AUSTIN, Texas — As the popularity of the Green Party continues to rise during this divisive election, attacks and smear campaigns against the Greens, and their presidential nominee, Jill Stein, are ramping up.
The latest rumor suggests Stein is under the control of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and it’s based on a deliberately misleading tweet about a video she recorded during a trip to Russia over the winter.
On Saturday, economist Andrew Weiss tweeted a link to a video of Stein posted on Dec. 20. The video, “Anti-War Message in Moscow: Jill Stein, 2016 US-Presidential Candidate (Green Party),” was assembled from various sources — notably, a video posted on Stein’s Facebook page — by German anti-war site AntiKrieg.
— Andrew S. Weiss (@andrewsweiss) August 6, 2016
Weiss describes the video as “creepy,” and claims that it features Stein “gushing over Russian support for human rights.”
Journalist Glenn Greenwald refuted Weiss’ statement a day later in a tweet of his own, calling Weiss’ claims about the Stein video “100% false.”
Was only a matter of time before Jill Stein was smeared as a disloyal Kremlin-sympathizer (tweet is 100% false) https://t.co/mieEn1GwRP
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) August 7, 2016
In the video, Stein briefly thanks the donors and supporters who helped make her travel possible, then praises the other attendees of the RT Anniversary Conference, the event which prompted her visit to Russia. Those attendees included foreign dignitaries like British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Cyril Svoboda, former deputy prime minister, minister of foreign affairs, and interior minister of the Czech Republic, as well as Patricia Villegas, president of pan-Latin American news network teleSUR, and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.
As the title of the video suggests, the video’s message is primarily anti-war and a criticism of heightened tensions between Russia and the West, which many have compared to a new Cold War. Describing discussions at the conference, Stein says:
“It’s been so inspiring to see, rising up at this very critical and perilous moment that we’re in — a moment of grave militarism, potential nuclear confrontation, climate meltdown, and expanding war. It’s been so wonderful to see people come together from across all borders and from the across the political spectrum, really, come together around basic human values, around human rights, around the need for international law, including the need to reign in U.S. exceptionalism and totally reform and revise our foreign policy so that it is based on international law, human rights, and diplomacy.”
Following her brief comments, the remainder of the video by AntiKrieg consists of photos and press clippings from Stein’s appearance at the conference, emphasizing her anti-war message. At no point does she praise the human rights records of Russia or Putin.
Assange: Attacks on Stein are ‘going to go through the roof’
During an appearance at the Green Party National Convention on Saturday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange warned Stein to anticipate more attacks of this nature as her political power rises. He appeared by video conference from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has lived on asylum for the past four years, fearing extradition to the United States.
Watch WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange: Attacks Against Jill Stein Are “Going to Go Through the Roof”:
“[L]et me tell you that I’ve just seen that the attacks have started to ramp up on Jill Stein. They are going to go through the roof. I’ve had attacks from what is effectively the Clinton threat machine. They’re now post-convention. You guys are going to be post-convention. Those attacks are going to be ferocious.”
Assange, too, has been forced to defend himself against accusations that he has ties to Russia in the wake of WikiLeaks’ publication of 20,000 leaked internal Democratic National Committee emails that has forced the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the party’s chair, and other key DNC staff. The Clinton campaign suggested the emails were leaked by Russian hackers to boost Donald Trump’s prospects in the election, but those claims are based on suspect evidence provided by “experts” with known ties to the NSA.
“Ultimately, there’s no conclusive proof that the hackers in either instance [including another hacking incident in June] were Russian or even tied to the Russian government,” wrote Mnar Muhawesh, MintPress’ founder and editor-in-chief, on July 25. “The entire case is built upon circumstantial evidence.
And it’s not a far-fetched notion to suggest that Weiss, the major source of the smear campaign targeting Stein as pro-Putin, could have a pro-Clinton agenda or even a vested interest in her anti-Russian platform. Weiss is a senior advisor to the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global business strategy firm chaired by Madeleine Albright, who served as secretary of state under President Bill Clinton. Weiss has also worked with the Clinton Global Initiative to provide clean water in Haiti.
Stein responds to the smear campaign with a call for peace
Speaking to Kwame Rose, a reporter for The Real News Network, Stein responded directly to the smear campaign after she received her party’s nomination on Saturday.
Stein reiterated that her main message during her visit to Russia was to speak out against war:
“My contribution to that panel was to tell Putin and everybody else that it was time for a peace initiative in the Middle East and we needed to stop the war in Syria. We needed to stop the bombing, we need a weapons embargo, and to freeze the funding of those countries that continued to fund terrorism.”
She said Putin seemed to respond favorably to her message of peace, adding:
“And interestingly, Putin watched our conference and our panel, and his remarks that night at that dinner was that he had heard the foreign politicians and he was shocked to find that he agreed with us on the need to create a peaceful path forward on Syria.”
During the interview, Stein reiterated her core anti-war message:
“The problem is that U.S. foreign policy is too often representing the war properties and the weapons industry. They’re the only ones who are making out like bandits in this policy in the Middle East. We need a peace offensive. We need to stop having a foreign policy that is essentially a public relations campaign for the weapons industry. These problems are not so difficult to solve if we sit down as human beings.”
She also called on Hillary Clinton and the U.S. government to stop provoking Russia through a military buildup in Eastern Europe.
“Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton has been very busy just provoking Russia and not moving forward to a dialogue and solutions that serve us all,” she lamented.
Watch “Jill Stein Defends Her Decision to Meet with Putin” from The Real News Network: