Russia Patterns Laws on Those of Western Democracies – Surprise!! That’s Wrong, Too.

Uncle Volodya says,”Saint Peter threatened to sue the devil over a disagreement. Satan roared with laughter; “Where are YOU gonna get a lawyer???”

Russia has been in the news quite a bit of late; the flooding disaster in Krymsk has captured the press’s imagination, and it once again sees the downfall of Putin coming any minute now. But we can safely leave that for the moment because (1) nothing of the kind is going to happen, as usual, and 2) that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

No, what I wanted to talk about today is legal reform in Russia, which has also enjoyed a good deal of recent and heated press discussion; specifically, new laws put forward by the Putin government and in various stages of adoption. Western media sources, as is their habit whenever Putin does or says anything, are capering about like howler monkeys and flinging their poo in all directions in their excitement, each trying to outdo the others in the hyperbole wars to describe just how bad – my dears, how draconian – are these laws. I don’t want to spoil the surprise for you by putting the conclusion up front, but what I hope to show you is that when the west screams “Putin is crushing dissent in Russia!!!” what they really mean is “Putin is making it harder for the people we are hoping will overthrow him to do their jobs!!!”

What we’ll look at today are the new laws stiffening the penalties for organizing or participating in an illegal demonstration, regulating foreign Non-Governmental Organizations, or NGO’s, and re-criminalizing defamation, perhaps better known in the west as libel. As is our custom, we’ll look at these laws in the context of whether or not there was really a need for them, and whether they appear unnecessarily harsh or cruel when compared with similar legislation in western democracies. That should prove particularly interesting this time around, as the laws were patterned on western models except for the defamation law, which was simply re-criminalized after the Medvedev government reduced its status to a civil offense.

First, the law on participating in or organizing an illegal demonstration. What constitutes an illegal demonstration? One for which prior permission from the relevant authority has not been obtained. In American law, it’s referred to as Unlawful Assembly, and is defined thus (emphasis mine): “Wherever three or more persons assemble with intent or with means and preparations to do an unlawful act which would be riot if actually committed, but do not act toward the commission thereof, or whenever such persons assemble without authority of law, and in such a manner as is adapted to disturb the public peace, or excite public alarm, such assembly is an unlawful assembly.”  Although there are slightly varying versions from state to state and some are more or less severe than others, this is a good benchmark. Protests and demonstrations most certainly do fall under the umbrella of unlawful assembly, and although Americans have a constitutionally protected right to free speech and freedom of assembly, unlawful assembly comes under the Common Law, and freedom of assembly requires permission unless it in no way disturbs the public peace. Just because  a demonstration is political does not make it lawful; “[t]he State, no less than a private owner of property, has power to preserve the property under its control for the use to which it is lawfully dedicated.” That “stroll” you want to take with 800 of your friends, to exercise and emphasize your right to use the public roadways as you see fit? Uh uh. Not unless it’s your private road. Unlawful assembly is a misdemeanor charge in the USA that carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail in most states and jurisdictions.

In the U.K., you must give 6 days notice in writing in advance of a public procession, specify the route to be taken and the time it is intended to start, and supply the name and address of at least one organizer. You are in violation of the law if you deviate from any of the information supplied. Any senior police officer can impose such conditions upon the public procession as he or she sees fit if a reasonable concern arises that it will result in serious public disorder. If you are convicted of an offense you are subject to a fine not to exceed level 3 on the standard scale, which equates to £1000.00. That’s $1556.84 USD at today’s exchange rate.

