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Mackinnon on Post-Soviet Revolutions, take II

posted by dru Geography: Europe Ukraine Topics: Globe and Mail, Mark Mackinnon

April 18, 2007

Mackinnon on Post-Soviet Revolutions, take II

Early descriptions of Mark Mackinnon's new book, The New Cold War received a skeptical reaction from this corner -- to say the least -- and Stefan Christoff's and my critique of his coverage in Lebanon resulted in a bit of a scrap via email.

All that said, if last weekend's report is any indication, Mackinnon has a lot of interesting information to share, and has done a lot of journalistic legwork that no one else is doing (here's where I mutter about trying to find people to look into Canada in the Ukraine, lack of a budget, and so on). In it, Mackinnon outlines Canada's extensive implication in the "Orange Revolution", including millions of dollars in funding to partisan groups.

The "oh god, Iran captured British soldiers" crowd won't blink, but the double standard here is pretty crazy. What would we say if the Ukrainian embassy started funding pro-NDP youth groups in support of another kind of "Orange Revolution"? I reckon the tenor of the reporting would be a bit less casual.

Still, the report is very interesting, given that the media knew about, but actively avoiding mentioning the significant role that Western- and Canadian-funded NGOs were playing in the upheaval. The Associated Press reported it, and no one picked it up.

It's a regular pattern in the media, that when things go down, they play dumb, parroting official press conferences. But then when it's all over and a few years have gone by, the slightly more reality-based reports can emerge. This would seem to be no exception. Perhaps Mackinnon has used what clout he has at the Globe to get the story published, and perhaps now that the situation is different, its editors are more comfortable with letting people know that Canada is intervening in foreign elections. Either way, no one, including Mackinnon, covered Canada's funding of "Orange Revolution" groups in any depth until now (that I know of, anyway).

Not that I mind that Mackinnon is getting the information out--it's still very useful, and a major debate would ensue in any country that actually practices democracy--but it's a bit weird that the Globe has done an about-face, covering this now, without any comment on their previous self-censorship on the topic.

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