It is with great sadness that I have to address the crisis at Russia Insider. I am heartbroken at seeing people whom I consider as respected friends now in an open conflict. I have waited as long as I could before addressing this issue because I wanted to speak to all the parties involved and ask for the opinion and assessment of a few trusted friends. However, since I have been a strong supporter of Russia Insider from Day 1 I cannot remain silent any longer. I feel that I have to address this issue and share with our community a few simple and straightforward considerations:
First, a number of allegations have been made but at this point in time we do not have a full picture or all the facts. Some accusations center on possible fraudulent activities, others on shadowy business connections, others on editorial policies and others on one specific issue (the number of Russia Insider shares rightfully belonging to Peter Lavelle). My first reaction to this barrage of accusations is simple: let’s not conflate them all into one big indictment; these are different issues which ought to be treated separately.
Second, while it is absolutely evident that Peter Lavelle and a few others have raised the alarm because they felt that people have been mislead and lied to, and that the public needed to be warned, I have come to the conclusion that some individuals are trying to personally benefit from the possible collapse of Russia Insider and that they have put a great deal of effort into fanning the flames of this conflict. There are folks out there who want to take Russia Insider down and create conflicts between former friends. I don’t want our community to inadvertently assist these individuals.
Third, I think that it would make sense to separate “Russia Insider, the news portal” and the allegations of fraud and/or mismanagement. While RI did post a few pretty bad articles in the past (at least one which I thoroughly debunked), I don’t have a problem with this since I also regularly post articles I do not agree with (and then regularly get in trouble for doing so). Unlike those who seek to destroy RI, I personally believe that it would be a disaster for us all if RI collapsed and I hope that RI will overcome the current crisis and continue its important work. For me, RI was not a competitor, but a valuable ally.
Fourth, however, to my great regret, at this point in time and until an open and thorough audit is made of all the finances at Russia Insider, especially the donations, and all the allegations made replied to point by point, I cannot endorse Russia Insider any more, especially not the fundraising efforts; I am also ceasing any form of collaboration with Russia Insider. I will continue to post the excellent analyses of Alexander Mercouris who has allowed me to share them in his personal capacity. Conversely, since all my writings are “copylefted” under the under the Creative Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0 International license (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0) Russia Insider is, just as any other person or entity, free to reuse any and all of my writings.
Fifth, I have had extensive email exchanges with Charles Bausman and I have made my position unambiguously clear to him. He knows exactly what I expect him to do now. However, I believe that it is in the best interest of all, including Russia Insider, that I not make the contents of these exchanges public. Some issues are better discussed privately.
Finally, I want to remind everybody that we all are the potential targets of very sophisticated attacks, including personal attacks, by multi-billion dollar organizations who are very experienced in using our every weakness and failing, who know exactly how to surround us with agent provocateurs who will skillfully entice us to do stupid and even immoral things in order to discredit us, and who excel at using our real mistakes and wrongdoings in a way which serve their interests. Therefore, if one of us “lapses” and does something wrong, we ought to show compassion even while being firm on matters of principle.
That’s it. Please forgive me for not discussing the specific allegations made against Charles Bausman. This is simply not my role – I am neither judge, nor prosecutor. At most, I am a distressed friend. My only personal implication in this matter was my support for Russia Insider. I now withdraw my support for RI until all the issues are fully and comprehensively addressed and permanently solved. For the record: I have never been paid a single dollar by anybody at Russia Insider, not even for the (few) articles I have written especially for RI.
Finally, I am saddened by the outright nastiness of some comments and the eager willingness of some people to join a virtual lynch mob against Charles Bausman. Even if he is truly guilty of all the accusation made against him, this is worthy of tears and not of vitriolic glee. The way some “smelled blood” and joined in this “virtual public stoning” is disgusting. I am also aware of ugly personal attacks against Peter Lavelle, whom I hold in the highest esteem, and I categorically condemn these attacks as dishonorable and unworthy of being acknowledged in any way.
Orthodox Christians are in the middle of the Great Lent period. Every day we read the Prayer of Saint Ephrem the Syrian:
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.
I appeal to everybody in our community – religious or not – to act in the spirit of this prayer. While we cannot ignore what happens in our midst, and while we have to react to it without in any way condoning that which is wrong, we should to do so in a compassionate and honorable way.
Hugs to all,
PS: exceptionally, I am not opening up this post for public comments; you are welcome to contact me personally about this matter if you want though I cannot promise that I will reply as this is all very painful to me. I apologize for that.