Anders Aslund Undergoes Emergency Petulance Bypass: Expected to Recover Fully, Says Doctor

Uncle Volodya says, “The only thing that ever consoles man for the stupid things he does is the praise he gives himself for doing them”

While tuning up on Russia the other day over Vladimir Putin’s decision to skip the G8 summit at Camp David, Anders Aslund – economics busybody and pompous think-tank know-it-all – suddenly paused, mumbled, “What was that purple flash? I….I smell bacon!!”, and collapsed. A bright red-and-yellow air ambulance supplied by Lego rushed him to Emergency Admissions at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, where he was given 6 units of chocolate milk by IV and put to bed in Room 212 of the Spoiled Brat Wing. Surgical resident Kanchu Getoveryourself emerged later drenched in sweat, smudged with chocolate handprints and with part of a lollipop stuck to his hair, and assured reporters that although Mr. Aslund had to have an emergency petulance bypass, he was in no immediate danger. He is expected to make a full recovery to self-important windbaggery after a short convalescence.

Okay, obviously the above paragraph is satire, and Anders Aslund has not actually been hospitalized for anything. But if throwing a great big I-dropped-my-ice-cream childish tantrum were a medical condition, Mr. Aslund’s crybaby performance in this article (thanks to Mike Averko) would have had pediatric wings across the country on red alert.

Kick Russia out of the G8, says Aslund. If Putin doesn’t want to come to the G8 summit at Camp David; fine. He doesn’t belong there anyway. The G7, he confides, does not need Russia. It is obvious from the outset that Aslund much prefers Dmitry Medvedev – who ” improved Russia’s relations with virtually everybody” and who “accepted international action in Libya”. His fury seems to have wiped out his memory circuits; whatever Medvedev did was never even close to enough or ever won him more than the most grudging praise, and for his own part, Aslund only expressed fondness for him as a leader when it was hoped he would do something stupid, like replacing the Energy Charter of 1991 and entering into an “agreed legal framework for global energy cooperation” with Europe that would see the Russian government relax its hold on Gazprom. As substantiation for his opinion that Gazprom in 2009 was failing, propped up by the Kremlin and a staggering tower of egregious waste, he cited the “excellent book” Putin and Gazprom, by former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and former Deputy Energy Minister Vladimir Milov. He spices up his delivery with apocalyptic figures that show plunging profits, plummeting production and falling exports, capping it with a prediction of multibillion dollar losses. As most are aware, in summer of the following year Gazprom overtook ExxonMobil as the world’s most profitable company.  Anders Aslund, back in those giddy days when he hoped the “snow revolution” would take off, suggested that since nothing had come of Medvedev’s many statements, nobody takes him seriously. That certainly paints a picture of a leader who improved relations with everybody, what? As far as accepting international action in Libya, Mr. Medvedev simply did not stand in its way, chastised his Prime Minister for referring to it as a crusade when that’s exactly what it was but walked back his criticism shortly thereafter, and did not publicly make an issue of the west’s apparently deliberate installation of an extremist Islamic “government” where there had been none before. And look at the smoldering wreck Libya is now. Anybody want to take it home, be a foster-parent to it? I don’t see a lineup.

You almost have to wonder how Aslund gained such a reputation as an economist, because – just as in the example above – those who listened to him and took his advice would find themselves making concessions that in retrospect would not have needed to be made or would have been wiped out in a tide of red ink. But Aslund sweeps breezily from one disaster to the next. As a close adviser to the Russian government during the Yeltsin years and a member of Jeffrey Sachs’ “Harvard Boys” team in the 90’s, Aslund was a strong supporter and architect of the controversial “shock therapy” program, that brought about Russia’s default on its domestic debt, the rise of the oligarchy so reviled in the west – when it is not sucking up to its favourites, like Boris Berezovsky, Alexander Lebedev and Mikhail Prokhorov – and the wiping out of many Russians’ life savings, such as my parents-in-law. But you’d never know it was not a roaring success, to hear Aslund tell it: listen to him argue here, in Think Again: Russia (published by his usual refuge from reality, Foreign Policy) that (1) shock therapy was not a failure; that Boris Yeltsin had had no other choice – although Putin didn’t do anything the way Yeltsin did it, curbed the runaway profiteering of the oligarchs, restored state control to the economy and paid back Yeltsin’s insane debt load in record time while accumulating enormous cash reserves. Putin is probably not smarter than Yeltsin, so the notion that Yeltsin had no choice but to do as his western advisers told him is pure unadulterated horseshit. A little later on, in fact just last year, Anders Aslund remembered that shock therapy really was a failure – but it was because the government ran large deficits for too long:  (2) Privatization did not generate corruption, it generated national wealth (we’ll come back to this one), (3) rather than collapsing, Russian infrastructure actually underwent a dramatic improvement during the shock therapy years, (4) Russia does not need foreign capital to boost its investment rate. You’ll want to keep this one bookmarked for the next time the Russophobes start chinning about capital flight, and (5) Russia’s health crisis is exaggerated, which is particularly hypocritical considering that during the turbulent Yeltisn years, life expectancy for men fell by six years.

It’s worthwhile reading that whole article word for word, and balancing it against the tirade in the article that is the subject of this post, because there are so many nuggets of pure gold in Think Again: Russia. Some of them directly contradict his red-faced screaming that Russia does not belong in the G8 because that is the Big Folks Club and Russia is unimportant, such as, “Although Russia no longer is a superpower, it remains a huge sovereign country with great influence on world affairs“. Some highlight the hypocrisy of a tantrum that condemns the entire country just because he hates Vladimir Putin, like “Russians increasingly believe that President Yeltsin was wrong in trying to establish friendly relations with the United States, complying with its many demands, while China’s hard-line foreign policy toward Washington was more successful. The United States expanded NATO against Russia without offering anything in return. The U.S. media and Congress persistently criticize Russia more often than China“. Some make you wonder how in hell he ever established a reputation as an economist, like, “Much of the anti-democracy sentiment stems from the perception that political stability is good for reforms. But, in practice, the opposite is true. The long tenure of the infirm President Yeltsin and the passive Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin provided Russia with a “stability” that favored the corrupt elite. Poland, the three Baltic countries, and Bulgaria have changed governments on average almost every year for the last decade, and they are among the most successful reformers”. Perhaps political turmoil is great for reform, but that’s small comfort when you have no job: between 1990 and 2001 – the decade Aslund speaks of, Poland’s unemployment rate went from near-zero to more than 15%. Bulgaria’s figures didn’t go back that far, but the unemployment rate in 2001 was 19.4%. Lastvia’s was 13.1%, Estonia’s went from near-zero in 1990 to 14% in 2001. Lithuania’s figures only went back to 1998, when it was 13.6%, and it had surged to nearly 17% by 2001.

What was Russia’s rate like, during the stodgy, boring “stability” of Yeltsin and Chernomydrin? The numbers only went back to 1999 (in the reference I was using, TradingEconomics), but the rate slid from 15% in 1999 to less than 9% in 2001. Look, you can make statistics say almost anything you like, but it is apparent that Anders Aslund’s idea of “reforms” do not necessarily spell success for the country. Yet it is equally apparent that stability is to be shunned, while constant reform is desirable. I’m probably stupid, but I don’t get it at all and if asked to choose between reform, which would see more of my fellow citizens on the bread line, and stability, which would mean less of a personal outlet for agitating against the government and more illusory freedoms, I would choose stability. And I’m not alone. Aslund’s fellow Swedes Dan Josefsson and Stefan Lindgren discuss Aslund’s concept of reform from a greatly different viewpoint in Shock Therapy – The Art of Ruining a Country (With Some Professional Help From Sweden). The numbers start out grim right from the starting gun, and shine a harsher light on Aslund’s breezy assurances. Between 1991 and 1997, encompassing the bulk of Aslund’s “great leap forward”, Russia’s GDP declined 83%. Agrarian production decreased 63%. The bottom fell out of investment…down 92%. This last figure seems borne out in Think Again: Russia, in which Aslund points out that the west really spent very little money in Russia as a corollary of shock therapy, and pointed out that it had worked out very nicely for the United States, who had reaped a “peace dividend” owing to Russia’s dismembering of its armed forces which equated to $300 Billion a year it did not have to spend to compete. We’ve agreed Aslund is as full of shit as Elvis was full of peanut butter, so it’s not really fair to use him now to support my argument, but to me it illustrates perfectly how unstable he is.

In a country formerly without unemployment – although I was in China in 1988 and saw quite a lot of make-work projects that stressed employment greatly over efficiency – 13 million people lost their jobs. Some 70,000 factories closed. Male life expectancy – long a fat target for Russophobes – dropped by 6 years during the very period of shining reforms that was supposed to lead the barbarians to capitalist bliss.

How’d that hopey-changey thing work out for them? Well, let’s look at McDonalds, symbol of capitalist triumph and the freedom to eat yourself into somebody who will have to be buried in a piano case. The first McDonalds in Russia – in Moscow, naturally – became increasingly popular in the year after it opened. Price deregulation fixed that, when the price of a hamburger leaped from 38 rubles to 100 rubles at a time when an average monthly salary was still between 500 and 800 rubles. By 1995, four years into deregulation, the price of products in shops was more than 3000 times what it had been in 1990. A kilo of meat went from 2 rubles to over 3000. Although wages rose, real buying power was halved between 1990 and 1995.

The voucher scheme was a beauty, too: according to, yes, Anders Aslund, it was a “politically acceptable” way to create “an owner class”. What is rarely mentioned is that between the time the privatization voucher scheme was introduced and the time people were ready to exchange their vouchers, inflation had taken their value from about a month’s wages to about the cost of a bottle of vodka. By far the majority of the new “owner class” was ready to sell its cheap, shitty, worthless vouchers for whatever someone with cash would pay…utterly ignorant that the vouchers’ worth had not diminished at all provided they were exchanged for shares, which were not adjusted for inflation. Entire companies vanished into the pockets of the oligarchy, virtually overnight. Those are the people Aslund described approvingly as “engines of capitalist development”.

Well, they chose the right name for it, at least. Sounds pretty fucking shocking to me, if you’ll pardon my resorting to profanity. By the time I read my way to the end of that article, there was a vein throbbing in my right temple that was so engorged that it pulled the corner of my right eye sideways, and one phrase kept pounding in my brain, over and over: show me any country, any country on this big blue marble, that would let you do that to them and not murder you in your beds one by one for what you did.

I can’t talk about this any more. Instead, let’s take a look at what Anders Aslund is ready to throw away in order to satisfy his temper and his ego. Is Russia important to the G8? Let’s look.

In the past decade, Russia forgave Afghanistan $11 Billion in debts. Russia provided a field hospital and a hospital in Kabul, logistic and intelligence support and right of transit to U.S. forces. At America’s urging, in 2004, Russia wrote off nearly $8 Billion in Iraqi debt, to help it achieve “political stabilization”. Russia has written off more debt than any other G8 nation. Are you curious what Russia got for that? The governments of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, mostly through the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI), financed and supported the Afghan Mujaheddin against Russia, and in Iraq, elements of the western press circulated the rumor that Saddam Hussein was hiding out at the Russian Embassy in Baghdad. How many countries would provide material help toward achievement of the goals of an alliance that has so continuously schemed against it and made of it a convenient villain? The global non-proliferation monitoring against covert transfer of missiles and missile technologies largely results from a Russian proposal from within the G8. Russia is an active member of the Counterterrorism Action Group (CTAG). Vladimir Putin signed an agreement in 2008 with George W. Bush to build uranium enrichment centres in Russia, to be used by developing countries in their own civil nuclear energy programs, as a way to avoid further potential nuclear arms proliferation. In the year of its G8 presidency, Russia was awarded the highest compliance rating by member states. Russian support for global health initiatives such as the fight against HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases has been strong and valuable.

Boycotting the G8 Summit is apparently like farting in church – it’s just not done. And mature, well-adjusted leaders don’t skip important international forums out of spite. Absent from Aslund’s pontificating is recall that U.S. Senator John McCain called for a year for a western boycott of the G8 over Russia’s presidency in 2006. John McCain was the Republicans’ pick for president in 2008. Joe Lieberman, also a past presidential candidate, also called for a G8 presidential boycott. But then, it was OK.

When I asked him for a comment on that, Mr. Aslund did not respond, because it was nappy-time.

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541 Responses to Anders Aslund Undergoes Emergency Petulance Bypass: Expected to Recover Fully, Says Doctor

  1. Misha says:

    This tragic story would be tap danced on if it pertained to Russia instead of Greece:

  2. Misha says:

    An article which touches on a subject (working off the books) that isn’t exclusive to Russia:

    • PvMikhail says:

      “Kremlin spin-doctors”, huh? This d!ckhead always rants something about Russia, which is “worsening” with an “alarmingly accelerating” rate. I don’t really know who is the real spin-doctor here…
      I mean… how could we compare 1999 with 2011? There was 20% jobless person then, who had no income at all. Now Russia could show finger to every major western country, even to America if it comes to unemployment. So Spain’s 21% unemployment is just okay I guess. However I don’t really know why would it be a problem, if somebody goes and works for cash after he CAME HOME FROM WORK. Everybody can do whatever he wants in his free time.
      I admit, that a great amount of people here in Hungary work such way, that they get their formal low salary to the bank account and then some bonus in an envelope. That’s how it works. You can’t do anything about it. If you work for a medium or little entrepreneur, he is so f@cked with taxes and the economy is so bad, that they can’t pay your whole salary with taxes and everything.
      Why would be this problem worse in Russia, I don’t really know. Actually I think, that Russians are in the better position. Low flat tax on everything. You can’t compare that to Hungary, where the tax system is a Gordian knot.

      • marknesop says:

        I’ve seen such allegations before in places like Novaya Gazeta, that a large proportion of the economy is “off the books”.

        This is another you-can’t-have-it-both-ways situation that cannot be made to work in the detrimental fashion it is intended, because either (a) the government knows exactly – or close enough to exactly – how many people work this way, and incorporates the totals into its unemployment and GDP stats (in which case it’s not really off the books at all, more like a wink-wink sort of arrangement), or (b) the Russian unemployment figures are even less than statistics indicate, and GDP growth is even higher that official government figures suggest.

        There’s a third alternative: that the whole thing is made up, and there is no such “shadow economy”. However, that’s unlikely, and it probably does exist; much of the million-strong Georgian diaspora in Russia is believed to work this way. In that particular instance, little of the money likely stays in Russia as it is believed to contribute significantly to Georgia’s GDP. But even that’s a bonus, because what does that say about Saakashvili? Minimum wages in Georgia are pitiful compared to those in Russia. Just saying, Mr. Saakashvili; you might, you know, want to look into that, when you’re not too busy shopping in luxury-goods stores abroad.

  3. Misha says:

    This pile of anti-Serb crap is written by someone who has been noticeably soft on extremism in the Croat community:

    I understand that he’s of Croat background.

  4. Moscow Exile says:

    Would you buy a used car off this Man?


    The leader of United Russia, Andrei Vorobyov, met US Ambassador McFaul today in the State Duma and said that it was necessary to meet the US Ambassador more frequently.

    In the light of McFaul’s hobnobbing with Russian citizens and faction leaders who seem determined to overthrow their elected government on the grounds that they – and “they” are a tiny minority of the Russian population – maintain that the present administration is “illegal”, and that it is no secret that these “oppositionists” are funded by US organizations, and that McFaul is a self-confessed organizer of “colour” revolutions – indeed, he is considered to be an expert in this Machiavellian art – some members of the duma and United Russia were none too pleased with McFaul’s presence in the duma today.

    It seeems that the initiator of the meeting was McFaul.

    According to the above linked Moskovsky Komsomolets article, Vorobyov “welcomed the agreements reached with the United States agreeing to mutually simplifying visas for businessmen, scientists and students”.

    The next topic that McFaul and Vorobyov discussed was, reports MK: “an agreement on cooperation in the field of child adoption”. The article then went on to say that the ambassador and Vorobev went on to talk about Skolkovo, the Russian “Silicon Valley”.

    At that point, journalists were asked to leave.

    The article closes by saying: “In reply to a question by an “MK” reporter, the US Ambassador said that he had not yet met leaders of other duma parties, but was going to do it”.

  5. PvMikhail says:

    Reading this, Vladimir Medinsky is a very good choice for Minister of Culture. Exactly that is, what Russia needs: purify itself from this myths started by enemy propaganda. This inferiority complex destroys the conscience of people. Anybody read his book so far? I guess he just did what I suggested under an earlier post, that this community should write a book about myths and realities of modern Russia.

    • Misha says:

      Thanks for sharing:


      “It seems so. For example, a secretary to the Austrian embassy, Korb, wrote a spiteful lampoon against the young Moscow state, cunningly passing it off as the Ambassador’s diary. This ‘diary’ went into wide circulation throughout Europe. Why? Because those countries saw a new power rising in the East and, to quote Prince Golitsyn, they hastened to scorn us as barbarians.”


      Not to be outdone was the crap peddled by de Custine. Never mind how Austria later depended on Russia during the Napoleonic and Hungarian revolutionary occurrences – the latter which Russia shouldn’t have been involved with, much like how Russia earlier refused to send Russian forces to fight on Britain’s side during the American revolution.



      “Yet the cultural gap only widened. Bolsheviks cast off all the achievements of Tsar-ist Russia. Historical continuity broke again, myths about “savage Russia” were revived, all that was sacred in the country was profaned – all done with our own hands and not anybody else’s. Remember Lenin’s famous statement: ‘Russia is the prison house of nations.’ In the late 1980s, the onset of perestroika brought a fresh wave of dirty myths about Russia that washed away whatever was good in our history, exposing only vices. We started blaspheming the historic experiment that was the USSR, as well as ourselves as the creators of this experiment. The problem is with us. I am sure that if we do not squeeze out the poison of dirty myths, they will be passed on, like a baton, to future generations.”


