Kremlin posts White House Web site petition demanding Alaska back

The Kremlin apparently thought it would be cute to post a petition on the White House Web site calling for Alaska to be returned to Russia, so they had one of their online propaganda outfits do it.

In true Soviet form, the Russian government thought it would be sending a message about how “dangerous” the White House Web site is because it permits anyone to petition the government for redress.

Yes, what a dangerous concept, that citizens can petition their government for anything.

alaska-russia-white-house-petition

Apparently, the Russian government can’t afford hiring anyone who speaks actual English.

The “pro-Kremlin communications platform” that posted the petition claims that their intent wasn’t to get Alaska back – because who doesn’t enjoy a good joke about annexing your neighbor two weeks after annexing your neighbor – no, the intent was to highlight how “dangerous” the petition is.

“The objective of the petition is not to bring Alaska back to Russia,” Alexander Zhukov, an assistant to the organization’s director, told the Moscow Times.

“We understand that this is not plausible. Our goal is to show the White House that its petition system is a flawed democratic tool that allows anybody to ask for anything. We are trying to protect the citizens of the U.S. by drawing attention to a tool that is said to be democratic but could be used by terrorists or other people with evil objectives.”

Seriously, think about that for a second.  These are people who think it’s dangerous for Al Qaeda to use the White House Web site to post a petition.  (Hell, these are people who think it’s dangerous for Jews and gays to post a petition.) That gives you a window in to the Russia body politic, and their concept of the role of government.

I remember when I visited the Russian Far East city of Petropavlovsk in the early 1990s. I was leading an Alaskan business delegation while I was working for the Senator from Alaska.  I met with a top local Russian official, and the man couldn’t believe my description of what a congressional aide does on Capitol Hill.

Most of our work, It old him, was constituent services – making government agencies more responsible to the concerns of the state of Alaska, but also the concerns of the individual people. In Alaska’s case, I told him, I did a lot of work on behalf of small pilots and airlines, most with the FAA and the Department of Transportation, but also with the State Department and other agencies.

My friend Marian was translating for us. All of a sudden Marian turned to me and kind of whispered, “he doesn’t believe you.”

I said, what do you mean?

Marian continued, “well, he thinks you must accept bribes or something, or you wouldn’t be doing this kind of work. He says no one in government would just try to help people without being paid off.”

He laughed in my face when I responded that, no, congressional staffers don’t general take bribes to do their jobs on behalf of constituents.  He simply refused to believe me.

This notion of petitioning your government for redress is uniquely American. I’m not saying it’s exclusively American, but I’ve never found a country in which legislative officials at the federal level provide the kind of constituent services that we do in this country.

So, I’m not surprised that the Russians think the White House petition site is “dangerous.”  Free speech usually is, to dictators.


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

Share This Post

  • Aladin

    Alaska back to Russia!

  • TellMeImDreaming

    Make an offer on Texas. Please?

  • Badgerite

    Didn’t we get a receipt? Major oversight.

  • Fentwin

    Give Russia *WMDs? It might work.

    *Weapons of Mental Derangement

  • FLL

    That all depends on whether Rick Scott is reelected as governor this November, now doesn’t it?

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    That all depends if they bother to actually count all the votes, now doesn’t it?

    Rick Scott saw the debacle that was the last election in his state, and decided that what Florida really needed was longer lines for longer waits, and more partisans running the polls.

  • giantslor

    They should have waited until April 1st to post that petition.

  • FLL

    Admittedly, Florida has an electoral history that often turns a serious discussion humorous, and there are good reasons for that. Florida’s present situation might be different. Republican presidential candidates Paul Ryan or Billyjoe Blah Blah Blah might win a lot of states in 2016… but Florida has left the Republican fold for good. The demographics of Hispanic and Haitian immigration all but guarantee that the Republican presidential candidate won’t get Florida’s electoral votes. You can tell any secret admirers of Paul Ryan et al that they can start crying in their beer.