The previous Russian law on Public Assembly prescribed a penalty ceiling of 5000 rubles; $153.06 at today’s exchange rate. Although western media outlets shrieked that Putin was “tightening the laws on the right to protest“, the public’s right to assembly was not changed at all. The penalty for taking part in an illegal or unsanctioned demonstration was stiffened considerably, imposing somewhat higher fines for participants ($310.00 – $8,760.00 USD) and much higher fines for organizers, based on whether or not persons are injured in an unsanctioned demonstration and the participation of persons who are wearing masks or have their faces deliberately obscured and/or are carrying weapons. Please note, persons taking part in an authorized protest event – as all the protests in  Russia this year and late 2011 were – who are not carrying weapons, are not masked or do not offer violence have no reason to expect any penalty at all. Rather than stifling protest because the government has no answers and fears the power of organized protest, the law is clearly aimed at forcing people to demonstrate within the law. The protests were steadily dwindling in numbers long before the law was modified, and the modification was directly inspired by a protest which turned violent, in which there was considerable reason to believe the escalation was preplanned and deliberate. There is also the appearance that opposition figures are receiving funding from abroad to nurture and strengthen public unrest: anyone who believes Ksenya Sobchak’s assertion that the $1.5 Million or so in foreign currency – found in the very “cash-stuffed envelopes” western journalists customarily reserve for reporting Kremlin bribery and corruption – in her flat was there because she doesn’t trust banks and that using envelopes is “more convenient” for her suffers from a complete suspension of skepticism.

Was there a need for this augmentation of the law? I say there was. Western encouragement of demonstration against the Russian government, deification of opposition leaders and possible funneling of financial support to the opposition too apparently follows the pattern established for western intervention in a number of other countries; small fines for breaking the law were obviously not enough of a deterrent. Meanwhile, western journalists continue to argue the Russian people should be allowed to assemble where and when it pleases them, and go as an assembly where they wish, knowing this is not legal in their own countries, and to suggest stiffer penalties for wearing a mask which would complicate or preclude identification and/or carrying a weapon to a demonstration are aimed at crushing dissent. So concerned over the possibility that protests could escalate to riots is the government of peaceful Canada that it recently doubled the penalty for wearing a mask while participating in a riot – to 10 years imprisonment.

Next up on the list is the long-overdue reform of the sloppy NGO laws, which will obligate foreign non-governmental organizations – NGO’s – to register as foreign agents if they operate under certain conditions, such as receipt of foreign funding and transmission of a political message. Many have mentioned already that this law is lifted directly from the United States of America’s Foreign Agent Registration Act, but we might as well be speaking Swahili; the press has made up its mind that it is outrageous to restrict the political activities of western countries’ agencies operating in Russia, and that these wholly-innocent entities are being intolerably insulted by the Putin government’s move to regulate their activities. So, let’s look at that.

According to Iron-Maiden-album-cover-look-alike Lyudmila Alekseyeva, this is just a move to stigmatize nice people, who only do good works, as “foreign agents”. Co-crackpot Lilia Shibanova of the western-funded NGO Golos says she will take it to the International Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg. Good luck with that, Lilia, because they’re just going to look it over and say, hey; isn’t this just like the USA’s Foreign Agent Registration Act? Why yes; yes, it is.

In a burst of absurdity, even for him, former finance minister Alexei Kudrin blubbered, “now even appeals to build ramps for disabled people might be considered a political activity.” This is based on Alekseyeva’s analysis that “every human rights organization falls under the definition of political”. This, in turn, is based on the definition of “political activities” as expressed in the bill: “…any activity to influence state decision-making, change state policy or shape public opinion.” This, detractors insist, is too broad a classification, in an attempt to force the government to modify and redefine it and possibly offer loopholes that will allow NGO’s to slip through the cracks.

Well, who has to register in the United States, under FARA? Persons who are acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi political capacity. Quasi-political? Isn’t that a little vague? Well, perhaps they’re a little more specific in the Frequently Asked Questions section. Here, we learn that “foreign principals” means “…foreign political parties, a person or organization outside the United States, except U.S. citizens, and any entity organized under the laws of a foreign country or having its principal place of business in a foreign country” (emphasis mine), and that the purpose of the Act is “…to insure that the U.S. Government and the people of the United States are informed of the source of information (propaganda) and the identity of persons attempting to influence U.S. public opinion, policy, and laws“. Influencing U.S. public opinion, I submit, is a pretty broad brush. According to Deutsche Welle, branding foreign NGO’s as “agents” is “…a scandalous defamation..unacceptable…a declaration of war against [one’s] own people…factual destruction of the largest independent civil society organizations”. Of course, they were speaking about the new Russian law. Restricting the operation of foreign NGO’s in the United States is just looking out for your own interests, and eminently sensible. At least, Deutsche Welle has never thought to criticize it. Included, as has become de rigueur in similar articles, is mention of Lyudmila Alekseyeva’s brave stand against tyranny, in which she insists her agency – the Moscow Helsinki Group – will refuse to register because they are not foreign agents.

