Recommended by Forbes

How long, O Catiline, will you abuse our patience?
And for how long will that madness of yours mock us?

Cicero

How long a huge amount of paid out mass media would continue spinning us a line? If it comes to entertaining us, Internet-laymen with biased pieces, do it with more competence and large-scale.

Lately I was surfing over August 25 Forbes news. There I’ve stumbled upon “recommended by Forbes opinion” by the great expert (according to his own statement) in Russia and Comparative Economics, the professor of economics at the University of Houston, Texas etc, etc, Paul Roderick Gregory. The headline is mega-high-profile, Russia inadvertently posts its casualties in Ukraine. At first I thought that this is the very Moment of Truth. The Evidence from the Expert. The Official Data. The Earthshaking Revelation. It had to cause fundamental about-face at least. Truth will triumph.

As you could judge by my blog I’m quite interested in these problems for I’m partly of East European origin. I’m also keen in Ukrainian politics and Russian language. However my knowledge of the subject is surely much more modest than Mr. Gregory’s one. That is why I started drinking in this piece by senior and more promoted ilk and… what do you know about disappointment?

Frankly speaking I don’t know what I was waiting for. It is past time to become accustomed that mainstream mass media take us for idiots. And we tend to read those very conclusions we like to consider truth. Even outline of the opening illustration of the article is tasked to push us for the certain conclusions.

In the original it is owned by Agence France-Presse and attached to their article about EU-Russia relations. There it has such neutral outline as ‘A man looks at his house, destroyed during recent fighting between pro-government forces and pro-Russian rebels in Avdivka in the Ukrainian region of Donetsk, August, 2015.’ However just add the information that Petro Poroshenko had accused Russia of sending three military convoys over the border into the separatist-controlled east. Here you are, we’ve got another pair of shoes. This is how the author had spelled out all conclusions for the audience. In advance the mood of the further reading had been imposed on us.

The piece itself starts with “news” that all Russian casualties “in peacetime” had become a state secret. Funny that such apparent competent author links to the half-year old The Guardian article. Meanwhile the decree itself runs in Russian (well studied by the author) just about casualties ‘in peacetime, during special operations.’ I learnt it merely copying the phrase to the Google translator. The link was given in the same The Guardian article.

By the way according their site newsfeed dates, the alleged accused of espionage NGO St. Petersburg Mothers of Solders has been existing and operating actively up till now.

As for the source “sensation”, it occurred to be a rather strange site called pompously Business Life (Delovaya Zhizn). The first thing you find out while visiting it is imposing some services. It is impossible searching it without knowledge of Russian language. Also the key data for the Forbes recommended piece has been left just in screenshot at some Ukrainian news site and in the link to the Internet archive.

I’m a curmudgeonly reader. So I’ve got some issues with this “deleted material”. First of all its subject and view doesn’t fit in the article remaining on the site. Generally it runs about increasing wages for Russian contract soldiers. There is also information about military lodgings as a Post Scriptum.

Here unexpectedly! There is a new title appears right after the Post Scriptum. I cannot criticize punctuation or spelling. However this fragment looks extraneous even at first glance.

1. The title of the passage isn’t aligned center as others are. Instead it looks like a mere bold typed short paragraph.

2. Further as the text goes there are similar short paragraphs for the introduction, key information and the conclusion. But look at the previous passages stylistics. You see, Russians inexplicably like extensional paragraphs bulking great amounts of information.

3. Mere calculations show that Mr. Gregory has problems either with his sense of vision or with his maths. Otherwise I cannot explain why there is no data about those ‘almost twenty million dollars of compensation payments’ already compensated to fallen and invalided military personnel.

Instead I made some calculations (divided this sum by invalids’ compensation) and got just 800 invalids who could receive this money. However in respect that the most modest ruble-dollar rate was 40 rubles for 1$ in February 2015 their number reduces to about 530 people.

twenty millions

Seems that Mr. Gregory spun those mystic $20 Mio out of thin air.

4. Making another simple calculation (multiply 1,800 rubles by 30 – average number of days in a month) we find out that Russian contract soldiers payments in the conflict zone amounts 54,000 rubles a month (nowadays it is less than $1,000). Delving through Russian Internet I found the data about wages of Russian Army contract enlisted.

Compare this table to “top secret” data. It occurs that just inexperienced enlisted personnel have any profit fighting in Donbas. The rest guys must be looking forward those three million rubles their families would receive together with a zinc coffin.

You shouldn’t know Russian to notice all those mismatches in the added text. Also my slender knowledge allowed fetching out suspicious prepositions used for the word “Ukraine” as location. As is right and proper in the context of administrative units (countries, cities, states etc) Ukrainians themselves use preposition “in”.

Russian language has fixed grammatical structure of “on Ukraine”. It had been forming for centuries. First it meant “on the edge” or “on the border.” Almost all Russian enactments and news coverage use this word-combination.

screenshot1

According this screenshot the authors of the “deleted material” haven’t decided yet if they are Ukrainian or Russian. Though they pretend not just to the knowing the ropes of quasi-Russian realia. They also claim the access to classified information.

It is odd that Mr. Gregory is much surprised that ‘only one-quarter of Russians believe that Russia has troops in/on Ukraine’ (the Ukrainian news site opinion). This obviously biased planted information would buy just thirsty for such “evidence” Ukrainian bigots, and European and American naive laymen keeping half an eye on those events and being too lazy to filter such gubbish.

The problem is that practically all mainstream mass media discredit themselves by publishing such bias. Thus recently after a four-year investigation Ofcom accused BBC, CNN and CNBC of regular publication of paid out materials, which breaks Ofcom rules on due impartiality of mass media. Judging the newsfeed content such investigation is necessary to conduct concerning all mass media globally.

Referring to a number of lame links, using an irrelevant photo, giving “evidence” in a foreign for primary audience language, no bothering to make simple calculations, so that invented data would have proper semblance…

Forbes, are you still sure that you want to recommend this utter rubbish?

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