      Regarding Lenin’s above quote, consider what the world was like elsewhere at that point in history. Imperial Russia had a lengthy run in large part because of the willing role played by many non-Russians. Russians have plenty of reason to be proud of their country’s ore-1917 period as others do about their respective nation. The USSR was by no means an exclusive Russian project.

      The anti-Russian biases are clear. Confronting them with crony appointments not always adept at doing the best possible job is an ongoing issue.

    • marknesop says:

      Unfortunately, if you look, he suggests in his closer that the fault of such myths lies mostly with Russians. Here I disagree with the good Professor; while some modern tropes such as the inherent badness of the Soviet Union can be attributed to Russians, there are plenty of sterotypes that have western origins and are regularly watered with defamatory articles and gratuitous rudeness. I honestly don’t know why Russians are so welcoming to western tourists: I visualize myself wrestling in the dirt with just about every Brit I meet, and that’s entirely due to the stupid rudeness and chuckleheaded ignorance of the British press during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, when they did nothing but bitch about the food, the weather, the entertainment and the people while they snickered at all the athletes who were neither British or American. For that reason alone, I hope their Olympics this year is a train wreck. I know I shouldn’t blame the British public and wish them ill just because their press are a lot of inbred tossers. But I’m not Russian.

      • Misha says:

        A not so flattering review of Medinsky from someone who offhand hasn’t come across as going out of his way to challenge anti-Russian biases:

        Excerpt –

        “Controversial journalist and senior official in the ruling United Russia party Vladimir Medinsky was named new culture minister. Medinsky has faced allegations of plagiarism and claims that he abused his position to promote his series of wildly popular books purporting to shatter ‘myths’ about the Russian people.”


        I suspect there’s perhaps more to this comment, which touches on a (IMO) sleazy aspect of some, who will give credit when they feel it’s to their advantage, while not doing so in other instances. There’re also instances of unintended oversight. The bottom line is that there’s a pool of others who can be improving the situation if put into the appropriate position.

        • PvMikhail says:

          F@ck Bennets! I started to seek infos about Mendinsky especially because of his rants in this article. Most outrageous is the portrayal of Rogozin. He has been blamed for that Rodina advertisement for years. He is so much more than that, but nobody cares. That’s why I hate these people. The defamation and distortion is just insane.

          Here. Read Voice of Russia instead. This Boris guy has some good articles.

          Look who is bitchin’ about racial makeup? white anglo-saxon protestant republicans, compared to them Rodina is a “human-rights” organization

          I can really flip my lid on Russia Profile. Economic session is not better with that stupid tai adelaja. I have never seen a neutral article there without some bitter flavour in mouth about Russia. Prostitution is not journalism.

          • Misha says:


            Offhand, I recall Rogozin’s Rodina political party having a Muslim cleric in a position to specifically deal with Muslim issues.

            The weekly panel discussion is the best feature at RP. Nevertheless, note the slant of its moderator who periodically appears in The Moscow Times and how someone with views like Belaeff (he’s by no means alone) is limited to that RP panel, which frequently has other views running opposite of Belaeff’s.

            • PvMikhail says:

              Colliding views is not a bad idea, but otherwise the site easily can be labelled as a propaganda outlet.

      • Misha says:

        Mark, the point you mention is a two way street, with some prevailing biases evident in the West, coupled by some high profile Russian government involved media/PR activity, which doesn’t always put the best foot forward.

  6. Evgeny says:

    Note the following article:

    “Report Says Support for Putin Is Dropping” by Gregory White:

    • PvMikhail says:

      yeah… report from who? I will not read this joke

      • Evgeny says:

        Not a joke; it’s a new trend in the world of media — junk journalism.

        • Misha says:

          I periodically get the dubious “market forces” claim that influences such material. In contrast, some of these very same folks feel that Russia should cater to views that aren’t so popular in that country. Talk about an imperialistic mindset.

    • Misha says:

      Interesting how certain views get circulated. Someone in Russia sent me the very same report referenced in that WSJ piece.

      Time will tell for sure on that report’s finding. I’m not buying into it.

  7. kievite says:

    Some interesting analysis of Medvedev’s NPP initiative by US embassy staff (from Wikileaks).

    One unrelated but pretty shocking fact revealed in the first cable is that Igor Yurgens was “Renaissance Capital’s Senior Russian partner”…

    • marknesop says:

      You can get a pretty good idea of the attitude with which the U.S. State Department went into the Medvedev presidency from this. Yurgens was a know-nothing patsy, but Vladimir Milov was a wise oracle. The State Department never met a liberal dissident it didn’t like. Well – as ancient wisdom goes – as ye sow, so shall ye reap. The west had a lot of fun watching Medvedev struggle to make reforms, basically gave him fuck all in the way of support, and didn’t stop laughing and pointing until it became evident Putin was going to run. Then there was a great revisionist orgy of Medvedev-love, but it was too late. Giving him a little help when he needed it might have resulted in a second term. Instead, they got another term – at least – of Putin.

      As ye sow, so shall ye reap. Remember that.

    • kievite says:

      And here is even more revolutionary new meaning of an old opera: Boris Godunov in London Opera House under the direction of Valery Gergiev.

      • kievite says:

        Sorry, looks like this in Mariinsky theater. Stage director is British — Graham Vick
        Here is interesting interview with Graham Vick (in English):

        • kievite says:

          Here is an interesting comment comparing it with avangardist staging of Gogol “Marriage” from famous satirical novell 12 Chairs by Ilf and Petrov:

          После этого свет погас, и публика затопала ногами. Топала она до тех пор, покуда со сцены не послышался голос Подколесина:
          –Граждане! Не волнуйтесь! Свет потушили нарочно, по ходу действия. Этого требует вещественное оформление.
          Публика покорилась. Свет так и не зажигался до конца акта. В полной темноте гремели барабаны. С фонарями прошел отряд военных в форме гостиничных швейцаров. Потом, как видно, на верблюде, приехал Кочкарев. Судить обо всем этом можно было из следующего диалога:
          — Фу, как ты меня испугал! А еще на верблюде приехал!
          — Ах, ты заметил, несмотря на темноту?! А я хотел преподнести тебе сладкое вер-блюдо!

          — Вам нравится? – робко спросил Ипполит Матвеевич.
          — А вам?
          — Очень интересно, только Степан какой-то странный.
          — А мне не понравилось,–сказал Остап,-в особенности то, что мебель у них каких-то мастерских Вогопаса. Не приспособили ли они наши стулья на новый лад?
          Эти опасения оказались напрасными. В начале же второго акта все четыре стула были вынесены на сцену неграми в цилиндрах.
          Сцена сватовства вызвала наибольший интерес зрительного зала. В ту минуту, когда на протянутой через весь зал проволоке начала спускаться Агафья Тихоновна, страшный оркестр X. Иванова произвел такой шум, что от него одного Агафья Тихоновна должна была бы упасть в публику. Однако Агафья держалась на сцене прекрасно. Она была в трико телесного цвета и мужском котелке. Балансируя зеленым зонтиком с надписью: “Я хочу Подколесина”, она переступала по проволоке, и снизу всем были видны ее грязные подошвы. С проволоки она спрыгнула прямо на стул.
          Одновременно с этим все негры, Подколесин, Кочкарев в балетных пачках и сваха в костюме вагоновожатого сделали обратное сальто. Затем все отдыхали пять минут, для сокрытия чего был снова погашен свет.
          Женихи были очень смешны, в особенности-Яичница. Вместо него выносили большую яичницу на сковороде. На моряке была мачта с парусом.
          Напрасно купец Стариков кричал, что его душат патент и уравнительный. Он не понравился Агафье Тихоновне. Она вышла замуж за Степана. Оба принялись уписывать яичницу, которую подал им обратившийся в лакея Подколесин. Кочкарев с Феклой спели куплеты про Чемберлена и про алименты, которые британский министр взимает с Германии. На кружках Эсмарха сыграли отходную. И занавес, навевая прохладу, захлопнулся.
          — Я доволен спектаклем,-сказал Остап,-стулья в целости.

          • yalensis says:

            Ha ha!
            Perfect description of a neo-avant-garde interpretation of a classic!
            And all Ostap cares about is his chairs… Brilliant!

        • Dear Kievite,

          The current Mariinsky version of Boris Godunov is based on a version that the Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky put on in London at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Frankly like most “modernist” versions of nineteenth century operas I don’t like it. Far and away the best visual production of Boris Godunov is the 1946 version still staged by the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow using the version of the score that Rimsky Korsakov edited. I understand that the Bolshoi also has another version of Boris Godunov using the Mussorgsky’s second version of the score with more modernist sets but with more modern sets. However I haven’t seen it.

          Whether performed in the original Mussorgsky version or in the revised Rimsky Korsakov version Boris Godunov remains for me the greatest Russian opera. However it needs a really great bass to carry it off. I have seen Nesterenko and I have heard versions by Chaliapine (Shalyapin), Mark Reizen, Ivan Petrov and the great Bulgarian bass Boris Christoff. All were outstanding. Mark Reizen’s with the Bolshoi in a recording made in the 1940s is perhaps the finest. I have heard it said that the revised Rimsky Korsakov version is the one that works best with a very deep bass such as Chaliapine or Reizen whilst the Mussorgsky version is best with a lighter bass. This may be true. Mussorgsky’s first 1869 version was actually scored for a deep baritone. I have a recording of the 1869 version by the Mariinsky with the part of Boris actually sung by just such a baritone (Nikolai Putilin). The effect is extraordinary, making Boris sound completely mad.

      • yalensis says:

        I am always interested in seeing a new production of Mussorgsky’s “Boris”. Having said that, I am a bit leery about interpretations which put performers in modern dress and try to make “relevant” to today’s events, etc. Many possible pitfalls. But I am willing to keep an open mind.

  8. Moscow Exile says:

    A little piece from the latest issue of the RIA Novosti Moscow News, which, by the way, seems in my opinion to have been becoming ever more supportive of the “opposition” since former Moscow Times business editor Tim Wall became MN editor (see:, stating that according to a top Moscow cop, most of the happy boulevard campers are out-of-towners who turn up in the capital on protest-tourist trips:


  9. Moscow Exile says:

    McFaul on the prowl!

    The US Ambassador addressed students at the Higher School of Economics yesterday, as reported below by Moskovsky Komsomolets:


    United States Ambassador complained about “Nashi”

    Author of restart addresses students

    Within the walls of the Higher School of Economics McFaul, the new Ambassador of the United
    States in Russia, who officially accepted the oath of Office on January 10 this year, held an open discussion entitled “Restart: the Concept, the Results and the Future”.

    First of all, the Ambassador told the audience about how restart began 4 years ago: “It was probably one of the worst periods in the relations between Russia and the United States over the past 20-25 years” and so a change was needed. McFaul, one of the chief ideologues of “reset” recalled the six principles on which the concept was founded:

    -The United States and Russia have some common interests

    -We try to develop our relations in many ways, not only on the issue of nuclear disarmament

    -Mutual obligations

    -We must be involved in work not only with the Russian Government but also with Russian society

    -Cooperation should be mutually beneficial

    -We cannot “reset” relations with Russia without compromising other countries such as Georgia, the Ukraine or Estonia.

    The last point, as the Ambassador noted, gave rise to the greatest misunderstanding on the Russian side.

    “I shall give a couple of examples of what we have had to deal with from personal experience”, he continued. “We we were told in 2009: We will agree on Iran, if you give us Georgia; you want to build a missile defence in Europe, then you acknowledge us Central Asia; you want a deal on North Korea — then you should stop talking about democracy and human rights “.
    Nevertheless, despite disagreements, there resulted a strategy concerning four of the points: the top one is that interaction increase ties between the American and Russian Governments (for which action there has been created the Russian-American bilateral Presidential Commission), and that there be equal cooperation between Russian and American society and business representatives from both countries.

    Next, the ambassador began to list the main points of convergence and achievements within the framework of the reset project and, with the help of slides, to match words with facts. In this respect, he said several times that they may recall Vice President Joe Biden’s address to Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO) students in 2011, when he said that in general the impression is that our [Russian] officials prefer to talk less of the benefits of a partnership with the United States and NATO, so that we can sing the old song about foreign enemies (having become used to writing off all of our failures with them) even when we are actively working together really effeciently.

    In the second part of the lecture he noted he major problems concerning current relations between the United States and Russia: “The first is Syria. Russia considers President Al-Assad as a resource for political stability in the country. We believe that the longer he stays in power, the more likely it is that Syria will slide into civil war”. The second drawback, according to the Ambassador, is anti-American propaganda in Russia: “There was a day when I could go anywhere”. He said that now the youth organization Nashi “has been following me everywhere and quite often our conversations with them have not been very diplomatic.”

    An essential theme about which the United States and Russia are still unable to agree is that of ballistic missile defence in Europe. As regards this matter, McFaul announced “We have no intention to undermine strategic stability [note by Moskovsky Komsomolets: by this is meant a breach of nuclear parity, about which the Kremlin persistently speaks]. Even if you don’t believe us, we simply don’t have the capacity to do this”. McFaul’s address ended with the words “Let’s continue to talk”.

    Note the lines:

    1) “We must be involved in work not only with the Russian Government but also with Russian society”.

    By “with society”, does he mean NGOs and the likes of the traitor Ponomarev, who, of course, is soley concerned with the “human rights” denied to Russian society?

    2) “We will agree on Iran, if you give us Georgia.”

    Do you hear that, Saakashvili? McFaul has publicly stated that Russia wishes to a deal with the US over your state (I mean Georgia, not the USA, where you are also a citizen). Whether this is true or not, that nice Mr McFaul has certainly added a very powerful string to your bow concerning your accusations of Russian aggresssion against poor little Georgia, hasn’t he?

    3) “We cannot ‘reset’ relations with Russia without compromising other countries such as Georgia, the Ukraine or Estonia.”

    Again, another signal to those countries that nice Uncle Sam is there to defend you against the big bad Russian bear, whose intentions are always malevolent towards neighbouring states.

    4) McFaul claims that Nashi “Nashi “has been following me everywhere and quite often our conversations with them have not been very diplomatic”.

    Is he talking about the journalists that were doing their job and with whom he publicly accused of behaving shamefully in their “wild” country.

    5) “We have no intention to undermine strategic stability. Even if you don’t believe us, we simply don’t have the capacity to do this.”

    Would you buy a used car off this man?

    McFaul with the fixed smile is, I think, still the busy bee with his popping in to Moscow institutes and his dropping of discordant hints about what he thinly veils as the malevolent intent of the Evil Empire.

    • yalensis says:

      As one of the commenters insightfully pointed out, McFoul may have let the cat out of the bag, with his remark about trading Iran for Gruzia:

      • Paul Antsell
      26 мая 2012 в 00:23
      По-моему Макфолл “случайно” раскрыл содержание секретных переговоров с Кремлём…

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I’m pretty damned sure he did!

        Either that, or he’s an idiot.

        On the other hand…

        • yalensis says:

          Maybe this was a deliberate leak on the part of “Gospodin Murder Most McFoul”. Thinking himself the height of cleverness, he sought to plant a seed of doubt in the minds of Iranians….?

          • It is interesting that McFaul should have chosen the Higher School of Economics. Judging from the commentary that comes out of it, it is a fortress of liberal pro western, free market orthodoxy.

            • yalensis says:

              Yes, no doubt the students and faculty of that institution would lift McFaul onto their shoulders, shouting “Hurrah!”, after every word he uttered.

    • Misha says:

      Has McFaul ever expressed disgust at the overtly inaccurate anti-Rusisan propaganda from a venue like oD?

      Not that he’s the only one to single out on such a particular, given what RIAN’s Andrei Zoltov is on record for saying about oD.

    • kirill says:

      So now Soviet Georgia’s borders are sacrosanct to the USA? What a joke. This is pure propaganda drivel. Georgia’s territorial integrity is not based on any principles and morality as I said before. It is a contrived notion designed to push an agenda. What about the rights of Kosovo Serbs, McFaul? If Kosovo Albanians are special then so are south Ossetians and Abkhazians. In fact, the latter have clearly more claim to independence than the Albanian squatters/migrants in Kosovo ever had.

      So Russia and most of the world does not want your reset, McFaul. Neo-imperialist America and its pretentious claims to be the guiding light of humanity are not worth it. BTW, McFaul you and your regime are really out lunch if you think that cavorting around with some liberasts will give you a comprador regime in Moscow. You already had one with Yeltsin, see where that went.

      • Misha says:

        As I previously noted, on a now defunct PBS show spinning a Sorosian line, Zolotov (when he was in the US at Harvard) expressed the same view as Lucas on how Russia recognizing Abkhaz and South Ossetian independence (supposedly) serves to threaten Russia because such a stance can encourage separatism in Russia.

        NOTHING said about the recognition of Kosovo’s independence serving to threaten the borders of the UK and US. Never mind that some territories outside Russia have exhibited an interest in joining Russia, with separatism in Russia being at a minimum.

        The PBS segment in question was bizarre. It was supposed to be on Tatarstan and up to a point was pretty good when dealing with that subject. Rather flippantly, the former Georgian SSR suddenly gets lumped in as described. Perhaps this was done as an unofficial obligatory negative spin on Russia requirement.

