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Is WikiLeaks Ready to Take on Kremlin?

The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM) promotes cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights, and free speech.




Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, has told the media that new leaks would expose more secrets not only about the US military but about other “repressive regimes,” such as Russia and China. However, Russian reaction may not be as reserved as America’s. Is WikiLeaks really ready to take on the world’s more callous states?

It is certainly talking the talk. In an interview published on 26 Octover 2010, in Russia’s leading daily newspaper, Kommersant, WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said that “Russian readers will learn a lot about their country” after one of the site’s upcoming document dumps. “We want to tell people the truth about the actions of their governments.”

So far Russia has had no official response. An official at the Center for Information Security of the FSB, Russia’s secret police, gave a warning to WikiLeaks: “It is essential to remember that given the will and the relevant orders, [WikiLeaks] can be made inaccessible forever,” the anonymous official told the independent Russian news website LifeNews.

Some observers say WikiLeaks presents a far more serious challenge to Russia’s security services than the sources of previous leaks. For one thing, WikiLeaks has established a reputation for publishing authentic documents, which means the Russian press would be more likely to cover the story and republish the files.

The most likely Russian reaction would be to undermine the authenticity of the alleged secrets. “The main tool is to filter it through the state-controlled mass media, which would discredit WikiLeaks and put into question the reliability of its sources,” says Nikolai Zlobin, director of the Russia and Eurasia Project at the World Security Institute in Washington, DC.

Zlobin says it would take something extremely damning to rattle Russia’s political elite: “Russians already believe that their leaders steal and funnel money into offshore banks. It would have to give shocking details about Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev, and even then, the complete apathy toward politics would absorb a lot of the shock waves.”



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