Lyudmila Alekseyeva is a U.S. citizen, holder of an American passport, and the Moscow Helsinki Group receives direct funding from the European Union and United States. What, I wonder, would the U.S. government make of a foreign NGO operating in the United States whose head was a Russian citizen and whose funding came mostly from China and Belarus, which regularly denounced the U.S. President, his government and his policies and accused him of being directly responsible for war atrocities in Iraq – which refused to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act as a foreign agent and demanded to be allowed to carry on with its good works unmolested? The new NGO law, which is virtually identical to FARA, is consistently marketed in the western press as “another clampdown on dissent” which “could be used to intimidate government critics and to impede progress toward democracy” and even “block humanitarian aid”. But somehow FARA, the law from which it was implicitly copied, is fair and sensible and just something you need to do to prevent foreign agents from having a free hand in your country.

The Orange Revolution was a catalyst in many ways for the west, not least for its use of NGO’s to undermine and attack the government while providing direct support to the forces that overthrew it. But it also represents the high-water mark for colour revolutions – although the “Tulip Revolution” in Kyrgyzstan would later topple President Akayev, a number of real crises during his rule and an apathetic response to opposition made him a likely candidate for political collapse anyway, and a push by NGO’s had little part in his failure. Since then, although there have been other attempts to unify discontent behind opposition candidates in a fashion strikingly similar to the colour revolutions, none has succeeded in toppling the government. “The Color Revolution Virus and Authoritarian Antidotes – Political Protest and Regime Counterattacks in Post Communist Spaces” is generally approving of democratization efforts and critical of national efforts to control them; it nonetheless honestly points out that Lukashenko in Belarus – targeted for a colour revolution centered on elections – was able to interdict the opposition simply by holding surprise elections 4 months earlier than initially planned. The opposition was not ready to mobilize its big push to shape public opinion, and was wrong-footed. But that begs the question – was there really a massive wave of discontent in Belarus simply waiting to be exploited, or was it the plan of outside interests to create the appearance of one, timed to coincide with the election?

There is broad agreement among analysts of the colour revolutions, regardless whether the analysts supported or rejected them, that foreign NGO’s played a major role in unseating the government; in the form of supplying them with promotional material such as stickers, banners and flags, in importing activists of previous successful colour revolutions to train the next protest movement, in bringing domestic activists to the west to educate them in the techniques of revolution and in promoting their cause through mass and social media. A good deal of emphasis was concentrated in training for election monitoring, and in the successful revolutions the opposition seized control of exit polling, broadcasting its own poll results showing the opposition being defrauded while interjecting clips of alleged ballot-box stuffing and vote fraud. There is no particular evidence that the opposition’s narrative was any more accurate than the government’s, except that the opposition’s position was enthusiastically supported by election monitors who had a vested interest in toppling the government, many of them expatriate dissidents who live in western countries. According to “The Color Virus” (cited earlier) the main mistakes made by the overthrown regime in Ukraine were “Allowing too much liberty of action to non-regime actors and being too dependent on western goodwill towards election results”. Indeed. The tipping point was likely America’s loud refusal to recognize the original election results.

Open Democracy, surprisingly, is unequivocal in its opinion that the colour revolutions were orchestrated by international interests through NGO’s, and quotes Laurence Whitehead; “Two-thirds of the democracies existing in 1990 owed their origins to deliberate acts of imposition or intervention from without…It is not contiguity but the policy of a third power that explains the spread of democracy from one country to the next.” And Whitehead viewed democratic revolutions not as a virus, but a vaccine. That might not be so bad, were these outside interests genuinely motivated by a desire to improve the country, to lift it up and make it something better. Instead, the aim is to sow discord and unrest, and thereby promote instability in the hope the country will collapse. You need look no further than Ukraine after the Orange Revolution for an example. It slid further down the corruption index every year, despite that index being an instrument maintained by the west for rewarding compliant – but still corrupt – toadies like Saakashvili’s Georgia. The standard of living worsened, and political bickering on a scale not seen in recent memory broke out. Anyone who viewed the Yushchenko/Tymoshenko years as an improvement by any standard of measure was probably also a Toronto Maple Leafs fan who believed in unicorns. The west that was so eager to see Ukraine free and democratic did nothing to help it get on its feet once its pet “reformer” was in the driver’s seat, actually caring nothing for Ukraine beyond preventing it from realigning itself with Russia. Ukrainian-American expats who had been wild with joy at the western-backed Orange Revolution learned a bitter lesson.

