Journalist Yuri Alekseev, the editor of Imhoclub news portal in Latvia, believes that NATO has developed a new policy toward the Russians of the Baltic States – now they decided to format their mindset not to get “a new Crimea” in the region.
“Approximately a year ago, Russian-speaking Americans started arriving in Riga. Young people and middle adulthoods - children of ‘perestroika-minded’ emigrants. I even knew parents of some in the Soviet period. This group of people had not arrived in Latvia before. Children of Latvian emigrants arrived here sometimes, but Russians never. Now they have come here in numbers,” Alekseev says recalling that a representative of the U.S. Embassy called him in September 2014 and asked him to deliver a lecture for American students about his vision of the political situation in Ukraine. At first, the journalist says, he thought it was a joke, but it was not so.
“What I could find out was that a group of students from an American military (!) high school arrived in Riga to practice the Russian language and meet with interesting people. Therefore, I was chosen as a lecturer,” the journalist tells. In his words, the Embassy representative told him he would be speaking for a group of 20 students at the age of 19-40 with perfect knowledge of Russian in the conference hall of a famous hotel in Riga. Unfortunately, the lecture was canceled. The Embassy representative apologized to him and asked for a lecture in future. However, they have not called him up since then.
“Now, a NATO Center of Strategic Communications has opened in Riga without my lecture, unfortunately,” Alekseev says. The main goal of the Center is to work with the Russian residents of the Baltic states. “What for? Here is what I think. I have an old friend - a Crimean journalist, a very pragmatic man. Over the last ten years, he has been preparing for not big money (about 200 dollars per month) regular ‘reviews of sentiments in the social media of Crimea.’ I once asked him what he writes. ‘What they want to hear,’ the friend told me. ‘I write that in Crimea there are pro-Ukrainian sentiments, that the Crimean Russians and Tatars are for Maidan, and they do not like Russia… ’” Alekseev tells.
“About 1.5 year after that, Crimea joined Russia and all the anti-Russian activists of the Crimean social networks have disappeared somewhere,” the journalists says. In his words, the Americans were outraged, as they could not understand why the public anger in the social media failed to grow into a Crimean Maidan. “It appears to me that the Department of State has realized that it is impossible to brainwash Russians via Facebook and other social media, and has sent its fighters of the ideological front to act on site, to be closer to the people. One of such field organizations is that very NATO Center of Strategic Communications,” the journalist says.