      • PvMikhail says:

        Never stop saying that to other Russians. YOU MUST NOT FORGET WHAT HAPPENED. Russia has almost been annihilated and the danger has not passed, only moderated. Until there is 1, only 1 ethnic Russian majority Oblast or Raion, which is losing population, until then the country is in danger. Eastern Europe is dead, Russia can be the only survivor.The World is not fair and never will be, you (and we) have to fight for every little achievement.

      • marknesop says:

        Georgia’s borders are a concern to the USA only insofar as a country may not be considered for NATO membership so long as it has unresolved territorial disputes that might one day affect the drawing of those borders to NATO’s disadvantage. The west desires NATO membership for Georgia so bad it hurts, because it would give the west a little piece of NATO cheek-to-cheek with Russia. An attack on a member of the NATO alliance is an attack on all members. That silly Wall Street Journal article mocked the notion that Denmark or some other little country might be mobilized against Russia, attempting to obscure the fact that NATO membership for Georgia would also make its concerns and aspirations one with those of the big NATO nations, one of them the world’s biggest military power and one that has shown an aggressive appetite for interventionism in the past. What mischief might the west then get up to in Georgia under the imprimatur of NATO? To say nothing of the routing of oil pipelines to feed Europe that need not go through Russia or Iran, knowing full well that energy sales directly drive Russian prosperity, but helpless – at present – to do anything about it. NATO membership for Ukraine could wait; a Russia that suddenly found its energy markets snatched away from it would leave Ukraine a ripe plum to fall into NATO’s lap when it was ready to accept it under favourable conditions.

        Perhaps most of the WSJ’s readership really is that stupid, but I doubt Putin is.

    • marknesop says:

      The talk about common interests and only wanting to help these two great countries see eye to eye is all very edifying, and it would be a fine foundation for hope and cooperation if only it were sincere. But it’s not; it’s just lip service and maneuvering beneath the surface for advantage. And McFaul, despite that hopeful speech before he took up his responsibilities (about how he was so excited to be coming to Russia, his family was so excited, always loved your great country, and so on) is even less convincing than his predecessors about his intentions to meddle.

      What is at the root of tireless democracy promotion is that the west perceives populations of “enlightened democracies” are easier to control and steer. The Iraq war is just one of many, many examples in which the leadership put out a narrative, set a tone, and the “audience” responded exactly as predicted, like the two minutes hate in “1984”. From pouring French wine into the sewers and “Freedom Fries” and thinly-veiled oaths not to help France if it should be the victim of a terrorist attack in 2003 to the delirious embrace of “Sarko l’Americain” in 2007. It’s as simple as training a puppy; if you behave as the west wishes you to, you are rewarded. If you don’t, you are demonized. Seed the papers with a few choice outrages like Gaddafi supposedly issuing Viagra to his troops so they could rape more women or Assad’s forces firing on crowds of women and children with heavy anti-aircraft guns, and lay down a soothing backbeat of libertylibertylibertyfreedomfreedomfreedom.

      I don’t doubt for a minute McFaul believes he is doing the right thing, and that an open democratic society is the best thing that could happen to Russia. That’s because he can look around him (well, not now, but when he’s back in the USA) and see how well it works for the circles he moves in. Everyone is well-fed, well-dressed, moves with a sense of purpose and enjoys the approbation and regard of his/her fellows. There is an illusion there, just as in certain circles in Russia, that simple everyday people run the government with the force of their opinions and desires, and it’s no more true in America than it would be in Russia. Think what the western alliance would be able to do with a Russian citizen-government that had no understanding of economics or foreign policy. It almost worked in the 90’s, and Yeltsin was an experienced politician who supposedly knew what he was doing. Do ordinary people run the government in the USA? They do if their wishes happen to coincide with the intentions of the political elite. There is a concerted effort through spin and campaigning to get people to think a certain way, and mostly it works. For those that don’t respond, there is marginalization and the turning of public opinion against their ideas.

      If you need an example, look at the exchanges above. We (Russia) will agree on Iran, if you give us Georgia. If you want to build a missile defense system in Europe, acknowledge us in Central Asia. If you want a deal on North Korea, stop talking about democracy and human rights. Everything America asks for is an altruistic and noble goal; everything the Russian government counters with is a theft or a betrayal. We need an agreement on those Persian savages with their nuclear arsenal; but in exchange we must hand over the peaceful and trusting people of Georgia to the yoke of neo-Soviet authoritarianism. We want a missile defense system in Europe to protect our allies from the aforementioned nuclear rain that may be unleashed upon them at any moment by the savage Persians – but we must help the neo-Soviets by acknowledging, and therefore enabling, a power they do not possess. If we want to stop the looming menace of North Korean barbarity, we must abandon the little candle of hope that we offer to seekers after light throughout Russia that they might one day have freedomfreedomfreedom and self-determination, lay their hands on the great axle of responsible government and move the world, and plunge them back into neo-Soviet darkness.

      • If I have understood this correctly (remember I cannot read Russian) then McFaul is talking nonsense. There is absolutely no possibility that Russia would offer to do a trade with the US over South Ossetia/Abkhazia and Iran. Such a deal would be for Putin politically impossible and I am sure that it has never even occurred to him. McFaul is either trying to make trouble or possibly he is floating his own ideas for some sort of US Russian deal in which case he understands Russia even less than I had supposed.

        Incidentally the talk about the US talking to Russian civil society as well as the Russian government is surely McFaul’s way of saying that the US intends to continue bankrolling the Russian opposition as part of its “democracy promotion” (ie regime change) agenda. It is interesting that he feels the need to spell it out. Could it just possibly be that following the Presidential election debacle this policy is coming under some criticism from some of the more realistic professionals within the State Department?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        The Russian Foreign Ministry hits back at McFaul as regards the comments he made at the Higher School of Economics :

        • Moscow Exile says:

          More on the Foreign Ministry backlash:

          McFaul defends his statements made at the Higher School of Economics by saying that most of what he said about Russia-US relationships was positive. That may well be, but he sowed seeds of discordancy there, and in my opion, purposefully and not because, as he continuously claims, he is new to the game of diplomacy. He has a mission to fulfill, and he’s doing it to the best of his abilities: that’s why he was given the position that he holds now.

          If I were Lavrov, I’d tell the US Ambassador to pack his bags and clear off out of Russia.

          That’s what would happen if a Russian, or, indeed, any foreign ambassador to the USA, were to act as McFaul does in Russia: they’d get their marching orders in no time.

        • marknesop says:

          Nice. The U.S. government has “no objection” that RT is available in the United States, but it boycotted UNESCO for 19 years over what it perceived to be ‘restrictions” of the spread of American culture through its movies and television products.

  10. kievite says:

    An interesting view from China on Russian situation:

  11. Moscow Exile says:

    Sobchak is now bleating about her having been ditched from taking part in this year’s ТЭФИ (TEFI) presentations (the annual Russian Academy of Television back-slapping bean feast where awards are given in the Russian television industry) as well as from a similar self-congratulary popular music thrash run by the Муз-ТВ (Myz-TV) channel.

    Sobchak reckons this has happened because “word has come down from above” as a result of the position she has adopted in civil society.

    Well either that or she is just a TV presenter of no discernable talent who most Russians are sick to the back teeth of seeing spouting on about her opposition against the government.


    According to “Wmagazine”, this is how Sobchak was 5 years ago and before she decided to become a famous politician:

    The New York Tiimes reported on March 17 that after having taken part in a TV interview show on March 14 at which the “Russian Paris Hilton” was also present present, Udaltsov said that he had trouble believing that Sobchak’s transformation was anything more than proof that, for a few months, protesting against the government had become fashionable.

    “Maybe I’m wrong,” he said. “Only time will tell.”


    • yalensis says:

      Article reminded me of the rotten role Putin and Sobchak played in 1991, bringing Boris Yeltsin to power in capitalist coup d’etat:

      During the 1991 Communist putsch, Mr. Putin has recalled, they passed out pistols and drove to a factory together to persuade workers to side with the government of Boris N. Yeltsin. The crisis ended in Mr. Sobchak’s “starry hour,” as 180,000 Russians jammed into Palace Square in Leningrad — to hear a speech that passed into legend, urging the populace to press ahead toward freedom. Later that year, he pushed to change the city’s name back to St. Petersburg.

      Mr. Sobchak’s fortunes declined catastrophically after that, but his deputy stuck by him. When Mr. Sobchak lost a re-election, fell ill and faced corruption charges, Mr. Putin reportedly helped spirit him out of the country; Vatanyar S. Yagya, a longtime Sobchak aide, says simply, “Putin saved the life of Sobchak.”

      Mr. Sobchak died in 2000 while stumping for Mr. Putin in the presidential race. At the funeral, photographers captured Mr. Putin’s face contorted by grief.

      Also reminds me how Putin NEVER disavowed Yeltsin. In fact, gave him honorable burial, instead of digging him up and drawing/quartering him for treason, like English did to corpse of Oliver Cromwell.
      This is the main reason why I do not fully trust Putin, even given his many accomplishments for Russia..

      • Misha says:

        If not open, perhaps understood off record: was there not some kind of agreement that Yeltsin would be exempt from and kind of formal investigation/prosecution?

        On the matter of not trusting things fully, I see how some of the Russian government funded media and PR operations are functioning, with some crony attributes that sacrifice a better product in certain key instances.

        Part of this situation has to do with Putin not controlling everything. There’s another part where I sense he could be doing more.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Yes, and another one of the terms and conditions of Yeltsin’s “retirement” was that henceforth he should always be referred to as “The First Russian President”. It used to sicken me no end when after his retirement the drunken criminal was always referred to on TV and in the press in such a manner: Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin – The First Russian President – was pissed again this afternoon.

          • marknesop says:

            I read somewhere that he suffered from some sort of nervous impairment that caused him to have trouble maintaining his balance, which sometimes caused him to stagger and appear to be under the influence of alcohol. But it was probably on Wikpedia or something like that, so I don’t know it it is reliable. Off hand I would say not, because he could have kept himself quite comfortably in lawsuits against everyone who said he was a drunk, and they were legion. There’s a trendy bar here in town, I forget the name but I went there once with my wife and the girls from her work, and the hallway is papered with life-size portraits of famous alcoholics. Guess who’s boogiein’ across the wall right by the Men’s room. Uh huh; Boris Yeltsin.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Yes, there were regular denials of his alleged alcoholism and various medical explanations given for what appeared to be his drunken behaviour. However, having known many drunkards in my life, I’m pretty sure that The First President of Russia regularly had his first snort of the day as soon as the sun had crossed the yardarm.

              I well remember how Yeltsin was shown on the TV news returning to his presidential office in the Kremlin after having received treatment for his “heart condition”. As he entered his office there could be seen two secretaries in the foreground sitting at a table and facing the camera. Yeltsin, looking rather pleased about himself, promptly walked behind of one of these women and touched her up or pinched her or whatever. She was quite surprised, to say the least.

              I’m sure he’d had a quick gargle before heading off to work.

              • marknesop says:

                Be still, my dancing feet. It’s surprising he never cut an album, what with having the music in him and all. The Poteen Polka, something catchy like that.

              • yalensis says:

                What a terrible disgrace for Russia… to see her leader mocked by the likes of Bubba Clinton…
                (despairing sigh….)

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Clinton took the piss out of the West’s other favourite Russian leader as well, namely Gorbachev.

                  “Yeah, sure thing Misha! NATO won’t move up to the Russian frontier. Honest injun!”

      • kirill says:

        It’s too bad the opposition consists of clowns. Nobody is stopping serious alternatives from rising, yet all we have are Navlnys, oligarchs and uncharismatic characters like the leader of Fair Russia. This is the real crisis in Russia.

        I would use the west’s hate for Putin as a metric of his performance. He is not disavowing Yeltsin, but he ain’t no Yeltsin and the west is livid. Russia was lucky that Putin was there to seize the moment in 1999. But Russia needs more than just Putin and so far it is very unlucky in this regard.

        • Misha says:

          Part of a quite likely long drawn out process that will hopefully lead to a greater degree of intelligent political diversity within United Russia, as well as outside of it.

          From Russia, this overview was forwarded to my attention:

          I get the impression that the gist of this segment will do little in terms of changing most of the views on the subject.

      • apc27 says:

        I do not know, I like the fact that the man actually knows what personal loyalty is. Its no question that to feel that towards Yeltsin or Sobchak is misguided… but then again to WHOM could he possible be loyal to and NOT be misguided?

        Putin, on principle, refuses to turn on those he promised to serve, even when its not only possible and easy, but also politically expedient. Now that only Russia itself owes his loyalty, I think it bodes quiet well for the country.

        As for the Communists… I know that you are sympathetic towards them, but not I. In the end THEY were the ones who f…ed it all up. Naivete is passing, mistakes are forgivable even corruption is understandable, but incompetence… they weren’t always like that, but they became incompetent and weak and in the end it was mainly due to their weakness that the Soviet Union fell and its citizen suffered.

        Putin had a choice in 1990s: to be loyal to the corrupt and misguided (Yeltsin, Sobchak and co.) or to be loyal to the corrupt and incompetent (Communists and other opposition). In the end he chose the option which offered at least some hope and Russia ended up, for once, with one of the better leaders in its long and difficult history. Can’t really fault his choices when the consequences of the alternative paths would have been FAR FAR worse.

        • Misha says:

          Comes across as quite reasoned apc27.

          • Misha says:

            I’ll add that some of Putin’s critics acknowledge apc27’s point, while also contending that Putin shouldn’t politically live off of that situation of choices.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          @ apc27:

          “In the end he chose the option which offered at least some hope and Russia ended up, for once, with one of the better leaders in its long and difficult history.”

          Yes, I’ve often thought along the same lines and compare Putin’s dilemma with that which General Brusilov faced in 1917. Though arguing in favour of the tsar’s abdication and sympathetic to revolutionary change in Russia, Brusilov’s natural loyalties were those of a conservative patriot and monarchist. Though torn by conflicting loyalties, he felt that his first duty was to the the state, whose break up he feared would be the result of a counter-revolutionary victory. He sided with “the Reds” because first and foremost he was a patriot and saw in them the only hope for the survival of a unitary Russian state.

          • Misha says:

            A Polish mother and Russian father like Denikin.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Right! And yet another historical irony is that after the Polish army, aided by two Ukrainian divisions, had occupied Kiev in April 1920 (and Kiev is in no way situated in “lost Polish territory”), contrary to an uprising by the Ukrainian population that the invader had expected, there arose such a surge of patriotic feeling in Russia that rallied socialists, liberals and conservatives behind the Bolshevik regime, which was trying to defend the revolution from foreign aggressors and interventionists.

              On May 20, 1920, there appeared in Izvestia an appeal from former tsarist General Brusilov, commander of the eponymous 1916 Russian offensive against the Central Powers, urging all former tsarist officers who had not yet done so to enroll in the Red Army. A week later the Poles were in headlong retreat.

              Brusilov later maintained that the Izvestia appeal had been obtained from him by subterfuge, but the fact remains that foreign “intervention” or, as the case may be, outright invasion had caused many whose sympathies had been most definitely for the old regime to rally behind the new regime in defence of their motherland and not in defence of Bolshevism.

              If I were of a mind to peddle historical revisionism, I could argue that the Polish invader of 1920 together with the US, UK, French and Japanese “interventionists” were responsible for causing WWII, for that world war would probably not have happened if the Soviet Union had been still born: no Soviet Union – no Bolshevik “Red Terror”- no western European reaction to the Bolshevik threat – no fascism. But there were invaders and interventionists in strife-riven, post October Revolution Russia, whose aggression united all classes of society behind the new Bolshevik regime.

              I find this revisionist idea that I theoretically propose no less fantastic than the one that is seemingly becoming more and more acceptable in the West, namely that Soviet Russia planned and caused WWII.

              • Misha says:

                Denikin served under Brusilov in WW I. After firmly establishing himself on the Soviet side, Brusilov lauded Denikin’s military capabilities, while flippantly accusing him of careerism – which might’ve been an obligatory criticism as opposed to actual view – seeing how if anything, Denikin, was known to stick to his guns, as opposed to compromising a position for fame.

                Pilsudski didn’t save Europe from Communism. When the Red position looked weak, with the Whites on the offensive, Pilsudski refused an alliance with the Whites – who recognized Polish independence, on land where Poles predominated. Years later, it was revealed that Pilsudski reached a then secret understanding with the Reds, on the premise that the Reds would be more accommodating with the Polish leader’s idea of Poland’s boundaries.

                When the Reds later attacked Poland, Pilsudski reached out to the Whites to protect his hide. I’ve periodically come across some Red leaning folks who aren’t fond of the Whites continuing their armed effort during this period. In turn, the Whites note the earlier Pilsudski-Red understanding, coupled by how the White position didn’t include taking over Warsaw as part of a future nation including Russia.

                BTW, the Pilsudski-Petliura alliance included the latter agreeing that all of Galicia wasn’t Ukrainian territory. Petliura desperately needed Pilsudski because many on Ukrainian territory either took to the Red or White sides – which despite their differences, favored some form of Russian-Ukrainian togetherness. The Galician Ukrainian-White alliance was motivated by Petliura’s deal with Pilsudski. Note that the White-Galician Ukrainian arrangement didn’t include a statement about any part of Galicia being included in a state comprising Russia. I offer these thoughts in contrast to the imagery of a not so reactionary Pilsudski versus overly imperialistic White Russians.




