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#23 - JRL 9313 - JRL Home
Date: Mon, 05 Dec 2005
From: "Paul Saunders" <psaunders@nixoncenter.org>
Subject: Statement on Kommersant Article/ JRL 9312

We have received inquiries regarding an article that appeared today in the Russian newspaper Kommersant, owned by Boris Berezovsky, and on its Russian-language and English-language web sites. Attributed to Kommersant Washington correspondent Dmitry Sidorov, “Moscow’s Symmetrical Answer” is riddled with inaccuracies and misstatements. It’s difficult to know how to respond because it’s hard to find something accurate in the piece to use as a point of departure.

The central thrust of the article is that Russian business leader Oleg Deripaska plans to create a research institute “favorable to Russia” in Washington in cooperation with Gleb Pavlovsky and The Nixon Center as an “answer” to the Carnegie Endowment, which some view as hostile to the Russian government. We have no idea whether others may have such thoughts, but we know with certainty that we do not have these plans and that we have not discussed any plans like this with Mr. Deripaska, Mr. Pavlovsky, or anyone else. In fact, during Mr. Deripaska’s visit to Washington­which Mr. Sidorov cites­he is speaking at the Carnegie Endowment. He is not meeting with anyone at the Center.

The article also claims that The Nixon Center is interested in the project because of “serious problems” of its own. The Center does not have any serious problems and, in fact, is having the most financially successful year in its history. Regarding The National Interest, the magazine appointed a new editor and advisory council nine months ago shortly after The Nixon Center assumed full ownership. Since then, it has received both greater revenue and wide acclaim for its substantive quality and the diversity of views in its pages.

So how did Mr. Sidorov get it so wrong? He called on Sunday, December 4 and got a call back just thirty-five minutes later. Yet none of the discussion made it into the piece­and Sidorov did not ask a single question about Deripaska, Pavlovsky, or the new institute he describes. This suggests that Mr. Sidorov, who has already acknowledged to members of The Nixon Center’s staff that he considers himself “a specialist in black PR,” was not interested in the facts. Rather, the main goal of the article seems to be to create the impression that even as the Kremlin is restricting foreign NGOs in Russia, it is responding “symmetrically” by using our institution to establish its own NGO in Washington. Mr. Sidorov and his patrons do not seem at all troubled by fabricating a false story in the process. Kommersant should be ashamed of itself for publishing this nonsense masquerading as news.

Paul J. Saunders
Executive Director
The Nixon Center
1615 L Street, NW, Suite 1250
Washington, DC 20036
Tel (202) 887-1000
Fax (202 887-5222