No Tickee – No Takee: Miriam Elder’s Post-Dry-Cleaning Breakdown

Uncle Volodya says, “The public has an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except that which is worth knowing. Journalism – conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits – supplies their demands.”

I blame Twitter.

And Facebook. Social networking sites have invested us with the belief that our every thought, emotion, and action; the self-centred minutiae of our little lives – at the same time different from everyone else and monotonously the same – must be shared with the world. Moreover, that everything we do is the subject of consuming interest by our peers. Consequently we are inundated with a tidal wave of nonsensical pablum on a daily basis that would try the patience of a saint, were some of us not unaccountably fascinated with it. Like any other form of entertainment scripted to satisfy preconceived notions, it would die quickly without an audience.

Witness to the existence of such an audience, a few days ago I was forwarded yet another Miriam Elder piece (special thanks to Jon Hellevig) from The Guardian, which appears to be circling the bowl as a newspaper. It really speaks to the desperate state of British journalism that this kind of reporting continues to get column inches, or centimeters, or whatever. On the bright side, thousands of parrots can look forward to wall-to-wall carpeting for their cages, while one of the most celebrated fields of honest British endeavor – Britain’s fish and chip shops – speaks glowingly of The Guardian‘s insulating properties and the vinegar-resistant quality of its ink.

What, then, are we to make of this narcissistic catharsis? Obviously from the fact that it is published in a newspaper, it is intended to be read and to excite discussion, incredible as that may sound. But what sort of discussion could one expect to inspire with a high-school-confidential about being driven to tears by the stress associated with dropping off and picking up one’s dry cleaning in Moscow? And what sort of emotional roller-coaster must a reporter be on if such an experience is too much for their fragile reserves? This can only result from the highwire tension and double-nought danger of edgy reporting in Putin’s playground of crooks, thieves and murderers!

All right, enough unseemly snickering. Let’s take a look at it, and see if we may have missed something, if not momentous and insightful, at least sensible on the first run-through. Let’s see….opens with traumatized reporter weeping in the bedroom of her host, at a dinner party. Segue jerkily to the cosmopolitan facade of Moscow, beneath which lurk the same old pretensions to grandeur of the coarse and ignorant peasantry. For some reason, Ms. Elder keeps encountering goons who bark rudely at her when she enters their place of business, like a never-ceasing carousel of crudity: “Girl!! What do you want??” Maybe things have gone terribly downhill since I was last in Russia, but I never saw anything like that. Well, I’m not a girl, but you know what I mean.

It seems particularly odd in light of statistical information supplied by The Economist – one of the least likely places to find positive coverage of anything in Russia. There’s a catch, of course: The Economist is using the data to argue that Russians are far too well-off and happy now to put up with the incompetent fool of a leader who made them that way, and are going to rise up and throw him out any day now. Motivation notwithstanding, The Economist provides us an interesting snapshot of middle class progress under Putin. The middle class has grown as a percentage of the population by 10%, and to nearly 40% of the workforce. Spending on luxury goods (in dollars per person) has grown from less than 5% to more than 42%, and per-capita GDP has more than doubled.

And yet this resurgent middle class, with its newly-discovered purchasing-power clout, is going to put up with being snapped at like shoplifters when they enter a store to do business? Why would they be different in Russia than they are anywhere else in the world? Tourist travel abroad more than doubled between 2000 and 2009, and internet penetration increased by a factor of more than 40 – people know they don’t have to put up with rudeness.

Cut to the dry cleaner’s, where Ms. Elder’s garments are meticulously examined to verify their condition before being cleaned; that all buttons are present, the garments do not show visible snags or holes and are not so stained prior to cleaning that cleaning is unlikely to be successful. That any cleaner would go to such trouble in this day and age, never mind accept liability by presenting a signed, stamped receipt recording the condition of your clothes – which you have an opportunity to dispute before you even hand them over – before the cleaner does anything to them is little short of a miracle considering the shenanigans that go on elsewhere, pages and pages of anguish over ruined clothes for which the cleaner accepts no responsibility whatsoever.  Among the Ten Things Your Dry Cleaner Will Not Tell You in the USA, according to the Wall Street Journal, is the sad fact that if a dry cleaner loses one or more of your articles and will not acknowledge it, you will have to take the matter to court; no regulatory body or professional oversight applies to dry cleaners. Except for the Fair Claims Guide, which says the best you are ever likely to get is 40% of the value. And you have to prove the damage was the cleaner’s fault, which customers were successful in doing only 11% of the time. The organization that publishes the Fair Claims Guide is funded by….dry cleaners. Women often get charged more for the same type of garments, sometimes double. The cleaner sometimes jacks up the price after you have dropped off your clothes, based on an assessment by the cleaner of what the clothes are used for.

Ms. Elder would not likely have been brought to the edge of hysterical weeping had she not lost her receipt, and the concurrent events of the week are irrelevant: Ms. Elder did not run for president. She is not a riot policeman, or a military truck driver. While the protests doubtless excited her, she has no business involving herself in protests herself as she is not a citizen, and presumably she did not. None of these are excuses for losing her dry-cleaning receipt, and I would have thought she’d have taken better care of it considering the anguish she claims it caused her to obtain it. If the cleaner had carelessly given her clothes away to someone else rather than carefully establishing her identity, Ms. Elder would have lost her mind and it would have been grounds for another tirade which would have “Soviet something-or-other” at its bottom.

But somewhere around this point in the piece, you begin to realize this is not really about dry cleaning at all, but a springboard for another rant against the “Soviet Bureaucracy”. If Ms. Elder’s time is really so valuable – although her articles look like she wrote them in about 30 minutes – foreign dry-cleaners are plentiful in Moscow, many of them pickup and delivery service. California Cleaners is at Tverskaya 9/17; that doesn’t sound very Russian.  There are a couple of German dry cleaners, also offering door-to-door service, at Chayanova 16 and Bolshaya Pereyaslavskaya 11: nothing like the Germans for brisk efficiency, what? Do I have to think of everything?

I agree it is a pity that Russia has not yet invented ATM’s that recognize you as you approach, greet you by name, give you the amount you were thinking of and buff your shoes to a glossy sheen, all without you having to do anything. But I’m afraid that “pushing a half-dozen buttons” is pretty much de rigueur anywhere you go. Don’t think so? Walk through the steps in this handy “How to Use an ATM” guide. How many times do you have to select “next” between “Start” and “Don’t forget to take your cash”? Six. Where I went to school, that’s half a dozen.

No good concerts in Moscow? Horseshit. Unless your taste runs to obscure Outback massed didgeridoo ensembles, there’s something for everyone in Moscow. Was Ms. Elder asleep throughout 2011, when The Wall featuring Roger Waters, Slayer, Megadeth, Enrique Iglesias, Shakira, The Scorpions, Sting, System of a Down, Slipknot, Sum 41, Dream Theatre, Good Charlotte, Sade, Elton John, Alice Cooper, Michael Bolton and Maroon Five all played Moscow? Try not to sleep through this year, when Keane, Madonna, Judas Priest, Korn, The Scorpions, Chris Rea, Rammstein, Christian McBride, Anthrax, Guns n’ Roses, Black Sabbath, Marilyn Manson and Motley Crue all play Moscow.

Ms. Elder’s propensity for exaggeration often spins out of control. In her Guardian article, she reported she paid the equivalent of $49.37 USD, at today’s exchange rate, for cleaning of 6 items. First, that is not “insanely expensive”, even if it was the 5 items mentioned in the later interview rather than 6. However, there’s more. In the even loopier transcript of the interview, Ms. Elder claims to have handed over “half her salary”. Either swanking about as the Guardian‘s Moscow Correspondent pays a proportionally niggardly $100.00 a week (maybe even a month!!!), or there were a fairly significant number of trouble-free dry cleaning experiences we did not hear about.

By now just pulling stuff out of the air, perhaps believing she is being funny, Ms. Elder claims dry cleaners in the USA take only 5 minutes, and that it is a lot cheaper for her to fly to the USA with her dry cleaning.

Perhaps sensing she may have gone too far with the Russia-bashing in the Guardian article, Ms. Elder rattles off a few things she really likes about living in Moscow. Only one could fairly be interpreted as praise; the rest are merely riffing on the bountiful opportunities to giggle at the bizarre fashion sense exhibited by some Russians in this “sea of absurdity”, a hitting-yourself-in-the-head-with-a-hammer-because-it-feels-so-good-when-you-stop jab at the weather (in which spring is so cherished because the winter was so dreadful) and adopting the mantle of a frustrated punker with yet one more plug for ski-mask-wearing “musical group” Pussy Riot.

Speaking of a sea of absurdity, here’s fashionista J. Crew’s offering for the Spring Collection in the New York Fashion Week 2012 show. I don’t think you could get too many Russian girls to go out in public dressed like this.

And The Guardian pays her to write a regular column. The mind reels. I suppose we can be thankful the UK did not name her Ambassador to Russia.

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583 Responses to No Tickee – No Takee: Miriam Elder’s Post-Dry-Cleaning Breakdown

  1. Moscow Exile says:

    Nemtsov is featured in the inset video at the foot of the above linked article.

    One of the very many things that intrigues about many of these fighters for “freedom and democracy” is how they manage to get so much time off work?

    Do they work, in fact?

    Or are they all “artists” or “creativists” whose works of creative art they consider to be their “work”?

  2. Moscow Exile says:

    Another interesting line that Nemtsov has started spouting about and is mentioned in the above linked KP article is the demand that an area be created in Moscow where people can assemble and protest, such as exists in Hyde Parke, London.

    I’ve heard this red-herring brought up before. Nemtsov and the “creativists” and “oppositionists” seeem to think that you can just camp out in Hyde Park and “do your thing” – anytime, anywhere. They have clearly never been to Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park, a fenced off asphalted area of the park near Marble Arch that is about the size of a hockey rink. People only assemble at Speakers’ Corner on Sundays and there is always a police presence there. Speakers’ Corner bears no resemblance to the public thoroughfare that is Chistye Prudy Boulevard.

    Speakers at Speakers’ Corner may speak on any subject on condition that the police present consider the content of a speech lawful. This right is not restricted to Speakers’ Corner only. Furthermore, and contrary to popular belief, speakers at Speakers’ Corner have no immunity from the law and some topics are proscribed, namely any speech that is considered to be insulting or liable to incite violence and/or racial hatred. Generally speaking, the police tend to be tolerant at Speakers’ Corner, but they do take action if they receive complaints off the public or if they hear profanity.

    • kirill says:

      Thanks for the information. This is consistent with a law governed society and not anarchy. The liberasts want anarchy when it suits them. But they will be the first ones sending millions to gulags to impose their social engineering vision on Russia. Opposition to the oppositionists will not be tolerated.

    • PvMikhail says:

      Hey people, check out the newest Family Guy episode. It is about Tea Party, but you will find the relevance to this topic.

      http://www.cucirca.com/2012/05/14/family-guy-season-10-episode-21-tea-peter/

      Hating government is meaningless.

      • yalensis says:

        Funny stuff. I like that the dog is the most reasonable member of the family!

        • PvMikhail says:

          He is a left wing intellectual of the liberal kind… Democrat voter. He has his own faults and defects, but on the surface yes, he is the most reasonable and least suggestible… However in one of the episodes, he is saved by Rush Limbaugh and becomes a hardcore Republican. After this he realizes, that he is not invincible to influence.

  3. apc27 says:

    Many of us here remember how touchy Fred Weir got when Mark identified him for what he is — a Russophobe. Well here is the latest example of how “fair” and Russia-loving he is:
    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2012/0514/Russians-perplexed-by-Putin-s-snub-of-G8.-Is-it-because-of-protests-Obama

    Apparently RUSSIANS are wondering why Putin chose not to leave his country just days after his inauguration. No poll is provided, no statistic quoted to identify these “Russians”. There is nothing there except Fred’s own confused musings and a few quotes at the very end of the story from a couple of “experts” whose objectivity is lets say… questionable.

    And after that he would still argue that he is not a biased Russophobe… I do not know what to call this behavior. Delusional?

    • R.C. says:

      You beat me to it apc27.

      I was also in the process of linking this comcial Fred Weir piece in which he claims that the protests and camp probably prevented Putin from traveling to the G8. I swear, these western journalists give these “protesters” FAR too much credit. I mean, REALLY?

      Do these people actually practice journalism and do any research? How is it that they can’t accept that Putin is widely supported and that the protesters are marginalized? Why do all of these anti-Putin screeds fail to acknowledge this basic fact?

      The US mainstream media is a lost cause.

      • I have discussed on Eugene Ivanov’s website the possibility that Putin decided to stay away from the G8 summit because he is planning a much tougher crackdown on the protesters than anything we have seen up to now. Frankly I think this is extremely unlikely. We have seen nothing to suggest such a crackdown is pending. I discussed what I think are the true reasons for Putin’s decision in an earlier comment on this post.

        As for the camp at Chistye Prudy, so far from it being a problem for Putin it is a political gift. With the rain closing in it seems that the number of people present has dwindled to no more than a few dozen at night. Meanwhile as was to be anticipated the local people are becoming increasingly annoyed at the presence of the camp in their neighbourhood. As I have said before my recollection of Chistye Prudy is that it is a partly residential neighbourhood so it is not surprising that the people who live there are less than happy at having a protest camp on their doorstep. As inevitably happens the longer such a camp remains in existence the more squalid it becomes and already there have been complaints leading to an application to a judge who has given an order for the protesters to leave. If events follow the normal pattern of such protests the protesters will ignore the order causing further anger and complaint from the local people who at some point will no doubt start to demonstrate against the camp. All this on top of the fact that Navalny has apparently managed to offend the Kazakh community by calling on people to join the camp near the statue of the “unknown” Kazakh poet. All in all with the failure of the camp to become a Maidan it is rapidly turning into a damp squib.

        We are giving too much attention to these protests. As Giuseppe correctly says they are the work of marginal figures of no political weight or significance. The serious politicians amongst the opposition, Zyuganov, Prokhorov, Mironov, Yavlinsky and Mitrokhin, have severed their links from them. A few celebrities like Akunin and Ksenia Sobchak are still involved and I have to say (and I will be alone on this blog when I say it) that Ksenia Sobchak’s persistence in supporting the protests in the face of quite a lot of hostility and abuse has made me respect her as a person rather more than I once did, but it is surely only a matter of time before they cut their links from the protests as well.

        Lastly, I note that when person we have previously discussed at length seems conspicuously absent from the latest round of protests. I have heard nothing of Chirikova at all.

        • PvMikhail says:

          hahaha Sobchak… I “respect” only her long legs and nice face. With the connections of her father it is easy to do whatever you want. I bet she will forget this fiasco and once again will be a TV celebrity. Just a matter of time. Too much half-naked pictures of her on the net to be a respected politician.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            The hypocrisy of Sobchak is unbelievable. Her “elite” status in Russian “high society” is firmly based on the wealth that her father amassed in the Yeltsin years and not on any natural talent that some may think she possesses.

    • yalensis says:

      Yes, is ludicrous to think that Putin is scared to leave Russia because this tiny handful of “protesters” will overthrow him while he is gone. Putin is showing Obama some much-deserved disdain. Makes more sense to send Medvedev anyhow – he and Obama got along okay, so maybe there is tiny chance M could get some kind of concession out of O. Not likely, though. Meanwhile, why should Putin waste his valuable time on Obama when there is more than 50% chance the latter will be leaving office in six months anyhow?

      • Misha says:

        I once again recall how earlier on in his presidential role, Obama lauded Medvedev, while simultaneously chastising Putin as behind the times.

        On top of that, Obama’s reply to Putin getting re-elected was lacking on the customary congrats side.

        Putin not showing up unofficially serves to acknowledge:

        – The Russian president’s ongoing apprehension with the overall direction of US foreign policy

        – Medvedev’s presence serves as sending someone who Obama had expressed a greater preference for.

        • marknesop says:

          Not to mention Biden jetting around trying to persuade Putin that America would be very sad if he ran for President, whereas it would be wonderful if he just quietly retired and let the social engineering from afar go on without interruption.

      • marknesop says:

        I can’t believe Fred betrayed us like that, after we trusted him and gave him the benefit of the doubt. Well, really what he seemed to object mostly to was being called stupid, and I think we satisfactorily established he is not, so I guess it wasn’t all just wasted time. But so much for the notion that he just reports what people are telling him. That’s not a journalist’s job, and anyone in that profession is supposded in the interests of objectivity to critically examine the information he is receiving to see if he’s just being used as a mouthpiece for one side or the other. Now, if the Moscow dilettantes really do take over Russia while Putin is away in Belarus, Fred will have the story of the century. Failing that, he is likely to keep putting out the kind of material that does not require a journalist so much as a typist.