Rather, however, than growing discouraged with the failure of marketing sedition through its government-funded NGO’s since that success, the technique has evolved into a warfare discipline in the USA – Unconventional Warfare (UW). Defined as “activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt or overthrow a government or occupying power by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary and guerrilla force in a denied area”, UW is employed to “support existing political, military and social infrastructure to accelerate, stimulate and support decisive action based on calculated political gain and U.S. national interests.” Successful insurgencies, we learn, require leadership, customarily provided by “the underground”. It is not hard to visualize the opposition as the underground. However, we also learn, “the proliferation of social media has introduced a new type of underground: a digitally connected, leaderless organization with varying levels of commitment to the cause.

Here, from the Special Forces Unconventional Warfare Manual, is the “tree” of sequential events and actions that constitutes the Structure of an Insurgency or Resistance Movement. Mmmmm…quite a recipe. Establishment of National Front organizations and liberation movements, appeal to foreign sympathizers. Intensification of propaganda, psychological preparation of population for rebellion. Overt and covert pressures against government: strikes, riots and disorder. Increased underground activities to show strength of Resistance Organization and weakness of Government.

This, by the way, is essentially a military operation, and most closely parallels the sequence of events in Egypt which led up to the resignation of Hosni Mubarek. You remember Egypt: that country that  recently raided the offices of American NGO’s, expelled some and arrested individuals in others, and is continuing with investigations of about 400. But a couple of things should be considered. Although I believe we can agree the USA would not deploy soldiers in Russia to support an insurrection against the Russian government – it would be beyond an international incident if they were caught – you don’t have to be physically present in the country to run a UW campaign through social media. You just have to speak and write the language. Twitter, as the Director of the Special Operations Leader educational program helpfully described, is instantaneous and a good way to initiate a flash mob. Besides, there already is a perfectly serviceable foreign army in Russia – hundreds of NGO’s which act as fronts for agitation against the government. What there is not is a single charismatic candidate around which the opposition can coalesce and grow strong, and the desperation of effort to define one was visible in the running of the crowd from one candidate to the other; now Boris Nemtsov, now Mikhail Prokhorov, now Alexei Navalny, with the western media enthusiastically hyping all of them so as to hedge its bets.

Is the law regulating NGO’s necessary? It manifestly is – there is a good number of groups active in Russia that actually do little to better the lives of ordinary Russians, but simply capitalizes on their problems for political gain and makes a disproportionate amount of noise in the press: their affiliation is easily observed by the eagerness with which their narrative is picked up and amplified – often word for word – in the western media. These organizations are not in Russia to do good; they are in Russia to weaken and depose the government so as to install a government more in line with desires originating outside the country. Although they appear sometimes to argue only for sensible reform, the level of reforms if carried out would grant the people such disproportionate power over the state that the government might just as well resign and say “every man for himself”, as it would have abdicated all its legislative power.

Is the law harsh and unfair? Not unless FARA – on which it is modeled – is just as harsh and unfair; and nobody is willing to concede that. Both allow NGO’s to continue their activities unmolested (to the extent they are not illegal, such as fomenting riots or promoting ethnic hatred) provided they register as foreign agents and prominently mark all their promotional material as originating with a foreign agent, as well as disclosing all their foreign funding. Hillary Clinton has already promised the heads of prominent NGO’s in Russia to continue funding no matter what happens, which suggests she is well aware there is nothing illegal or unfair about it and it is just another stumbling block America must overcome in its drive for regime change. Both allow reasonable exceptions for organizations able to demonstrate their activities are in no way political and are instead honestly charitable – free English classes and building wheelchair ramps are not political activities, regardless of Kudrin’s hysterics.