    Regards,

    Phil
    Fort Lauderdale (often abbreviated as FLL)

  • WilmRoget

    Let’s just give them Sarah. Its a fair compromise.

  • 2karmanot

    Also Florida.

  • 2karmanot

    Mrs Putin can see Alaska from her house.

  • Silver_Witch

    Very beautiful Nomechick and full of wonder. I had several friends move up for a while…I think other than the cold you all have a lot going for you.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    That’s where hardball negotiation comes into play… ;-)

  • Silver_Witch

    Ohh never thought of that – I am sure they would not take her though.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I suspect some are signing for humor’s sake and some signing because it would suddenly make Sarah Palin a Russian citizen and make her and her entire family into THEIR embarrassing problem.

  • Nomechick

    We are nice and Alaska is beautiful, isn’t it? don’t forget the natural resources too!

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Obviously, there’s something about the core concepts of free speech and democratic freedoms the Russians simply do not get…

    The Russian solution for uncomfortable questions or anybody who steps out of line? Beat them, whip them, throw them in prison. But above all, do not allow the question or statements to be made.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    The sad part is that they see the simple act of allowing people to ask questions of their government as a threat. It isn’t like the White House petition site is at all binding in any way. The only thing they’ve said is that if there are enough signatures, that they will issue an official response. That response could always simply be laughter, they have no obligation to actually do anything… yet, Russians seem to think that just allowing the free thought of citizens is inherently dangerous.

    Consider for a moment if Pussy Riot were American, and imagine if you will, using Bill Perdue’s posts for lyrics. What response do you think our government would have? My guess would be, nothing. They probably wouldn’t even generate a blip on the radar. But in Russia, the state sees them as a threat. For simply speaking their mind.

  • Silver_Witch

    I have to disagree with which is a fundamental difference in perspective between politicians in democracies and politicians in dictatorships. Every politician here works for their own best interest. They take money from the big cats and pass laws that benefit the same, so that they can stay in power.

    I do believe it is not as corrupt as Russia because we have a few good eggs, but if, as predicted, we end up with a Republican Senate after the elections we might be seeing more dictatorial behavior.

  • Silver_Witch

    What is amazing is the number of signatures the petition has received. I wonder if they are paying people to sign it so that it will “make it through the process”. Silly Russians….if we won’t let the Red States leave there is no way we are letting Alaska go with all its beauty and nice people.

  • dula

    Yeah, I never understood why it was considered unreasonable for their ousted leader to take the Russian deal. If they did they would still have a united country, still be able to continue with their already established deals with Western corporations, and still be autonomous without worrying about being forced to offer up their public and private property to IMF banker thieves. Their new government is filled with corrupt oligarchs ready to sell them out, so what did they gain other than Western vultures flocking overhead?

  • SL Abrin

    Good points. Putin is straight-up KGB criminal all the way. With this kid of guy, you know exactly where to be, what to do, and how to avoid trouble. Do what Putin says and everything will stay the same. Shitty? Maybe. But not as shitty as what the EU plans. I bet the Greeks are even thinking about Putin’s offer right now.

    The EU (official arm of the German banking) and the IMF make life very complicated for anyone and everyone involved. The Ukraine will never get out from under the thumb of lease-debt the EU plans to impose. Ask any nation that took IMF loans how things are working out.

    I would take my chances with Putin.

  • 4th Turning

    What problem? (Regret this blog doesn’t allow emoticons-use your own
    imagination-any will reflect my attitude)

  • dula

    There may well be advantages for Ukraine to join NATO but economically they may have been better off taking the $15 Billion bailout from Russia rather than the EU:

    To summarize, the IMF deal of March 27 calls for paying western banks and lenders $6.5 billion over the next two years in debt servicing payments. It additionally requires the reduction of household gas subsidies by another $13 billion plus the total phase out of gas subsidies. And it indirectly calls for the Ukrainian government to cut spending by at least $8 billion (2.5% of GDP) over the next two years—in the form of cuts in government jobs, wage cuts for government workers, and pension payment reductions of a likely 50% for retirees in general.