        As far as Mitt Romney ever being president, would you like to bet? Whoever loses has to wash the winner’s car once a week for a year. Put your scrubbie where your mouth is.

  4. Dear Moscow Exile,

    On the subject of the “work” our heroes do, Navalny is supposed to be a lawyer. His legal practice seems to amount to little more than muckraking through his blog. Udaltsov is what used to be called “a professional revolutionary”. His poor wife seems to have a hard time of it. I remember reading a few months ago back before the protests began an article in the Guardian about her, which suggested that the strain of being married to Udaltsov had brought her to the bring of collapse. Nemtsov is doubtless a millionaire from the time he served in Yeltsin’s cabinet. All of them of course, even Udaltsov, will be getting lots of money from what we may euphemistically call their foreign supporters. As you remember Kievite’s estimate was that the cost of sustaining the protest movement since its inception in December was around $4-500 million and I agree with him. By now the figure will be higher.

    … and this our heroes would say is no more than just. Unheroic activity like work is not for the likes of superior beings like them but for mere mortals like us.

    • Here is an article in the Guardian written by what looks like an opposition supporter which also complains about the futility of the protest camp at Chistye Prudy and which indeed comes close to admitting the futility of the whole protest movement. The article also correctly distinguishes the Chistye Prudy camp from the Occupy camps in the US, which it purports to be connected to.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/15/russia-occupy-movement-not-up-to-job

      Needless to say I totally disagree with the analysis of the situation in Russia givenby the writer of the article. He claims to be puzzled about how in a Russia he chooses to believe is a dictatorship people are able to protest in the way they have been doing in the last few months. The possibility that such protests are possible because Russia is not the dictatorship he claims or imagines is of course one he would never acknowledge. Notice also how he says that the government has refused to talk with the opposition when Medvedev has had several meetings with opposition leaders and that the government has refused to concede any of the opposition’s demands even for the reinstatement of gubernational elections when it has of course reinstated them.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        One of the commentators to that Guardian article, a person who, when I used to read that rag, I regularly considered as having a sound grasp of the situation in Russia, has come up with the argument that Putin’s presidential inaugration was held behind sealed doors, behind a cordon sanitaire as it were, whilst outside the Krenlin walls Moscow seethed in revolt as the police went around arresting any one wearing a white ribbon. He goes on to say that while Putin has great support in the provinces, in the capital he is under siege.

        This commentator, an Italian, is in Moscow at the moment and, it seems, frequents the Chistye Prudy “camp”.

        His opinion, of course, is the standard line that the “kreativniki” regularly spout and that he no doubt hears spoken amongst the boulevard dwellers.

        I pass the camp almost every day and I just see there a shower of marginalists, people that like to be seen at any “event” because it is the done thing to do. They are a real motley crew of pampered bourgeoise youth, bums, crazy old folk, “artists”, alcoholics, crazies, fantasists etc. who are all “against” something.

        As regards the bourgeoisie in Moscow – the working bourgeoisie – I am with them every day at work. They just shake their heads in collective dismay at the activities of the
        “oppositionists”, and consider them as idlers, utopists – a complete waste of time who will join any crowd in “protest”.

        • Misha says:

          In NY, it’s not uncommon to get that feedback regarding the OWS protestors.

          That said, I consider the OWS more legit in the sense that they don’t rely on influential outside foreign propping to the degree of Pussy Riot, kasparov, Nemtsov, Navalny…

  5. kievite says:

    An interesting photo-report about Abay maydan:
    http://week-to-week.livejournal.com/165626.html

    • PvMikhail says:

      bunch of odd people

      The starting picture however moves my imagination🙂🙂🙂

      • Dear Kievite,

        A brilliant set of photographs. Thank you Kievite.

        The whole scene bears a passing resemblance to something out of California circa 1969. Some of the guys look stoned. Does anyone seriously think these people are capable of providing Russia with a government?

        I would just mention a few points:

        1. None of the serious politicians I have discussed (Zyuganov, Prokhorov, Mironov, Yavlinsky, Mitrokhin or even Kudrin) has visited the camp. I am not sure whether Chirikova has either. Could it be that Chirikova has broken with the protests and their leaders?

        2. I gather that the police have now told the protesters they must comply with the Court Order and leave Chistye Prudy by midday tomorrow. Most have apparently agreed to do so when the police arrive but Nemtsov is already talking of a plan to set up a new camp somewhere else. I gather the Moscow City Government has said it is determined to prevent this happening.

        4. Though most of the protesters have apparently indicated that they will comply with the Court Order it is not impossible that a few hotheads will try to resist it. I am afraid there is a real possibility of violence and of some ugly scenes tomorrow.

        5. The tactic seems now tobe to try to keep the protests going on a semi permanent basis in the hope or anticipation that something will turn up to make them suddenly grow again. That something could be another violent outbreak or possibly another twist in the economic crisis. The people who purport to lead these protests (Udaltsov, Navalny etc) are of no importance. Their foreign backers are. I expect that on their instructions the protests will from now start to take an increasingly violent turn.

        PS: Kievite, do you think there is any danger of some sort of terrorist activity growing out of these protests? There is a history of this sort of thing such as for example the so called “strategy of tension” that was followed in Italy in the 1970s. Low grade terrorist attacks (eg. firebombings of police stations) could be excused on the grounds that they were “provoked” by the authorities who have supposedly refused to listen to the protesters. The incident of the overturning of the police car by Voina with the policeman inside shows that there is already a mood in existence amongst some of the people involved with the protesters that is ready to tolerate violent attacks on the police. Provided any campaign were kept to a low level it could be used to create a climate of tension whilst providing more opportunities to attack the government for repressive policies when it takes the unavoidable steps needed to clamp down on such terrorist outbreak. Also it might be possible to fabricate a media circus around any trial of those involved in the way that has been done with Khodorkovksy and Pussy Riot in Russia and with Tymoshenko in the Ukraine. Or am I being altogether too alarmist?

        • marknesop says:

          The police presence is doing everything reasonable to ensure there is not a terrorist incident, by confiscating all liquids as airlines do and putting people through metal-detectors. But those determined to start a riot will likely be able to do so. From Gazeta.ru, a rare admission that masked demonstrators from within the crowd touched off the most recent violence, although there was a half-hearted attempt to spin the possibility that they were government “provocateurs” seeking to offer the police an excuse to crack some heads.

          There were some other points of interest as well, such as the statement that the “strollers” do not wear any insignia or symbols, whereas more provocative sources such as The Guardian suggest in Moscow “you can get your head cracked open just for wearing a white ribbon”. These “strolls”, we’re told (by Ksenia Sobchak, no less), “will continue until the authorities accept people’s right to walk freely in their city.” For one thing, people already have the freedom to walk anywhere they like in “their city”. They just can’t walk in massed groups of hundreds or thousands without a permit, and impede traffic. I wonder if Ksenia Sobchak was in a lineup at the bank, and a couple of hundred people decided inserting themselves into the line ahead of her would be an ideal way to express their freedom, if she would applaud their democratic inclinations. For another, the suggestion that if “the authorities” simply threw up their hands and allowed the “strollers” to do as they pleased, the protests would stop because they got what they wanted, is ridiculous and everyone knows it.

          If the “protest camp” were raided by, say, skinheads, and some of the protesters were beaten and robbed, what would be the refrain? That’s right – where were the police. Their rights must be guarded, except when they want to break the law, and then the police should get out of the way and let them “be free”. Our old friend Gleb Pavlovsky pops up to say that “The new form of protest is very unpleasant for the government: it forces the authorities to break the law and they don’t understand how to react to such a protest”. Huh? The authorities are forced to break the law? How?

          What’s with the suggestion that “many governors were reappointed instead of elected”; anybody know? Examples?

          By the way, peaceful Canada is in the process of passing a law that will make it illegal to wear a mask or disguise during a protest or demonstration. It correctly identifies a concern that those who hide their identities at such events do so to prevent later identification because they intend to start something. And peaceful Egypt, home to the legendary Tahrir Square that liberatsi protesters love to invoke as an image of the success of protest and the march of democracy (“Egyptian air is good for the lungs”, sings one of those fashionable freedom-punk bands, might even have been Pussy Riot) has ordered the arrest and detention of some 300 protesters.

        • Giuseppe Flavio says:

          @Alexander
          the “strategy of tension” was a different thing. In the ’70 we had two kinds of terrorism: a left wing terrorism that started with low level attacks that became more lethal with time, whose utopian aim was to develop into a communist revolution. At the time there was a wide section of society leaning on the extreme left (i.e. outside the Italian Communist Party) and memories of the civil war of ’43-45 were still fresh.
          And a right wing terrorism that made indiscriminate attacks (the most infamous one being the bombing of Bologna’s train station in August 1980) and had the support of some state’s apparatus, mainly parts of the secret service. The aim was to get more severe laws on public order, thus curtailing the danger of a leftist revolution. This is what is called “strategy of tension” in Italy.
          IMO the danger of terrorism from the Russian liberals is very low.

      • marknesop says:

        Agree. Very eye-catching.

  6. kievite says:

    do you think there is any danger of some sort of terrorist activity growing out of these protests?

    That is a faction of protest movement led by Ilya Ponomarev (former CI of Yukos, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilya_Ponomarev) who wants exactly this scenario.

    See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTWhpkIIYQc

    • kievite says:

      Correction “CI” -> “CIO”
      Also there is a chance that Illya Ponomariev will be stripped of Duma deputy immunity
      http://cuamckuykot.ru/what-ponomariev-lies-about-4919.html

      Although he is such a tricky and unprincipled politician (he was caught trying to get money from a Japanese official promising to help to “solve” territorial dispute about islands between Japan and Russia) that it is not an easy thing to do. He will definitely try to appeal to the West about the decision.

      See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdhyjfI7qpE

      • Dear Kievite,

        Thanks for this. What you say does not surprise me. I had not heard of Ilya Ponomariev until the start of the protests which just goes to show how little about the Russian political scene I know. From the moment I became aware of him he struck me as an especially dangerous character and one who bears watching. In some ways I think he is more dangerous than Navalny. If you go back over his political career it is an extraordinary story of moving from one party to another in what seems to be a totally opportunistic and at the same time destructive way.

        I do not know whether you or Yalensis have heard of a pre revolutionary Russian politician called Khvostov who briefly and disastrously became Interior Minister by paying a bribe to Rasputin. Khvostov once said of himself that he was a man “without a moral centre”. I think Ilya Ponomariev is like that.

        • kievite says:

          I did not hear anything about Khvoskov, but I think that “without moral center” is just small part of the pathology of this “Yukos” brand of psychopaths. I think the key feature of psychopath is using other people as a mere tools. In this sense they are anti-social to the core. And central in their behavior is viewing other people and Russia as a whole as a legitimate mark. They will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. If corruption helps them they will propagate corruption as Khodorkovsky did, If killings help to achieve their private goals, people will be killed.

          Their modus operandi is to create a totalitarian sect and use it as a universal opener. It is interesting to watch how members of Khodorkovski sect even now consider his to be a real saint.

          A similar situation exists with this sleazy and dangerous guy. He is also a leader of a totalitarian sect that he is trying to use as a lift to power. The way to get this power is to overthrow legitimate government using money supplied from the West. As simple as that.

          • Dear Kievite,

            When I used to work in the Royal Courts of Justice I met many psychopaths. You describe the pathology exactly. Both their self absorption and their drive to control and manipulate those around them.

          • cartman says:

            Neither Yukos or the KPRF do not seem to be on the way up, so this guy does not know how to pick sides. He is probably filthy rich from state money, making him part of the farce.

    • marknesop says:

      Anders Aslund is one of those people who makes you wonder how he got such a reputation as an analyst-cum-diplomat. He’s all smiley when things are going the way he likes and dispenses the mandatory pats on the head for the good natives who are behaving, but as soon as things take a turn for the worse, western-democracy-promotion-wise, he’s like a child who has dropped his ice cream. His tantrum reaction was surely the best response Putin could hope for, as it illustrates in a single stroke the importance of Russia’s attendance and the immaturity of some senior western diplomats. I note that the responses to his red-faced outburst were almost uniformly negative and well-informed, and left mine as well.

      • Misha says:

        Perhaps he has hard memories of a family relation/relations who were defeated at Poltava centuries ago.

        He’s nowhere near a substantive Swede as Henrik Lundqvist.

        http://rangers.nhl.com/club/player.htm?id=8468685

        Let’s go Rangers!

        When he was still at Carnegie, Aslund had a JRL promoted piece, where he comes across as ordering Johnson (who along with some others is part of crony issuing countering a better coverage of the FSU) to prompt further discussion. In that piece, Aslund essentially called for Western supported street protests to overthrow the “Putin regime.”

        As he said that, I said to myself that such a thought might eventually led to Carnegie dumping him which is apparently what happened. He left that org. shortly thereafter. Not that Carnegie has been so balanced over the course of time – although arguably better than before. I’ve good reason to believe why A. Lieven left that org.

        • Misha says:

          At the time of that piece by Aslund, I also sensed that he might be on the outs with Carnegie, with the likelihood of eventually getting picked up by orgs. like Jamestown, Henry Jackson Society and RFE/RL.

        • Misha says:

          Sorty, should read as “crony issue countering….”

          • Misha says:

            Apologize for other snafus as well – not as evident with more formally written commentary.

            An off the top bit on Aslund from several years ago:

            http://exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=7631&IBLOCK_ID=35

            Someone expressed surprise by AA’s recent commentary, noting how of late he was writing pragmatic to suggestively positive commentary about Russia. This person commenting on AA guessed that the Swede was upset at not getting an invite to a panel somewhere. The person saying such touches on an aspect on what motivates some to carry on in the way that they do.

            In recent years, someone (not Aslund or Browder) has taken a noticeably harsher and inaccurate stance towards the situation in Russia. A Russian source familiar with this particular (pardon the non-full disclosure) suggested this was out of disgust at not getting selected for an RT show. If so, this reveals a lack of maturity out there. One can be relatively objective, despite having been passed over.

            In any event, if what’s was said is true, I support RT’s decision in that instance – again if true.. When I’ve agreed with this unnamed person in question, it’s not on account of his coming up with anything especially earth shattering in terms of new insight. Of late, his comments at one venue come across as a form of intellectual affirmative action.

  7. Misha says:

    Recent piece concerning the plane crash:

    http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/blogs/ain-blog-russian-prestige-trial-superjet-investigation

    Without a smoking gun, there’ve been RT and Strategic Culture Foundation commentaries suggesting the possibility that sabotage might be at play on the part of some not seeking the Russian plane in question to be purchased by other countries.

  8. Moscow Exile says:

    OMON shifted the Chistye Prudy “Occupy Abai” campers earler today at 5 a.m.. There were a few arrrests as the campers were escorted to the metro station some 200 metres from the Abai statue. However, some “oppositionists” that took part in the “people’s stroll” the other day have shifted camp to Barrikadnaya metro station, which as it happens, is only a stone’s throw from the US Embassy.

    Perhaps they are expecting hotdog handouts off that nice Mr. MacFaul?

    Occording to “oppositionist” Ilya Yashin, some tried to shift the camp to Tribune Square, but without success – too many cops there.

    Chistye Prudy Boulevard is now closed off as workers try to clear away the mountain of rubbish that has accumulated in the vicinity of the Abai memorial statue.

    All this has happened in accordance to Tuesday’s Moscow Basmannyi Court order that the prefecture of the Central Administrative District and the police take measures in order to put a stop to the action on Chistye Prudy Boulevard and to render the area clean and tidy. The campers were informed on Tuesday (yesterday) that they would have to vacate the occupied area by noon on Wednesday (today, 16th May).

    And thus it came to pass, notwithstanding Yashin’s solemn declaration made earlier that ““We’re not going anywhere because no judge’s decision can prohibit people from gathering on squares, in parks or on boulevards”.

    See: http://www.mk.ru/politics/article/2012/05/16/703952-razgonyay-abay.html

  9. Misha says:

    On the subject of biased coverage and seeing how the Balkans has been brought up at this thread:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/04/opinion/marshal-tito-in-queens.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

    In turn, someone sent me their reply to the above linked piece noting:

    – how one view of several views to a conflict is typically favored by the “paper of record”

    – said article doesn’t mention the murdering ways of Bosnian Muslim Nasir Oric and Alija Izetbegovic’s Muslim nationalism

    – after four years, the chief ICTY prosecutors didn’t successfully convict Slobodan Milosevic.

