The FSB and YouTube Kompromat

There’s a good blog post by Michael Idov over at the Daily Beast discussing the most recent case of the FSB putting together a variety of hidden camera clips in order to frame up their opponents in depraved situations – this time portraying activist Ilya Yashin, political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin, and the editor in chief of the Russian edition of Newsweek, Mikhail Fishman hanging out with some prostitutes and cocaine.

These tapes, which are quite obviously contrived entrapments using clumsy editing and disappointingly unprofessional tactics, could mean one of two things, writes Idov:  “One is that the system is wobblier than thought, President Medvedev’s liberalization promises are about to bear fruit, and Russia’s internal security service, the FSB, sensing uncertainty for the first time in years, is wasting no chance to tar every possible breakout star of the opposition. (…)  The other possibility is that the smear campaign is the handiwork of an off-the-script underling.

Obviously the creative new media kompromat isn’t working out so well. Idov cites a Facebook posting by Ilya Krasilschi: “Let me get this straight. You fight the regime, and in exchange the regime brings you free chicks and blow? Duly noted.”I don’t really buy the theory that these kinds of tapes are just made by ambitious underlings, but rather such projects get approved at a pretty high level. Just compare this most recent video with a similarly preposterous YouTube campaign which sought to target and disgrace U.S. diplomat Kyle Hatcher as well as UK diplomat James Hudson … the production quality and candid camera methods seem quite similar.