    Add all that up, and not surprisingly it’s around $27 billion. That’s $27 billion of economic spending and stimulus taken out of the Ukrainian real economy per the IMF deal. In other words, just about the $27 billion that the IMF purportedly will provide to the GDP per the March 27 announcement. Which means Ukrainian households will pay for the IMF’s $27 billion package with higher gas prices, elimination of gas subsidies, government job and wage cuts, and big pension payment reductions.

    But $27 billion is not really an ‘even trade off’. It’s really a net negative stimulus for Ukraine due to the composition of the IMF deal. Keep in mind, the $6.2 billion in debt servicing payments outflow to the west will have absolutely no positive impact on Ukraine’s GDP. So, first of all, it’s really only the IMF net $21 billion ‘’in” vs. the Ukrainian $27 billion taken “out” of the economy per IMF requirements. But even $21 billion ‘in’ vs. $27 billion ‘out’ is not the true net estimate.

    The $27 billion taken out reflects a household consumer spending ‘multiplier effect’ that is much larger than the $21 billion net domestic Ukraine injection by the IMF. If one assumes a conservative 1.5 multiplier effect, the amount taken out of the Ukrainian economy is more like $40 billion over the next two years—a massive sum given that the Ukraine’s GDP in 2012 was no more than $175 and was flat to stagnant in 2013. Of course, the $40 billion ‘out’ is adjusted by the $21 billion ‘in’ and its multiplier effect. But while the $40 billion ‘out’ will definitely occur, there is no guarantee the full $21 billion IMF injection “in” will actually happen in turn.

    “Some of that $21 billion will no doubt be ‘put aside’ by the Ukrainian central bank to replenish its foreign currency reserves, today at around only $10 billion or less. Some of it will be used to assist Ukrainian businesses to purchase European imports of intermediate goods, projected to rise in cost significantly as Ukraine’s currency continues to decline. And some of it will go to loans from the NBU to Ukrainian businesses that will hoard the cash and not use it to expand production. All this means that probably no more than half the $21 billion IMF net injection will actually affect the real Ukrainian economy. Given these ‘leakages’, the multiplier effects of the IMF injections will no doubt prove to be negative. It is not unreasonable to assume no more than a net $10 billion of the IMF’s $21 billion will get into the Ukraine’s real economy as a stimulus.

    That leaves no more than a $10 billion net stimulus over the next two years, offset by a ‘multiplier’ of $40 billion reduction in the real economy over the next two years. A net reduction in Ukraine’s GDP of $30 billion in the next two years, or about $15 billion a year, represents a cumulative decline in GDP of at least 18%. And that’s a Greece-like Depression.

    By absorbing the Ukrainian economy into the Eurozone, the latter is in effect taking under its economic wing yet another ‘Greece’ and ‘Spain’. And as in the case of those latter economies, those who will pay will not be the bankers and multinational businessmen, but the Ukrainian people. But that is the essential and repeated history and legacy of IMF deals globally for the last three decades.”
    https://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/03/28

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    That is the case for probably a majority of Congress. It’s why when polled, Congress rates lower than gonorrhea, cockroaches and lice… but when individual Congressmen are polled, they always rank remarkably high. Nobody ever seems to think their guy is part of the problem.

    My Congressman is as useless as yours, he’s done absolutely nothing in Washington for our district and has been there for a decade now, but he won his primary this year with like a 30 point margin. He has a very friendly and active staff to handle constituent concerns, on top of being heavily gerrymandered, essentially ensuring the only way he’ll ever leave office is either by choice, or by scandal.

  • 4th Turning

    Other than exhale a great deal of co2, my Rep. has accomplished nothing of legislative merit (in my
    humble non-partisan opinion-unless you count 50 “no’s” against you-know-what). Returned to office
    several times precisely because staff attends scrupulously to every constituent concern/request.
    Pure conjecture on my part, but I can imagine who gets bumped to the head of the line. This is, of
    course, part of their job. However, I get a whiff of something else that doesn’t seem quite right.