  10. Moscow Exile says:

    And right on cue, leader of Yabloko, Sergei Mitrokhin, has declared the eviction of the “Occupy Abai” cammers as “illegal”, and that’s despite the fact that on Tuesday the nearby Basmannyi District Court ruled in favour of 18 local residents who filed a lawsuit that called on municipal authorities to take action to disperse the Chistiye Prudy camp.

    According to Novaya Gazeta, the plaintiffs claimed that the campers were “creating unbearable conditions” for locals “behaving like gypsies, singing loudly at night and sleeping in courtyards” .

    But Mitrokhin says the police acted “illegaly”.

    Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he. And the camp wasn’t in his backyard, was it?

    Contractors are busy now laying turf on the 2,000 square metres of lawns damaged by the campers. Sergei Melnikov, the deputy head of the city government environment department has stated that environment officials have estimated the damage caused by campers at 20.4 million rubles ($658,000), or 10,200 rubles ($329) per square metre.

    “Opposition” supportive newspapers have stated that these estimates are vastly inflated.

  11. Moscow Exile says:

    And here’s the opinion of a starry-eyed journalist in today’s Moscow Times concerning the “Occupy Abai” camp:

    “Within just a few hours, news of the event — already dubbed ‘OccupyAbai’ — had spread and was drawing participants. The camp quickly became a ‘democracy preserve’, where every day
    hundreds of people from every political spectrum gathered. Political lectures and seminars have continued, opposition literature is being distributed, and groups of activists are formed to go throughout the city to recruit more supporters. The most remarkable thing is that the police haven’t taken any measures to break up the camp. In fact, the police presence is barely noticeable.

    It’s hard to miss the similarities with events that took part in another part of the world more than a year ago — above all, the Arab Spring in Cairo. The opposition activists camped out by Abai are copying the tactics of the Egyptian protesters, and their Chistiye Prudy camp is like a miniature copy of the tent camp on Tahrir Square.

    It would appear that the authorities have also noticed the similarities with Cairo and thus have not decided to use force. But every day the camp exists, more and more people want to join in. As former State Duma Deputy Darya Mitina wrote on her Ekho Moskvy blog, for this reason almost everyone is discussing when the camp will be closed down — perhaps after the new Russian government is announced on May 15”.

    The above quoted text is part of a column that appeared in MT on 14th May, 2012.

    The “Occupy Abai” was disbanded at 5 a.m. two days after this MT article had appeared.

    “It’s hard to miss the similarities with events that took part in another part of the world more than a year ago — above all, the Arab Spring in Cairo”?

    See: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/moscow-looking-more-like-cairo/458443.html

  12. Moscow Exile says:

    The thoughts of Ksenia Sobchak as quoted in today’s “Nezavisimaya Gazeta”:

    “I don’t understand why people are beaten with clubs because, having no other opportunity to do so, they express their peaceful protest in this manner. I find it extremely frustrating discussing whether people can walk on the streets, is it a peaceful procession or a strike or a people’s stroll. There is no discussion about this, that none of these requirements have been met, that no compromise has been found. And this has led to people finding new, more radical forms of protest”.

    [“Я не понимаю, почему людей избивают дубинками за то, что они выражают свой мирный протест подобным образом, не имея другой возможности это сделать. Меня очень сильно расстраивает, что мы обсуждаем – могут люди ходить по улицам или не могут, называется ли это мирным шествием, или забастовкой, или народными гуляньями. Разговор не об этом, а о том, что никакие прозвучавшие требования выполнены не были, компромисс не найден. А это ведет к тому, что люди находят новые, к сожалению, более радикальные формы протеста.”]

    What *is* she rambling on about?

    See: http://www.ng.ru/politics/2012-05-16/1_abay.html

  13. So this is how it ends. A protest movement that at its peak only a few months ago was drawing crowds of tens of thousands is reduced to a bunch of around fifty misfits dodging the police as it desperately tries to find a home for itself in various Moscow squares. The police are saying that the majority of the 23 people arrested at Chistye Prudy this morning were drunk. Whilst this could be a smear to belittle the protesters I am inclined to believe it though if they were intoxicated at 5:30 in the morning I doubt it was on alcohol. As I said yesterday after seeing Kievite’s photos some of the campers looked to me like they were completely stoned out. As for the (pretty tepid) noises of support from the likes of Zyuganov and Mitrokhin, not only were they entirely predictable but far more importantly they only came after the camp had been cleared when they no longer mattered. I gather Yavlinsky has met around a dozen campers dossing out on park benches in St. Petersburg where, aftergiving a typically academic and pointless lecture about the importance of the protests pursuing political objectives, the extent of the concrete support he provided amounted to no more than a bag of apples (Yabloko = Apple – as if we didn’t know).

    As for any rationale behind these “camps” and “promenades” I can think of none. The authorities have shown since December that they are perfectly willing to allow protests that are applied for in a lawful way so the reasoning behind these “camps” and “promenades” baffles me. Since scarcely anyone seriously disputes that Putin was legitimately elected President the point of continuing protests intended to challenge his election completely escapes me. There was some talk a few weeks ago of the protesters focusing on local politics. I always doubted that they had the tenacity and organisation required for that sort of thing and after the fiascos in Astrakhan and Omsk they seem to have quickly lost interest in it. It seems to me we are gradually reverting to the situation before December, with protests being held purely for their own sake as a sort of species of political street theatre. There is a constituency of around 10-15,000 mainly young people in the capital who can be counted on to provide a support pool for this sort of thing but a serious challenge to the government it is not.

  14. Moscow Exile says:

    Chirikova was good at local politics: that’s how she with her tree-hugging pals came to the forefront of very localised popular protest . However, she has been noticeable by her absence since her meeting with McFaul at the US embassy.

    • Dear Moscow Exile,

      Again thanks for being the man on the spot. Your reports throughout the protests have been consistently the most reliable of any I have read.

      As for the trouble to the unfortunate people who actually live in Chistye Prudy I suppose it is too much to expect our heroes to concern themselves with the little matter of the inconvenience they have been causing to the local residents.

  15. Moscow Exile says:

    Here’s a video showing participants from the Chistye Prudy Boulevard “Occupy Abai” camp being escorted by the cops to Chistye Prudy metro station. Two are arrested for some reason or other near the metro station entrance. The video then shows “oppositionists” coming up the escalator at Barrikadnaya metro station. There is a Stalin skyscraper across the road from this metro station. It’s a residential block and there are some gardens in front of it. The US embassy is quite close to this block. The oppositionists think they’re going to set up camp in these gardens, but their attempts to do so are promptly nipped in the bud by law enforcement officers.

    Sobchak said today to a Nezavisimaya Gazeta journalist: “I don’t understand why people are beaten with clubs because, having no other opportunity to do so, they express their peaceful protest in this manner….”

    So tell me, Ksyusha, where are the batons?

  16. The Financial Times has broken the western silence on Putin’s decision to boycott the G8 summit. Its editorial today barely conceals the alarm there certainly is in western capitals about the decision even if it tries unconvincingly to pretend that a shift away from the west would not be in Russia’s interests.

    Like all Financial Times articles it is behind a pay wall so I am not going to provide a link.

    To my mind the tone of the editorial suggests that far from being the faux pas that some (eg. Eugene Ivanov) think Putin’s decision to stay away has had its intended effect in that it has shown to the US and the west that Russia cannot be taken for granted and will not be pushed around. The editorial lists all the problem areas the western powers need to talk to Putin about, which is a tacit way of admitting that Russia is becoming indispensable. By contrast I do not find any of the reasons the editorial gives for its claim that Russia will lose out by not pursuing a dialogue with the west at all convincing. Like I’ve said before, playing hardball with the west pays.

    PS: There is a sensible comment from someone called AK+ about western policy towards the Baltics in the comments thread under the article. I presume that was Anatoly Karlin.

    • AK says:

      No, I don’t post as AK+; there are quite a few people with those initials, I’d imagine.🙂

    • Misha says:

      Keepin in mind that there’s no official boycott on a matter that will probably be the subject of an RP panel.

      IMO, the move by Putin to not show up might be two pronged as opposed to making a point in one specfic direction.

      Obama is on record for indicating a preference for Medvedev over Putin. the Democratic Party connected MSNBC TV news show host Chris Matthews recently spoke glowingly of Medvedev (regarding Medvedev’s reply to a Romney comment on Russia). I don’t sense Matthews feeling a positive towards Putin. Despite a recent anti-Medvedev FP article by Kramer and Shevtsova, there seems like there remains more of an overall Western establishment liking of Medvedev over Putin.

      The Russian government is offering someone who is more preferable for the market in question. At the same time, Putin not showing can be viewed as a Russian apprehension with the West – particularly US foreign policy.

      Over the course of time, the Weirs, McFauls, Kuchins and Aslunds have expressed mixed views which leaves some wondering about where the American foreign policy establishment at large stands. (Although a Swede, Aslund is well connected within certain American foreign policy ranks.)

      • Misha says:

        Pardon my non-mention of some others including Romney, Rubio, McCain and Aron.

        • Misha says:

          Re: http://english.pravda.ru/society/stories/17-05-2012/121151-madeleine_albright-0/

          Excerpt –

          Russia in recent years has been repeatedly battered by Albright. She criticized George W. Bush for being too soft towards Russia. She condemned nearly everything in Russia: the suppression of armed rebellion in Chechnya, politics in the post-Soviet space, the state of democracy. In 2010, she said that Russia had no business telling the U.S. who it should accept into NATO – Ukraine, Georgia or anyone else.
          Albright is a regular at gatherings of almost all anti-Russian hangouts along with Zbigniew Brzezinski, Mikhail Saakashvili, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and other ardent ill-wishers of Russia. Yet, among them, the former U.S. Secretary of State still looks like a dove. For example, she criticized Sen. John McCain who called to exclude Russia from the G8. Her approach to the Russian Federation can be reduced to the following sentence: “To pressure, severely criticize, but still cooperate.”

      • Misha says:

        As I correctly suspected:

        http://russiaprofile.org/experts_panel/58857.html

        The moderator has a way of getting his views in, with the whole panel not addressing at least one key talking point on the subject mentioned above this thread.

  17. kievite says:

    Interesting debunking of this fantastically incompetent fifth column propagandist Latinina

    • Moscow Exile says:

      So this advocate for Western historical revisionists, this fifth columnist Latynina who, in the light of what she regular churns out in her columns, apparently detests her motherland and the majority of her compatriots, maintains that Stalin dreamed up in the 1920s the war that started in Europe on September 1st 1939.

      She maintains that Stalin was responsible for the buying of arms off the Germans and the training of German troops and pilots in Russia, albeit that it was the Weimar Republic that, contrary to the stipulations of the Versailles Treaty, secretly sent its troops and officers to the USSR to undergo joint armour exercises with the Red Army and to train its nascent and strictly forbidden by the Versailles Treaty Luftwaffe near Lipetsk.

      Latynina states that Stalin, in fomenting WWII in Europe, is responsible therefore for the deaths of millions of Soviet citizens.

      This co-operation between the Weimar Republic and the Soviet Union came about, in fact, because both states were treated as pariahs by what would now be called “the international community”, namely the victors of WWI and their satraps.

      She also maintains that the Red Army fought for the fascists, in that the USSR concluded a non-aggresion pact in 1939 and in that same year “attacked” Poland and occupied the Baltic states the following year. The professor counters her claim that the USSR “attacked” Poland by stating that when the Red Army occupied Polish territory in 1939, the Polish government in Poland no longer existed, it having fled to the UK.

      I accept his argument: nature abhors a vacuum, as they say. And exacly the reverse happened in 1919 when Polish troops not only occupied what the Polish government then considered to be lost Polish territories in what had been part of “White Russia” and Galicia in “Little Russia”; they even advanced as far as Kiev, which in no way could be considered as the retaking of “lost territiories”.

      Later, latynina bursts out into feigned mocking laughter when the professor states that the USSR did not, in fact, occupy the Baltics, but incorporated those states into the Soviet Union.

      Apparently Latynina has never heard of the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian Soviet Socialist Republics or has met Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians who were Soviet citizens; she seems not to realize that when a sovereign state is occupied by a foreign power, the state of citizenship of that occupied state ceases to exist, former citizens of occupied territories living under martial law or decrees from the occupying power. Those people living in fascist occupied Europe – the Danes, the Dutch, Norwegians, Poles, Norwegians etc. – did not become citizens of a Greater German Reich. With the French it was rather different: after the fall of thhe French Republic in 1940, they became citizens of “Vichy” France, a satrap of the Third Reich.

      When Professor Medinskiy counters her arguments, Latynina constantly and extremely rudely interupts him and tries to brow beat him; towards the end she appears to become hysterical and starts calling him a liar.

      Nevertheless, the viewers seemed to have liked her performance: they voted in favour of her point of view with approximately a 2:1 majority. However, judging by the TV channel that transmitted this debate, I should think that the majority of its viewers would consist of types that think that the sun shines out of Latynina’s arse.

      • Misha says:

        I’ve personally experienced similar histrionics from Bukovsky and a Vedomosti editor who has been propped by openDemocarcy and the Yale affiliated org that has propped Navalny.

        Regarding the Baltics, the US and I suspect maybe the UK and perhaps some others never recognized the Soviet incorporation of the Baltics.

        Very true on Weimer Germany and the USSR. Ditto Poland in 1919:

        http://www.russiablog.org/2009/10/russian-polish-history-averko.php

        BTW, Latynina has parroted the otherwise flawed neocon/neolib views of 1990s era former Yugoslavia .

  18. R.C. says:

    Yet more gross distortion courtesy of ABC NEWS and their hack celebrity journalist/stenographer Chirstane Amanpour:

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/around-the-world-abc-news/chess-champ-kasparov-challenges-putin-001015907.html

    I guess ABC didn’t get the memo that Kasparov isn’t taken all that seriously in Russia anymore – even by the “opposition,” and that people are actually “taking to the streets” in DECREASING numbers NOT “increasing” ones. Christ! can the US media tell the truth about anything!? Iran, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Venezuela, Russia & China – all countires the US government hates, so in true Pravada-like fashion, the media hates them as well and can’t bring themselves to right anything truthful whatsoever. Sometimes it’s depressing reading Glenn Greenwalds columns about the US medias distortions, blatant stenography and outright hackery. This clip even insists that the opposition believes the presidential election was rigged, without actually pointing out that it wasn’t. As long as the opposiiton the Americans favor “believes it” well then, that’s good enough for the good ol’ US media.

    What a disgrace.

    Was even Pravada ever this bad?

    • Misha says:

      Amanpour shouldn’t be taken so seriously. For whatever his shortcomings, George S is an improvement over her as the ABC Sunday news host of This Week.

      While having a tabloid aspect, Pravda has dramatically improved from what it once was.

      • R.C. says:

        Sorry Misha, I should have clarified that I meant “Soviet-era” Pravda. Present day Pravda certainly has nothing on Fox News and other Murdoch owned organs – who do much remind me of what I’ve heard about the Soviet-era Pravda.

    • kirill says:

      This bimbo has been butchering the truth since the 1990s when she lead the propaganda smear against Serbs at CNN. Her hubby was “Assistant Secretary of State and spokesman for the US State Department during the Clinton administration and currently an informal adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama” (from the wiki).

  19. Moscow Exile says:

    “The Germans invaded at four in the morning, on June 22, and the OMON at 6 in the morning. That’s the time difference for you”, tweeted an evicted “Occupy Abai” participant.

    Kseniya Sobchak has re-tweeted the opinion, namely that anybody who disagrees with my point of view is a “fascist”. This also seems to be Sobchak’s opinion, hence the re-tweet.

    It’s the typical opinion of a rich, pampered kid.

    I always remember a Sobchak-type person, a young Englishwoman who was one of my fellow students of the Russian language many years go. Her reaction to being failed in a Russian oral/aural test was to attack her tutor.

    “You’re a fascist!” she shouted at her. The tutor in question was also mine, a Russian immigrée who had lived in England for 40 years but who had had the distinct misfortune of having lived in fascist occupied Ukraine as a girl. (She was an ethnic Russian born in Odessa.)

    Her response to the accusation of being “a fascist” was to calmly and politely say to the objectionable student, “My dear, you have no idea what you are talking about when you accuse me of being a fascist. I have experienced fascism and I sincerely hope that you never will”.

    • Misha says:

      A technical point without meaning to get too overly detailed:

      http://politics.knoji.com/what-is-the-difference-between-fascism-and-nazism/

      Prefer saying “Nazi” occupied Ukraine in contrast to the “Fascist” assault on Ethippia.

      • Misha says:

        Ethiopia.

