships between Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle, and then Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand, and now Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

As the lone woman in this equation (all due respect is afforded to the UK’s Theresa May), Merkel is rightfully regarded as the most powerful woman on earth – a title she did not seek and obviously does not cherish.

Nonetheless, Merkel has proven she is more than a match for some of the most self-absorbed men on this planet including: Trump, Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and to a lesser extent, Marcon.

Merkel’s relationship to Messrs. Trump and Putin are not warm and fuzzy, but she has been an effective foil. She rolled her eyes at Trump and reportedly insists on speaking German to Putin, while Putin speaks Russian to her – even though they are fluent in their respective languages.

Macron has obviously concluded that Trump is the leader of the world’s largest economy and power. Some have scoffed at the bromance between the two, and questioned what Macron has received in return (e.g., US pulled out the Paris accord and the Iran nuclear deal). Keep in mind that Macron has Trump’s ear, and may be Europe’s closest confidant to POTUS.

Trump’s bromance with China’s president Xi, including a visit to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, is a complicated relationship including strategizing about Kim Jong Un’s nagging North Korea and the question of tariffs and intellectual property (IP) protection. A solid, even though conflicted, relationship between the world’s two largest economic and military powers increases – not decreases – the prospect for world peace and maybe even, harmony.

President Donald Trump talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, with their wives, first lady Melania Trump and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan as they pose for photographers before dinner at Mar-a-Lago, Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Time will tell whether Almost DailyBrett is correct on this point; hopefully that is the case.

You Can Take Putin Out of the KGB …

But you can’t take the KGB out of Putin.

Russia’s leader will play games, including inviting his black lab Koni to a 2007 summit with canine-phobic Merkel (see earlier Almost DailyBrett blog on this Machiavellian topic). How will Putin exploit perceived Trump weaknesses? How will Trump counter?

And yet these two leaders appear to enjoy each other’s company, at least in front of the cameras.

Will Trump develop the same kind of rapport with Kim Jong Un?

Kim has already kibitzed with Xi and most recently on both sides of the most heavily fortified and dangerous border with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in.  The overriding subject of their historic encounters: the prospect for a summit between Kim and The Donald, regardless of the potential for success.

In our increasingly dangerous world – in which the digital ones and zeroes work for us and hopefully not against us – Almost DailyBrett takes the humble view that talking is far better than fighting.

Bromances and Romances matter.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/33365-tact-is-the-ability-to-tell-someone-to-go-to

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/common-market-founded

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/putins-pooch-und-merkels-dog-o-phobia/

There is good news and not-so-good news for Edward Snowden.

First, the good news: A weak morning sun came up over Russia’s Eastern horizon this morning, revealing the legendary frozen tundra steppes.

Maybe Snowden has a comrade he can keep warm or maybe not.snowdenbook

Snowden is being provided tender-loving care under the KGB’s successor, the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Snowden can check in anytime he likes, but can he ever leave?

Second, the not-so-good news: Despite the all-out PR campaign, epitomized by Oliver Stone’s epic movie and a massive media pardon effort, former President Barack Obama boarded a helicopter Friday and left Snowden Back In The (former) USSR.

Sorry Edward, Donald Trump is now president.

What are the chances of a pardon from The Donald? How about none and less than that.

Similar to Napoleon’s Grand Armee and Hitler’s Panzers, Snowden is stranded in Russia in winter.russianwinter

What’s a whistle-blower/traitor to do?

The Legacy of Marc Rich

Almost DailyBrett has to categorically state this blog was wrong, thankfully wrong.

Last February, this post predicted that Snowden’s name would be a last-minute add to the pardon list, as a new president was being inaugurated and all of the attention would be on the incoming administration.

To his credit President Barack Obama did not pardon Snowden, despite intense pressure to give the high-school drop-out, a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Bet ya, Obama remembered Bill Clinton’s last day in office 2001 pardon of the late Marc Rich.marcrich

Über-wealthy Rich was wanted for more than 50 counts wire fraud, racketeering, massive income tax evasion and trading oil with Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran, Khadafy’s Libya, Milosevic’s Yugoslavia, Kim Il Sung’s North Korea and Apartheid South Africa. He even renounced his U.S. citizenship.