                I don’t typically agree with Richard Pipes. His view of intervention during the Russian Civil War being inaccurately hyped by some has merit. Competing powers entered the former Russian Empire in part to keep check on their rivals and protect their interests. Never mind the German involvement with the Reds. Lloyd George prevailed over others thinking like Churchill in limiting British support to the Whites. George appeared to see the Whites as arch Russian patriots, who in his view were more likely to come in conflict with the Brits in the future. On the other hand, Churchill took an ideologically premised anti-Communist position.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Pipes looks at the whole thing from a Polish perspective, of course. I have my old copies of his “Russia Under the Old Regime” and “Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime” here in Russia with me. Interestingly, Orlando Figes takes Pipes to task over very many of his assertations about the Bolshevik regime, which he clearly enunciates in his “A People’s Tragedy”, another book that I brought with me to Russia after having said farewell to “Merry England”.

                • Misha says:

                  You know the saying about a broken clock.

                  I had a Bukharinst professor who used Pipes’ “Russia Under the Old Regime’ for constructive criticism purposes.

                  I also sensed some ideological slanting along the lines of bashing pre-1917 Russia being okay and that influence in Soviet society as well.

                  Some biases have been better represented than others.


              • marknesop says:

                Hey; whatever works. Churchill’s famous rallying-cry speech, “We shall fight on the beaches….” was actually not said by Churchill – at least not at first, but by a BBC comedian named Norman Shelley, who was known for his ability to imitate Churchill. Churchill himself was unavailable, being elsewhere involved with the war effort, but the need for an inspirational shot in the arm was great. Churchill recorded the speech after the war, for posterity.

        • yalensis says:

          @apc: I agree that loyalty to one’s friends is a good trait, in principle, although in this case Putin’s loyalty was badly misplaced. If a man with his excellent qualities had chosen the OTHER side, then maybe he could have saved the USSR and led it to the needed reforms without scrapping the whole system, and all the wars, deaths and destruction that followed.
          You are right that the Communists themselves led to their own destruction, and I am not sympathetic to them at all. Although I do point out that were a handful of decent Communists who resisted the illegal coup and paid the price for their resistance, when Yeltsin had them killed and their bodies dumped in the river.
          By the late 1980’s a significant part of the Communist elite had come to the conclusion that they needed to ally with America and switch over to capitalism. (Conveniently taking the juicy pieces of common wealth for themselves during the illegal privatizations.) Everything happened exactly as George Orwell predicted in the final chapter of “Animal Farm”.
          All this led the nation to the brink of extinction, and it is true that Putin stepped forward at the 11th hour and saved Russia from complete defeat at the hands of the West. I do give him credit for that. But things should NEVER have gotten to that point where national survival depended on one man.

          • Moscow Exile says:


            “By the late 1980’s a significant part of the Communist elite had come to the conclusion that they needed to ally with America and switch over to capitalism.”

            Chernomyrdin was a star man in this respect: a typical member of the nomenclatura who went to bed one night as a communist minister of gas industries and woke up next morning as the capitalist CEO of Gazprom. He is also on record as being the longest serving prime minister of Russia (1992-1998) and was even, in 1996, acting president of Russia for one day. All this was, of course, when some serious, unfettered, free-market capitalism was taking place and some very, very fat cats began to appear on the scene.

            I shouldn’t think he was in anyway impoverished by post-Soviet Russia and at 72 years of age when he died, he certainly lived much longer than the majority of his fellow countrymen and contemporaries, who certainly were impoverished during that time.

            Chernomyrdin lies buried in the same cemetery where the First President of Russia was interred, namely in the Novodevichy Convent, a resting place for “the elite”.

            • yalensis says:

              Yeah, I visited Novodevichy once, on a group tour, and we saw graves of some highly-talented and genial people, like Eisenstein, Mayakovsky, Prokofiev, Gogol and Chekhov, among others.
              Is it too late to dig up Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin and toss their bodies into the gutter? They don’t really belong with those others…

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Yeah, Anatoly Sobchak buggered off to France on on a private flight and without customs and passport clearance when the heat was turned on him in St. Petersburg. He claimed that he had suddenly taken bad and urgently had to go to Paris for emergency treatment.for a heart condition that he had. Funny thing was that between 1997 and 1999, when he lived in self-imposed exile in Paris, he never once checked into hospital there. Meanwhile, his old pal Vladimir had been doing well in Moscow, and shortly before Putin became prime minister for the first time, all charges against Sobchak were dropped. Sobchak duly returned to Russia in 1999, apparently as fit as a flea, only unexpectedly to drop dead of a heart attack one year later. Life, it seems, is often full of ironies.

        • Misha says:

          Lacking good offhand knowledge on his condition. A chronic condition can have fluctuating moements. Was this perhaps true of him?

          • Moscow Exile says:


            Very likely. But he still underwent no treatment at all during his Paris exile. Of course, there is one school of thought that maintains that his sudden and unexpected death was the result of poisoning.

            It must have been that vessel with the pestle again!


            • Misha says:

              I recall him being uncritically portrayed as a positive reformer with a good legal background.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                That’s right. But the Economist described Sobchak in his obituary (linked below) as a “progressive conservative”, who, though having at first won huge popular support in his city, was later “dumped with a bump” by the St. Petersburg voters.

                Interestingly, in that obituary “The Economist” states that the Russians are “perhaps the world’s most volatile voters”, that they “dump their leaders with the casualness of movie stars changing wives”.

                That obituary was written in February 2000, when post-Soviet Russians had only voted for one leader, Boris Yeltsin. Before his election and since 1917, I should say that the Russians had shown a remarkable consistency in their “choice” of leaders, which leaders remained in power until their deaths from natural causes, apart , that is, from Gorbachev and Kryshchev, whom one might consider as having been “dumped”, but definitely not by the electorate.

                A liitle more than 10 years after the publication of that obituary, the Economist, together with most of the Western news media, now considers the Russian voter as anything but “volatile” and maintains that the claim that 60% plus of the Russian electorate voted for its present leader is a fiction and that the Russians cannot “dump” him because he is an unelected tyrant.


        • yalensis says:

          Meanwhile Sobchak’s famous daughter Ksenia, was growing up into a young beauty, flush with all the wealth and privileges illegally obtained off the sweat of Soviet workers and engineers by dear old Dad. It is with heavy heart that Ksiusha is forced to join the Opposition against her own Godfather (=Putin), because the man has become too unfriendly (in her view) to the Oligarchic class to which she and her father swore allegiance.

  12. kievite says:

    Several reasons for abrupt Sobchak “transformation” are now discussed in Russian blogosphere:

    1. She feels that Putin will not last long and made her choice. Recently she became a host Georgian TV channel. Sobchak was present at the May 6 meeting. Also she changes boyfriend to “prominent protest leader” Yashin, who BTW was one of the organizer of the May 6 meeting.

    2. It might be that the smell of hard currency attracts even “socialite” type of woman. After all this 50 million dollars for feeding key opposition figures definitely exist and may be that’s why “Ksyusha” is trying very hard to position herself to benefit from this flow.

    3. On the other hand there is some noise that in the past she abused her connection with Putin for self-promotion. This abuse now logically ended she is standing naked like king in Andersen fairly tale.

    • marknesop says:

      Never mind. When Putin eventually tears her playhouse down room by room (to paraphrase 80’s Brit pop icon Paul Young), she can flee to the west, where her exotic dissident appeal will win her all the attention she craves and more.

      • PvMikhail says:

        LOOOOOOOOOOOOOL I love ’80s. Best decade ever.

      • PvMikhail says:

        his hairstyle is far better… Germany humbles Britain in being ’80s

        I dedicate this song to Sobchak.

        “And I fear that I’m losing myself now again.
        You – have broken my dreams
        you – don’t know what it means
        To be lost in a world of
        confusion again without you”

        Great Ksyusha lead us to democracy! We are this ^ lost without you!

        • Misha says:

          On the particular you mention, Britain was more dominant in the 1960s, which was an interesting period.

          • PvMikhail says:

            Britain was dominant in the ’80s too. I think their contribution to music scene is so huge, that nobody can imagine. I am just saying, that Germans were far more brutal stereotypes of ’80s, like this guy, I linked. I could link another bunch of gay-looking German love-song factories.

            • PvMikhail says:


              He is hardcore-gay.
              In the ’80s just nobody wanted to play live I guess.
              BTW a good Italo-disco song also from Germany.

            • Misha says:

              From the 1980s, two Germany language tunes stood out in the US.

              A musical 1980s Anschluss (if you may) regarding that German influence:

              Another Germanic blast from that past:

        • yalensis says:

          Wow! So there IS such a thing as a Perfect Mullet!
          Germany rules! (Or, should I say, Deutschland uber alles)

          • PvMikhail says:

            Indeed. My favourite part is: look at the lead singer guy, he always tries to decide which camera records, but he always fails. So he is kinda funny looking all the wrong ways.

  13. Moscow Exile says:

    Es gibt nur ein Rammstein!

    Ein Reich!

    Ein volk!

    Ein Rammstein!


    • PvMikhail says:

      Ja wohl, Herr General.

      Ich habe vormals sehr oft Rammstein gehört, aber heute schon ich höre sie nicht mehr. Meine Lieblingssingle ist “Sonne”. Ich glaube, dass “Ich will” das beste Videoclip ist. Rammstein hast eine sehr originale Musik, deshalb habe ich viel Respekt für sie. Sie haben kritische Meinung zu der moderne Gesellschaft. Übrigens sind sie lobenswert für die deutsche Sprache zu behalten.

      • yalensis says:

        So you can write German fluently too? I am impressed.! I can read some German, but I can’t write it. Active vs. passive language skills, I guess. I understood everything you wrote above, except for the word “lobenswert”, which I had to look up in the dictionary!

        • PvMikhail says:

          I learned German in school. However I am not nearly as good as in English. I have to use a lot of dictionary. I always knew how to write, but my oral language skills are far worse.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Ein amerikanischer Musikkritiker hat einmal gesagt, daß die Musik von Rammstein eine Art von Musik ist, die gut zu spielen würde, wenn man in Polen einmarschieren sollte. Welche Dummheit! Die Nazis hätten die Musik von Rammstein als “entartete Musik” beschrieben haben.

        Viele Grüsse aus Moskau!

        • PvMikhail says:

          Vielleicht sollte er mehr Informationen über Rammstein gesucht haben, weil die Musikeren aus DDR gekommen hat. Ich glaube, dass das ein Grund (oder Entschuldigung) sein würde, sie “Kommunisten” zu nennen. Übrigens, “Ich will” Video besteht etwas, das (für mich) zum DDR Symbol ähnelt.

          look at 0:36… that thing totally resembles to DDR symbol for me….
          and the keyboardist in the background is like young Honecker with his trademark glasses for me…

          Where did you learn German? I think it is pretty rare, that an Anglo-Saxon learns other languages, especially German. I mean, English is THE LANGUAGE nowadays, and they just don’t need anything else. I see, that we have quite a lot of exceptional people here on this blog….

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Dear PvMikhail,

            As regards my knowledge of German:

            I lived, worked and studied German in Germany – not all at the same time I may add. I also, unlike most of my fellow countrymen it seems, neither believe that everyone in the world speaks English nor that everyone must speak English when communicating with a native English speaker who is a guest in his country. Having worked in Germany, I graduated in modern language studies in the UK. The two languages that I studied to first degree level were German and Russian.

            Alles klar?


          • yalensis says:

            That is one of the best Musik Videos I have ever seen – thanks for introducing me to this great band!
            Re. East German coat of arms, I notice in the wikipedia you linked it says:

            Legal disclaimer
            This image contains symbols which use of may be illegal in Hungary (Hungarian Criminal Code 269/B.§ 1993), Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, depending on context.

            Wow, those countries must be fraidy-cats to be so terrified of an innocuous symbol that consists of a hammer, a compass, and sheaves of grain?

        • yalensis says:

          Ich habe von diesem Rammstein nie gehört. Wer sind sie?
          That’s about the best I can do in German… pathetic…
          And what does “entartete Musik” mean? Music of tarts? Would that be Nazis way of calling them gay? Ha ha!

          • Moscow Exile says:

            “Entartete Kunst” means “degenerate art”. The Nazis used to have displays of “degenerate art” – mostly Jewish – and music set up around the Reich. Even the early German Romantic classical music of Felix Mendelssohn was considered “degenerate” because he was a Jew, as was most certainly that of Mahler and the atonal, avante-guardism of Arnold Schoenberg, which latter, I must confesss, is in my opinion bloody unbearable. They also (officially) loathed the saxophone and jazz (“Negermusik”) and Gershwin got a double-whammy because he was both a Jew that composed jazz. And they hated swing as well, so old Glenn Miller was most certainly a no-no. I shudder to think what they would have thought of Bismarck “Bix” Beiderbecke!

            A few years back. some American music critic praised a Rammstein album as “music to invade Poland with” as it is German heavy metal, which comment I thought was in very bad taste. The reality is that the Nazis went to war with Richard Wagner’s tunes and the Horst Wesel Lied in their collective ears and if such an outfit as Rammstein had existed during the Third Reich, it wouldn’t have been for very long, as they most definitely would have been considered as “degenerate” by the Nazis.

            I wonder what the Nazis would have thought of this Rammstein video “Sonne” and its
            somewhat erotic take on that classic German tale “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”?

            Funny thing is, I used to wield exactly the same kind of compressed air drill thirty years
            ago. never felt like singing, though, when I was using it. Too bloody noisy anyway.


            • marknesop says:

              The contemorary film “Swing Kids” (1993) had the underground popularity of “Negermusik” as its theme, and despite some cheesy moments, it was a great film. The dance sequences were fabulous, and would have brought home to anyone who was a teenager in 1993 just how “cool” and edgy that music was for its day. Small cliques of German youth in the early days of Hitler’s rise idolized Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and particularly Django Reinhardt, and could rattle off facts about them that most American kids of the day would not know. It’s a highly enjoyable movie, I recommend it if you can get it. Here’s a sample, although the sound isn’t great and the video looks like somebody shot it in the theater while they were juggling or something.

            • marknesop says:

              Those apples totally look real. Rammstein was in Moscow last year, and if I remember correctly they’re playing Moscow again in 2012.

            • PvMikhail says:

              “bloody” – I really like Englishmen 🙂 :), My cousin’s husband, who taught me on bass (he is Indian BTW), Gordon Ramsay, Alan Wilder from Depeche Mode, Johnny Marr from The Smiths, all the Monty Python, etc etc etc. But god forbid, I hate your politicians 🙂

              I am glad that I managed to comprehend what you wrote in German… Sonne is the best of their Music. However I used to listen Engel, Mutter, Feuer frei, the Rosenrot album a lot few years ago. “New” singles like Moskau, Amerika, Pvssy are not bad, but their old music beats the new.

            • yalensis says:

              Dear Exile: Nazis would have disapproved this one: Not just Glenn Miller band playing swing, but also including a “Negro” number with an (extremely adorable) Dorothy Dandridge and the athletic tap-dancing Nicholas Brothers. Pay special attention near the end when they start doing their trademark backflips and flying splits:

              • Misha says:

                The official Nazi English language translation of Lenni Riefenstahl’s (pardon any misspell) documentary on the 1936 summer Olympics describes each black US victory as being one by an “American negro” in a differentiating way from other American victories.

                On another front, this was sent to me as follows:

                Rossiya budet svobodnoi – Russia will be free

                Pozor – shame

                Caption: Doctor, and why are you in white?

  14. yalensis says:

    And on the same theme of musical excellence, Russia just snagged a SILVER MEDAL at Eurovision 2012. Nice job, babushki!

  15. Moscow Exile says:

    Viktor Tsoi was the sound of Russian rock when I first arrived in the Evil Empire almost a quarter of a century ago. This year is the fiftieth anniversary of his birth. He died in a road accident in 1990 whilst returning to his home city of Leningrad from a fishing trip in Latvia. His song “A Star Called the Sun” still haunts me:

    Белый снег серый лед
    На растрескавшейся земле
    Одеялом лоскутным на ней
    Город в дорожной петле

    А над городом плывут облака
    Закрывая небесный свет
    А над городом желтый дым
    Городу две тысячи лет
    Прожитых под светом звезды по имени Солнце

    Две тысячи лет война
    Война без особых причин
    Война дело молодых
    Лекарство против морщин

    Красная-красная кровь
    Через час уже просто земля
    Через два на ней цветы и трава
    Через три она снова жива
    И согрета лучами звезды по имени Солнце

    И мы знаем что так было всегда
    Что судьбою больше любим
    Кто живет по законам другим
    И кому умирать молодым

    Он не помнит слова да и слова нет
    Он не помнит ни чинов ни имен
    И способен дотянуться до звезд
    Не считая что это сон
    И упасть опаленным звездой по имени Солнце

    English translation:

    White snow, grey ice,
    On an earth that is all cracked up,
    As though it’s covered in a patchwork quilt.
    A town in the loop of a road.

    And clouds are floating above the town,
    Blocking the heavenly light,
    And above the town there is yellow smoke,
    A town that is two thousand years old,
    And has lived beneath the light of a star
    Called the Sun…

    And there’s been a war for over two thousand years,
    A war without any specific causes.
    War is the business of youth,
    A treatment against wrinkles.

    Red, red blood.
    After one hour it’s simply earth’
    After two there are flowers and grass,
    After three its alive again
    And is warmed by the rays of a star
    Called the Sun…

    And we know that it’s always been this way,
    That the one loved more by destiny
    Is the one who lives by other rules
    And the one who is to die young.