        Pardon snafus.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          True, German Nazis modelled themselves at first on Italian fascists, but were not really the same thing. For one thing, the Italian fascists didn’t quite have the same hang-up on racial superiority that the Nazis had; likewise Franco’s fascists. However, I am sure that my former tutor, Maria Vladimirovna, would have called the Nazi invaders of the Ukrainian SSR both “fashisty” and “natsisty” as well as “gitleristy”.

          • Misha says:

            In the USSR, it was common to categorize the Axis side as Fascist.

            This movie contrasts German and Italian behavior in Greece during WW II:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_Corelli's_Mandolin

            Another movie from decades ago differentiated Italian and German behavior on the Eastern Front during WW II. It might’ve been this one:

            http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059323/

            Somewhat akin to Napoleon’s attack on Russia, the Nazi invasion of the USSR involved a good number of non-Germans.

            • “…the Nazi invasion of the USSR involved a good number of non-Germans”.

              Indeed it did. When Nazi Germany invaded the USSR, Italy, Romania, Hungary and Finland and I believe Sovakia also joined in and fought alongside it. It is not I think a distortion of history to say that the USSR did not invade central and eastern Europe in 1944; rather central and eastern Europe invaded the USSR in 1941. I would however quickly add that all of these countries were fascist dictatorships so their peoplehad no choice in the matter.

              The Romanians who occupied much of the Black Sea coast of the USSR including Odessa distinguished themselves by their quite exceptional brutality, the extent of which alarmed even the Germans. Since the conduct of the Romanians is today politically embarrassing it is almost never mentioned in western accounts of the war on the Eastern Front. I gather that in Romania it is never mentioned at all.

              Alongside the allies there was also large numbers of anti Communist volunteers from Spain, France, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Belgium, most of whom fought in SS units as part of what Hitler called “the crusade against Bolshevism”. I have heard that the Spanish Blue Division also distinguished itself by its quite exceptional brutality.

              • cartman says:

                It is really strange to see it remembered in Spain like this:

              • PvMikhail says:

                Hah… the Romanians… They always sided with seemingly stronger side, they always lost, they always deserted, but always came out as winners. Sly people.

                Romanians in WW1, WW2 – joke.

                In WW1, until the central powers had the upper hand on all fronts, Romanians had no courage to join allies. Only in the August of 1916, when Brusilov Offensive seemed great, and Russians recaptured their western borders and even pushed into Galitsiya, Austro-Hungarian territory, only then the sly Romanians raided Transylvania with 400000 soldiers. Of course after this, they got beaten so bad by German and Hungarian armies, which also had to fight against Russia, Italy, other Allies on Balkans, that Russian machineguns stopped them running on the Prut – Danube line until the Black Sea coast. Almost all Romania knocked out. After this, they got Transylvania and occupied the territories until Dnester, which are now under Moldavian Rep. control. They occupied Budapest for some time.

                In WW2 they thought, that they are on the stronger side and, occupied Ukraine’s Black Sea coast and behaved like Germans did elsewhere. When Red Army came back after 3 years and arrived on the Romanian border, they got scared, arrested Antonescu and betrayed the axis side. After this, they joined Soviets and took part in the offensive of Hungary, especially in the siege of Budapest. They got Northern Transylvania again and left the war as “Antifascist heroes”.

                This country is the example of hyena behaviour, you know that from National Geography, don’t you? And they always glad to spill some Hungarian blood, but only after the the corpse of our nation lies on the ground, unable to move due to a bitter fight with giants.

                • Misha says:

                  I prefer a more guarded approach on such matters. I’ve found idiots and reasoned folik among numerous groups – Romanians included.

                  Besides a good number of Hungarians, I understand that it’s not uncommon for Bulgarians to have a negative impression of Romanians – who were once described as constituting a profession.

                  In the Clark Gable movie Comrade X, the Romanians aren’t positively depicted.

                • Misha says:

                  That’s reasoned folk and once again pardon any snafus. Writing extemperaneously and without a good display of what has been written.

                • PvMikhail says:

                  As it can be felt, like most Hungarians, I don’t really like them either…

                  They have a self-invented history and they tend to betray everybody as I have written before. They are the enemy of Hungary, Russia and Bulgaria. They always treated Hungarian minority like sh!t. Even now, 90 years after Trianon, they fear us (for nothing, because we are weak) and they don’t want to allocate much money on the development of Transylvania. They fear it’s return to Hungary, which is practically impossible. What else can be said?

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Field Marshal von Paulus’ wife was a Romanian aristocrat, I believe.

                  Ironic that, seeing that the Red Army chose to attack the Romanian divisions at Stalingrad in its successful attemmpt to encircle the German 6th army there. And Von Paulus only got his marshal’s baton off the “Gröfaz” (Größter Feldherr aller Zeiten – the Greatest Military Leader of All Time), namely A. Hitler, because the erstwhile Austrian corporal thought that it would encourage him to fight to the last man, after which the marshal should “fall on his sword”.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Yes, Napoleon attacked the Russian Empire with an army that consisted not only of French troops: it was very much multi-national.

              In view of the fact that by 1812 Napoleon had subjugated most European states, there were very few nationalities whose troops did not take part in Napoleon’s attack on Russia. However, many years go when still a schoolboy I remember slogging through an English translation of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” for the first time and becoming rather annoyed when I read the following words:

              “On the twelfth of June, 1812, the forces of Western Europe crossed the Russian frontier and war began, that is, an event took place opposed to human reason and to
              human nature”.

              The forces of Western Europe, that is except those of the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal, who were very much at war with the French Empire on the Iberian Peninsula at that time, and Sweden, which was trying its hardest to remain neutral, albeit that its new king was a former French general, a Buonaparte appointee, Bernadotte.

              I’m still rather sad that Tolstoy didn’t concede that there were others that fought long and hard against Buonaparte in Europe. It is because he didn’t mention this in “War and Peace” that I am sure many Russians believed that “the forces of Western Europe” – all of them – really did attack Russia in 1812. In fact, several years ago one very irate young Russian woman said to me that if the British had indeed been fighting Napoleon in 1812, then why didn’t they help Russia in its time of need.

              I told her that Britain was a sea power and ironically assured her that if it had been physically possible, I am sure that the British in 1812 would have sent a Royal Navy squadron to Borodino. My irony was lost on her. I did tell her, though, that the British were so intent on maintaining a naval blockade against the French European empire, that they even wouldn’t risk sending a squadron to combat the US navy after Madison’s declaration of war against the UK in that same year, which action, of course, had certainly been a feasible one for the United Kingdom. The French blockade, however, had priority.

              I also proposed to her that the logistics involved in sending a British army to Russia via the Baltic would have been almost insurmountable, and in any case, that the small by European standards British military in 1812 was already stretched to its limits in that it was actively engaged against the French worldwide and in particular in the Iberian Peninsula, where, together with his Portuguese and Spanish allies, Wellington won a major victory in 1812 at Vittoria, northern Spain, which caused Buonoparte’s armies under the command of his brother, Joseph, the “King of Spain”, to leave Spain for good, after which Wellington’s armies invaded southern France.

              The young woman in question simply responded by saying that she had never heard of Vittoria, or of the Peninsular War, and practically accused me of telling outright lies.

              • kirill says:

                There are all sorts of idiots everywhere. But I don’t recall being exposed to negative views of the UK in the context of the 1812 war. It’s all about Napoleon. Crimea is a different story.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  The most perfidious of the whole bunch that took action against the Russian Empire during the Crimean War was, in my opinion, not Albion, whose perfidy is renowned, but Austria.

                  Notwithstanding the fact that the Russians had very much pulled Austria’s irons out of the fire in 1848, the “kaiserlich und königlich” Austrian Empire, though never declaring war on the Russian Empire during the hostilities of 1853-1856, constantly hung about on the sidelines making threatening noises.

                  Regardless of the costly and often incompetent British, French, Sardinian and Ottoman actions and victories against the Russians, it was the attitude of the Austrians, their refusal to guarantee their neutrality and their belief that a Russian presence in “the Danube Provinces” of the moribund Ottoman Empire should be regarded as a threat to Austrian security as well as their aim to make the Ottoman Balkan provinces a sphere of Austrian influence that were all major factors leading to the conclusion of hostilities in the Crimea. If Austria had declared war on Russia, which was a distinct possibility, Russia would have been overwhelmed.

                  After the Treaty of Paris in 1856, Austria then supported the Ottoman Empire, in that it saw it as a bulwark against Russian incursions into the Balkans, which territories Austria could move into when the “sick man of Europe”, the Ottoman Empire, finally withered away and died. In the meanwhile, thousands of Balkan Christians were thrown to the tender mercies of murderous and rapisticTurkish Bashi-bazouks.

                • Dear Moscow Exile,

                  You have a very good knowledge of history.

                  The Crimean War is urgently in need of re examination. I recently read a book about it by the British historian Orlando Figes, which tried to argue that it was provoked by Tsar Nicholas I as part of some megalomaniac religious crusade he planned against the Ottoman Empire. Figes provides no evidence for the existence of this crusade but he does set out the sequence of events leading up to the war in some detail and from this I came away with the clear view that the war was actually instigated by the British, who were becoming concerned by the growth of Russian power in central Europe and the Balkans.

                  Regardless, what does come across clearly from the book is that not for the first or the last time the Crimean war was an invasion of Russia by a foreign invader who had seriously underestimated Russia and the fighting strength of its army. The result was that what was originally planned as a swift capture of the Crimea followed by a rapid advance into the Ukraine that was expected to cause the disintegration of the Russian Empire instead got bogged down into an interminable and exhausting siege of a single Russian city, Sevastopol, by an allied western army that at its peak was actually bigger than the army with which Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812. When after an immense effort Sevastopol was finally captured the British and their French allies found that they had achieved nothing of importance and were no nearer victory than they had been before. In the meantime the Russian army had advanced through the Caucasus into eastern Turkey capturing in the process more Ottoman territory than the British and the French had captured Russian, and was poised to advance into eastern Anatolia, the heartland of the Ottoman Empire, which might very well have brought about its collapse. The scale of the war effort had also brought the French economy to the point of collapse whilst the high death toll amongst the British and French troops was causing serious domestic unrest in both countries and increasing recriminations between them with the British anti war MP John Bright making a famous speech in the House of Commons about how “the Angel of Death is abroad and come amongst us, one can almost hear the beating of his wings”.

                  Faced with this potentially disastrous situation the British and French just as you say extricated themselves from it by getting Austria to threaten war on Russia unless Russia made peace. Unfortunately Figes’s book fails to explain why Austria was prepared to play along with the British and the French in this way. Had it not done so it is difficult to see how on the basis of Figes’s book the Crimean war could have ended without a Russian victory.

                • Misha says:

                  Russia should’ve never helped the Habsburgites in the late 1840s. Instead, Russia should’ve refrained from involvement, much like its declining to militarily assist Britian during the American Revolutionary War.

  20. Moscow Exile says:

    I’ve just got back home after riding around Moscow all morning on the metro and a thought came to my head after I had noticed a woman travelling companion with a white ribbon tied to her handbag.

    You see, apart from those whom I recently saw sporting the white ribbon at the “Occupy Abai” site, this is the first time that I’ve seen a member of the general public in Moscow displaying in this way “opposition” allegiance, .

    If Putin really were “besieged” in Moscow behind the Kremlin walls by a city population that is absolutely opposed to his brutal, dictatorial rule, why aren’t the majority of Muscovites wearing a white ribbon?

    Surely, if that were the case in this city of an estimated 13 million plus inhabitants, people wearing white ribbons would be common-place?

    Fourteen million Muscovites travel daily by the metro. I spend hours each week riding to and fro to different venues around the city and yet this is the first time that I have seen someone on the metro wearing a white ribbon.

    After I had spied this ribbon earlier this morning, I continually kept my eyes open for others. I saw not one.

    Apart from those who no doubt enjoy a sense of security when wearing white ribbons whilst gathered in large numbers with other like-minded people, perhaps the otherwise noticeable absence of white ribbons being worn by the general public at large is indicitive of the fact that one risks getting one’s head cracked by a police or OMON baton if one should be foolish enough to display such a ribbon in public. At least, that’s what the likes of Elder of the Guardian thinks, namely that the police go round “cracking heads”, especially of those who have white ribbons attached to their person.

    On the other hand, the paucity of white ribbon wearers visible in the general public might reflect the fact that the “oppositionists” who are besieging the tyrant in his castle barely constitute 0.01% of the city population.

    • rkka says:

      “So this advocate for Western historical revisionists, this fifth columnist Latynina who, in the light of what she regular churns out in her columns, apparently detests her motherland and the majority of her compatriots, maintains that Stalin dreamed up in the 1920s the war that started in Europe on September 1st 1939”

      Indeed!

      It is a little-known fact that Stalin dictated the following line to Hitler, by carrier pigeon, while Adolph was in prison in 1923:

      “When we speak of land in Europe today, we can primarily have in mind only Russia and her vassal border states.”

      And it is even less well-known that Stalin forced the German Center Party (the sectarian party of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany), the (Monarchist) Nationalist Party, and various smaller right-wing German political parties to join with the Nazi Party to give Adolpf the power to legislate by decree, on 23 March 1933!

      (rolls eyes)

      • We have already discussed Latynina at length and her completely warped idea of reality.

        Briefly, there was no “alliance” between the USSR and Nazi Germany, merely a non aggression pact, the USSR did not attack Poland, Nazi Germany did and Poland proved unable to defend itself because it had a few weeks before foolishly rejected a Soviet offer of alliance. When it became clear that Poland would be defeated the USSR occupied territories in eastern Poland that were mainly inhabited by Byelorussians and Ukrainians and which Poland had seized from the USSR as a result of its aggression in 1920 (is Latynina saying the people there would have been better off under Nazi rule or that Byelorussia and the Ukraine should now give them back to Poland?). The Soviet annexation of the Baltic States, which was not agreed in the Secret Protocols or agreed with Nazi Germany, was an anti German action as was universally understood at the time and as was said publicly at the time by no less a person than Winston Churchill. Churchill by the way also correctly said in the autumn of 1939 that the Soviet occupation of the Ukrainian and Byelorussian territories of eastern Poland was an anti German action. It was whilst explaining this to the British people in a radio broadcast that he made the famous (and actually untrue) comment that the USSR “is a riddle wrapped inside an enigma” though he immediately qualified this by saying that the solution to the riddle was “Russian national interest”.

        As for suggesting that the USSR armed or trained the German army, that is of course nonsense. In the 1920s when Germany had a democratic government, which was on friendly terms to the USSR, the USSR provided Germany with some training grounds but Hitler immediately put a stop to all such cooperation when became German Chancellor in 1933.

  21. Moscow Exile says:

    Yes, that “enigma” statement made by Churchill is seldom given in full. Likewise Putin’s statement that the dissolution of the USSR “was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century”. The Western news media hardly ever quotes what Putin continued to say about this “catastrophe” and usually replaces the word “catastrophe” with “tragedy”, which, in fact, was how Putin described the effect of the “catostrophe” on former citizens of the SU.

    Churchill also stated in his wireless broadcast of 1939 (linked above in Alexander’s posting): “It cannot be in accordance with the interest of the safety of Russia that Germany should plant itself upon the shores of the Black Sea, or that it should overrun the Balkan States and subjugate the Slavonic peoples of south eastern Europe…”

    That reference made by Churchill to the planned fascist expansion to the Black Sea via the Balkans aided by the fascist governments of Hungary and Romania and a fascist coup in Yugoslavia, concerns the Soviet annexation of Bessarabia, which mostly became the Moldovian SSR, which territory up to the Treaty of Versailles had been since 1812 part of the Russian Empire, and a very willing part of it to boot, for before that the Christian population of Bessarabia had enjoyed the dubious pleasures of Ottoman rule.

    As regards the fascist coup that took place in Belgrade, it was short lived and the Serbian fascists promptly ousted, causing the Germans to delay Barbarossa until units of the Wehrmacht had occupied Yugolslavia and Greece as well, where their Italian fascist allies had come unstuck in a little Greek tragedy of their own making.

    This Wehrmacht operation in the Balkans and the ensuing delay on the start of Barbarossa is one of several contributory factors given for the failure of Blitzkrieg in the USSR. However, I still maintain that the chief cause for the fascist defeat in the east was the Red Army and the Soviet people.

    • Dear Moscow Exile,

      “I still maintain that the chief cause for the fascist defeat in the east was the Red Army and the Soviet people”.