Clinton pardoned him, triggering a firestorm of criticism from both sides of the aisle, and leaving the memory of his last act in office as an enduring chapter in his legacy.

Undoubtedly, Obama did not want pardoning Snowden to among his last actions as president. He was smart to take a pass, leaving Edward to the tender mercies of Putin’s Federal Security Service.

Snowden on the Chess Board?

“Chess is the gymnasium of the mind.” – Blaise Pascal, mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and philosopher (1623-1662)

There appears to be a standoff.

Snowden faces up to 30-years in the slam Back in the USSA for at least two violations of the Espionage Act of 1917.

He is now working on his fourth year in the Rodina as a “guest” of the Russian government.

There is a ton of speculation about the coming relationship/non-relationship between two of the largest egos on the planet: President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin.trumpputin

Will they get along? Almost DailyBrett will take the “over.”

Will they wheel-and-deal? Didn’t Trump write a 1987 book titled, Trump: The Art of the Deal?

And if there is going to be a deal or deals, what about the 32 pieces on a chess board? The Kings are obvious, The Donald and Vladimir. And then there are the vital pieces: queen, bishops, knights and rooks … which brings us to the lowly pawns.

If Donald Trump wants Snowden back in the custody of the United States of America, wouldn’t one think that Putin would trade a pawn (e.g., Snowden) for another piece or pieces on the board?

Think of it this way, Snowden remains in Russia at the unpredictable pleasure of Vladimir Putin. If trading away Snowden pawn fits into the strategic plans of the 11-time zone nation, wouldn’t one surmise that Putin would do just that in a nanosecond?

There is the possibility that Snowden becomes a permanent Russian citizen. He is 33-years-young, giving him plenty of time to learn the Cyrillic alphabet and to take side trips to Siberia.

He could also wait until 2021 to determine if a new incoming president of the United States would pardon him – assuming there is no second term of Donald Trump. The question remains would a new president among his or her first acts in office want to pardon Snowden?

What if Snowden-the-pawn is simply part of a Trump-Putin deal? Or maybe Snowden reads the writing on the wall, and voluntarily (assuming he can) asks to be returned to the United States?

Conceivably, there could be a C-130 waiting for him at Sheremetyevo Airport. The destination could be the United States or …

Is Guantanamo still in business?

https://www.yahoo.com/news/russia-says-snowden-stay-two-more-years-081707423.html?.tsrc=fauxdal

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/world/europe/edward-snowden-asylum-russia.html?_r=0

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/was-snowden-hero-or-traitor-perhaps-a-little-of-both/2017/01/19/a2b8592e-c6f0-11e6-bf4b-2c064d32a4bf_story.html?utm_term=.76f7eb553ea8&wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1

http://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21714318-damning-account-devastating-intelligence-breach-how-edward-snowden-changed

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/the-coming-presidential-pardon-of-edward-snowden/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/pr-advice-for-edward-snowden/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/is-snark-ever-smart/

https://fas.org/irp/world/russia/fsb/

 

 

 

 

“[Putin] does his own PR,” Angus Roxburgh, who worked on the account from 2006-2009, told the Daily Beast. “I can honestly think of nothing that Ketchum has ever done that has actually improved Russia’s image.”

“Our work continues to focus on supporting economic development and investment in the country and facilitating the relationship between representatives of the Russian Federation and the Western media,” a Ketchum spokeswoman told The Hill. “We are not advising the Russian Federation on foreign policy, including the current situation in Ukraine.”

That comment was made by Ketchum Public Relations after the Russian occupation of Crimea, and before last week’s surface-to-air (SAM) missile destruction of a Malaysian 747 (MH17) with nearly 300 innocent men, women and children on board.

ukrainianrebels

Here are some questions for Ketchum, a division of Omnicom, that are based on the cumulative impact of Putin’s invasion, the attack on a Malaysian 747 and subsequent cover-up activities:

When is Russia’s behavior just too much for your firm, prompting Ketchum to jettison your $55 million (and-counting) client?

