On October 7, Vladimir Putin celebrated his sixty-third birthday. To commemorate this occasion, we’ve spent the last few days here at Useful Stooges looking at Putin – and at a few of his benighted fans around the world. Today: a former Israeli official.
His name is Yossi Beilin. He held four ministerial positions in the Israeli government, was the guy who kicked off the process that culminated in the Oslo Accords, and is considered a major figure in the Israeli peace movement. Now, as James Kirchick reported on September 11, Beilin has a new job: he’s involved with something called the Ukrainian Institute of Strategies of Global Development and Adaptation, which was founded last December and is run by Viktor Levytskyy (sic), a former official in the pro-Kremlin government of Viktor Yanukovych. The institute’s goal, Kirchick explains, is to “promote…Ukraine’s neutrality as well as the idea that Russia’s assault on the country is a ‘civil war.’” In other words, it’s a propaganda outfit, designed to whitewash Putin.
And whatever they’re paying him, Beilin has apparently been earning his keep. In op-eds, he’s criticized arms shipments to the pro-Western Ukrainian government, demanded a promise that Ukraine won’t join NATO, opposed the idea of NATO arming the Baltics, condemned sanctions on Russia as “unproductive,” and even proposed that Ukraine be divided into two nations.
In other words, he’s been serving up arguments that are entirely predicated on a Big Lie – the lie that a brutal invasion of a sovereign country by a totalitarian power is, in fact, a domestic crisis, an internal struggle. Like many of Putin’s other international supporters, he acts as if Putin has some kind of natural right to annex Ukrainian territory and to veto decisions by Ukraine (or, for that matter, the Baltic states) to join NATO. This, by the way, from a man who – as Kirchick points out – had “shown absolutely no public interest” in Ukraine until he hooked up with Levytskyy a few months ago.
And why did Levytskyy hire Beilin? Kirchick has the answer: “the institute clearly hopes to trade on his name as an internationally recognized peace-seeker, providing a gloss of legitimization to its agenda of discrediting Ukraine’ post-Yanukovych government.” Kirchick also raises the question: who exactly is behind this “institute”? The reigning theory appears to be that Levytskyy is a front for Oleksandr Klymenko, his thuggish ex-boss, who ran the government tax agency under Yanukovych and who in April, owing to charges of “massive tax fraud” (we’re talking billions), was sanctioned by the European Union, which froze his assets and denied him the right to enter the EU.
These, then, are the kinds of creeps with whom Yossi Beilin has now aligned himself. Back home in Israel, his name was once synonymous with efforts for peace; now, he’s signed on to defend a remorseless warmonger. Every prostitute has a price.