Hey, is it Monday? Well, it is here, or was when I started writing. That must mean it’s time for another crazy article by Carnegie Moscow Centre’s resident sexagenarian dissident, crazy old bat and Petro-Poroshenko-for President-of Russia oligarch admirer Lilia Shevtsova! And sure enough, with the implacable certainty of death and taxes, here she is in another self-lampooning caricature of phone-it-in journalism, telling us in the most lurid cold-war terminology that Putin is headed for a defeat so cataclysmic, so decisive that he will be pounded like a nail right through the earth to come out, befuddled and disoriented, in his antipodean obverse in the Pacific Ocean just south of Australia. Don’t forget your lifejacket, Mr. President!
Her narrative is laced with apocalyptic idioms that are the stuff of State Department wet dreams – “Mr Putin has unleashed the process he cannot stop and made himself hostage to suicidal statecraft. “ Oooh, here’s a good one: “He can rule only by subjugating the nation in a way that only war can justify.” And a perennial Cold-War favourite, “But the propaganda that plays endlessly on Russian television channels will not mesmerise [the public] for long.”
Lilia Shevtsova has a rock-solid claim on the Cold War; she lived through it. Although it is apparent now that it never ended, was merely suspended while the west watched with bated breath to see if Boris Yeltsin could accomplish his assigned mission of turning Russia over to new custodians for dismantling, it is acknowledged by U.S. historians to have begun in 1945 and ended in 1991. Lilia Shevtsova would have missed only the first 4 years of it, and was born a Cold-War baby in Lviv (what a surprise, he said in the sarcastic manner which suggested it was not a surprise at all) in 1949. In the 2008 poll of Top Public Intellectuals, she ranked 36, for reasons that are a mystery to me, since her delivery in typical articles like the one that is the subject of this post sound like they were cribbed directly from J. Edgar Hoover’s files.
She has occupied a number of prestigious posts, including Director of the Center for Political Studies and Deputy Director of the Institute of International Economic and Political Studies, both in Moscow. Rounding out her dissident chops, in addition to her aforementioned perch at the Carnegie Moscow Center she is a fellow of Chatham House, and has been a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Cornell University, and Georgetown University as well as a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Although she is of course fluent in Russian – she lives there – in her heart she is about as Russian as a funnel cake. Continue reading