      Absolutely and it is gross historical revisionism to say otherwise. Not only was the great bulk of the German army destroyed on the Eastern Front but a moment’s reflection shows what would have happened had Hitler actually defeated the USSR in the two months he and the German General Staff expected and as the British Imperial General Staff also expected as they advised Churchill. The Nazi conquest of Europe would have become consolidated and given the difficulties the D-Day invasion in June 1944 faced even with the bulk of the German army fighting in Russia it is difficult to image that it would have happened at all. In that case the remaining Jews of Europe would surely have been exterminated and the war would have ended either with an understanding between Germany and the western powers leaving Hitler the master of Europe or, more probably, with a nuclear strike on Berlin. Either way the consequences for human history would have been catastrophic.

      • Just to add that the claim that the diversion of troops to south eastern Europe in the spring of 1941 was the reason for the failure of Operation Barbarossa is a myth. I say this though it was a myth that I as a Greek would dearly love to believe and which I was brought up on. It is however untrue.

        For logistic reasons it would not have been possible to have launched Operation Barbarossa earlier than it was whether there had been a strike on the Balkans or not. The reason Operation Barbarossa failed was because Soviet resistance from the beginning proved to be far fiercer than Hitler and the Germans had expected. Transcripts of Hitler’s discussions with his military advisers show that already by August 1941 he was becoming concerned that Soviet resistance was proving so much stronger than expected and that Operation Barbarossa was not going to plan. The reason by the way why the German army was inadequately supplied with winter clothing was because hardly anybody in Germany or elsewhere (including the US and Britain) expected the USSR would survive beyond the summer

        I ought to say that one person who actively promoted the myth that the failure of Operation Barbarossa was due to a delay caused by the German strike on the Balkans was Hitler himself. He did so in a series of short essays he dictated to his secretaries at the end of the war in 1945 when he was already in the Bunker. There is some question over the authenticity of these essays, which came to light in the early 1960s, but they are written in Hitler’s characteristic style and I believe they are genuine. Hitler of course was by this stage in the war looking for excuses to explain its failure and so he came up with the story that it all went wrong because Mussolini’s misadventures in North Africa and Greece forced him to divert troops to the Balkans and to delay the start of Barbarossa by 6 weeks. That Hitler was the author of the story is of course no reason to believe it.

  22. Interfax is carrying a report that Chirikova was arrested in Barrikadnaya. There is a separate report also by Interfax which says her hand was broken when she was arrested. This is the first occasion that she has made the news since her meeting with McFaul. Does anybody have any more details?

  23. Moscow Exile says:

    The police deny this claim.

    See: http://www.ria.ru/society/20120517/651642670.html

    In the insert at the foot of the article it says:

    “При задержании она оказывала активное сопротивление, а ее сподвижники пытались ее отбить. Сразу после задержания никаких жалоб она не высказывала, однако позже пожаловалась на боль в руке. Чтобы избежать инсинуаций, она была доставлена сотрудниками полиции в травмпункт, где у нее зафиксировали ушиб руки”, – сказал сотрудник пресс-службы.

    “During her apprehension she showed active resistance and her associates attempted to set her free. She expressed no complaints whatsoever after her arrest. Later, however, she complained of a pain in her hand. In order to avoid any suggestion that she had been injured, she was taken by the police to a first-aid station, where they treated a bruise on her hand” said a member of the press service.

    • Gosh, thanks for this Moscow Exile.

      I notice from the photos that Chirikova decided to turn up to a protest in what looks like a summer evening dress with jewellery and a plunging neckline that gives a fair view of her cleavage. Looks like a dress more appropriate for a cocktail party than a protest.

    • kirill says:

      They could have just shot her for resisting arrest as they do in the USA. All this bleating about “poor, oppressed freedom demonstrators” is nauseating.

      • yalensis says:

        In USA a counter-demonstrator could pick a fight with her, then shoot her and claim self-defense according to “Stand Your Ground” law.
        BTW, who shows up to a riot wearing a COCKTAIL DRESS? Back in old days, people dressed appropriately for these types of affairs. The world is going to hell in a handbasket. O tempora, o mores!

        • Moscow Exile says:

          As I’ve mentioned before, the US embassy is just around the corner from where this new “camp” is situated. She may have been wining and dining there with her friend, Mr. McFaul, before deciding to give a courtesy call to her friends assembled down the street.

  24. Moscow Exile says:

    Yes, I hought that too.

    In fact, having seen those pictures in the news story linked above, for the first time ever I thought her rather pretty.

    Ye gods!!!

    What am I saying??

    How weak and pathetic is my flesh!

    Get thee hence, oh sister of satan!
    🙂

    • marknesop says:

      She is really quite attractive, although nothing special in a country full of the most beautiful women in the world. But she has had a couple of children and still kept her looks and figure, so that’s quite a feat of determination and discipline. I don’t doubt her dedication to her chosen cause, but in a leadership role she appears weak, vain and silly, and the slightest amount of press coverage goes straight to her head.

    • PvMikhail says:

      OMON patsany had a good day then🙂

    • PvMikhail says:

      HOW COOL IS HE, THE GREAT TIE-EATER IN HIS GLASSES IN FRONT OF LOUIS VUTTON LUXURY SHOP, HUH?

      • yalensis says:

        Should I take a cheap shot, like he got that pot belly eating all those high-calorie ties?
        No, that’s beneath me… I refrain….

  25. kirill says:

    Petty journalism example. There is not a single reference on the CBC website to the successful launch of the Nimiq-6 communication satellite by a Proton rocket today. I would have thought that, given the attention the media pays to minor news day in and day out, the CBC should have at least included a blurb on this launch for Telesat Canada.

    I guess the only news about Russia that is fit to cover is bad news spinning the “fascist dictatorship whose rockets fall out of the sky” image.

    • Misha says:

      Per capita, the svidomite (Ukrainian nationalist and anti-Russian leaning view) is greater in Canada than in the US. That said, there’re balanced folks in Canada, including some in the ethnic Ukrainian community. At issue, is what a good number of influential establishment types prefer.

      For example, a seemingly well known Canadian journo by the name of Haroon Siddiq (pardon and likely butchering of his name) typically writes commentary along the lines of Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars sharing a concern over reactionary Russian nationalism
      (BS). Siddiq also exhibits a noticeably anti-Serb bias. I see no pro-Russian/pro-Serb advocate with a column where he regularly appears.

      The bias is clear. Some at InoSMI appear more interested in running crap from “Dying Russia.” At times, I somewhat frustratingly say that Russia gets what it deserves – folks willing to spin with the likes of openDemocracy and others who prop a counter view in a crony manner that sacrifices a more qualitative input.

      Pardon any misspells. This format isn’t easy to back-check.

      • kirill says:

        My view based on the Yugoslavia wars of the 1990s and Iraq is that the whole western media is a chorus for the establishment. The left and right are both whoring full time. For example, within a 24 hour period the media is reporting the same analysis of any event. There is no divergence of opinions as one would expect from a “stochastic” system of many independent actors. This prima facie evidence that the western media is a mouthpiece like Pravda in the USSR. The vaunted independence of the western media is BS.

        I have read some of Siddiqi’s drivel. He likes to foam at the mouth about Chechnya as a genocide. Naturally he makes not a squeak about the ethnic cleansing of millions of Kurds in Turkey. A large number of Kurd villages were bulldozed off the face of the map to drive Kurds off their land and into larger Turkish cities where they are just a minority. Not a single Chechen village has been bulldozed during the conflicts of the last 20 years.

        • Misha says:

          Many are trained into incorrectly believing that folks thinking along our lines are more extreme than Siddiq, who is understandably embraced within neocon to neolib leaning circles, as well as the likes of certain political ethnics like the svidomites (a minority among Ukrainians) and the late Otto von Habsburg.

  26. kievite says:

    Pozner about protest

  27. Moscow Exile says:

    I am always wary about Pozner’s opinion: he supports one side, then another and you never know where he really stands. He is a self-confessed propagandist, openly admitting that during Soviet times he told what he believed to be falsehoods.

    As a commentator, who happens to be a woman, writes on the above You Tube site: First he supported the oppositionists, and when they collapsed he went creeping off to Putin.

    The same commentator, though, maintains that there is a difference between human rights activists in the West and Russia, namely that in the West there is democracy whereas in Russia there is “tyranny”, and then attacks Pozner for being a Jew “in the worst sense of the word”.

    So there you have it, an opposition supporting commentator who believes that Russia is a tyranny and is also unabashed at hurling racist slurs at those she doesn’t like.

    By the way, I saw a new term for white-ribbon wearing oppositionists in the comments to the Pozner video: белогандонник (belogandonnik) – “white condomist”.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Это всё сурковская пропаганда!
      Это всё сурковская пропаганда!
      Это всё сурковская пропаганда!
      🙂

  28. Moscow Exile says:

    As regards the apparent impasse that the government seems to be facing as regards their dealing with these campers, it looks like moves are under way to hit them where it hurts most:

    “On Friday, the State Duma will consider a bill increasing fines for organizing and participating in unsanctioned rallies from the current 2,000 rubles ($67) to up to 1.5 million rubles ($50,000)”.

    See: http://www.themoscownews.com/politics/20120517/189740578.html

    And from today’s MT:

    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/protest-camp-running-out-of-options/458717.html

    Here’s Chirikova getting her arm broken last night:

    I say “arm” because the Russian word for “arm” and “hand” is the same.

    Talk about not being able to tell one’s arse from one’s elbow!
    🙂

    Anyway, I’ve seen no mention in today’s Russian press of the tree-hugger suffering any serious injury last night.

  29. Moscow Exile says:

    What a dynamic duo!

    • PvMikhail says:

      Chirikova is f@cking bored…

      • PvMikhail says:

        She has a “Ok, but leave me alone… When will I get outta here??? I can’t stand this pervert, he thinks that he is still a young macho… I will never touch him, whatever he says… uhh get out of my FACE!!” face.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        She wouldn’t have looked so bored if she had known what he had been saying about her on the telephone:

        http://www.compromat.ru/page_31589.htm

        She found out later though.

        And she doesn’t look bored here:


        🙂

        • PvMikhail says:

          Means “impudent creature” if I am right?

        • PvMikhail says:

          Explain me something: Who is this Божена Рынска? I mean, according to what I found out so far, she looks like some kind of mix between celebrity, sex symbol and columnist. The only English source I found, mentions her as an independent journalist for Gazeta, who got detained by OMON during a protest. I can’t know everybody there, that’s why I am interested only in serious people. But now I am kinda curious.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Another bloody “celebrity”!

            She’s a journalist, writer and a blogger under the name of Becky Sharpe.

            See: http://www.wikireality.ru/wiki/%D0%91%D0%BE%D0%B6%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B0_%D0%A0%D1%8B%D0%BD%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B0

            If she were a bloke, I’d call her a right tosser and a waste of space, but she’s not a bloke and I’m a gentleman.
            🙂

            • Misha says:

              Reminds me of a project I’d like to see which compares how English and Russian Wiki each treat certain issues, including Gogol and Suvorov.

          • Giuseppe Flavio says:

            If my memory serves me well, Nemtsov was caught on tape saying “Who hasn’t screwed Bozhena Rynska?”
            Unlike Moscow Exile, Nemtsov is not a gentleman.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              I can honestly say that I haven’t screwed her.

              Where does she live?

              • Of course in English literature Becky Sharpe is a character from Thackeray’s novel Vanity Fair. She is perhaps the most famous femme fatale in English literature. She is irresistibly attractive but also corrupt, promiscuous, manipulative, dishonest, callous and (eventually) a murderess. In other words a perfect role model for a Gazetta columnist and a Russian liberal blogger.

            • PvMikhail says:

              hahaha, Yes I found Rynska’s name on the kompromat site, which was linked by MoscowExile.
              I didn’t screwed her either, but she looks like that everybody could do that. But she isn’t worth it to buy an Aeroflot ticket. Sometimes she pulls herself together, but sometimes she looks like a junkie, high as hell.
              She has nice lips BTW, full of collagen I guess…

              WTF happened here? I can’t understand a word, they are talking like insane.

        • yalensis says:

          At the time, Zhenya thought she had to put up with Boris’ sexual harrassment in order to get along and rise within Opp movement.
          This picture ws taken BEFORE she found out what Boris was saying about her behind her back! The bad names he was calling her, etc.

  30. PvMikhail says:

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/12/05/anti_putin_brigade_russia?page=full#0

    comment – Navalny is the best looking of them all. He has a real Russian character. Chirikova’s character is also there, but much weaker.

    I have started to study the faces of ethnic Slavic and especially ethnic Russians some times ago, and I found out, that they show a fascinating difference, if I compare them to other European nationalities.

  31. Moscow Exile says:

    Headline of the website linked below:

    “Attention! Photographed by a secret camera, Western agents Nemtsov and Chirikova receive their orders in Washington.”

    See: http://www.tebe-i-vsem.ru/node/6081

    Below the video clip at the top of the site linked above, it reads:

    “На видео запечатлен Б.Немцов (во время визита в США 15-16 сентября 2011 г) во время завтрака в ресторане отеля Dupont Circle в Вашингтоне 15.09.11. За завтраком Б.Немцов вместе с Е.Чириковой и супругой встречался с Дэвидом Крамером и Павлом Ивлевым.

    “Дэвид Крамер – заместитель экс-госсекретаря в администрации Джорджа Буша Кондолизы Райс. Сейчас является исполнительным директором в Международной правозащитной организации Freedom House.

    “Павел Ивлев – Директор “Института современной России”. Адвокат “АЛМ Фельдманс”. Близкий соратник Ходорковского, сбежал из России после возбуждения уголовного дела. Разыскивается Интерполом”.

    Translation:

    “On the video can be seen B. Nemtsov (during a visit to the USA, 15-16 September 2011) having breakfast in the Dupont Circle Hotel restaurant, Washington, 15.09.11. At breakfast Nemtsov, together with Chirikova and her spouse, met David Kramer and Paul Ivlev.

    “David Kramer – deputy to Condoleeza Rice, former Secretary of State in the George Bush administration. He is now executive director of the international human rights organisation Freedom House.

    “Pavel Ivlev – director of the “Institute of Contemporary Russia”. Attorney at “ALM Feldmans”. Close associate of Khodorkovskyi, fled Russia after a criminal procedure had been opened. Wanted by Interpol”.

    It would be interesting to know what the reaction of Washington would be if US citizens who were political activists in the USA were filmed in such compromising a situation in Moscow.

    And this is not just a one-off meeting. They have been happening regularly over several years.

    • Misha says:

      The aforementioned Kramer co-authored with Shevtsova a Foreignpolicy.com (rag) piece calling Medvedev a phony.

      Medvedev is a reasoned liberal working within a system and society that continues to view Putin as the best leader for Russia.

      In contrast, some prefer to essentially wreck Russia with activity like creating traffic jams and disrespecting the property of others.

  32. Dear Giuseppe,

    Thank you for putting me right on the “strategy of tension” in Italy in the 1970s. I used to be pretty up to speed on it but it seems I have forgotten or muddled much of what I thought I knew. Sorry!

    By contrast I am much less sure tban you that the threat of terrorism growing out of the protest movement in Russia is small. On the contrary I would say is that in many respects the situation is very conducive to the emergency of such terrorism. Consider: we have a protest movement made up predominantly of young people some of whom are already drawn to unconventional or alternative lifestyles. It includes a surprisingly large number of people who come across as unbalanced and psychopathic (I agree with Kievite about this). It denies the legitimacy of the Russian government and is apparently intent on doing so regardless of the results of elections, the results of which it anyway assumes have been faked. It claims that the Russian government is corrupt and brutal and is in effect a dictatorship and one which supposedly murders opposition leaders and activists such as Politkovskaya and Magnitsky. It claims that the government presides over an entrenched and all encompassing system of corruption that extends into every part of the nation’s life supposedly creating a gigantic system of corruption and oppression.

    It’s pretty heady stuff and it’s accompanied by rhetoric to match. We have become so used to what Anatoly Karlin and Patrick Armstrong call “Putin Derangement Syndrome” that we no longer notice how extreme and frankly hysterical the abuse of Putin and the Russian authorities has become. Gessen’s book which we have discussed on this blog is a case in point. Others are Latynina’s articles and other articles written in the same vein in places like Novaya Gazeta and in Moscow Times, or some of the things that are said on Moscow Echo, which Moscow Exile is absolutely right in saying would never be tolerated if they were said in Washington or London or Paris or Athens or I am sure Rome.

    In such an environment I can easily imagine some members of the protest movement taking all this to heart and becoming frustrated with non violent protest, which they must sense is going precisely nowhere.