    He doesn’t remember the words “yes“ and “no“,
    Remembers neither ranks nor names.
    And he’s able to reach to the stars,
    Not considering this a dream,
    And to fall, scorched by a star called the Sun

    • PvMikhail says:

      I LOVE KINO. How did you know that I just listened this song in the morning? Exactly this youtube video.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I got into Kino after hearing their music being played almost endlessly every day in Voronezh by my first Russian pals, who were nearly all “afgantsy” (Afghanistan veterans). They were also fond of Vladimir Vysotsky and Aleksandr Rosenbaum. At that time, I used to think Vysotsky sounded like he was drunk when he was singing.

        Come to think of it, he probably was!


    • kirill says:

      Thanks for the post. The 1980s music in the USSR had some substance to it unlike the Yeltsin era crap that came after. It’s a shame Tsoi died too young.

    • marknesop says:

      Viktor Tsoi was a little like a Russian Jim Morrison, and his music reminds me a little of The Doors when they were really hitting their stride. Like The Doors, Tsoi’s popularity came not so much for the music as for the complexity and power of his lyrics – the music is actually pretty basic and, while catchy, is mostly a vehicle for the lyric. It’s hard to believe he was only 28, to have such vision while having lived so little of life.

      There’s quite a moving, though indirect tribute to Viktor Tsoi here, at Neeka’s Backlog (Veronica Khokhlova). If you’re not familiar with it, you’d probably like the photos, she takes the most amazingly unconventional and ethereal photos sometimes. Her posts seem to be grouped by month, so I can put you in the right place (June 2010), you’ll have to scroll down to June 3rd. Coincidentally enough, she is overcome by the same song. She has a real talent for writing; I think you’ll like it. The comment is mine, from what feels now like another lifetime.

      • PvMikhail says:

        Here is the two BIGGEST legend and hero of the last three decades in Russia.

        ’80 Viktor Robertovich Tsoi
        ’90 Sergey Sergeyevich Bodrov
        and of course
        ’00 V. V. P.

        BTW if you anybody hasn’t seen the movies BRAT 1 and BRAT 2, they are MUST SEE!!!!! They are on the top of my favourite movies list along with Voyna, western movie In Bruges and some Hungarian movies.

        • As I remember there was a brief flurry of interest in Soviet rock in Britain in the 1980s. Martin Walker who was the Moscow correspondent of the Guardian (a very different newspaper in those days) was fascinated by the Soviet rock scene and wrote about little else. There was even a film festival showing various Soviet films featuring Soviet rock bands or scores. It was by watching one of these films (Assa) that I for the first time discovered Tsoi. Though he appears for only a few minutes at the end of a very long film his impact is quite simply extraordinary.

          Sadly Soviet rock was so remote from the lives of British youth that it never gained a mass following here.

          • Dear PvMikhail,

            A person who shares your devotion to the two BRAT films is my longstanding friend Catherine who is a lecturer in English at Oxford University. Unlike me she speaks Russian. She is someone who is absolutely not generally drawn to gangster films but had somehow heard about the BRAT films and wanted to see them. The moment she did she see them (in my house on borrowed DVDs) she completely fell in love with Sergei Badrov who remains (along with Gagarin) one of her all time heroes. Since Catherine is a strikingly beautiful and glamorous woman I was ever so slightly jealous!

            Incidentally a minor cultural point that so far as I am aware every single reviewer and commentator of the BRAT films has missed. Both films are introduced by the first bar of the Siegfried chord from Gotterdamerung, the last part of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. This is surely carefully calculated and must be intended to establish Danila as the modern Russian Siegfried, the hero who knows no fear.

            I don’t know whether you have seen SYOSTRI (“Sisters”), the film directed by Sergei Bodrov and starring a very young Oksana Akinshina. Sergei Bodrov in what I am sure is his persona of Danila briefly appears in that film to invite Akinshina to Moscow. I am sure that the plan was if Bodrov had lived that Akinshina would have come to Moscow, would make common cause with Danila there and the BRAT and SYOSTRi film cycles would merge.

            Lastly, on the subject of Hungarian films, I am sorry to say that I know very few but one I would very strongly recommend though the dialogue is in German rather than Hungarian is Mephisto, one of the most brilliant films of the cultural politics of Nazi Germany that has ever been made.

            • yalensis says:

              @alexander: Re Wagner’s “Siegfried” leitmotif, I found this video which has a pretty good discussion of a few “Ring” motifs from the POV of the brass section of the orchestra.

              At 1:20 they start discussing the “Sword” motif, which is introduced at the very end of “Das Rheingold” (after Erda warns Wotan that the Gods are doomed, and he starts obsessing about how to develop a Hero who can get the Ring back and save the Gods); then continues on through the rest of the cycle, every time the sword (=Nothung) is mentioned or comes into play.
              The “Siegfried” leitmotif (4:55 into the video), is heard for the first time at the end of “Die Walküre”, once again it is Wotan’s musings, as he lays Brunhilde to sleep, to wait for the Hero (=Siegfried) who will break through the Ring of Fire to rescue her.
              Musically, the “Siegfried” leitmotif is similar (or seems similar to me) to the “Sword” leitmotif. They both start with that fanfaric leap from G to C, but then “Siegfried” develops more complexity (and more notes):
              Sword –


            • PvMikhail says:

              I have only “seen” Syostri, because I could not find anywhere English subtitles to it. I liked it very much.

              I can understand the lady’s crush on Bodrov, he was young, handsome and unbelievably cool. Also his films had deeper meaning. He had very good ideas as a person. He was a role model as a film character and also as a real life individual.

              I can recommend you a good Hungarian movie. It is about the war (WW2) and the Hungarian attitude to it. The plot is about a corporal, who just wants to survive the war. However all kinds of coincidences lead him to meet with other kinds of people: deserted soldiers, an idealist communist, a life-long elite valet, an injured Russian and of course Hungarian army officers, Fascist Arrow Cross fanatics, occupying Germans. It is very funny movie with a lot of history, moral conclusions in it. Maybe subtitles can be found somewhere.

              Sorry it is only Hungarian:

          • Moscow Exile says:

            I liked this Glukoza song, which became popular world wide as a result of it being on the GTA IV radio station Vladivostok FM. Funny thing is, despite the content of the video, the song has nothing to do with Nazis and is not, as many seem to think, sung in German: it’s just a girl singing in Russian about how all men are “pigs”, but she uses German for “pigs” (“aйн, цвай, драй Шики-шики швайне” – “eins, zwei, drei schiki schiki Schweine”), because they cheat on women and her boyfriend has cheated on her again.

            Glukoza (Natalia Ilinichna Ionova), however, is a happily married 25-year-old mother of

          • Misha says:

            When covering hard political issues, Martin Walker has spun in a neocon to neolib leaning direction.

            Someone now fairly well known in Russia watching circles once told me to privately pipe down criticism of Walker on account that he (Walker) was doing some personal favors. This aspect touches on the kind of crony situation that has existed.

            In some circles, going after Simonyan isn’t as likely to be called a “personal attack” as doing likewise in instances involving some other folks with views opposite her own.

            In this unofficial crony system, reasoned pro-Russian advocacy has been neutered.

  16. PvMikhail says:

    Watch these, people! The dubbing is outrageously sh!t but, the essence is there. What happened in in the oil and defence industries. There is no concrete data, but at least the some events are mentioned, which are not well known. For example the nuclear submarine factory… What a joke.

    • PvMikhail says:

      In ’90s Russian nuclear rocket factory sells rockets to an anti-Soviet theme park in Australia…just to survive what a joke. Low point of history.

      This factory now builds Bulava missiles.

  17. Moscow Exile says:

    St. Mikhail of the Gulag has been busy scribbling away in his prison camp again. This time he has sent the British prime-minister the names of 308 Russian bureaucrats who, he says, should be forbidden entry to the UK because of their criminal activities.



    • PvMikhail says:

      “St. Mikhail of the Gulag” muhahahahaahahahahahah

      saint of the Anglican church

    • marknesop says:

      This is just a long-game strategy to get Russia to reciprocate by banning British officials from attending the 2014 Olympics at Sochi. That would hopefully lead to a domino effect which would result in only Russia and its closest friends attending while the rest of the world gave them the finger. Those games are well-known as a prestigious event for Putin personally, as he lobbied hard to get it, and some western entities will stop at nothing to ruin it. Windbags like John McCain have been howling for America to boycott Sochi ever since it was announced as the location of the 2014 games, and he renews his frantic barking every time some new happening confirms – for him – that Russia is the honest inheritor of the “Evil Empire” label. The latest slobbering over-the-top attack from him was on the occasion of Putin skipping the G8 Summit. Because of that, which did not affect regular Americans in the least, John “Too Many Houses” McCain (that’s his Native American name) hectored the government to impose a boycott upon Sochi to let Russia know America’s displeasure.

      That’s part of why Khodorkovsky is so popular in some western circles. He thinks just like they do. Hopefully he goes to the USA when he gets out of the jug. Then he can start up an oligarchical American empire while all the rubes sing his praises. If he steps on any big toes there, they’ll likely just have him bumped off, and blame it on Putin. Works for Berezovsky.

  18. Moscow Exile says:

    And now Khodorkovsky’s lawyers deny that he wrote such a letter!


    So who could have written that letter?

    Now let me just ponder on that question a while……

  19. Moscow Exile says:

    RT reports:

    “Khodorkovsky lawyer denies “blacklist” report
    “Jailed ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has not asked UK authorities to ban some Russians officials from stepping foot on British soil during the Olympic Games in London, his lawyer Yury Schmidt says. He said that the report of a “blacklist” created by Khodorkovsky is “either a mistake or a provocation.” British daily The Telegraph reported that in a letter to the newspaper, Khodorkovsky urged Prime Minister David Cameron to prevent 308 Russian officials from entering the UK. Khodorkovsky, the one-time owner of the largest oil company in Russia, is now serving his second consecutive prison sentence on charges of money laundering and embezzling oil profits”.

    Putin must have done it! He must have written it to blacken St. Mikhail’s name because the knows that the play-fair British love to shout out “Keep politics out of sport!”

    No! Schhmidt the lawyer did it! Yeah he did it so as to reveal that St. Mikhail hadn’t done it but Putin had, so as to make people think what a sly, evil tyrant Putin is and to increase the sympathy that the “world community” has for his tax-dodging client.

    No! Berezovsky did it! Yeah, he must have done it because… well, because he’s a tw*t! (Rhymes with “fat”, not “nit”.)

    • marknesop says:

      Whoever did it, it was an excuse for RT to get out there that Khodorkovsky is serving a second consecutive term for what they obviously infer to be the same offense.

      • The whole Khodorkovsky letter affair is utterly hilarious.

        The journalist who it seems invented the letter is Tom Parfitt. Though he now writes mainly for the Daily Telegraph he also used to write for the Guardian. I remember reading an indignant article he wrote when his “friend” Natalia Estermirova was killed in Chechnya in 2009 and an absolutely disgraceful article he wrote ridiculing the “monotonous and boring” way Judge Danilin, the judge in the second Khodorkovsky case, delivered his Judgment.

        Anyway as the latest affair of the Khodorkovsky letter which wasn’t shows, Tom Parfitt is not one of those journalists who lets mere facts get in the way of a good story.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          It seems that Parfitt is a close contender for the title “Sleaziest UK Russian Correspondent”. The present holder is Lucas of the Guardian. His colleague, Elder, is considered to be a young hopeful as regards her chances of one day winning the coveted award.


          • Moscow Exile says:

            I should have mentioned Walker of the Independent as well. He most definitely has a place reserved for him on the sleaze title holders’ podium.

            • Misha says:

              The not so distant Elder piece on sexual abuse and women’s rights is extremely warped.

              The aformentioned (at this thread) Walker piece on body odors is along that line as well.

              You might recall some pieces by Julian Evans which have some negatively inaccurate positions. He’s not as active in covering the Russia beat.

              Things are so bad out there, that Lucas isn’t the worst of the worst.

    • marknesop says:

      That’s just funny. I wonder if Gessen is the slightest bit disturbed by the fan base she attracts with her Hollywood-style tell-all. Once again the legend of Putin’s multi-billion fortune is simply passed off as fact without any substantiation, just the way Masha likes it. I particularly enjoyed the additional vignette about Putin asking the American businessman for his 124-karat diamond ring (seems an odd accessory for a manly man), then pocketing it and walking out. I’m sure that one, too, will be soon established as fact, complete with witnesses.

      • Misha says:

        She’s on a roll. A recent edition of Vanity Fair has a piece by her. At this thread, I noted a bombastic appearance of hers in Aussie media.

        Ted Koppel of ABC News NightLine fame uncritically lauded her.

        Gessen and some others in the role of a window to Russia is noteworthy of the lingering disconnect out there.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Because of her sexual preferences, I should think that, rightly or wrongly, the vast majority of Russians don’t give a fig about Gessen’s opinions, not that many of them know of her opinions, as she seldom seems to write her endless diatribes about all that is wrong with Russia and Russian society in her mother tongue, a society which she left with her family when she was 14 years old, only to return to Moscow 9 years later in 1991 with her partner, whom she had married in the United States. Im pretty sure she came back to her motherland under contract to vanity Fair to dish the dirt on Russia, which task she seems to do most admirably.

          • Misha says:

            On the leaving Rusia point, it’s not like everyone who has left that country is so negative about it.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              True, but there seem to be some that have realized that dishing the dirt on Russia is a gravy train. I am thinking particular of the likes of “the native born Muscovite” Alexei Bayer (, who regularly writes a feature in the Moscow Times that almost always paints a negative picture of the country that he left in 1973 – when he was 17 years old!

              Here’s Bayer’s latest MT article:


              Interestingly, I have lived in Moscow longer than Bayer has – but then I’m not a native Muscovite.

              • Misha says:

                I immediately thought of Bayer as well, in your set of comments on Gessen.

                Regarding English language venues, I’ll once again note the non-Ukrainian owned/Ukrainian based Kyiv Post propping of nationalist anti-Russian views, in contrast to the non-Russian owned/Russian based Moscow Times limiting (muting) reasoned pro-Russian advocacy.

                • Dear Misha,

                  My friend Barbara tells me much the same is true in Poland, that the most virulently Russophobic part of the media there is western owned.

                • Misha says:

                  *Alexander, you touch on how some major media are disproportionate to certain views. I understand that Finnish media seems to be ahead of Finnish public opinion when it comes to anti-Russian leaning commentary. A major Finnish media org. has been involved with The Moscow Times. We know about the kind of Ukrainian views on Russia getting the nod over some other Ukrainian perspectives on that subject.

                  Someone from what’s considered to be the most influential media outlet in the world privately expressed great interest in my views – asking that I briefly categorize them. I respectfully gave him links to my most active columns, while noting some apprehension with his request. For example, despite having obvious biases, some like Taras Kuzio aren’t as prone to being labeled as others including a good number of the commenters at Mark’s blog. Meantime, I don’t see Kuzio (without meaning to just single him out) in overall terms being more objective and accurate.

    • PvMikhail says:

      f@ck me… that headline did no good to my health

  20. Moscow Exile says:

    I’ve noticed how more and more frequently the Russophobes have been pinning the murder of Starovoitova on Putin despite the fact that RIA recently reported this:

    The link that is made between Starovoitova’s murder and Putin is that the homicide took place 4 months after Putin had become head of the FSB.

    So he must have ordered it! It’s as plain as can be.

    And did you know that Politkovskaya was murdered onPutin’s birthday?

    So there you have it then!

    He clearly is responsible for her death….

    • marknesop says:

      You’re missing the obvious: she was going to run as a candidate in the 2000 presidential election!!! Of course Putin killed her!! The only way he can win election is if he is the only candidate!

      As far as the west is concerned, Russia might as well not even have a legal system, or courts, because every matter is prejudged in the western media and any verdict that says otherwise is just put down to the corrupt, rotten legal system which incriminates the innocent while shielding the guilty.

      • PvMikhail says:

        Starovoitova… she defended everything except Russians… I am personally not sad… And I stop here. The World progresses somewhat, because on the English wikipedia site of Starovoitova mentions Novodvorsakya’s accusations under “conspiracy theory” label. We are not always so lucky…

        • PvMikhail says:

          BTW according to wiki, she established some retarded “very unique” democratic award for humanrightspeople. The strange thing is, that Anatoly Sobchak, Putin’s mentor received it and also did mentally ill Novodvorskaya. Are the people, who award it, addicted to coke? How can these two people get the same “prize”?

          • Misha says:

            Pv Mihail & Co.

            If I correctly recall, Leos did a post on the aforemntoned Novo… sugar-coating the legacy of the nationalist anti-Russian leaning OUN/UPA. This reminds me of someone I know of Ukrainian backgoround, who recalls a US think tank being uncritically represented at a pro-OUN/UPA function. Upon expressing protest about this to a key person at that think tank, said person was essentially told to shut-up.

        • cartman says:

          I do not think she would have had any popularity with her lack of concern about her countrymen. One Islamist connected to recent terror attacks had a Russian mother who was killed in Dudayev’s Chechnya for selling alcohol. This was apparently common back then, and the person she wanted to concede power to would do nothing to help Chechnya’s substantial Russian minority, which is almost completely gone today. The Chechen Republic also includes a substantial amount of land that was historically Russian (Cossack, but further back it was Ossetian, who began to Slavicise around the 13th century).

        • Moscow Exile says:

          In 1992, which was the last full year that I lived in the UK, I noticed how Starovoitova began to appear for interviews on the BBC with remarkable regularity. Furthermore, many of these interviews were held live in the BBC studios on a news digest that was shown at 10 o’clock in the evening.

          I began to wonder why she was paying so many frequent vsits to London. Were these flights of hers to the UK only in order to be interviewed by the BBC? Was she the only duma deputy who would grant the BBC interviews? Was she the only one who dared to be “outspoken”? Why was she, apparently, the BBC’s favourite Russian spokesperson?

