Mission Impossible: Send Russia’s Elections Chief to Alaska?

Posted March 13th, 2012 at 8:50 pm (UTC+0)

Vladimir Churov, chairman of Russia's Central Election Commission, told reporters that he believes that many foreign election monitors are spies. Now, he plans to monitor the U.S. Presidential election.

Separated by birth? No, by the Bering Strait! Like Churov, these American Old Believers also favor big white beards.

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.
They are:
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.

Welcoming committee for Churov? No, this Inupiat family was photographed in 1928 by Edmund S. Curtis.

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?

After losing the 2010 Senate race, Republican candidate has started campaigning to win for Alaska seven islands west of the Bering Strait. Here he speaks with reporters in Juneau, Alaska in 2010. Photo: AP)

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.

Russian Orthodox Church in Sitka serves some of the 50,000 Orthodox believers in Alaska, a legacy of the work of early 19th century Russian missionaries. Photo: Jeremy Keith

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!

Alaskan Expansionism? Some Alaskans are claiming islands west of the internationally recognized boundary between Russia and the United States. Threatening a war of maps, expansionists are circulating this chart.

James Brooke
James Brooke is the Russia/CIS bureau chief for Voice of America. A lifelong journalist, he covered West Africa, Brazil, the American Rocky Mountain States, Canada, and Japan/Korea for The New York Times. A resident of Moscow since 2006, he was first Bloomberg bureau chief for the region. In 2010, he joined VOA. In addition to writing Russia Watch, his weekly blog, he also does video, radio and web reports from Russia and the former USSR.

3 responses to “Mission Impossible: Send Russia’s Elections Chief to Alaska?”

  1. Gennady says:

    James! Many thanks for your witty & absolutely hilarious suggestion! Well done!

    1 I agree that they represent the “sweetest duo” of Mr. Putin’s regime, the most powerful weapon in his armoury: Vladimir Churov, head of Russia’s Central Elections Commission, & Stanislav Govorukhin, age 76, the man with confused political orientation (an anticommunist (1990), a national-communist (1993) and supporter of the Communist Party (1996), passionate enemy of Mr. Putin (2000), the Chief of Mr. Putin’s election campaign (2012)). Certainly they have a lot to teach the world democracy, basic human rights, and constitutional system.

    2. I also suggest recommending the “sweetest duo” for Nobel Prize and in the Guinness Book for their contribution to the “most open, fair, transparent presidential campaign” in the world, with no other nation having been able to achieve the “achievement” until now. Somebody may say that the duo looks confused with integrity, space, time and elementary logic. So in order to be on a safer side a qualified psychological/psychiatric check-up will be needed for the duo. I’m joking. How could I have such a thought?

    3. Now without joke. I hope to live up to the time when the “sweetest duo’ will be charged and sentenced for the highest treason and collaboration in usurping power in Russia. Great flurry of discussion on extent of public support for Mr. Putin is going on even in the world. But can’t anybody see that the support is based on sand and looks like “flour got from unworthy grain”?
    I wouldn’t argue that some people really support the anticonstitutional & unsustainable state of present day Russia. They will support even when Russia will be drowned in blood by the regime. Those people are a) cronies of his regime (10% who are doing well in the murky waters against 90% poverty stricken population), b) some people who have no courage to withstand intimidation from abovementioned cronies c) cynical people who sell for 13$ their absentee ballots d) masochists, who take pleasure in being abused & denied basic human rights, e) some who claim that Russia isn’t fit for democratic norms for the reasons that the country was ruled by Tatar-Mongols 800 years ago. They haven’t a clue on why other countries of the world enjoy democratic norms although they have also had cataclysms in their history?

    4. Under Mr.Putin’s regime the democratic norms outlined in the Constitution are ruthlessly denied & deformed in practice and everybody can watch the avalanche of anticonstitutional system that came about as the result. The rights and freedoms of Man stipulated in article 2 of the Constitution aren’t observed and severely violated. People can’t express their power as there were no free (not skewed) elections (article 3.3). The inobservance of art.2 & 3 makes a seismic shift and has automatically led to usurpation of power (violation of art.3.4). The landslide in the fundamental law goes even deeper as we check more articles of the Constitution.
    In short, real elections were held neither to the State Duma, nor for the President, but a plebiscite. But what law gives legitimacy to lawmaking and to rule the country without people’s election? There is none. I wonder, how can world leaders and lawmakers cooperate with the illegitimate regime apart from strictly commerce?

  2. […] Reports that Jimmy Carter will host Churov are unconfirmed at this time. Read the Voice of American article here. […]

  3. […] Minister Vladimir Putin's presidential electoral victory, the elections … Read more on Voice of America (blog) VN:F [1.9.12_1141]please wait…Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)VN:F [1.9.12_1141]Rating: 0 (from 0 […]



James Brooke is VOA Moscow bureau chief, covering Russia and the former USSR. With The New York Times, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Africa, Latin America, Canada and Japan/Koreas. He studied Russian in college during the Brezhnev years, first visited Moscow as a reporter during the final months of Gorbachev, and then came back for reporting forays during the Yeltsin and early Putin years. In 2006, he moved to Moscow to report for Bloomberg. He joined VOA in Moscow in 2010. Follow Jim on Twitter @VOA_Moscow.



March 2012
« Feb   Apr »