    Bear in mind also that there already seems to be an acceptance of the legitimacy of political violence against the authorities. We have already seen in this in small ways in some of Navalny’s and Udaltsov’s speeches and actions and in the antics of Voina and Pussy Riot. What is much more disturbing still is the open sympathy that many oppositionists show towards certain very violent and dangerous people like Saakashvili and the jihadi terrorists of the northern Caucasus for no other reason than that they are also opposed to the Russian government. Apparently nothing can shake this sympathy which continues even after horrors like the attack on Tskhinvali, the Nord Ost siege and the Beslan massacre.

    Adding a further powerful ingredient to the witches’ brew is the sense that some in the protest movement may have that a turn to violence might be viewed sympatheticalIy in the west, which has also shown an extraordinary partiality to the likes of Saakashvili, the anti Russian jihadis and the rest. Moreover I am afraid such a sense is probably justified. Bluntly if there is an outbreak of domestic terrorism in Russia linked to the protest movement I expect instead of simple and outright condemnation to read and pompous articles and editorials and broadcasts in western newspapers and radio and television channels about how the Russian government by its supposed intransigence towards the protest movement has provoked the violence and has brought the problem of political violence down upon itself.

    In saying all of this I want to make it clear that I am not making a prediction. I sincerely hope that none of this happens. However do bear in mind that the political terrorism that struck Germany, Italy and the US in the 1970s was an outgrowth of a 1960s protest movement and counterculture that bore not a few similarities to that of Russia today. Also it is not as if such a thing has not happened to Russia before. Russia experienced political terrorism on a big scale in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as a result of the activities of groups like the People’s Will and of the SRs. The situation in Russia is very different today but given how extremely historically minded many Russians are I for one would not be at all surprised if some from within the protest movement were to draw inspiration from this earlier example. One of Boris Akunin’s novels, the State Counsellor, which has recently been made into a film, is all about the terrorism of this earlier period, which it depicts in a strongly sympathetic way.

    Against all this there does seem to be a very strong taboo in Russia against violence by Russians on Russians, probably as a result of the experience of the Revolution and the Civil War. Also the Russian security agencies give me the impression of having been brought under Putin back to an extremely high level of efficiency, as shown by their success in containing the jihadi movement in the northern Caucasus and their effective handling of the recent protests. By contrast the protest movement seems completely factionalised and chaotic and has surely by now been infiltrated by police informers. However all that is needed for a terrorism movement to emerge is a small number of people prepared to take the plunge and a larger pool of sympathisers in which they can hide, which the protest movement provides in abundance. I for one for the reasons I have said in this comment do not think the possibility is one that can be completely discounted.

    • R.C. says:

      Well said AM,

      If acts of terrorism were to unravel as you outlined, I can most certainly assure you that not only would the west support/sympathize with the murderers, they would blame “Putin and his RSB goons” (naturally, without a shred of evidence, but who needs that these days?) for carrying it out to incriminate the protest movement. I’ve always found it interesting in America how tin-foil hat crackpot theories are roundly dismissed (911 truth, etc;), but when they are put forth by establishment organs like the Washington Post or New York Times in relation to some “enemy country” then crackpot theories becomes “accepted.” For example, the Moscow apartment bombings in 1999, when discussed in western papers is always believed to be the work of Putin and the RSB, but if you say George Bush brought down the WTC towers then you’re a nut. Naturally, both theories are “nutty,” but it seems to be accepted when the theory is aimed at Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran, etc;

      Again, good post.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Alexander wrote:

      “[W]e have a protest movement made up predominantly of young people some of whom are already drawn to unconventional or alternative lifestyles. It includes a surprisingly large number of people who come across as unbalanced and psychopathicScandals at the barricades…”

      You are not kidding there! The camps, both the one at Chistye Prudy and the present one at Barrikadnaya, sometimes have the appearance of a freak show.

      From yesterday’s Moskovskii Komsomolets:

      http://www.mk.ru/politics/article/2012/05/18/705332-skandalyi-na-barrikadah.html

      Translation:

      The Protest Camp continues on high-rise square.

      Opposition activity, which began on 6 May following on the Bolotnaya Square affair has, contrary to forecasts, continued unabated, and in doing so, the protesters are
      continuously changing. Even the most loyal of them have noted the marginalization of the garden square. On the other hand, visitors are trying to maintain the cultural character of the camp.

      In the evenings about 500 people gather around the square. There are lectures, seminars, collective training for exams and, of course, the Assembly, the administrative body that sprang out of the soil of Chistye Prudy Boulevard. Young lads sing to guitar accompaniment, sometimes joined by Conservatoire students and professional musicians. However, the permanent camp residents are either total oppositionists who for the sake of the movement have selflessly dropped out of their home and work commitments, or those who have long become accustomed to such a wandering, forlorn lifestyle. For that reason, those that frequent Moscow boulevards, street residents that filled the Old Arbat, have gradually increased so as to have become at least one third of the camp.

      Friday’s star appearance was the performance of a young man unknown to anybody. The protesters asserted that they hadn’t seen the lad before. He looked about 23 years old. When he approached the police on his rollers, they at first made space for him, apparently so as to allow him to perform well. He then made himself stand out in the crowd by attempting to slash his veins. The camp dwellers tried to stop him, the “hero of the day”, and he was taken away in a police van , He had inflicted such deep wounds upon himself that he had to be taken away to a police station.

      And again, late in the evening, there was another disturbance on the square. There is no place under the sun where you can keep skinheads and lesbians apart. The former poured abuse on the girls and the latter replied in kind.

      “I had opened a book and begun to read it”, complained a lady, introducing herself as “Pecs”. “They called out ‘Why is nationalism bad?’. And they started yelling at me that it offended their dignity and took the book off me.”

      The disturbance, however, did not turn into a fracas and a classical concert flautist’s playing turned the boulevard into a cultured place. A lecture on migration policies was given by the former leader of the Movement against Illegal Immigration, Aleksandr Belov, who gathered around him a crowd of students, who were arguing with each other rather than carefully listening to the speaker.

      Born at Barrikadaya, Anastasia Udaltsova told “MK” that with all its negative features, the protest is not poetic, but that it is progressing and involves a large number of people who may be evaluated positively.

      The Assembly considers that the camp will carry on for more than one month and that they had no intention of walking away. (It should be remembered that oppositionists want to keep hanging on until autumn.) However, the only ones who really have such information at their disposal are the police officers, who all day were observing the development of events and the camp and who did not intervene on May 18.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Delete “Scandals at the barricades” in Alexander’s quote above! It’s the misplaced title of the MK article that I translated.

    • PvMikhail says:

      you mentioned it, here it is… ethnic terrorism

      http://en.rian.ru/crime/20120518/173541742.html

      I hope people will keep themselves from stupidity, like this, and will understand, that if somebody starts terrorism in the heartlands (I mean not in the Kavkaz), there will be no end of it.

    • Giuseppe Flavio says:

      Dear Alexander,
      surely there is a risk for terrorism, my point is that it is much lower than it was in Italy and Germany in the ’70. I also think that it is overall a low risk, but keep in mind that I am an external observer. Let me explain the reasons I think so:
      a) The Russian protests are smaller than those in western Europe that were followed by terrorism and more importantly they have a different nature. The protesters of the ’60 embraced a pseudo-Marxist rethoric, people dreamed to go fighting the US imperialists in Vietnam, renounce bourgeois values and comfort, connect with the working class. Actually 99% just embraced the rethoric without believing it, but the remaining 1% took it seriously and sacrificed themselves. Among them you could find both people that went to Africa as missionaries and those that embraced terrorism. On the other hand, the rethoric of the Russian liberals is the “American dream” that they imagine as a sort of Disneyland for grown up. Evgenja’s words in the other post “Send in the clowns” clearly reveal this attitude. These people will hardly risk renouncing the comfort of their lives (notwithstanding all their wining about how little comfort they have) for a terrorist career.
      b) Due to their rethoric, the protesters of the ’60 had sympathies for the lower social classes and were re-payed in kind by the latter. From there, the leftist terrorist organisations received moral support and some manpower. On the contrary, the Russian liberals hate and despise the working class, and are payed back in kind. It is my understanding that most Russian blue-collar workers would beat the liberal hipsters and bloggers with both fury and passion.
      c) The late ’60 – early ’70 were a time of profound economic crisis in the West, most low-middle class people saw their well-being going down to proletarian levels. Hence the widespread protests and the violence. But today’s Russian has no such problems, the living standard are going up.
      d) As a last point, one I’m not sure about: organised crime doesn’t like any other criminal activity that puts the security organs on high alert, like political terrorism (think of M-Duesseldorf’s monster by Lang). If they feel annoyed and are strong enough, they can stop any terrorist activity with deadly effectiveness. This is the main reason that Southern Italy wasn’t touched by terrorism in the ’70, with the partial exception of Naples because camorra has always been more fractured than mafia or ‘ndrangheta. I’m not sure about this last point because I don’t know how effective Russian organised crime is.

      • Dear Giuseppe,

        Thank you for these points with many of which I agree. As I said before I was giving a warning not making a prediction:

        Specifically:

        1. I agree with you that the protest movement is much smaller and socially far more isolated than those that affected the west in the 1960s. However please see my paragraph 4.

        2. I also agree that in contrast to the situation in the west in the late 1960s and early 1970s Russia is not in the grip of a crisis. The crisis that affected the west in the 1960s and early 1970s was of course not only an economic crisis. It was also a crisis of confidence cause in some measure by the defeat of the US in Vietnam. That made more people willing to look at alternatives. This again is emphatically not the situation in Russia today.

        However

        3. Though the mainstream of the protest movement consists of people of liberal bourgeois views, the protest movement has also attracted a weird rainbow of people some of whom (Udaltsov, Ponomariev, Limonov etc) are Marxists or pretend Marxists, some of whom (eg the anarchists) are or claim to be still further “left” and some of whom whilst being on the contrary on the extreme right nonetheless claim an affinity with the masses (various sorts of nationalists and ultra nationalists ranging from Navalny all the way to some who come across to me as outright neo Nazis). If these people think the wider protest movement might look with sympathy if there is a turn to violence then it seems to me they are more likely to resort to it. come from these sort of people.

        4. The very isolation of the protest movement from society might make it more rather than less likely that some of its wilder members might turn to violence.

        Your point about the response to political terrorism of organised crime is interesting. Like you I simply don’t know enough about Russian organised crime to give an informed opinion. For what it’s worth I get the impression that the extent of organised crime in Russia is greatly exaggerated. I recently read Misha Glenny’s McMafia which purports to deal with the subject but I found his description and analysis of Russian organised crime completely unconvincing as well as being largely out of date.

        1.

        • Giuseppe Flavio says:

          I agree with both points 3 and 4, but I’ve to add re. 4 that protests movements isolated from society exist in every country. Surely they pose a risk for terrorism, which is the reason the police keeps an eye on them. Anyway, I think that Western countries suffer an higher risk of developing domestic terrorism than Russia, given the worsening of economic conditions that proceeds unabated.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        “…the Russian liberals hate and despise the working class, and are payed back in kind. It is my understanding that most Russian blue-collar workers would beat the liberal hipsters and bloggers with both fury and passion.”

        Couldn’t agree more! And I think that the dispersal by the police of these “camps”, or “гулянки” (gulyanki) as the “oppositionists” prefer to call them, which term means “parties” or “merry making” (official sanction is not required to hold a street party, hence the oppositionists’ choice of term – so much for the “tyranny” that they must endure), is, I believe, unintentionally doing these people that attend such events a great favour.

        Skinheads have already started to muscle in on the “parties” and if these events continue, I’m quite sure local residents will undertake vigilante actions against those whom they consider an intolerable nuisance, ably assisted by members of the working class youth.

        If they tried to hold such an event in one of the huge, sprawling “микрорайоны” (microraiony) or housing estates that are filled with massive housing blocks inhabited by the working class, their “merry making” would be very short lived.

        Of course, I can’t imagine them ever dreaming of holding one of their “street parties” in such a district far away from the city centre and administrative areas, nor could I ever imagine the likes of Sobchak ever wishing to grace such areas with her presence.

        The vast majority of my neighbours are working class and I get the strong impression that most of them seem to view these guitar strumming hippies, students and weirdos, who seem to make up the biggest portion of the participants at the “street parties”, with the utmost contempt.

        • Dear Moscow Exile,

          I totally agree with all of this. The only additional point I would make is that it is not only working class Russians who will have feelings of distaste for the “guitar strumming hippies” and “weirdos” squatting in the gypsy camps but most middle class Russians as well. This includes even many middle class people who are critical of Putin. That is why none of the real politicians who aspire to represent the middle class such as Prokhorov, Mironov, Yavlinsky, Mitrokhin or even Kudrin have shown up at any of these camps.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Dear Alexander Mercouris,

            You are right, of course. I work with members of the “working bourgoisie”, those who have not, as the Moskovskii Komsomolets has ironically stated, “selflessly dropped out of their home and work commitments” in order to fight for freedom and democracy, and they have very little time for these ” street party people”.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            As regards strange people that frequent the “street parties”, here’s a Komsomolskaya Pravda article about the so-called meeting-granny, Nina Semenovna, who “presented herself as veteran of the Great Patriotic War” and who fell ill last Friday on Kudrinskaya Square (“Barrikadnaya”). She had suffered a stroke and nobody at the “street party” had noticed .

            I saw Nina at Chistye Prudi several times. She was hard not to miss: Nina used to turn up at the “parties” all togged out in a full WWII Red Army uniform and, therefore, attracted the attention of photo-journalists .

            Komsomolskaya Pravda reports:

            “On Nina Semenov’s breast were rows of medals. The only thing is, Nina had never served at the front. Nina Semenova’s daughter, Elena Petrovna, told KP:

            – My father was a Great Patriotic War veteran. He definitely defended Moscow. When he died, he had the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He met mum in 1946 when she had just turned 18. When he died 20 years ago, mum spent a year in a psychiatric hospital, but she became worse after having had treatment. She began to walk around Moscow with a mock gallows “for Yeltsin”. The police never lay a finger on her because they know she is sick. She’s not a veteran and wears the medals in memory of her husband. Stopping her from going to the meetings is just impossible: it’s the whole purpose of her life. I’ve tried putting mum in hospital, but she just gets worse there. But it did her good going to the meetings…

            See: http://www.kp.ru/daily/25885/2847279/

            The poor woman is indeed ill, and there’s nothing wrong with her commerating her husband’s war service. But she has been featured in many photos here with Nemtsov by her side. Nemtsov probably had no idea that she was bogus, but the fact is her uniformed image has appeared in many stories about the “street parties”: her presence at them made good copy for those that wished to present an image of a huge cross section of society of all ages, including respected war veterans, that is opposed to the Evil Tyrant and his regime.

            • Dear Moscow Exile,

              An extraordinary story but nothing any longer about these protests surprises me. These are exactly the sort of protests to attract slightly crazed people like that.

              I do hope people are gentle to this poor lady. As for Nemtsov what can I say? I doubt for once he acted out of malice. I am sure he thought she was a real war veteran. He’ll probably be more careful in future.

              By the way I’m pretty sure that the true story about this poor lady will get known. Even if it is not widely talked about in the mass media it’s the sort of human interest story the public notices and which people talk about during their tea breaks. People being what they are I suspect there’ll be some joking at Nemtsov’s expense.

  33. PvMikhail says:

    Kudrin wants to stay important and popular

    http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120518/173543621.html

    The question is: for what?

    • marknesop says:

      He seems to buy into Anders Aslund’s (subject of my next post, almost done, thanks, Mike) theory that constant political turmoil is good for reform while stability is bad for it. The tricky part is getting a majority of the voters to buy into it, but I suppose hope springs eternal.

      I’m surprised to see this in Russian news – generally it is somebody like Open Democracy or The Power Vertical that is relentlessly dishing every little thing Kudrin has to say. They seem to really have a thing for him since he “came out” as a liberal.

      • kievite says:

        Anders Aslund is a more or less typical figure among Russophobs. Incompetent to the core. BTW he was among economic advisers to Yeltsin. As a person without any significant talent he found a niche in which he can parasite much like Latynina. And he is doing so without any creativity or imagination. “Paspilivaet dengi” if we can use Russian catch phrase.

        Funny he can’t even create a plausible lie and discredit himself as a stooge in trivial matters ( http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/02/08/putin_without_putinism?page=0,1)

        But though he will likely succeed in returning to the presidency, he will have lost his legitimacy in the process. The electoral system is simply not democratic: Putin himself has selected the four “alternative” candidates, and he has also maintained full administrative control over the Central Election Commission in defiance of protesters’ demands. And media outlets, of course, continue to tout his candidacy day and night.