It is a harsh reality of modern geopolitics that your country’s right to self-determination will be usurped and taken from you exactly to the extent you allow it.

Editor’s Note: I had decided not to discuss the libel law in detail because it was essentially just a restoration to a criminal offense in certain circumstances from an administrative offense under Medvedev. But Human Rights Watch “went there”, and so a response is almost demanded.

Your attention is drawn to the excellent series of comments by Alexander Mercouris in the last post, which was actually the inspiration for this post (thanks, Alex). Human Rights Watch – which apparently has no problem at all with dissembling and playing upon people’s ignorance, or is itself ignorant of what the Russian law says, and I am hard put to suggest which is the more inexcusable – would have you believe they “applauded the decriminalization of libel in Russia”. Look; they say so, right here: “It’s hard to believe that just a little more than half a year ago we were wholeheartedly applauding the decriminalization of libel in Russia and congratulating the Kremlin on making this important step to protect free speech,” said Tanya Lokshina, senior Russia researcher at Human Rights Watch.”

Is that so? Where? Here’s your report entitled “Events of 2011”. Show me where you wholeheartedly applauded the decriminalization of libel. In fact, it is a page-long rant about repression, torture, murder, corruption, harassment and grave human rights violations. The closest to any mention of wholehearted applause or congratulating the Kremlin is “Several positive developments pertaining to freedom of expression were offset by detrimental legislative initiatives in other areas.” That makes you, Tanya Lokshina, a lying sack of shit. Go ahead and sue me for defamation.

Key takeaways for Human Rights Watch from Alex’s comments are (1) An absolute defense against libel is that the assertion is true. Got that? If you say, “Putin is planning to invade Georgia” (I’m looking at you, Yulya Latynina, you spinny cow) and you publish plans signed by Putin that are headed “Georgia Invasion Plan”, he has not a hope of a successful libel suit against you. If you have no such evidence and you print things like that from here on out, bring your big handbag to court with you, because it’s going to cost you. (2) Decriminalization of libel is not necessarily an implication that libeling people is cheap and easy. Many countries treat defamation as a civil offense punishable only by a fine, and yet award enormous judgments in successful defamation suits. (3) If defamation is a criminal offense, those so accused are entitled to representation in court by a lawyer, and if they cannot afford one (think poor protesters) one will be provided at state expense. Russia is a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights, whose Article 6 enshrines this absolute right. (4) Many countries, some of which treat defamation as a civil rather than a criminal offense, still carry the potential maximum punishment for the guilty of lengthy prison sentences. Putin has recommended prison not be an option in defamation cases. The Russian law merely brings Russia into line with international norms, and as proposed is a good deal more lenient than some who brag of their democratic record.

“Libelous public statements or remarks reproduced by media outlets will be punished by a fine of up to 2 million rubles (just over US$61,000)” sobs Human Rights Watch. To quote crazy conservative snapperhead Michelle Malkin, Boo Freakin’ Hoo. Is Human Rights Watch arguing that the press should be allowed to lie? Hello, FNR (FOX News Russia)!!! I already told you that if what you say is true, you need fear no libel suit. Is it too much to ask for the press to back up its wild accusations? Do a little fucking research, why don’t you, instead of going to press with whatever your activist lunch date told you, blockhead. “The new law includes a special article on libel against judges, jurors, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials, punishable by a fine of up to 2 million rubles. Such a provision is incompatible with Russia’s human rights obligations, especially the need to protect freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said”. Whoa, sorry; I’m confused. Russia’s human rights obligations include a provision whereby you must be allowed to accuse someone in the Russian judiciary or legal process of a grave crime without having to fact-check it? I reemphasize by slapping my palm with the back of the opposite hand – as long as what you say is true, you have absolutely nothing to worry about and can still say anything you like. And if you want to just take a ride on the bullshit surfboard, are you telling me Novaya Gazeta and other rags like it can’t afford $153,000.00 for guessing wrong??

