Vladimir Churov, head of Russia’s Central Elections Commission, has been busy in Moscow.
The day after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s presidential electoral victory, the elections supervisor said that no other nation in the world could have “a more open, fair, transparent presidential campaign.”
Previously, Churov, a former Putin aide in St. Petersburg, was best known for his quote: “Churov’s first rule: Putin is always right.”
With Putin now set for another six years in office, Churov, who turns 59 on Saturday, is turning to new challenges.
He has announced that he will lead a Russian government project to monitor the 2012 American presidential campaign and the November 6 presidential election. He vows “detailed” monitoring and promises to find “flaws.”
Curiously, at the same press conference, he told reporters that many international election observer groups have “transformed into the collection of political, or even military-political information.” He warned: “Observers have a keen wish for entering border units, nuclear and missile centers and so on. The number of such people is growing.”
Vladimir Yevgenyevich, why not combine your two passions — and spend November in Alaska?
Yes, watching voting and counting can be boring. But it would be a great cover for collecting “military-political information” on three strategic mysteries that torment Russians today.
1) The Alaskan Death Ray – When Russia’s Mars probe, the Phobos-Grunt, failed after launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan last November, Lt. Gen. Nikolai Rodionov, a former commander of a Russian missile attack early warning unit, told the Interfax news agency that powerful military radars in Alaska could have knocked down the interplanetary rover.
2) The Alaskan Mind Bender Ray – As Alan Cullison reported last month in The Wall Street Journal, a website in Magnitogorsk reported that Russian opposition protests were triggered by high frequency signals beamed straight into the brains of Russians – all sent from a secret military base in Alaska.
3) Alaskan Expansionism – Not content with living in the largest state in the United States, some Alaskans now want islands long controlled by Russia. Last month, a website headline screamed: “Obama Gives 7 Oil-Rich Islands to Russia: Secret Give Away – Alaska Not Consulted.”
So, Mr. Churov, should you accept this mission, your cover will be to watch the American presidential campaign in Alaska.
But, as you roam from Dutch Harbor to Homer, those of us watching from Moscow will know what your secret mission will be (wink, wink).
Exciting? You bet! Off we go!
First, some travel tips:
Unfortunately, the 1998 ruble crisis prompted Alaska Airlines to roll up its six-city route network in the Russian Far East. So, instead of hopping a cross-Bering flight, you will have to fly the long way around — via New York and Seattle to get to Anchorage.
At one of the airport stops along the way, pick up a powerful flashlight. It will be symbol of your mission!
But it will also be practical as there will be only eight hours of daylight in Anchorage on November 6, Elections Day. By the end of November, daylight will dwindle to six hours.
The upside of Alaska in November: cheap off season hotel rates!
Now, some contacts:
1) Sarah Palin. This powerhouse of the Republican Party (accurately) told ABC News that you can see Russia from Alaska. But, geographically challenged comedians and journalists — the kind of East Coast people who cannot tell Little Diomede Island from Big Diomede Island — pounced on Palin. They distorted her words, saying she said she could see Russia from her house in Wasilla. (Interview tip: start on common ground – for example, the evils of Washington, the American Media, etc.). During the election period, Palin might be traveling in the Lower 48 (states) with her Tea Party friends (conservatives who gather around an American-style samovar to complain about Washington).
2) Joe Miller. Palin pal, Tea Partier, Gulf War Army vet, and Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Alaska in 2010 elections. In a new twist, Miller started lobbying Washington last month to assert a claim over seven islands long recognized as on the Russian side of the international boundary. (see map below)
As Maggie Thornton wrote last month in her conservative blog, Maggie’s Notebook: “Obama’s State Department is giving away seven strategic, resource-laden Alaskan islands to the Russians. Yes, to the Putin regime in the Kremlin.” (Note to Kremlin: sharpen intel gathering by starting this secret Google alert: “Russia.” Also, Wikipedia notes that Alaska is the size of Libya – can’t anyone connect the dots?
Note to FSB: instead of planting flaming red-haired Anna Chapman in a Manhattan Starbucks, it might be more productive – and more discreet — to plant Boris and Natasha in Bullwinkle’s Pizza Parlor, two blocks from the Alaskan State Capitol, in Juneau).
3) Russian Orthodox Eskimos. They live largely in Aleut and Yupik communities along the seacoast. But, undoubtedly, they have gossip, err, intel, about the interior, clues about where The Death Ray and The Mind Bender Ray might just be located. (Interview tip: shy away from the island sovereignty issue. They think it is stupid that people need visas to visit their cousins on opposite sides of the Bering Strait). Stick with English. The Russian they know is Church Slavonic brought by missionaries in the 1790s. Good photo opportunities of onion domed churches to justify your expense accounts back in Moscow.
4) Old Believers — You will feel right at home with these guys. They favor the same Dostoevsky spade beard as you! (Interview tip: skip the politics — they have been down on the Kremlin since 1666 — the year of the Great Schism.) Best bets: a four hour drive from Anchorage, try the Fox River villages of Voznesenka, Beryosovka and Nikolaevsk. Old Believers are not big on high tech, so they may not be up to speed on The Death Ray or The Mind Bender Ray. But more photo ops for the expense accounts.
This may be a pretty tall order for one “election monitoring trip” (wink, wink).
But Alaska need not be all work and no play!
The last time I was in Anchorage, I observed Russian “tourists” disappearing into the 4th Avenue showroom of David Green Master Furrier. Hours later, they would emerge with two, three or four mink coats.
Alaska can be fun in November!