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Kremlin Guide To America's Top Dissidents


Dmitry Medvedev has less than a week to track down U.S. dissidents.

Dmitry Medvedev has less than a week to track down U.S. dissidents.

The Kremlin fumed when U.S. President Barack Obama included a meeting with Russian opposition leaders on his Moscow itinerary back in July. At the time, Obama's administration was responding to criticism over its perceived abdication of the moral high ground by downplaying the role of human rights in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's critics could hardly accuse him of abandoning Kremlin commitments to human rights, since those commitments have been dubious at best. But he's gone on the offensive anyway.

Russia's de facto No. 2 plans to use a visit this month to the United States for a UN General Assembly and a G-20 summit to turn the tables, according to Itar-Tass:

"I think I should speak to dissidents. Let them tell me what problems the United States has," he told members of the Valdai international debate club on [September 15]. "That won't be bad, considering the Soviet experience."

With less than a week to go before the September 22-25 visit, Medvedev's planning team must be in overdrive.

So we'd like to do our part and suggest a few American dissidents who might fit the Kremlin's bill as the payback date approaches. (Note to Medvedev handlers: American regime-bashers come from both wings of the political spectrum, although they often sound indistinguishable.)

Noam Chomsky -- iconic linguist, lecturer, and voice of the left for decades
For: instant cachet among the beard-stroking intellectual elite of any nation
Against: makes Marx look like a reactionary; kind of stingy with his Facebook friendships

Rush Limbaugh -- combative radio talk show host of the right
For: millions of fawning American listeners every day
Against: you can't get a word in edgewise

Michael Moore -- documentary filmmaker whose enormous success at Cannes earned him powerful enemies in the U.S.
For: revered in many circles
Against: reviled in nearly all the others

Kanye West -- rapper and record producer
For: influential with the young set; feuding with current U.S. president
Against: tends to go off-message

Sarah Palin -- former vice presidential candidate and Alaska governor
For: close neighbor of Russia's; got on great with Pakistan's president; sees America on the verge of slipping into terminal communism
Against: see McCain/Palin '08; sees America on the verge of slipping into terminal communism

Reverend Jeremiah Wright -- former pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago who famously inveighed "God damn America!" from the pulpit
For: friends in high places
Against: out of step with said friends

Gus Hall -- American Communist Party leader who stuck with it through years of persecution and the Soviet collapse
For: though now dead, Hall, too, regarded Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin as "a wrecking crew"
Against: symbolic visits to monuments to dead Communists are no longer the preferred Russian photo op

Sean Penn -- Oscar-winning actor/director and political activist
For: lots of showbiz friends and a cozy relationship with the Huffington Post
Against: less disgruntled since January

Christopher Hitchens -- former flame-breathing Trotskyite turned neocon booster
For: dual nationality lends him trans-Atlantic heft
Against: hard to tell whose side he's on; interventionist bent and outspoken atheism could backfire on the Russian leader; he laid waste to Mother Teresa, for goodness sake

Eric Cartman -- vitriolic "South Park" fourth-grader
For: global recognition and an enemy of political correctness
Against: has variously advocated or committed tyranny, piracy, genocide, pedophilia, murder, misogyny, blackmail, hate crimes, rape, and terrorism

Medvedev's handlers might welcome more suggestions. Got any?

-- Andy Heil

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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