          Here’s a BBC obituary on Starovoitova:

          As regards the murder, note how the BBC states: “Clearly it is the work of extremists – either from the nationalist right or the ultra-communist left”.

          No mention of the FSB or of Putin (because hardly anyone knew of the Evil One then), but Berezovsky (as usual) manages to get a word in, saying that the FSB was out to get him. And note how (shudder the thought!) the BBC openly reports that Platon Elenin, as British citizen Berzovsky now likes to call himself, might even have been involved in corrupt practices!

          As long ago as 2005 the BBC reported the sentencing of two men to prison terms of 20 and 23 years for her murder and that Starovoitova’s son had stated his satisfaction with these convictions (see:

          The BBC article linked above closes with the statement: “Investigators are continuing their efforts to find out who ordered the murder”.

          On January 3rd of this year RIA reported that the person who organized Starovoikova’s murder had been gaoled. (See:

          Nevertheless, Starovoitova’s murder is still regularly claimed by many to have been on the orders of Vladimir Putin and these accusations seem to me to be increasing in their regularity.

          One final point: according to Wiki:

          “From 1994 to 1998, she [Starovoitova] was a visiting professor at the Watson Institute for International Studies of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, lecturing on the politics of self-determination for ethnic minorities”.

          Again from Wiki:

          “The Watson Institute for International Studies is a center for the analysis of international issues at Brown University, focusing mainly on global security and political economy and society”;


          “The Watson Institute was founded in 1981 as the Center for Foreign Policy Development”.

          That sounds remarkably like the kind of foreign leader grooming set-up that Navalny attended.

          Was Starovoitova “our girl in Moscow” before some right- or left-wing maniacs decided to bump her off?

        • Misha says:

          Your comment about her reminds me of the org known as SOVA, as well as some comments by Walker. Highlight Rusian extremism (real and hyped) in contrast to downplaying what’s evident within other groups.

          • I remember Starovoitova very well. She struck me as a very aggressive character. I remember her as one of the more extreme liberal voices within the Russian Congress of People’s Deputies and and one of the big cheerleaders for Yeltsin’s crackdown in 1993.

            I suspect that one of the reasons she is so well remembered in the west or at least Britain is because as someone who could speak English she was constantly being interviewed during the 1993 political crisis by the BBC as the Russian liberal voice. I remember listening to her on the BBC radio Today programme or on the BBC TV Newsnight programme almost it seemed every day.

            I ought to say that in 1992 and 1993 the universal view promoted by the British media and enthusiastically endorsed by Starovoitova and others like her was that the Russian people were overwhelmingly behind Yeltsin and Gaidar, who were assumed to be massively popular, but who were supposedly being obstructed in the reforms they wanted to carry out and which the Russian people supported by a small, corrupt Communist rump in the Russian Congress of People’s Deputies. Though there was no internet in those days and to all intents and purposes no alternative source of information it was already obvious to me that this view was complete nonsense. However I suspect many within the British media persuaded themselves it was true (after all they wanted to believe it) and came to have an exaggerated respect for Starovoitova because she was telling them what they had come to believe and wanted to hear. By the time this view came to be discredited by the results of the Duma elections in December 1993 Starovoitova’s position as a favoured media pundit for the British media had become too secure for it to be seriously challenged though the number of interviews she gave did fall considerably thereafter.

            • Misha says:

              Nekrasov (pardon any misspell) has been (at least for a decent run) another frequent source used by the BBC.

              Western mass media uses these figures in a way somewhat similar to how Gus Hall and Angela Davis of the pro-Soviet CPUSA were utilized by the Soviets.

              By definition, “fringe” views in a given country aren’t necessarily off from reality. At present, Gessen, Latynina and Bukovsky don’t fit that category.

  21. cartman says:

    Georgia is receiving very generous donations from the United States, if there is any mystery to their geopolitical alignment:

    This is much nicer than prisons in the US thanks to American taxpayers. (Prisoners in Maricopa County live in hot tents in the Arizona desert with no health care access).

    • PvMikhail says:

      What’s the point being in prison then? Even here in Hungary big part of Romani minority commits crimes like a lifestyle, just to go to prison. Because sometimes in there is better than out. They brag about the “served” years outside. I think the Russians are right. Prison supposed to be a PRISON, a scary thing, not a cost-free playground.

      This documentary shows how a prison supposed to look like.
      Sorry for the stupid “american style” documentary narration. I don’t like, that they talk in superlatives about everything with that stupid tone in every documentary, it’s like a joke. They can’t make a normal documentary about anything without being “exclusive, we managed to get inside, where nobody was, we show it to you and only you (along with 20 million people)”.

      • cartman says:

        I saw that special, and they are nothing like the Turkish prisons in Midnight Express that you would expect to find from the title. They are cold and isolating, but not tough.

        • Misha says:

          On weekends, MSNBC airs a series known as Locked Up. They did a show on prisons in former Communist Europe. I didn’t see all of it. The Serb prisons featured came aross as being quite humane. The Czech prison system also fared well. The segment on Poland came across as the most security conscious.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Her Majesty’s Prison Strangeways, Manchester, where I was once a guest, struck me at the time as being quite a shithole.

            The worst of it was that right next door stood Boddington’s Strangeways Brewery, from where the delightful odours of malted barley and Mr. Boddington’s freshly brewed nectar used to waft over the inmates of “The Strangeways Hotel”.


            • PvMikhail says:

              You must have SO VAST life experience… The question will be: What didn’t you do in your life? 🙂

  22. kievite says:

    Ten professions of Vladimir Putin 🙂

    They forgot to mention his judo credentials. Also as a former KGB guy he probably can shoot pistol on a competitive level.

    • marknesop says:

      They forgot diver and cabaret singer, too.

      • yalensis says:

        They also forgot hockey player.
        Putin only started training a couple of years ago, and already he can play a little hockey, not at the professional level, obviously, but not bad for somebody who never skated as a child and only learned to skate as a middle-aged adult. (Skating is much harder sport than people think, and very few people can master it if they didn’t start as children.)

        The kind of people who mock this are the types who would slip and fall on their ass the moment they set foot on a sheet of ice!

        • Misha says:

          For development sake, it’s a shame that a good number of skaters (in a 200 ft. by 85 ft. rink or something a little bit larger or smaller) and swimmers (in 25 yard or 25 meter pools) are brought up in rather closed quarters in the respective forms of activity.

          When included with the shorter variants, the greater availability of a larger ice surface (in the form of a vast frozen pond) and long course pool (50 yard or 50 meter pool) make for better training.

          • yalensis says:

            Well, I am a Rink Rat myself. I skate (I am not particularly good at it, but it is a way to keep my ski legs strong during the non-ski season, since indoor rink skating is a year-round activity), and I hang out with figure skaters most of whom have never seen a pond in their life. They simply could not do the intricate spins and footwork that they do on the uneven surface of a pond. (Plus, pond ice would ruin their expensive blades.) The rink becomes their second home, and even though the space is limited and finite, it can seem like an infinite and wondrous world to those who are really into it.

            • Misha says:

              A small well surfaced rink serves the purpose you note.

              It’s possible to come across pretty well surfaced ponds. As you might know, the Russians and some others in Europe play a version of rink ice hockey known as bandy over a large surface.

              Some good leg conditioning exercises that include a cardio benefit are the revolving escalator steps (as opposed to the up and down leg steppers), life cycle with resistance at a good pace and elliptical trainers.

              The Cossack dances in a squat position serve a conditioning purpose.

  23. Moscow Exile says:

    Talk about “newspeak”!

    The Russian press reports today that Udaltsov has applied for permission to hold a “March of a Million” in Moscow on June 12th, “Russia Day”, which is the next state holiday. And in the same articles it is stated that the application that Udaltsov has made is for 50,000 people.

    But it’s still a “”March of a Milion” according to Udaltsov and, if it takes place, throughout the world the news media, no doubt, will continue to report it as such.

    Any predictions on the possible attendance?

    5,000 perhaps?

    Any advances on 5,000?


    • yalensis says:

      @Exile: Request: Could you ask your wife to check the “casting calls” in the various online sites which recruit actors for roles. I will bet you that the Opps will be casting for “extras” to play protesters in their march. I am not kidding, this is how they do it. Could be a big expose if you are able to find how much $$$ they are paying to beef up their ranks for the march.
      In the past they have had ads on casting sites that specified, e.g., “Meet outside the Metro station at such-and-such an hour, but only want people with Slavic facial features”, because they know people will be on to them if there are a lot of Caucasian looking Gastarbeiter marching against the government. So, they end up with Slavic-looking drunks, pensioners, and various other types who are in need of a few extra rubles.
      Without these “extras”, it will just be a couple thousand hardcore of Opps intelligentsia/elite. Unless the Communists once again disgrace themselves by beefing up their ranks with their own (fairly organized) cadres.

      • Misha says:

        In the past they have had ads on casting sites that specified, e.g., “Meet outside the Metro station at such-and-such an hour, but only want people with Slavic facial features”, because they know people will be on to them if there are a lot of Caucasian looking Gastarbeiter marching against the government.


        Reminded of the highly publicized Rodina commercial. So there’s no misunderstanding, I’m not into caricaturing a given group. At the same time, note Walker type pieces on smelly Russians and how Russian extremism (real anf hyped) get trumped over faults to be found elsewhere.

        In some circles, this isn’t as prone to being called “racist” unlike features on the level of non-ethnic Russian wrong-doing.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        The firm that she deals with only cast for TV shows.

        • Udaltsov behaves like one of those old LPs that’s got stuck in its groove. Another protest about unfair elections? People are now utterly bored by the subject as a recent opinion poll published in Kommersant shows:

          Kirill by the way is absolutely right. Russia has a highly intelligent government but is badly let down by its opposition. Zyuganov had his day but should have retired long ago and made way for someone else. Instead come every election he refights the 1996 election, not as he actually fought it in 1996 but as he now thinks he should have fought it. Zhirinovsky made a splash in 1993 but has done nothing since. Mironov may have potential but he has yet to make an impact. Yavlinsky is the one liberal who in the 1990s conducted himself with honour but since then he has had absolutely nothing new to say and still acts as if it was Yeltsin rather than Putin who was President.

          As for the pseudo revolutionaries of the protest movement, Udaltsov’s call for another March of (non) Millions to protest unfair elections shows that they are as bereft of new ideas as the leaders of the mainstream or should I say actual opposition.

          • yalensis says:

            The Kommersant and other polls show that there is a potential for a real Opposition at some point, based on economic dissatisfaction. Lower and middle classes might form a movement to pressure government to increase wages and pensions, and so on. And the hatred of he oligarchs is always simmering beneath the surface, so class warfare could erupt. None of this has anything to do with the “liberal” opposition, which is all pro-Khodorkovsky and pawns of U.S. imperialism. However, things could get confusing in the future, when a real Opposition would have to struggle mighty hard to separate itself from any suspicion it is connected with the pro-Oligarchic opposition. Rule of thumb is to NOT join any “popular fronts” with pro-oligarchic forces to conduct rallies or marches, instead to have their own events on a separate day.

        • yalensis says:

          The ads might lead these Slav-faced drunks to believe that they are going to be on a reality TV show!

          • Dear Yalensis,

            I completely agree with you. Russia both needs and wants an intelligent, responsible and patriotic opposition. The trouble is it hasn’t got one. I will know Russia is stable and secure when it does.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              As regards this matter, when the terms “the opposition”, in the present Russian political meaning of the word, or “non-systematic opposition” turn up in our conversations, I’ve often tried to explain “Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition” or the “Official Opposition” to my Russian colleagues.

              In my opinion, many of them seem to think it a peculiar British concept, namely that the second largest block in parliament has a vital role to play in the British parliament, that the British “Official Opposition” is not just there to barrack and cat call the government and to oppose every move it makes in the legislature.

              I think my colleagues tend to confuse the administration with the state and believe that opponents of the administration are opponents of the state.

              Come to think of it, that’s the line that Thatcher used to peddle: “You’re either for us or against us; and if the latter, then you are enemies of the state” – “the enemy within” and
              all that.

              • marknesop says:

                You beat me to it. I was going to point out that the role of the opposition – that is, the loyal opposition – is to preserve and guard the people’s rights in the affairs of government while remaining loyal to the policies of that government; a sort of system of checks and balances, as it were, to speak up for the concerns of environmentalists, say, during the construction of a road (such as the Khimki Forest project). I see that it has been defined much better than I would be able to do, at least insofar as it applies to my own country: “The existence of an opposition, without which politics ceases and administration takes over, is indispensable to the functioning of parliamentary political systems“. Again at least in Canadian politics, which the reference points out we inherited from the United Kingdom, “It upholds and maintains the rights of minorities against majorities. It must be vigilant against oppression and unjust invasions by the Cabinet of the rights of the people. It should supervise all expenditures and prevent over-expenditure by exposing to the light of public opinion wasteful expenditures or worse. It finds fault; it suggests amendments; it asks questions and elicits information; it arouses, educates and molds public opinion by voice and vote. It must scrutinize every action by the government and in doing so prevents the short-cuts through democratic procedure that governments like to make“. In a parliamentary system, or indeed in any representational government system that consents to rule by elected officials, “the minority accepts the right of the majority to make decisions, provided that there is reciprocal respect for the minority’s right to dissent from these decisions and to promote alternative policies“.

                Openly colluding with a foreign government to overthrow your own national government – in exchange, presumably, for appointment to a position of power in the succeeding administration – does not, I’m afraid, fall under “promoting alternative policies”, and if a proposal that Russia allow itself to be administered to and ruled by western powers were taken to the people it would be soundly defeated.

  24. Misha says:

    The latest doom and gloom piece on the Russian economy:

    • The staff at the Higher School of Economics and Dmitriev’s think tank take a consistently pessimistic view of Russia’s prospects. The problem with the view from the Higher School of Economics is that the view it takes of the Russian economy is purely one dimensional. If oil prices crash and were to stay low for a long time this would cause short term budget problems but in the not so very long term the economy would adjust (as Kirill has said) as the non oil sectors of the economy benefited from lower energy costs.

      Having said this the reality is that even if oil prices fall they are most unlikely to remain low for very long. The first response of the world’s central banks to a Greek exit from the eurozone or to a collapse of the eurozone (the latter being something which I continue to think is very unlikely) will be to turn on the money taps. We have already seen a succession of money printing exercises in the US and Britain (“quantitative easing”) as the central banks of those countries have struggled to sustain demand and to cover the problems in the banking system. Over the winter the European Central Bank finally joined in by offering unlimited three year loans to selected European banks. The consequence of these monetary exercises has been to boost commodity prices especially prices for oil and gold. That is why oil prices recovered so quickly following their collapse in the winter of 2008/9. There is every reason to think that if there was a similar crisis following a Greek exit from the eurozone or an even greater crisis caused by a breakdown of the eurozone the world’s central banks would respond in the same way. As it happens because of the increasing problems in the banking system especially in Europe I expect the printing presses of the central banks to start cranking up again during the summer regardless of whether Greece leaves the euro or not. In that case it is even possible that as winter approaches oil prices might start to rise.

      Over and above these short term considerations is the fact that the underlying trend in oil prices is for them to grow as demand in places like China and Asia increases faster than supply and this is surely going to continue regardless of what happens in the eurozone and the US. This means that regardless of what happens over the next few months any fall in oil prices is going to be temporary

      As for Dmitriev’s predictions of a crisis, the study his Centre has just published is a classic case of turning the meaning of data on its head. Dmitriev found that most Russians are dissatisfied with the state of health care, social conditions, corruption, the rule of law, democracy etc. and want to see improvements in these areas He then construes this to mean that Russians are turning against the government and have embraced the cause of the protesters even whilst he admits that most Russians have remained aloof from the protesters.

      In what sense is this in fact so? Of course most Russians want to see improvements in health care, social conditions, corruption, the rule of law, democracy etc? What Russian doesn’t? Putin’s articles during the election campaign was all about these things. One doesn’t have to be a liberal or middle class or an opponent of the government to want these things. The fact that most Russians want to see improvements in health care, social conditions, corruption, the rule of law, democracy etc does not mean that they oppose Putin or that they are preparing to turn against Putin any more than it means that Putin himself wants too see health care, social conditions, corruption, the rule of law, democracy etc remain as they are.

      As to Dmitriev’s claim that his Centre last year predicted the “crisis” this winter, the short answer is that there was no crisis this winter. What there was was a number of demonstrations that attracted some tens of thousands of people, which in any other country would considered something completely normal during an election season. With the election season over notwithstanding the best efforts of some of the organisers of the protests and the passionate commitment of some of the protesters the protests show all the signs of petering out.

      • cartman says:

        Well, HSE was created to support the economic policies of the Yeltsin administration, with members becoming part of the faculty. I see papers refer to it as “prestigious”, despite its only two decades of existence and the fact that it is run by failures and frauds.

        • Misha says:

          On the idea of Russia being near a massive socioeconmic upheavel, I lean in the direction of Alexannder and Cartman, while not necessarily ruling out what the others in question say. Afterall, some not so predictable things have happened in the past.

          In a not too distant RP panel, Eric Kraus seems to go along with my take – a view shared by some others. Kraus pretty much said that Russian growth will likely continue, albeit not as great as China’s. I’ve portrayed the Russian situation as a matter of fluctuating up and down trends, with the positives gradually over-taking the negatives. In some circles, this view isn’t as attractive as the notion of Russia on the brink of bursting apart.

  25. kovane says:

    Hey, Mark! Please check your mail.

