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A photograph of former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, is being disseminated in social networks with the following caption in Russian: “Siberia is way too big and it should not belong to one single state. The issue of Siberia’s riches will be raised in the near future. The Russian Federation, which was 2% of the world population, controls 15% of the Earth’s landmass and 30% of the planet’s resources. This situation cannot continue indefinitely.” In fact, this quote was invented and has been ascribed to the US public officials for years.

It has been many years since this quote has been disseminated by the Russian media, bloggers and Russian politicians, usually ascribing it to the former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. For instance, the then Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitry Rogozin, referred to this quote as being Madeleine Albright’s words whilst similar claims were voiced in 2013 by the Children’s Rights Commissioner, Pavel Astakhov, and in 2015 by Secretary of National Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev.

Of important note is that this issue was raised multiple times in speeches of the Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2007, Putin was asked a question about Madeleine Albright’s quote during his annual address and he replied that “I am not familiar with Madame Albright’s statement but I know that some politicians do harbour such ideas in their minds.” Later, during a December 2014 annual press conference, Putin stated that Moscow had often heard statements from the officials that it is “unfair that the entire Siberia and all of its resources belong to Russia.” In 2014, the New York Times stated that there was no evidence that Ms Albright had ever made such statement. In 2015, the former US Secretary of State publicly denied her links with the aforementioned quote and said that she never made such a statement. According to Secretary Albright, she knew that “there are people in Russia who think they can read her mind,” although she had never thought nor made any statement about such an issue.

Madeleine Albright was perhaps referring to Major-General Boris Ratnikov of Russia’s Federal Security Service who said in an interview “that Russian special services managed to establish connections with Ms Albright’s sub-consciousness.” As stated by Mr Ratnikov: “A few weeks before the US launched airstrikes against Yugoslavia, we held a session connecting with Secretary of State Albright’s sub-consciousness. First and foremost, we identified a pathological hatred of Slavs in Ms Albright’s mind. She was also irritated by the fact that Russia owns world’s largest mineral resources. According to her, in the future, Russian reserves should not be managed by a single state alone but by the entire mankind, obviously under US supervision.”

These references about the issue of Siberia are often used as “evidence” of the US plan to weaken Russia and capture its resources. The quote about Siberia is most often ascribed to Madeleine Albright, although Condoleezza Rice, or the United States in a more generalised manner, are also referred to as the authors. In January 2016, Nikolai Patrushev stated that Washington “believes that Russia undeservedly owns its mineral resources.”

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