Putin: Crazy, or Just an Idiot?
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said he suspects that U.S. agents provoked last month's brief war in Georgia.
The Kremlin's Exhibit A? Russian soldiers say they found a passport belonging to Michael Lee White, a U.S. Army veteran from Texas, in an outpost used by Georgian special forces last month to attack pro-Russian separatists. On Thursday in Moscow, military spokesman Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn brandished a blowup of the passport at a news conference and declared that Mr. White's presence on the battlefield "together with Georgian commandos is a fact."
Tuesday, he answered the door at his spartan faculty apartment at the Guangdong University of Business Studies wearing flip-flops. He says he's never been to Georgia.
The passport the Russians showed off last week does appear to have been Mr. White's. He says it looks to be the one he accidentally left in the seat pocket of a Moscow-New York flight in October 2005. "It seems probable that some Russian person on the flight picked it up," says Mr. White.
The U.S. State Department confirms Mr. White reported the passport missing in 2005 and that it was canceled. Mr. White was issued a new U.S. passport that year, and another in 2008, both of which he showed a reporter.
Mr. White in Texas
Mr. White says that, back in early August, when fighting in the Georgian province of South Ossetia intensified and Russian troops moved into Georgia in force, he was in Austin, Texas, helping to care for his 85-year-old father, who suffered a stroke in the spring. Mr. White's brother, reached by phone in Austin, confirms that account.