Obviously an unprovoked invasion and a premeditated downing by Putin’s proxies of a defenseless airliner is not enough to trigger a termination of an agency/client relationship.

What will it take? A thermonuclear exchange?

Here’s another interrogative: What happens when a lucrative client (e.g., Russia) doesn’t give a particle about public relations? Do you still offer your best-and-brightest PR advice when your “client” will do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, PR consequences be damned?

Ketchum Has Some Explainin’ to Do?

“We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.” – Vladimir Putin in his Ketchum placed New York Times op-ed, Sept. 11, 2013

putin2

Ketchum is not advising Russia about foreign policy? Really? Any bridges that you would like us to buy?

A plain English reading of the Ketchum placed New York Times Putin op-ed is exclusively foreign policy, particularly the opposition to the United States’ stance toward Syria. The op-ed had nothing to do with “economic development and investment.”

Ketchum, much like its problem-child client, Russia, has some explainin’ to do.

Does the PR firm really think it’s making a difference when it comes to Russia’s brand led by former KGB-chief Putin?

Wonder how Ketchum would explain gulag re-openings, and resumption of forced deportations to Siberia? And who knows for sure that these activities are not already happening in 21st. Century Russia.

russia1

We do know from quantitative research that Russia’s brand is sinking fast.

According to Pew Research, Russia’s unfavorable views have jumped 29 percent in the United States, and by 20 percent in the European Union in the past year. Invading countries and having your paw-prints all over shot-down airliners is not good for your national brand.

It’s particularly noteworthy that Russia’s brand is down 27 points in Poland. Yes, the same Poland that suffered for decades under heels of Russian jackboots.

Cold War II?

“We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.” — Vladimir Putin in his Ketchum placed New York Times op-ed, Sept. 11, 2013

The very same Pew Research survey demonstrates a massive negative shift in U.S. respondent opinions about Russia in the past five years. In 1999, 27 percent saw Russia as unfriendly; that figure rose to 44 percent this past March (before the downing of the Malaysian 747). Five years ago, 5 percent viewed Russia as an enemy; the March 2014 result was 24 percent.

Conversely, 44 percent regarded Russia as friendly, but not an ally, in 1999; that figure plummeted to 21 percent this past March. Conceivably the result is even lower now.

Assuming that Putin is aware of these figures does he even care? Or does he want to be seen as the macho hombre that restored greatness to Russia regardless of the consequences. Does he yearn for the good ole days of the Soviet Union? Notice these questions have zero to do with “economic development and investment.”

putin

For Ketchum, which preaches a commitment to corporate social responsibility or CSR, the firm is tied to a client that is a proverbial loose cannon. Putin’s Russia is becoming America’s adversary once again. Is Cold War II already here or just around the corner? Almost DailyBrett is not big on sequels.

Yes there are international PR firms that take money from tobacco companies, despite the fact that 400,000 Americans die annually from tobacco-related diseases, more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, murders, suicides, drugs and fires combined according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

If PR firms can represent tobacco companies with straight faces, allowing them to participate in the marketplace of ideas, why can’t a PR firm represent invading and (indirect) missile-launching Russia?

These entities (e.g., Big Tobacco, Big Russia) pay big bucks to tell their stories, even if they really don’t give a particle about public relations.

After all, God created all clients equally.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/07/18/russia-has-a-major-pr-problem/?wpisrc=nl_politics

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/17/U-S-Public-Relations-Firm-Bags-55-Million-Representing-Putin

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/ketchums-new-client-in-1938/

http://news.msn.com/world/us-outlines-case-against-russia-on-downed-plane

http://news.msn.com/world/us-vice-president-biden-says-putin-has-no-soul-new-yorker

http://www.ketchum.com/

http://www.theonion.com/articles/who-is-vladimir-putin,36515/?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=Pic:2:Default

http://news.msn.com/world/us-no-link-to-russian-govt-in-plane-downing

http://www.ibtimes.com/malaysia-airlines-hired-putin-pr-agency-after-mh370-disappearance-1635740

 

 

 

 

 

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