  26. Moscow Exile says:

    This is just what Navalny and friends want: their first martyr for the cause. The 18-year-old in the article linked below stands trial this weekend. She could face a maximum penalty of 5 to 10 years inside:


  27. Moscow Exile says:

    And it’s started already!

    Alexandra Dukhaninane, the 18-year-old arrested after the May 6 civil disorder on Bolotnaya and who, despite the video evidence, according to the MK article linked above “does not deny being on Bolotnaya Square, but denies throwing a stone” is now being labelled by some as “a prisoner of conscience”.

    • Dear Moscow Exile,

      This is indeed exactly what professional agitators like Udaltsov and Navalny want. Using young people as political cannon fodder is of course beyond cynical.

      I hope the authorities show wisdom and understand that justice in this case should be tempered with mercy. Obviously if this young woman was involved in some of the violence she ought to be convicted but a prison sentence would be counterproductive and disproportionate and would of course play into Udaltsov’s and Navalny’s hands. As an 18 year old she is presumably not in a position to pay a fine and I don’t think one should increase her dependence on people like Udaltsov and Navalny and the rest by putting them in a position where they can gain credit by paying her fine for her. Some sort of community service would seem to me to pitch the punishment about right. This would be proper punishment for the crime committed and would be politically wise as well.

      • marknesop says:

        If it were up to me, she would have to publicly apologize to the police as well for her behavior. Whether or not she hit anyone is as irrelevant as if she drove through the city at twice the speed limit and didn’t hit anyone; breaking the law is breaking the law, and lawbreakers should not be let off just because no unfortunate consequence accrued to their lawbreaking activities.

        Is this the girl who was seen in the video I linked earlier, with her bandana over her eyes? If so, it looked as if she was being deliberately recorded, as if her actions were to be inspirational or symbolic to someone. To give her the benefit of the doubt, her recorder could have been someone who saw her pick up the rock and guessed what she was about to do. Again, if we’re talking about the same girl. It looks like her.

        If so, they should absolutely not allow her to be made into some kind of hero.

  28. Moscow Exile says:

    Dear Alexander Mercouris,

    Totally agree!

    In the girl’s (sexist! 🙂 ) defence, the oppositionist leaders are arguing that the projectile that she threw at the police didn’t hit anyone. And to be honest, I should say, judging by the way she threw it like the big girl she is, even it had hit anyone, I doubt if it would have caused serious injury. Be that as it may, I should like to see the reaction of the Metropolitan Police if such an argument were used in the defence of the actions of some demonstators in London. And remember, those that have presented such an argument believe that they’re fit to govern.

    As for Dhukhaninane, she describes herself as an “anarcho-communist”, one of those who, according to the Western media, is fighting for “freedom and democracy” in Russia!

    • Dear Moscow Exile,

      As we both know if a stone were thrown at the Metropolitan Police during a demo in London a protester who threw it would get no sympathy whether from the police or from the Magistrate or from the Daily Mail section of the media merely because the stone missed.

      As for Dhukhaniname being an “anarcho communist”, what can I say? The idea that there would be such people again in Russia would only a few years ago have struck me as bizarre. It’s funny how the wheel turns.

      • yalensis says:

        Well, we (Russians) did invent both anarchism (=Bakunin) and modern Communism (=Lenin).
        Having said that, this girl is obviously extremely confused. You cannot be BOTH a communist and an anarchist! The two philosophies are completely incompatible, the two movements are actually blood enemies. You have to pick one or the other. Duh!

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Well, as regards incompatibilities, old Bakunin came out with the classic statement: “The desire to destroy is also a creative desire!” In fact, living in exile most of the time, often in German speaking countries, he said (or wrote) this idea of his in German: “Die Lust der Zerstörung ist zugleich eine schaffende Lust!”

          Of course, I’m sure Bakunin meant that the destruction of old regimes would lead to the creation of an anarchist utopia. Nevertheless, whenever I see the results of apparent senseless violence and vandalism, Bakunin’s aphorism often runs through my mind.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Ponomarev has come up with a unique line in defence of Dukhanina’s projectile throwing on May 6. He says that it wasn’t a stone that the anarcho-communist threw, but a pice of asphalt – and asphalt is soft.

            Oh, right! Well that’s that explained: not guilty!

            As regards Mark’s query whether Dukhanina is that same protestor that he had seen who had a bandana over her eyes, I’m sure she is: she has it around her head at first and it must have slipped down over her face as she was being dragged away by the cops, which event was photographed and caused the French to wail so much about the loss of freedom in Russia.

            Today’s Komsomolskaya Pravda reports that Dukhanina has now become a “new flag” for the “oppositionists”.

            As regards the anarcho-communistic lifestyle that Dukhanina led before her arrest, according to Russian press reports her parents live abroad whilst she lives alone in a Moscow flat (her parents?). She finished school last year and is waiting to go to
            university. No mention of her employment.

            Here are two reader’s comments to the Dukhanina story in MK:

            Судя по видео, большинство как раз относится как раз к молодежи, типа этой
            Духаниной, родители за границей, полная вседозволенность, жить сытно, пороть некому!!!

            (Going by the video, most of the young people just look like the type that Dukhanina is: parents abroad, totally permissive, lives life to the full, nobody to give her a good

            Они не жили в девяностые!!! Слишком хорошо живут, не работают, не учатся, а
            хотят иметь все и сразу…

            (They didn’t live in the 90s!!! They live too well, don’t work, don’t study and want to have everything all at once…)

            I’ve been getting the feeling for a while now that if these people don’t stop their “public strolls”, their “street parties” and their marches “of a million” soon, then there’s going to be a huge backlash off some of those amongst the 99.99% of the population of Moscow that do not take part in these “opposition activities”.

            • marknesop says:

              An interviewer who could think on his feet would have immediately asked Ponomarev if he preferred to be hit in the head with a sack of feathers or a sack of asphalt.

              Dukhanina’s overnight stardom is hardly surprising, since this totally contrived and artificial “opposition movement’s” cause is so directionless and self-serving that the imprisonment of a cat that could claim oppositionist leanings would be grounds for an outcry. “Free Maxim!!! Putin Imprisons Anarcho-Communist FreedomLibertyDemocracy Cat!!!” A new flag for the oppositionists. Some hope, that. We demand the right to pelt the police with soft chunks of asphalt – why is this being made out to be a crime? FreedomFreedomFreedom!!!

              If spoiled children like this were allowed to set up their own utopian “anarcho-communist” government, they would be slack-jawed with amazement if it were overthrown by a competing movement, because spoiled children are convinced of the rightness of their own arguments and the enduring nature of their made-up institutions.

              I agree the patience of the main body of Moscow’s population is being sorely tried by the spoiled children who are, at bottom, simply caught up in the latest lark. The government should offer, “You want democracy? Good enough. We’ll publish your picture in all the media, detail your offense and you can take it to the people what your sentence should be. If they say you walk free, you walk free. Feel like trying it?”

              • Moscow Exile says:

                When I mentioned above that I sensed a reaction brewing amongst some of the 99.99% of the Moscow population that doesn’t demonstrate with the mostly young, bourgeois guitar strummers, students, school children, anarcho-communists, Stalinists, nationalists, monarchists, artists, television celebrities, various categories of freaks, out and out traitors, bums, social misfits, etc., etc. who have taken it upon themselves to protest against an election result where at least 60% of the electorate voted for a candidate whom they detest, I had in mind a little spat that I read the other day in the comments section of a Moskovskaya Komsomolets article.

                The majority of the commenters were condemning the senselessness and irresponsibility of those who organise these demonstrations, when an “oppositionists” commented that the next “March of a Million” would be an eye-opener for those who criticized the demonstrations, maintaining that their support was minimal and visibly waning.

                I’ve been searching in vain for the response to this comment, but what someone posted to counter the boastful oppositionist’s claim would have read in English something like “March of a Million! We’re getting sick and tired of you people. You talk about your massive demonstations! You ain’t seen nothing! Just you wait till we take to the streets
                and face you lot!” And the irate comment was signed “Proletarskaya” – “Proletarian”, and a woman as well.

                And it’s not just the workers who are brassed off with these people. As I’ve mentioned several times before, my bourgeois working colleagues are very contemptuous of these “oppositionists”. And I repeat, despite the regular publicity stunts, such as the one that took place on Red Square last weekend, where white ribbon wearing protesters parade in public, all day and every day I travel by public transport in Moscow and tramp the streets and, apart from the happy campers that I have seen in my travels, only once have I seen someone wearing a white ribbon. (And she looked a bit freaky as well.)

          • yalensis says:

            When Bakunin spouted on about “Die Lust”, he was probably mentally masturbating while fantasizing about his sister Liubov, for whom he felt unnatural, incestuous Lust.
            But I will leave the last word to Karl Marx, who was quoted saying something like: “Nu, that Misha Bakunin is the most Zerstörungest, Schnorringest, Annoyingest Goy I ever met!”

            • Dear Moscow Exile,

              The information about her you have provided makes me even more concerned for Dukhanina than I had been before. If it is indeed the case that she was left by herself in her parents’ flat whilst they went off to work abroad then I think they must take a lot of responsibility for their daughter’s trouble. A 17 year old schoolgirl is hardly mature enough to be left on her own and it is hardly surprising that she should have fallen into what the Victorians would have called “bad company”.

              In Britain we have a well established system whereby individuals who have committed minor public order offences are given a warning (called a “caution”) by the police in return for their confessing their guilty. The warning is kept by the police on their records and can be used if the individual reoffends but it is not a criminal conviction and is not made public otherwise.

              If Dukhanina really was abandoned by her parents then she needs help and guidance not a criminal conviction or a prison sentence. She needs least of all to be treated as a political football in the way that our heroes, Navalny, Udaltsov, Ponomariev & Co seem intent to use her. A warning or caution of the sort I have described together with a referral to whatever social services system exists in Russia plus consultation with the authorities of whatever university she is intending to go to seem to me to be the most appropriate response to this case.

              I wonder however whether Russia has such systems in place. I get the impression that perhaps it doesn’t (or doesn’t to any great degree) because I get the impression that until 20 years ago the kind of work that is done with young people in Britain by social workers (not always effectively I should add) was done in Russia by the Komsomol, which of course no longer exists and which has yet to be properly replaced.

              PS: I have no doubt at all that the young girl in Moscow Exile’s film with the bandana throwing the stone or asphalt is indeed Dukhanina. The appearance of the girl in the film is a close match to Dukhanina’s appearance in the photograph.

              I should say that she looks to me extremely nervous in the film as if she is steeling herself to do something to prove to herself or to someone (a boyfriend perhaps?) that she really is the courageous revolutionary street fighter she pretends to be. I don’t think there is anything pre planned about the video or about her stone throwing. The nervous and excited way Dukhanina darts around would be enough by itself to attract the cameraman’s attention.

              • Dear Yalensis,

                Thanks awfully for the info on Wagner’s leitmotiv. We really must get together some say. We have so much to talk about.

                Whilst on the subject of Wagner, did you know that he and Bakunin were for a time actually friends? During the 1848 revolution they both joined together to try to overthrow the King of Saxony, who was at the time Wagner’s patron. When the revolution failed they went their separate ways and as far as I know their friendship ended. However because of his revolutionary activities Wagner had to escape abroad and for the next twenty years was on a wanted list issued by the German police, which is why he had to live most of the time in exile in Switzerland. The warrant for Wagner’s arrest was only finally rescinded when Ludwig II of Bavaria came to Wagner’s rescue in the late 1860s.

                Today because Wagner is supposed to have been Hitler’s favourite composer most people assume that Wagner was an extreme right wing proto Nazi. He did make some outrageous anti semitic statements, though not as many as most people think and these are balanced by other comments that were altogether more sympathetic towards Jews. However for most of his life Wagner was politically on the far left and the Ring Cycle in particular was intended to be a declaration of the coming socialist revolution (the Gods are the old aristocracy, the Nibelungs represent capitalism and Siegfried is the human spirit that rebels against and which will overthrow both).

                • yalensis says:

                  Dear Alexander: Thanks for your comments about Wagner. I am SO glad there is another Wagnerian out there. (Actually, there are quite a lot of us in the world, but we are scattered about; we really should have our own blog just devoted to Wagner).
                  Yes, I do get really upset when people keep saying that Wagner was a Nazi. There is nothing further from the truth. Wagner had many Jewish friends, including his own Konzertmeister. (Never mind that he stole the guy’s wife …)
                  Also, just because Hitler liked Wagner doesn’t prove anything. Hitler liked animals too, but that doesn’t mean animals are evil. Oh, to be sure, I have no doubt that pro-Nazi interpretations of the Ring were staged at Bayreuth during Hitler’s era. (I can only imagine the horror: Brunhilde as the model of Aryan womanhood; Siegfried in the garb of a Hitlerjugend, doing his Heil Hitler salute on his bier when Hagen attempts to tear the Ring off his cold, dead finger….)
                  But, for every Nazi interpretation of the Cycle, one could stage a hundred different types of Marxist interpretations: The Ring representing the abstraction of Money, based on the Gold standard; Wotan and his fellow gods as the bourgeoisie, devolving into finance capital (=the Ring and the horde); the Nibelungs as the working class (=miners); Siegfried as the nascent proletariat who breaks Wotan’s spear and invalidates his contracts and treaties. Etc etc etc.
                  The socialist interpretation really works, because that was exactly what Wagner intended: his story is an allegory about the rise and fall of the capitalist system. It is Marx’s “Das Kapital” set to music. Even a child can see that!

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Dear Alexander Mercouris,

                The law as regards young offenders here in Russia is similar to that in Britain. In fact, my 13-year-old son has already received a caution and is on the local police books. (He got into a fight a couple of years back and the other boy ended up in hospital with a broken nose; my son’s opponent’s parents made an official complaint at the local police station, and tried to have GBH pinned on him. Clearly, my Vova takes after his mother. 🙂 ) And there are young offender remand centres and prisons just like in the UK and a host of psychiatrists and social workers on hand to put wayward little Ivans back on the right track.

                From what I can gather from press reports about the anarcho-communist Dhukhanina is not that she has been abandoned by her parents, but simply that they now live abroad. Dukhanina, say the reports, lived alone in a flat. I presume that flat is her parents’. She finished school last year and, according to the press is waiting to go up to university. She’s 18 in any case, so she has reached legal maturity.

                I feel very sorry for her, actually. I’ve met a few girls like her in my time – well brought up, educated, smart etc., and then they join the Tooting People’s Liberation Front or
                whatever and because they’re gullible and want to right the world’s wrongs, they get exploited.

                Same thing happened in London last year: a millionaire’s daughter got sent down after having been convicted of associating with and acting as a getaway driver for rioters and looters in Tottenham, London.

                • Dear Moscow Exile,

                  Thanks for all this. It is good to hear that Russia has got itself sorted out in the way you say. That is certainly not how things are represented here. It is also good to hear that the authorities acted sensibly over Vova’s little scrap. Boys will be boys and one should not want them otherwise.

                  On Dukhanina I didn’t explain myself properly. I didn’t mean that Dukhanina’s parents actually abandoned her. What I meant was that a girl who is still at school does still need adult (preferably parental) guidance. If Dukhanina wasn’t getting it then it makes the trouble she has got herself into more understandable.

                  As for young people getting involved in far left groups, as we both know it is almost always nothing more than a rite of passage into adulthood, which is left behind as people grow older. Bluntly I prefer middle class youngsters who get involved in this sort of thing any day of the week to the ghastly “hooray Henry” types (like the present British Prime Minister and Chancellor) who join right wing clubs and societies whilst at school or university. (PS: I was never a member of either. Instead as a student I was a boringly mainstream member of my university Labour club).

                • marknesop says:

                  I still believe she should be made to apologize to the police: she is young and idealistic, and the lure to accept the mantle of revolutionary heroine must be powerful indeed. She is young enough to still believe she is making her own decisions, and it will be far too easy – if she is not punished – to make her believe that the authorities let her go because they fear her, rather than out of any merciful impulse.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  The thing is about this 18-year-old girl whom they’re trying to beatify, is that her manipulators’ cynical machinations might just backfire. This girl represents all that is anaethema to those whom I hear voicing their dipleasure at the “oposition’s” goings on: she is just out of school, naive, unworldy, educated, jobless, the bourgoise daughter of parents who are larking around abroad – and she doesn’t remember the ’90s (she was born in 1994, so she was 5 when Yeltsin got the push), yet she and her ilk believe that they know better than the majority and that they can change their world for the better.

  29. Moscow Exile says:

    Remember the newsreels of the riots in Moscow that were shown on Fox News but turned out to be of riots in Greece?

    Well, according to RT, dear old Auntie BBC has shown a harrowing photograph of dead children awaiting burial in Houla, Syria. Only problem is, the picture was taken in 2003 – in Iraq.


    • Misha says:

      RT lacks the respect it should otherwise receive.

      The nature of the media biz is that Fups will occur. It’s much easier to have several days and weeks to prepare something versus minutes or hours.

      As a large media enterprise, the BBC impresses as a venue with a variance of political and procedural views. I base this on a number of experiences with folks at that network. There’re people out there who want to do the right thing.

      In short, there’s room to credit and constructively criticize most, if not all, BBC and RT included.

  30. Misha says:


    The above piece claims that the Serb government does more for the Serb diaspora than the Albanian government and Kosovo Albanian political entity does for Albanians abroad. This could vey well be a matter of some misleading cherry picks, without taking into consideration other factors.

    In the US, the Albanian nationalist leaning Albanian-American Civic League and National Albanian American Council come across as relatively well funded and promoted organizations.