  • FLL

    You brought up a good point that I haven’t heard elsewhere. Russian national interests would have been better served by continuing to lease the naval base at Sevastopol from Ukraine, thus preventing Ukraine from joining NATO. That only shows that dictators don’t act in their country’s interest, only in their personal interest, which is a fundamental difference in perspective between politicians in democracies and politicians in dictatorships.

    Russia’s naval power is indeed limited by the Bosphorus Straits, but that is not a new phenomena. During tsarist times, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet was confined to the Black Sea by the London Straits Convention of 1841; this treaty closed the Bosphorus Straits to all warships except those of the Ottoman Sultan’s allies during wartime.

  • MyrddinWilt

    I’m stuck coding still. More on that later.

    I have been thinking about the situation in Ukraine as an example of why Joe Nye’s idea of Soft Power is so important. Putin and Bush only understand what Nye calls ‘crude power': use or the threat of force. A few weeks back I suggested that ‘Brute Power’ would be a better term. These people don’t understand that using force tends to backfire.

    Take Mr ‘Mission Accomplished’, he found rolling into Iraq a lot easier than getting out. The NeoCons dreamt of remaking the Middle East as a US colony. They ended up handing Iraq over to Iran as the only way to avoid the civil war they started killing another half million.

    Six months ago Russia’s position in Ukraine was solid. The government was run by a close ally, there was no possibility of Ukraine joining NATO or even of NATO forces being prepositioned in Poland and Romania. The Sevastopol base was held on long term lease and as long as that lease continued it would be impossible for Ukraine to join NATO.

    Today the situation has changed completely. NATO is already moving forces into the former Warsaw pact countries. Ukraine has lost Crimea but it has become a matter of when not if it joins the EU. And when that happens the idea of Ukraine joining NATO will still be unlikely but not unthinkable. It will only take one more dick move from Putin to make that happen.

    And the historical joke here is that the Black Sea fleet is completely useless without the ability to sail through the Bosphorus which is the worlds narrowest international navigation and both sides are controlled by Turkey, a NATO member.

  • FLL

    The prospect of direct citizen criticism of government, such as petitions on the White House website, must give Putin nightmares (as does the Orange Revolution of 2004, as do the Maidan protests of 2013/2014). I don’t think dictators generally sleep very well. So if direct citizen criticism of government (aka free speech) is out of the question in Russia, what dynamic takes its place? Bribery.

    Bribery on the part of government officials and employees exists, to at least some extent, everywhere in the world. In developed countries, such as most Western countries and East Asian countries like Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, bribery involving government officials and employees is a serious crime and is definitely prosecuted. Compare this with Putin’s Russia, and yes, the former Soviet Union, where government employees—right down to city police officers—are almost all on the take. Far from being a serious crime, bribery and embezzlement forms the backbone of government in Russia. Bribery and embezzlement also formed the backbone of the government of Russia’s former ally in Ukraine, Yanukovych, the man who embezzled almost all of the country’s treasury. Any wonder why Ukrainians want to ally with Western Europe rather than the bag of snakes known as the Eurasian Economic Union (Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus)? Did you know that Kazakhstan and Belarus have some of the worst human rights records in the world? Look it up.

  • Indigo

    or Mexico.

  • Sally

    They can have Alaska back if they also take Texas.

  • milli2

    I wonder how Sarah will respond to this. Will she again have an orgasm over how “virile” Mr Putin is? Please, Vlad, take her and keep her.

  • goulo

    Also kind of incompetently ironic that of all the possible things they could pick as a hypothetical petition example to show something bad and “dangerous”, they would use an example of Russia seizing territory from another country.

    Are they inadvertently agreeing that it was bad and “dangerous” that Russia just seized Crimea from Ukraine?

  • Indigo

    I’m with that. It’s Putin’s first good idea. Only one condition: they may not refund Sarah back to us. No way! They take it, they take her!

  • kingstonbears

    Is Sarah still in Alaska? If so we just might want to let Russia take Alaska back.

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