        As we can see: no ability to think whatsoever. And here is his characterization of the recent elections:

        Simultaneously, Putin launched an anti-American campaign that blamed the protests on the U.S. State Department — a hackneyed charge that seems old-fashioned and irrelevant.

        I have an impression that reading something from this guy can be used only as punishment😉

        • Misha says:

          He has denied being anti-Russian. As noted earlier at this thread, his comments have fluctuated in a flimsy kind of way. IMO, he’s simply more overrated than anti-Russian. He’s an economist who over the course of time has stated some faulty historical and political views. Someone suggested to me that his recent rants are out of a likely frustration on his part of not getting invited to a panel. If so, it’s just another example of the lack of maturity that’s out there.

          Prior to his recent screeds, Aslund had been writing upbeat pieces on the Russian economy. In any event, Aslund isn’t as much an issue as the kind of venues that have propped him over the course of time, while muting more worthy sources.

      • Misha says:

        Aslund is on record denying that he’s not anti-Russian. When push comes to shove, he slants more in an anti-Russian than pro-Russian direction.

        From May of 2004 is this piece of his:

        http://nationalinterest.org/article/what-the-united-states-should-do-in-ukraine-2659

        In an inaccurate way, he oversimplifies simplifies the matter of Ukraine. His “two clear cut choices between democracy and dictatorship, as well as between Western and Eastern geopolitical orientation” are particularly flawed.
        He says nothing about the possibility of having a Ukrainian government exist that’s somewhere between democracy and dictatorship. At the time of this article, Ukraine was arguably not ahead of Russia in democratic development – something that can still be argued. In Ukraine, Putin polled better than Tymoshenko and Yanukovych just before the last Ukrainian presidency.

        As for geostrategic positioning, Aslund overlooks the fact that Russia has sought to become a part of the West and that contrary to the spin of many in the American foreign policy establishment, it’s some backward-thinking, non-Russian elements (notably in the U.S.) who seek to keep Russia separate.

        Ukraine has three influential views comprised of some favoring closer ties with Russia, a loud minority against such and those who are not sure or take a neutral approach.

        It’s extremely shortsighted for an analyst like Aslund to overlook the very strong historical, cultural and economic ties that bind much of Ukraine with Russia.

        Aslund noted Ukraine’s recent economic growth at the time period in question. However, he overlooks the even more impressive Russian economic growth of that period which directly influences the Ukrainian economy. Specifically, the number of Russian-owned businesses in Ukraine, Kiev’s dependence on significantly discounted Russian energy and the number of Ukrainian citizens working in Russia while maintaining residency in Ukraine.

        The West would be much better off breaking away from its anti-Russian, “divide-and-conquer” enthusiasts who seek to pressure Russia through encouraging unfriendly ties between Moscow and its near abroad.

        • Misha says:

          In The New York Times and likely elsewhere, Aslund has been quoted for uncritically referencing this Brzezinski quote:

          “Russia can be either an empire or a democracy, but it cannot be both . . . Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire.”

          ****

          Such a view suggests that Russia and Ukraine are two totally distinct nations from one another. No distortion of history can legitimately deny the fact that Russians, Byelorussians and Ukrainians aren’t less ethnically and linguistically interrelated as the Scots, Welsh and English, who collectively comprise Britain.
          Anti-Russian leaning folks like Brzezinski have over-accentuated Russian-Ukrainian differences in their personal grudge against Russia.

          True, some Ukrainians are stridently anti-Russian, as some Scots bridle at the dominating role of England in Britain. You can also find Scots and Ukrainians who feel a high degree of affiliation with their respective larger neighbor.

          During the Cold War and before anti-Russian thinking among some Ukrainians was promoted by some in the West as a means of trying to dismantle the Russian Empire and Soviet Union. With the Russian Empire’s demise in 1917 and the collapse of Communism, there’s no sound strategic reasoning for promoting interethnic tensions in the former Soviet bloc.

          Post-Soviet Russia recognizes Ukraine’s independence, inclusive of the latter’s Communist drawn boundaries. This stance hasn’t created an uproar in Russia. The EU appears incapable of taking in any new members. Ukraine remains an important transit route for gas supplies to central and western Europe. It’s foolhardy to not favor a mutually agreed closer relationship between Russia and Ukraine.

  34. Moscow Exile says:

    The Empire strikes back:

    See: http://www.mk.ru/incident/article/2012/05/19/705345-quotbarrikadnuyuquot-i-nikitskiy-zachistili.html

    Translation:

    “Barrikadnaya” and Nikitskyi dispersed.

    Riot police (OMON) have disbanded the second and the third opposition camps in Moscow

    During the night law enforcement units dispersed the “Barrikadnaya” camp. About 20 people were detained. Oppositionists moved to Nikitskyi Blvd., but by morning this new and already third location of “festivities” had been dispersed. Some people have now moved to the Arbat.

    Arrests began during the night on Kudrinskaya Square, where opposition “festivities” were taking place.

    Journalists were told by the press service of the Moscow City Police Force that about 20 had been detained in the Kudrinskaya Suare area.

    “After numerous complaints from local residents, as well as for violations of sanitary and hygniene legislation, during Saturday night the police suggested that demonstrators who had gathered on the square vacate it”, stated a representative of the press service “Interfax”.

    After that, the remaining participants of the “festivities” collected their things and, following the call of their leaders, began to move to Nikitskyi Boulevard.

    According to “Moscow Echo”, by morning the opposition camp that had moved out from Kudrinskyi Square to Nikitskyi Boulevard was again broken up and 14 people had been arrrested and taken to the Tverskoe police precinct.

    Meanwhile, the oppositionists that had been detained at “Barrikadnaya” were released without having been charged, and those remaining participants of the Nikitskyi Boulevard “festivities” began to move to the Arbat.

  35. Moscow Exile says:

    From today’s Komsomolskaya Pravda: it mentions the participation of nationalists in the gathering at “Barrikadnaya” (Kudrinskaya Square), something that the MK article linked above mentions, namely skinheads and lesbians slagging each other off and a lecture given by the former leader of the Movement against Illegal immigration.

    The video inset “From Chistye Prudy to Barrikadnaya” is interesting: it brings to my mind the lyrics of the ’70s Bryan Ferry song “The In Crowd”: “I’m in with the ‘In’ crowd,/ I go where the ‘In’ crowd goes”:

    http://www.kp.ru/daily/25885/2847175/

    Apparently KP is unaware that the Barrikadnaya festivities are no longer taking place.

  36. Moscow Exile says:

    And again, no mention in the British press concerning the goings on in the Russian capital..

    There is in today’s Telegraph, however, this little piece that “proves” that the Putin presidency is “illegal”:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/9275198/Putin-election-result-cast-into-doubt.html

    • Dear Moscow Exile,

      The article in the Daily Telegraph says nothing new. All of the points in the Imperial College study have been discussed at unbelievable length already. For example as I have endlessly said I do not doubt that the result in Chechnya is an invention and that there has been rigging in some of the ethnic republics especially in the northern Caucasus, which is all that the study appears to say. However the point is whether such rigging as took place invalidated the whole election result. In the case of the Presidential election the answer is a resounding no as even the western election monitors admit whilst in the case of the parliamentary election the answer in my opinion is a more qualified no.

      I am going to make a guess that the reason there has been the Imperial College study is so that it can provide the protest movement with academic support for its demands for new elections based on a study that being western will from now on be presented as being somehow more authoritative and “objective”. On the subject of this study, who commissioned it?

      • Dear Moscow Exile,

        The reason the various camps have attracted so little attention in the British media is because they provide a masterclass in how not to conduct a political protest. Not only is their purpose unclear but the attempt to latch on to the Occupy movement is as Anatoly Karlin has rightly said on his blog sure to upset the protest movement’s elite western backers. At the squalid nature of the camps and the variety of misfits they attract has shown up the eccentric nature of many members of the protest movement. Whilst some westerners might be attracted to this sort of thing (though not I suspect Daily Telegraph readers) I do not have to tell you that the overwhelming majority of Russians will find all of this offputting and bizarre. Russia is many things but it is not California and Moscow is not San Francisco. A better way to convince most Russians to want to have nothing to do with the protest movement it would be difficult to come up with.

        If the protesters had succeeded in their original plan to set up a camp on Bolotnaya on 6th May 2012 when there were up to 20,000 people present and Putin’s inauguration was still pending then there would have been some point. Bolotnaya has by now acquired an almost iconic significance for the protest movement. With thousands of people camping out within sight of the Kremlin to protest against Putin’s inauguration the western media circus is easy to imagine and it would have been easy to spin the camp as a Russian Maidan. The authorities however were clearly forewarned of the plan and moved swiftly to thwart it. Everything that has happened since has been a silly and pointless farce.

        • yalensis says:

          Outlines of grand “Western strategy” against Putin becoming clearer with every day:
          They are making it up as they go along.
          Only pattern I can see is that they fighting to frame every propaganda point in a certain way, with all this propaganda directed much more at Western audiences than at Russians themselves, who know better.
          For example, for Western press it is a big deal when they are covering a conflict, and editors have to make policy decision whether to call somebody a “terrorist”, “freedom fighter”, “activist”, or whatever. Everything that is going on now is all about these editorial policies and how they are going to frame their coverage of Putin-era Russia.
          Very eclectic strategy: take some bogus academic study on how election was rigged: This will enable hired press shills to keep referring to “disputed election” or whatever other verbiage in their propaganda.
          Have their paid subcontractors like Nemtsov throw in some “Occupy Movement” type gypsy camps, so Western press can scribble something about “youth movement” or “widespread opposition” to Putin.
          Like I said, the battle is all just a big silly puppet show aimed at a single result: being able to frame propaganda, and what types of terms editors can enforce on reporters and essayists in their coverage of Russia.
          Behind this big puppet show there is somebody pulling all the strings and assigning out the tasks to the various players. I will call this person the “Project Manager”. (Not a single person, obviously, more like alliance of Western governments along with NGOs and all their media infrastructure.)

          • Dear Yalensis,

            …..in which case what we are seeing is not real politics at all but a freak show staged to impress a western audience. You could very well be right and this would explain many of the absurdist aspects of the recent “protests”. In that case however the protest movement is simply another expression of western hyperreality as discussed by the French thinker Jean Baudrillard whereby ideas and events have lost reality and meaning and are merely virtual elements in a society that has become largely fictionalised.

            • Remember Anna Ariutunova the pro protest Novosti blogger? Even she is becoming skeptical of the “gypsy camps” as read carefully her latest blog shows.

              http://en.rian.ru/anna_arutiunova_blog/20120518/173540825.html

              What I found hilarious in her comment is the suggestion from the “professor” that the “best of Russia” are present in the camps. Well we’ve all seen the pictures provided by Kievite and Moscow Exile. Are these people really the “best” Russia has to offer? By the way I take the “professor’s” nasty comment about Yeltsin (“Bortka the Drunkard”) as a sign that he is probably some sort of Communist.

              I notice by the way that Viktor Gerashchenko, the brilliant former Chairman of the Central Bank who has sadly gone over to the opposition, is also scathing about the protests which he considers “stupid”.

              • By the way one very last comment from me on the gypsy camps before we move on. I notice that the Komsomolskaya Pravda video Moscow Exile has posted claims that 400-500 people were involved in the gypsy camp at Barrikadnya. It is absolutely clear however looking at the video that a sizeable number of the people there are just visitors come to have a look to see what is going on and what all the fuss is about. The core of actual protesters is a lot smaller, perhaps no more than half of the number present at any one time.

                I understand that Komsomolskaya Pravda is pro Putin and unsympathetic to the protesters so it may be that the film deliberately overplays the fact but some of the protesters look exhausted and dejected, which would not be surprising given that they are camping out in the open air in the middle of a great city and given the cat and mouse game the police are playing with them.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  he Moskovskii Komsomolets report reckons that at least a third of the campers consists of “street people”. I quite believe that: not being daft, they’ll join any crowd so as to go on the cadge. However, apart from them and the visitors (such as the woman seen in the video who is wearing very high heels) very many of the “oppositionists” look as if they’ve not long been out of school, if indeed they have left school at all. And there is a sizeable number of strange folk there as well.

                  You see the same weirdos in the UK and everywhere else: they’re like the British sitcom character “Wolfie Smith” of “Citizen Smith” fame. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_Smith)

                  I remember how 28 years ago, when I was involved in a very long industrial dispute, plenty of such characters latched onto the strikers’ pickets and demonstrations. At the time, their eccentricities caused much amusement amongst my striking colleagues.

                  “Power to the people!”
                  🙂

              • Misha says:

                No surprise that Anna A had a stint with RFE/RL.

                English language mass media promotes Russians, short of a patriotic view of their country, while propping the likes of Motyl and Riabchuk – which in turn explains a lot of things.

        • marknesop says:

          Oh, I don’t know. Some media sources insist on portraying the “camps” as some sort of Woodstock/John Lennon revolutionary school, with young people plucking soulful folk songs on guitars while hippielike mentors conduct classes in peaceful protest and simple crowd psychology. A deliberate attempt to strike a summer-of-love sort of ambiance is evident, not to mention a sense of unity and a common goal as givens when they are nothing of the sort. “Permanent” inhabitants are only a handful, while many of the drop-ins are only there to be seen and to get a few photos for LiveJournal. But that doesn’t matter to people who aren’t there and who tend to be easily swept away by a romantic Billy Jack story of peaceful resistance and an earnest desire for freedom breaking down the barricades of totalitarianism.

          Of course you are right that it will not win the spirited participation or even tolerance of many Russians, but that’s not who the campaign is aimed at.

          • Dear Mark,

            The attempt to conjure a late 1960s Woodstock ambience is obvious. A few sophisticated people like Irina Antonova (http://en.rian.ru/columnists/20120518/173540902.html) are drawn to this sort of thing but the overwhelming majority of Russians (both working and middle class) will be put off by it. Not for the first time the Russian liberal opposition is copying a western model that has no application to its own country and by doing so betrays its distance and ignorance of it.

            • marknesop says:

              That’s Natalya Antonova. She’s actually quite a good writer, although I disagree with her that wearers of the white ribbon automatically get roughed up. But she seems here to suggest here that quite a number of the “protesters” are actually just enjoying being outside in improving weather and are not necessarily committed to dissent at all.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                I should like to know where, apart from at the “gulyanki” (“street parties”), these white ribbon wearers are, for as I have commented earlier, you just don’t see them at large. I’ve only seen one so far – on the metro. And believe me, I spend a long time each day
                here travelling on the metro, trams, trolley buses, buses and in “marshrutki” (mini-buses).

                I’m setting off for the dacha now and I’ll be on the “electrichka” (eletcric commuter train) for an hour and a half, so I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

                Of course, some, such as Elder of the Guardian, would have their readers believe that folk here, who all yearn to cast away the shackes of tyranny and to live in a real democracy such as the USA, are afraid of wearing white ribbons when they are away from the company of like minded “white condomists” lest they get their “heads cracked” by marauding gangs of evil OMON thugs and “brutish” Moscow cops.

                It’s so scary living in Russia, it really is!

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  By the way, the term that the oppositionists continue to use for those events that Western journalists describe as “camps” is “народное гулянье” (narodnoye gulyaniye) — “street festivities”.

                  In order to run a “street festivity” in Moscow, one need not apply for permission off the authorities, hence the chosen designation of these activities by the “protest camp” participants. And there’s the irony, for the same people who chose, for legal reaons, to name their protest assemblies as “street festivities” claim in the same breath that they live in a state that is not governed by the law in the Western sense (Rechtsstaat), but in a tyranny where “justice” is arbitrary and where, as Akunin has blogged, you cannot even walk along the streets, parks and squares at a time of your own choosing.

                  Unless, of course, you choose to party in the street.

                  Funny that, for at the moment, many people in my native land are choosing to celebrate 60 years of having the same, unelected head of state by having street parties in her honour. And each of those street parties has had to be officially sanctioned.

                  God save the Queen!
                  🙂

  37. Moscow Exile says:

    I’ve just remembered one of those strange people whom I mentioned above and who used to join the miners’ pickets in 1984-1985. He sometimes used to turn up dressed in a kid’s plastic Roman soldier’s gear, and when the cops used to say to him, “Who the f*ck do you think you are?”, he would gleefully reply, ” I’m Spartacus!”

    I well remember how very upset he got when the cops took his toy plastic Roman sword off him.

    Miserable buggers!

    • Dear Moscow Exile.