    There’s also the issue of how Western orgs. deal with issues involving Albanian and/or Serb interests. The last point is of the immediate notion that the Western orgs. at large are more prone to favor Albanian concerns.

    For example, I recall (from awhile back) an ICG recommendation suggesting that the (FYRO) Macedonian government should consider making Albanian an official language. In contrast, I don’t recall that org. ever championing Russian language rights in the non-Russian former Soviet republics.

  31. Moscow Exile says:

    And it seems that Elder still refers to RT as “Russia Today”.

    Strange that she didn’t add “Kremlin mouthpiece”.

    • Misha says:

      The formal dropping of the “Russia Today” name appears to lack good reasoning. Some Russia unfriendly types have tap danced on that move, saying things like Russia doesn’t count for much and likening how “KFC” has replaced the “Kentucky Fried Chicken” name, on account of fried foods having a negative image.

  32. Moscow Exile says:

    How about “News from Mordor”?


    • Misha says:

      Considering what Elder has written, it’s especially rich of her to repeatedly refer to “Russia Today” (RT) as “propaganda.”

  33. Moscow Exile says:

    Legal action reported underway against Berezovsky:

  34. Misha says:


    Excerpt –

    U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul reacted on Monday to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s criticism by writing in his Twitter microblog that he is “still learning the craft of speaking more diplomatically.”


    It stands to reason that someone appointed as ambassador should already be proficient in the “craft of speaking more diplomatically.”

    • marknesop says:

      Unless it were perceived when he received the assignment that he could achieve his ends and those of his country without it; that he could proceed from the position of one who stands with the full might of his country behind him, and who expects to be obeyed owing to its implicit power and freedom to do as it pleases.

      Then again, maybe I am misjudging him and he merely means he is a plain-spoken man who says what’s on his mind, a characteristic many westerners pride themselves on as it suggests also that they are honest. If that were the case, though, I would expect him to say, “I am here to nurture and encourage dissident movements in the hope that the Russian government will be overthrown or at least destabilized, and that advantageous opportunities for America will arise thereby”. But he’s only been in Russia a short time, maybe that’s still to come.

      • Misha says:

        So there’s no misunderstanding, I’m not saying that diplomats should always eat shit. For example, I think it’s perfectly valid when Lavrov and Churkin have given frank replies (on Charlie Rose’s show) to the negatively inaccurate comments on Russia put out by Brzezinski and T. Friedman.

        The rule of thumb being to play a finesse game, while feeling free to hit back at chippy manner.

    • Giuseppe Flavio says:

      It is a little known thing (at least it was to me some years back) that many US ambassadors are not professional career diplomats, but entrepreneurs with political connections that get their post as a reward for the support they give to their preferred party. I discovered this when I read on a blog that the then US ambassador in Rome, Mel Sembler, did not know any Italian word, besides the usual “pizza, spaghetti & mandolino”. The blog had no sympathy for US foreign policy, so I doubted the information and tried to check it. I ended in the Wikipedia page for this ambassador, and although there was nothing about his language skills, his biography left me without any doubt about his lack of knowledge of Italian language, or any non-English language. Sembler is an entrepreneur in the construction sector and a fundraiser for the Republican Party. The latter activity gained him the position of US ambassador to Australia during Bush I and to Italy during the second term of Bush II. As a rule of thumb, ambassadors to “easy” contries, like Italy or Germany, are amateurs ambassadors, while for “difficult” countries like Russia, China or Pakistan ambassadors are professional career diplomats. McFaul seems to be a mix of the two types, leaning more on the amateurish side than on the professional one.

      • kievite says:

        As a rule of thumb, ambassadors to “easy” countries, like Italy or Germany, are amateurs ambassadors, while for “difficult” countries like Russia, China or Pakistan ambassadors are professional career diplomats. McFaul seems to be a mix of the two types, leaning more on the amateurish side than on the professional one.

        I would agree with the first part about easy and hard countries but I would disagree that McFaul is more on the amateurish side. First of all the USA is still a superpower and if somebody does not like how he behaves that’s their problem.

        On the other hand in any country modern ambassador is first and foremost is a head of analytical department for his country foreign minister. Please note that on the ground level an embassy usually has good or very good specialists. So Ambassador plays the role of editor of internal research bulletin “XXX country highlights” ;-). And McFaul is perfectly suitable for this role due to his academic background. But whether he can use his abilities or no is a big question.

        Wikileaks gave us a glance at the production of this analytical “kitchen” in Moscow. Quality of cables to Washington from Moscow suggests that previous ambassador did not have a courage to perform his role properly and just parroted the official line. Which is the path of least resistance that guarantees survival.

        Ideally in his cables he should outline his own judgment and if competing interpretation exists give a explanation of the differences and “pro”and “contra” as for dissenting judgment, especially if they undermine the efficiency of adopted foreign policy course.

        As in any bureaucracy this is a very risky thing to do and Russian ambassador to Libya recently paid with his head for his attempt to influence this way Kremlin course. Chamov was accused of “inadequately portraying Russian’s interests in the Libyan conflict” and dismissed. See

        So it is much safer for an ambassador just slavishly parrot the official line and write to the home country things that they want to hear. And then heavily drink at receptions 😉 In this case foreign policy soon became detached with reality and interests of the home country suffer in a long run unless country is really such a heavyweight in the region or world that it does not matter much.

        I can easily imagine what would happen to McFaul if he sent Hillary objective information about the situation on the ground that goes against the adopted “party line”. So he needs to play the game to survive. This is the area were diplomacy is the most important :-).

        And I think his escapades generally is favorably viewed by Washington, and that’s what any ambassador with high expectations about his career wants. I think no matter what he do, Moscow will be afraid to send him home, so “f***k them” attitude is pretty natural.

        • marknesop says:

          I somewhat agree, especially about the role of ambassador as an editor of the collective information gained about the country’s political situation and subjects of major importance such as economic stability. I also believe McFaul genuinely wants to be liked by Russians, but does not know how to go about it other than how he would do it at home, and consequently is baffled that it isn’t working. But for whatever reason, his early unpopularity is likely to persist; like that old commercial (I think it was for toothpaste) says, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. And Russia’s first impression of McFaul is that of a stubborn idealogue who looks out his office window and sees nothing but passers-by who wish they were Americans.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            As regards the comments concerning the lack of a professional nature amongst some US ambassadors and the perceived dumbness of not a few of them, it gives me great pride to say that all British ambassadors are fully professional, having undergone stringent tests before they can join the highest ranks of the British diplomatic service. They are also anything but dumb, having studied at the top British universities, and usually have considerable linguistic skills in more than one language.

            Take Sir Anthony Russell Brenton, KCMG (Knight commander of the Order of St. George), who entered the British Foreign Office in 1975, where he began his career learning Arabic. He then spent three years in the British Embassy in Cairo. Later, he worked in London and Brussels on the development of European Community Foreign and Energy Policy and, also in Brussels, he worked on European Environment Policy for the European Commission, dealing with energy issues, the Chernobyl crisis and the birth of European environment policy.

            He then took a sabbatical at Harvard University, where he wrote “The Greening of Machiavelli – The History of International Environmental Politics”. In 1989-90, he headed a UN Department in the Foreign Office in London. Through 1994-98 he worked as a Counsellor in British Embassy in Moscow, responsible for the British aid programme to Russia, analysis of the Russian economy and UK policy towards Russia in the major international economic fields. In 1998 he was nominated to the position of the Director on Global Issues in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Within the sphere of his responsibilities was the policy towards the UN, human rights, the environment and international economy and development.

            Brenton served as British Ambassador to Russia from 2004-2008. In 2007 he was awarded a KCMG. (The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George.)

            “Tony” Brenton was British ambassador to Moscow at the time when the “spy rock” scandal occured. The British government at first denied this very unprofessional and clumsy attempt at espionage, but now admits that the Russian accusations that the British embassy in Moscow at the time of Brenton’s ambassadorship was operating a spy ring were true. Not very long ago, Brenton, now retired from the diplomatic service, admitted during a BBC interview that the rock episode was “a considerable headache.”

            “It was unfortunate that one of the people involved was also dealing with our relations with Russian non-governmental organizations and therefore the Russians were able to use the rock incident to launch accusations against the support we were giving to Russian nongovernmental organizations,” he said.

            Another “unfortunate” occurence during Brenton’s spell as British ambassador to Russia was his presence as a speaker at a meeting of the organization “The Other Russia”, which was an umbrella coalition that gathered opponents of the then President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.

            The group included both left and right-wing “opposition” leaders and mainstream liberals, as well as the now banned National Bolshevik Party, whose leader, Eduard Limonov, was sat alongside “Tony” at the the Other Russia meeting that Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Russian Federation chose to speak at.

            For a highly professional and highly educated diplomat, it turns out that our Tony wasn’t so smart after all.

            Either that, or he held the Russian government at the time of his ambassadorship in Russia in utter contempt.

            I should think that the latter explantion of the behaviour in Russia of former Ambassador Sir Anthony Russell “Tony” Brenton is the more probable one.

        • Giuseppe Flavio says:

          Actually, long before the US became a superpower, the ambassadors were mostly “amateurs” i.e. they were not specially trained people. Europe gave up this practice during the XIX century, the US still goes on this road.
          On McFaul, my impression is that he’s not playing stupid, but that he is stupid. First, because he is reinforcing the stereotype of the dumb American. Second, because he not only said that Russia offered a bribe to Kirghizistan, he added that the US offered a (smaller) bribe as well. If the first statement can be malicious, the second is dumb. Interestingly enough, the liberal leaning RIA Novosti first reported that McFaul “admitted” the bribe offer to Kirghizistan, then changed it into McFaul “joked” about the US offering a bribe.

          • Misha says:

            He’s “stupid,” if he actually believes that the neocon to neolib leaning stereotype of Russia will prove to be correct.

            He’s adept at knowing the predominating biases in the US foreign policy establishment.

            The man has a family to support.


    • Moscow Exile says:

      Exactly! And that’s because he’s not an ambassador in the real sense of that word and it has never been the US administration’s intention that he act as an ambassador. McFaul’s prime function here is to foment the displacement of the Russian president and to have the present administration replaced with one that is more amenable to US policies, which, as everyone knows, is, fundamentally, the promotion of democracy world wide.

      • McFaul most certainly is not a professional diplomat. I would call him a blend of an academic and a secret agent, only there is of course absolutely nothing secret about him at all. Indeed it is rare to see even a US ambassador plot with the enemies of the government of his host country in such a public not to say theatrical way.

        Putting that to one side, the major problem with McFaul is not that he is not a diplomat or that he is a secret agent who is trying to overthrow the government of his host country but that he comes across as completely incompetent. Not only is his plotting carried out largely in public but he seems to go out of his way to offend his host country when there is no need to do so. Why was it necessary for example to blurt out to the students at the Higher School of Economics the old story about Russia having bribed the previous government of Kyrghystan four years ago to close down a US air base?

        Yalensis a few weeks ago predicted that McFaul would not last for very long. I doubted it when Yalensis said it. I take my doubts back. Yalensis is right. Even someone as obviously well connected as McFaul surely cannot survive such serial incompetence for long.

        • Misha says:

          aSomeone sent me this response:

 – Unvanquished : A U.S. – U.N. Saga (1999), p. 198

          “It would be some time before I fully realized that the United States sees little need for diplomacy; power is enough. Only the weak rely on diplomacy. This is why the weak are so deeply concerned with the democratic principle of the sovereign equality of states, as a means of providing some small measure of equality for that which is not equal in fact. Coming from a developing country, I was trained extensively in international law and diplomacy and mistakenly assumed that the great powers, especially the United States, also trained their representatives in diplomacy and accepted the value of it. But the Roman Empire had no need for diplomacy. Nor does the United States. Diplomacy is perceived by an imperial power as a waste of time and prestige and a sign of weakness.”


          Off the top, while making some sense:


          With an anti-Obama twist someone else gave this reply:

          “Considering the fact that we elected a president who had no experience in industry, business, or in significant government and has showed himself to be a rank amateur at everything but reading a teleprompter, the ambassador’s ineptitude is hardly a surprise. Our ambassador to Poland considers that his major contribution to world culture is the video program he made on Srebrenica. And so it goes.”


          Like other aspects such as trash talking in basketball, frank talk appears more prevalent in diplomatic circles. A greater media presence more easily picks up on things as well. Consider instances like the Obama-Medvedev open microphone incident and Putin’s off record remarks pertaining to Katsav.

          The Russians are answering back, with the US as an example:

          Reminded of –

          Excerpt –

          “Another example of Russia unfriendly bias is shown by the views receiving the nod in American presidential administrations. A case in point is a comparison between Carter administration National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and Clinton administration Undersecretary of State Strobe Talbott. In some circles, Talbott has been perceived as being soft on Russia. When compared to Brzezinski’s hard views on Russia, Talbott is nowhere near as soft. The two of them do not appear to be so politically diverse from each other. Several years ago, I watched Talbott and Brzezinski gleefully bash Russia at a Carnegie Endowment panel discussion, which also featured Vladimir Lukhin and Sergei Rogov.”


          Still yet, I’m reminded how some in Western media portrayed Putin as initiating provocation against Putin, when (in actuality) the opposite is what transpired:

          Come to think of it, Bush’s comments are akin to McFaul’s manner.

        • Giuseppe Flavio says:

          McFaul’s angry reaction to the TV journalists was bad, but his performance in the HSE was even worse. In the former he confronted an unsympathetic opponent, so losing control could be explained (not excused), in the latter he was in a friendly environment and to my knowledge was not provoked or dragged into a discussion about bribes and Kirghizistan.
          Anyway, I don’t think Obama would relieve him from Moscow before the US presidential elections, it would play in the hands of Romney.

          • marknesop says:

            I agree. I believe McFaul will be told a few home truths about how he’s derailing the diplomatic effort with his behavior, but I think he will do at least a normal tour before being relieved. And the government he represents may well own a degree of the responsibility, because he may have been briefed, before he was sent, to establish a firm and non-conciliatory tone with the Russian government right out of the gate so they would not form any illusions about the extent or intent of American power.

            Also, he may have been chosen for his post in the belief he would be dealing with Dmitriy Medvedev; don’t forget, he was nominated 2 months before Putin announced he would be United Russia’s candidate, and quite a few people were certain it would be Medvedev. It would have looked odd to have chosen a different ambassador after learning they would have to deal with Putin.

          • kirill says:

            This clown really has contempt for Russians. As if the US didn’t pump tens of millions of dollars into Kirghizstan. This “bribery” is standard procedure in international politics. When the US does it, it’s all about charity and brotherly love of man but when Russia does it then it becomes corruption. This must be some sort of crusader superiority complex. “Fallen” Russians can’t do anything just and righteous, only the Heaven approved West can.

            • marknesop says:

              Well, your Tatar temper is beginning to get the better of you and I fear for your blood pressure, but essentially you’re right. Only in western retelling can an invasion imbued with the spirit of altruism turn into a liberation.

  35. A most interesting report on Itar Tass about steps Rogozin is taking to unravel some of the corrupt privatisations that took place in the Defence sector during the 1990s.

    If Rogozin does see this through then this will be first attempt to undo any of the 1990s privatisations. I cannot believe that Rogozin is doing this without the agreement of Putin and Medvedev. There will nonetheless be intense opposition and already one can see some of the very self interested criticisms of Rogozin that are being made. Will he be able to see it through? If he does then there is no logical reason to stop at the defence sector.

    • marknesop says:

      I have taken the liberty of changing your comment to read, “…then there is no logical reason to stop at the defence sector”, assuming that was what you meant. If not, I’ll change it back. I agree such a review is long overdue, although it smacks more of government interest in reining in bureaucratic power than anything that will practically help the defence industry, at least in the short term; it’s not like there’s a shortage of land, although one could make the argument that this is developed land with access to public utilities, and also that there’s simply no reason to let the beneficiaries get away with it. You have to start somewhere. But if it were me, I’d sink some serious money into R&D, with a view to catching up to some of the latest technologies, in which only the Air Force could be said to be truly modern. That business about radars rusting in the rain is nonsense and inserted simply for dramatic effect – it’s not like operational systems are going to be deployed in a building, and if they can’t stand exposure to the weather, better find out now.

      Still, it ought to play well at a time when people are still concerned that some of their number are getting fat off ill-gotten gains, and it’s not like the government is using it to get at political opponents.

      Once the land issue is straightened out, and some or all of it restored to industry, hopefully Rogozin (whom I find impressive thus far) will tackle the problem of crumbling production systems and weaknesses in the defence research sector.

    • Giuseppe Flavio says:

      Dear Alexander,
      IMO this ITAR-TASS report, that looks like a rehash of an article from Moskovsky Komsomolets (link), belongs to the catastrophic genre that seems to be very popular in the Russian press. It’s like that article about the loss of 200 Navy airplanes during the fires in Aug. 2010 (or 2011?) in a base near Moscow (actually it was a vehicles depot). It contains many factual inaccuracies and false claims.
      “Russia’s largest aircraft-building companies – the Yakovlev Design Bureau and the Tupolev holding company” Yakovlev and Tupolev are not aircraft-building companies but design bureaus and I doubt they’re the largest. Sukhoi is probably the largest and surely the most important. Yakovlev was shrinking already during Soviet times.
      “There is literally no place where to develop next generation S-500s” recently, overcoming Kudrin’s reluctance, it was decided to build a new missile factory for Almaz-Antei designs.
      “Ilyushin’s medium haul plane project is practically on the brink of collapse,” if this refers to the MS-21 it’s still on the drawing board.
      “The export of combat aircraft has collapsed.” really?

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