Putin biographer, Masha Gessen, talks about Russia, Trump and WikiLeaks

Patt Morrison spoke to Masha Gessen, a Russian American journalist and author of a critical biography of Vladimir Putin, The Man Without a Face, the Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin:

Patt Morrison: Software analysts say Russian intelligence or Russian intelligence-related somebodies hacked Democratic emails. What’s going on?

Masha Gessen: Russia is a disruptive force on the world stage, and that’s actually what it aims to be. And I think this is where a very important distinction comes in that people tend to miss:

There is no doubt that various Russian intelligence services, and in this particular case we’re talking about two different intelligence services that apparently weren’t aware of each other while they were hacking the Democratic National Committee’s emails.

Russian intelligence services hack what they can and aim to create as much havoc, both in Western Europe and in the United States, especially around election time.

That’s quite different from saying, as some people have said, “Oh, they’re trying to throw the election to [Donald] Trump.” I don’t think that’s what’s going on.

It actually doesn’t work out chronologically either. But they are trying to cause trouble.

Would this hacking be meant to be directed at just destabilizing, just causing trouble, or is there a goal, an outcome that they might have in mind?

That’s the really important question. I don’t think there’s a goal that they have in mind. And there are several things that point in that direction. One is that Russia doesn’t usually have a goal in mind. It’s that the Putin government and Putin himself are not known for creating strategy. What they are known for is creating havoc.

The other thing is that talk of the chronology: Both of these actual hacking attacks by the two different agencies occurred in 2015, long before — one occurred earlier — long before it was even clear that Trump had a shot at the nomination. I think the goal was very much just to create trouble, which is what Russia is known for.

The other thing is, of course, that Putin hates Hillary Clinton. This is very personal for him. He has accused Hillary Clinton personally of having inspired and funded the protests in Russia in 2011, 2012. So imagining that Putin wants to do anything possible to prevent the election of Hillary Clinton, that is easy to imagine. [Continue reading…]

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