      Was he perhaps expecting all of you to shout “I’m Spartacus” as they do in the Kirk Douglas/Stanley Kubrick film when the police came for him?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        He did! He used to shout “Who’s Spartucus?” and different lads used to shout out in turn “I’m Spartacus!” and “No, I’m Spartacus!”

        Well, it killed the the tedium of a long year without work.

        I never knew who he was. He wasn’t from the coalfield. He was from Manchester and used to turn up at different pickets with other support group members.

        • If he’s still around may be we should buy him a ticket to Moscow to join the protests. A Roman gladiator would be quite something though given the appearance of some of the protesters there’s a risk he might prowl around unnoticed.

          PS: Though the Kirk Douglas/Stanley Kubrick is actually rather good it is completely eclipsed by the totally brilliant ballet version of Spartacus staged by the Bolshoi. Not only is it totally free of the sometimes cloying sentimentality of the American film but unlike Kirk Douglas its Spartacus is a truly heroic and inspirational leader and warrior that you can actually believe in. The final scene where his dead body is lifted up by his followers and covered with his shield by his wife is truly moving.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            I remember that film well and have just recalled that Peter Ustinov had a role in it: he won best supporting actor for the part he played in it as an awfully slimy, cowardly slave trader. Lawrence Olivier played the role of the Roman general Crassus, who put down the slave rebellion.

            I have just been checking out old clips of the film and found this gem. (Off topic, I know, but Ustinov was of Russian ancestry. 🙂 )

            http://www.evtv1.com/player.aspx?itemnum=707

            • Utterly brilliant. Peter Ustinov was alongside Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel, Peter Sellers and Alec Guiness the finest comic actor Britain ever produced. He was also a lot more than this being also a brilliant serious actor, a fine dramatist and a brilliant theatre and opera director. A true Renaissance man.

              He was also by all accounts a person of great warmth and humanity and of strongly progressive political views. He was as you say of Russian descent on both sides of his family, a fact that he always valued and never forgot (his mother was from the famous Benois family, who were prominent in the Mir Isskustvo artistic movement). He could speak fluent Russian and was a passionate worker in the cause of British Russian friendship all his life.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                To my great regret, I missed Ustinov’s 1997 production at the Bolshoi Theatre of Prokoviev’s opera “The Love of Three Oranges” (Любовь к трём апельсинам – Lyubov’ k tryom apel’sinam). I’m a big fan of Prokoviev.

                In Moscow the production was acclaimed as a triumph and Isvestia even came out with the headline: “Englishman saves the Bolshoi”, which apparently led Ustinov to state: “That I should be accused of being English there, of all places, struck me as being very paradoxical”.

                It was the first staging of this opera at the Bolshoi since the 1920s and in 1997 the Bolshoi Theatre was under constant criticism as regards administrative malpractice and falling artistic standards, so many believed that the “Englishman’s” first major theatrical venture in Russia was hardly likely to be a success.

                Hopefully, my wife will not read these words that I am now writing, because despite the fact that I had the opportunity to buy tickets for “The Love of Three Oranges”, what stopped me from doing so is that when the production took place, I got married.

                Foreigners are only allowed to marry Russian citizens at one registry office in Moscow, and we’d been told by its director that the earliest date we could get wed would be in February 1998. just when I was negotiating the purchase of the opera tickets, the director informed us that we could get married on November 12th 1997.

                We married on that day and went off to Paris on honeymoon, so I missed the opera.

                I should have cancelled the wedding!
                🙂

                See: http://www.nytimes.com/1997/11/19/style/19iht-love.t.html

  38. Misha says:

    To be expected:

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/05/18/putin-skips-g8-summit-it-time-to-re-set-our-relationship-with-russia/

    Elsewhere, I saw a written promo of Luke Harding’s book, which excerpts a passage on what he said happened to his apartment being vandalized in Russia – the suggestion that it was done to send a message. Goota wonder about that take.

    Reminded of what Elena Tregubov claimed a few years back about hearing clicks on her phone and her apartment complex getting bombed – the suggestion that she was marked. Upon further review, phone clicks can simply relate to a bad line for reasons not having to do with Big Brother. The apartment complex bombing in question involved a landlord who had (according to media) ties to organized crime. If I’m not offhand mistaken, that bombing was closer to his living quarters than Tregubova’s.

    Meantime, a comparatively greater instance of attempted and successful muzzling lingers on.

  39. PvMikhail says:

    To the earlier topic of terrorism:

    http://en.rian.ru/world/20120519/173551060.html

    You said that mafia, out of self-interest, is against bombings which cause public outrage. However others could be behind this too.
    What’s happening in Italy? Back to the ’70s?

    • Giuseppe Flavio says:

      It’s too early to tell, but domestic terrorism seems to be on the rise here. Last week a manager from Finmeccanica was shot at the leg in an action claimed by leftist (note: they wanted to injure, not kill him). Now we have a terrorist action that reminds me of the “strategy of tension” of the ’70. The initial suggestions that it was done by organised crime has been dropped, it didn’t make much sense.

      • marknesop says:

        I’m not sure what Italy’s prison system is like, but it seems to me the perception of what your punishment will be if you are caught is a powerful deterrent in domestic terrorism. If being caught will merely provide you a megaphone platform from which to broadcast your political philosophies, while confinement itself will not be too onerous, it’s sometimes perceived as sound political strategy. I can recall reading of professional anti-nuclear protesters in Britain going out of their way – by their own account – to get arrested because it was good publicity for their cause. That’s where the western media has shot itself in the foot where Russia is concerned; its portrayal of Russia’s incarceration facilities as appalling hellholes of suffering with occasional bright spots of systemic torture ensure that nobody wants to go to jail in Russia. If the stories are true, they should provide a strong incentive to move along when ordered to by the authorities. If they’re not true, why is anyone listening to them?

        While we’re on that subject, contrast the enthusiastic western canonization of repeat felons Alexey Navalny and Sergey Udlatsov as “prisoners of conscience”, while even a very tame domestic criminal record can render an American citizen virtually unemployable.

        • Giuseppe Flavio says:

          Being arrested for violence during a demonstration can provide you some free “advertising” and a platform on sympathetic medias, if any. But I won’t equate a violent demonstration with terrorism, although most governments have a different idea.
          Being a terrorist is a completely different matter with a life sentence as the most likely outcome. Even if you don’t partecipate directly to a killing, but are just a member of the group that did the crime, you can end up in jail for 30+ years. Italy’s legislation about terrorism were tightened in the ’70 (the so-called “emergency laws”) when the phenomenon was at its peak, and never loosened when terrorism withered away.
          Re. Russia, the fines and eventually jail time for violent behaviour seems ridiculously low. How many times we have heard of this or that “oppositionist” being arrested and/or fined just one day to be re-arrested the next day? There is no deterrence.
          To me, it’s puzzling that Russians have not enacted emergency laws to counter domestic Islamic terrorism, and that the sentences for terrorist are so mild. I’ve read about some North Caucasus terrorist being sentenced to 10 years or less behind bars for crime that their Italian “colleagues” of the seventies payed with 30+ jail time, unless they collaborated with the police.

          • marknesop says:

            “Being arrested for violence during a demonstration can provide you some free “advertising” and a platform on sympathetic medias, if any.”

            There’s a psychic lead-in, if ever there was one: check this out. From Alexandre Latsa’s great blog “Dissonance”, suggestions of deliberate attempts to fabricate incidents of police brutality. This story is also available in Russian, although I am more comfortable in French. I didn’t see any English links. In any case, I can offer a high-spots translation. In the first photo, you see a girl lying on her back on the pavement, apparently screaming and surrounded by police. By remarkable coincidence, the overnight-sensation afro-headed blogger “Zyalt” was on hand for this incident.

            The paragraph above simply introduces the photo, saying many readers will recall it being published by RIA Novosti, from an opposition march against Putin (the date 31/08/2010 looks wrong), and what I have described above; a girl screaming on the ground who appears to have been brought down or beaten by the police. Under the photo it mentions that Russian blogger Zyalt was on the scene, and that he has no particular reason to support the viewpoint of the Russian police or the Russian government: you can see his distinctive curls in the bottom-right corner of the photo. He is quoted as having written, “This girl sprawled on the asphalt, to the delight of the cameras, began to become hysterical. Absolutely nobody laid a hand on her, but everyone will believe she was severely beaten by a policeman”.

            The next photo apparently shows a blindfolded girl being taken into custody by a Russian policeman, and Alexandre points out the wide media distribution the shot was given, often accompanied with a scorchingly indignant narrative about police randomly grabbing and arresting demonstrators for no reason, brutal new dawn for authoritarianism, bla bla bla. However, if you click on the video link, you will see the same girl (she appears about 8 seconds in), conspicuously followed by a video camera, first with a good-sized rock in her hand, and then throwing it. Her target is out of the camera’s view, but you can see plenty of OMON policemen, and it seems unreasonable that she would throw a stone at a fellow demonstrator. Naturally, it was the photo of her arrest – with her bandanna fortuitously down over her eyes – that was shopped around the media.

            I think this last one is my favourite. In this, the police are shown bearing an apparently pregnant woman to the ground, and as she is dragged away, one kicks her hard on the inside of the thigh. The kick is shown over and over and over in slow motion, and the anger it generated was studiously fanned by the media around the world. The accompanying article in Le Nouvel Observateur was full of stirring language about heroic resistance and the dark forces of authoritarianism, and advice for incoming French Prime Minister Hollande about what his foreign policy should be based on this incident. The problem is, the pregnant demonstrator is actually a man, apparently wearing some sort of belly bandage. Whether this was a deliberate attempt to make a man appear to be a pregnant woman, or whether that’s simply the narrative the media chose to run with is not clear, but the story died out quite quickly after doing its calculated damage and no media attempt to correct the misconception was ever made.

            Alexandre closes with a summary which points out that although the overall number of demonstrators is deceasing, there appear to be an increasing number of anarchists among them and there appears to be a trend toward activities long a staple of the anarchist’s playbook: attempting to break through the police cordon, rocks and molotov cocktails concealed in backpacks and handbags, pepper spray in cans of soft drinks or kvas, breaking barriers to use the pieces as weapons. He points out also that no foreign press source printed the photo of the injured Russian policeman with blood running down his face and no protective gear but his vest, surrounded by demonstrators. He suggests a comparison of the salary of a Moscow policeman with the apparently independent wealth – since they have plenty of time to demonstrate and never seem to be at work – of those who are beginning to be called the “IPADniki” might compel a pause for thought.

            • Giuseppe Flavio says:

              Thanks for the translation Mark. I knew about some of these “incidents”, but others are new to me. I’m not surprised by these fabrications, I’ve seen similar attempts here. In one of the last anti-Berlusconi protests many bloggers circulated a photo showing several policemen beating a protester. There was something odd about their uniform and it turned out to be a picture taken in Toronto during a G8 summit. The comparison of the well-being of policemen and protesters suggested by Latsa reminds me of Pasolini that, in reference to heavy clashes between protesters and policemen in 1968 said “When you clashed with the policemen at Valle Giulia, I sympathized for them. Because policemen are children of the poor.”

              • Dear Mark,

                This is very interesting.

                It is important to remember that the protest movement sprung out of a clash with the police during an unauthorised protest on 5th December 2011. Yalensis has provided us with film of Navalny addressing the protesters during the protest on that day, which shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was he who was responsible for the clash with the police on that day. Nonetheless the western media, the liberal dominated part of the Runet and the pro liberal part of the Russian media (including Novosti) spun the story as one of “police brutality” and it was this which led directly to the first mass protest on Bolotnaya on 10th December 2011.

                It is not therefore surprising that in their efforts to sustain and radicalise the protest movement some of the protesters including not just the wilder spirits Alexandre Latsa talks about but also some of the protest leaders like Navalny and Udaltsov are trying to provoke more clashes with the police that they can spin as more examples of police brutality in the way that was done following the clash on 5th December 2011. This is however being done in such a transparent way that these attempts are starting to have the opposite effect: alienating from the protest movement people who formerly supported it.

                I would add that the point Alexandre Latsa makes is also fairly typical of protest movements in general. As they decline they shrink to their younger, more extremist and more militant core, which having been freed from the restraint imposed by the generally older and more pacific majority, is always more inclined to violent action.

              • marknesop says:

                I don’t know why it should have surprised me that the opposition would use phony pregnant women and screaming girls that nobody laid a hand on to cultivate an image of brutality, but it did. I should have remembered that although the opposition likes to broadcast itself as strong and growing stronger, it actually knows it is weak and one of the first rules of asymmetric warfare, at least in politics, is message control. They actually pride themselves on tricks like these, claiming them under the mantle of “tech savvy” and hipness. It has, however served to draw attention to the apparent fact that not all the new technology is on their side, and that people are now watching closely at demonstrations and going back over incidents in stop-action, excruciating detail. But it should be remembered that most of the media – in what is supposedly an authoritarian country that suppresses the free press – is the enemy, and in the case of the “pregnant woman” I could not say for certain if the young man tried to create that impression or it was a “mistake” by the media that they just never bothered to correct. It is evident most of them are not merely impartial observers and reporters, but are on the side of the protesters and want them to succeed.

                That G8 Summit was actually the 2010 G20 Summit, and the Toronto cops got an international black eye for their heavy-handed tactics. I think, to be fair, that they had been warned to expect terrorism and likely were told to err on the side of caution; therefore, they saw everyone as a potential terrorist. But the level of violence was an eye-opener for a lot of people. You’ll be glad to know the issue is by no means dead, and charges are ongoing even though the summit took place 2 years ago.

  40. Mr. X says:

    Dear Alexander M.

    Per your comment about Ilya Ponomariev above, I should mention here that I once met a lady in Moscow who claimed to own three companies of her own with no obvious signs of running them. Back in 09′ she had photos of herself with Anya Chapman on her blog. Now it’s all Ponomariev and Navalny. Goes to show you as Vice President Bite Me joked they’ll even work with Russian Communists against Putin. I mean card carrying KPRF members! My taxpayer dollars at work!

  41. This says:

    There are Many of us know that true stories are covered up by variations of the true story, and this is true of the Secret Society of the Horseman’s Word, who were also known as the Horse Whisperers.

    The Hollywood Film tiled: The Horse Whisperer was also an attempt to cover up the true story of this Secret Society and their Acts of Bestiality, and Paedophilia, because we see that many young girls love horses, but only a minority would be involved in Bestiality.

    Wikipeadia says: “The Horse Whisperer is a 1998 American drama film, based on the 1995 novel of the same name. It involves a talented trainer with a remarkable gift for understanding horses, who is hired to help an injured teenager and her horse back to health following an accident.”

    There is information on this on Wikipedia, and I have made that information Generic, because when you make it Generic, you make it more honest than a sanitized version, and we must to allow for the indisputable fact of Human Nature.

    Wikipedia Modified says of the Horseman’s Word: “Its members were and are drawn from those who worked with horses and who work with horses, and involved the teaching of magical rituals designed to provide the practitioner with the ability to control both horses and women.”

    There is additional information on this on the internet, and we must know that many Countries have horses, and there are People who know how to keep these types of secrets.

    We know that Scotland is a part of the British Empire, and the Society of the Horseman’s Word is a secret brotherhood society that claims only to be in Scotland, but it must have been all over the British Empire to keep their Colonial Puppets in Office.

    Its members were and are drawn from those who worked with horses and who work with horses, and involved the teaching of magical rituals designed to provide the practitioner with the ability to control both horses and women.

    We all know that it has been said that horse racing is the sport of kings, and horses were important in the old days to establish Empires, and today, I think horses are important to retain Empires.

    There are kings and princes and other royalty and nobility who would only marry a woman who would love them and love their male horses, and I do not want to go into details, but that is my main human weakness.

    I think that Empires were established and retained by only having like minded vassal kings who owned male horses in the Puppet Colonial Countries, because this would be the way to ensure Puppetship of the vassal Colonial Countries, but the vassal kings or others would have these secret habits, but is not a secret to the British Empire, and as a consequence these Puppets could always be trust or blackmailed to be Britain’s Puppets.

    There are People who think that King Henry the 8th had six wives, because he was looking for his right type of woman who would love him and his male horses.

    This is important background information on how some of those Aristocracy may have behaved in the past.

    It could be that someone malicious may spread the following accusations, whether true or false to the entire realm of the British Commonwealth and to Scotland to help Scotland become independent, and to break up the British Empire and the British Commonwealth.

    There could be allegations that Prince Charles only loves Princess Camilla because of their love for horses, and that Princess Dianna did not share Prince Charles’ love for horses, and that is why Princess Dianna is no longer with us.

    It is important to say that this could only be rumour, and that everyone is presumed innocent unless found otherwise in a Proper Court of Law.

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