Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson
#38 - JRL 2007-158 - JRL Home
July 19, 2007
Russian MFA's press-release
On an article by Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov for the Foreign Affairs magazine

This May an article by Foreign Minister Sergey V.Lavrov was offered to the Editors of the Foreign Affairs magazine for publication. The Russian Foreign Minister intended to address directly the readers of this authoritative magazine in order to explain Russia's Foreign Policy, its view of today's international relations and ways to ensure a positive development of US-Russian relations, including interaction in international affairs.

One of the reasons was the discussion on the theme of "containing Russia", started in this magazine by its publication of the article signed by Yu.V.Timoshenko.

The Editors, with reference to their own standards, substantially edited the article, if not censored it. It was cut by 40%, losing a considerable part of its original meaning. Some editing even meant that Sergey Lavrov was to subscribe to certain Foreign Policy positions of the present US Administration, to which Russia objects on grounds of principle. Having gone through that all and motivated exclusively by the interests of strengthening US-Russian relations, we had to face an utterly artificial and unacceptable demand by the Editors. We were required to supplement the article's title "Containing Russia: back to the future?" with a subtitle which read "averting a new Cold War" or "a conflict between Russia and America."

As a matter of fact, such a subtitle fundamentally runs counter to the key idea of the Russian Minister's article. Since in Moscow we assume that no new Cold War, the more so conflict between our two nations is possible. There are no objective reasons for that. The real threat posed by a negative development of US-Russian relations lies somewhere else. That is in separate existence of the Russia and US factors in global politics, which hardly meets the interests of the two countries or that of international community at large. In fact, Russia is subjected to intimidation by statements to the effect that there exist no positive alternatives to a "unipolar world", but chaos and return to Cold War. By the way, as recently as March this year Henry Kissinger wrote precisely about "estrangement" between Russia and USA.

So, the last obstacle was the resolute refusal by the Editors to omit the said subtitle dealing with a "new Cold War." The Editors, disregarding the author's opinion, failed to provide coherent explanations for their insistence upon imposing this subtitle on him.

As a result of the excruciating and sluggish exchanges with the Editors, the likes of which could only be found in diplomatic history, it was decided to give up trying to place Sergey Lavrov's article in Foreign Affairs. This tough experience reminded of the worst features of the Soviet censorship past, which it appears some in the US would like to repeat.

It is regrettable that the Editors willingly of unwillingly played into the hands of those who wouldn't allow an open, free and reasoned debate on international affairs and US Foreign Policy. Such aversion to openness can hardly serve US national interest, as it is understood by US allies and friends, whom Russia considers itself to belong to. This approach is at utter variance with the openness that is characteristic of the relationship between Presidents Vladimir Putin and George Bush.

It is worth noting that the "Russia in Global Affairs" magazine, which is a Foreign Affairs partner, has published a complete translation into Russian of the article, signed by Yu.V.Timoshenko, though it represents a very meticulous and boring stock-taking of all the claims to New Russia and its Foreign Policy, motivated by traditional anti-Russian prejudices and stereotypes. There was enough space on the pages of this Russian magazine for former members of the present US Administration, such as Thomas Graham, Richard Haass and Ronald Asmus: their articles, as the one signed by Yu.V.Timoshenko, didn't have to be subjected to censorship.

It is a pity, indeed, that in parts of US media there exists a trend of "state protection", which narrows intellectual resource of America. We are convinced the USA deserves better.

To let US and Russian public see for themselves, that in Sergey Lavrov's article there is nothing that will be harmful for adult Americans to read, hereafter is placed its "sanitized" English text, on which no agreement could be found with the Foreign Affairs Editors due to their refusal to omit the subtitle of their own. The original, "precensorship" text of the article will be published in the "Russia in Global Affairs" issue for July-August, 2007.