What it boils down to is that bottom-feeders like Stanislav Belkovsky are going to have to stop accusing Putin of raping Billions from the Russian treasury and building himself disgustingly opulent Italianate palaces, as long as they can’t prove it. That, my friends, is long overdue.

As for Human Rights Watch – steady up, crybabies. The Russian libel law is no more draconian than similar laws all over the world, including the beacons of democracy and freedom you rhapsodize about. And nobody can successfully sue you for speaking the truth. I realize that’s going to kick the legs out from under Yulia Latynina, but she can always go back to fiction.

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844 Responses to Russia Patterns Laws on Those of Western Democracies – Surprise!! That’s Wrong, Too.

  1. kovane says:

    Hey, Mark. Please check your mail.

    • marknesop says:

      Will do, kovane, but I am out of town for a couple of days and won’t be back until Monday. I’m in Vancouver on vacation with my family.

      • yalensis says:

        @mark: Please enjoy your vacation in Vancouver! Lovely place. When do you do get back, I have an email for you too. It’s just a technical question about how to format HTML tags for, e.g., bold, italic, in a blogpost. Is it done the same as in a comment, or, since the post comes in as a Word document, does wordpress automatically format appropriate tags for you? Etc etc. Workin’ on my blogpost about Navalny embezzlement charges, about 60% done now… It’s gonna be great! (Not as good as Mercouris’ Pussy Riot blog, but still pretty good.)

        • marknesop says:

          Hey, Yalensis: I’m not sure, because when you write it in WordPress it’s all available from your taskbar. I’ve never had to write html coding (well, maybe once or twice, but a looonnngg time ago). Just do a straight Word document and write it with the appropriate sections bolded or italicized, it transfers straight into WordPress just as it appears in the original document. Links, too.

          • yalensis says:

            Got it. Thanks, Mark. That answers my main question: seems like WordPress app knows how to play well with Microsoft Word docs.
            According to my current “Project Management” metrics, I am 90% completed. I am trying to finish and email you the post in next 5 days, before I go away on vacation.

            • marknesop says:

              I hope you will have internet access so you can field questions/comments. It sounds like there is something from kovane awaiting me as well, so we shall have an embarrassment of riches. I know this post has dragged on rather a long time, but it’s hard to find the time right now to research and write a new post, although God knows there’s plenty going on.

              • yalensis says:

                @mark: Where I am going there will NOT be any internet access for me. There would be if I were cool enough to have an ipad or smartPhone, but I’m not. Therefore, I will be cut off from the world for an entire week.
                Kovane’s post should go first, anyhow, I know he has been eagerly waiting. Also, by the time I get back into contact, I am hoping there will be some new development in the Navalny case, to pin my piece to.
                Although if they suddenly announce that all charges against Navalny are dismissed, then my post becomes moot and all my hard work for nothing! But that is unlikely to happen, I think. More likely they will announce his trial date start. This should be a big effing event, and West has already been training their media hamsters, using Pussy Riot trial as dress rehearsal!

  2. Misha says:

    *Analysis of the upcoming Russia-Spain men’s Olympic basketball semifinal game:

    http://www.fiba.com/pages/eng/fc/news/lateNews/arti.asp?newsid=53309

    ****

    Ditto France-Russia in the Olympic women’s semifinal:

    http://www.fiba.com/pages/eng/fc/news/lateNews/arti.asp?newsid=53280

    ****

    Russia wins appeal on a UEFA ruling:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/international/russia-win-appeal-against-euro-2012-sanction-8027031.html

  3. Misha says:

    An ironic news item c/o RT:

    Turkey accuses Assad of supplying arms to Kurd militants
    Turkey’s foreign minister has accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of arming Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants. Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkish media while traveling to Myanmar overnight that Assad had given weapons to the PKK, which has established a presence in the towns of Kobani and Afrin in northern Syria. “Assad gave them weapons support. Yes – this is not a fantasy. It is true. We have taken necessary measures against this threat,” Reuters quoted Davutoglu as saying. In early July, Assad denied that Syria had allowed the PKK to operate on Syrian territory close to the Turkish frontier. On Thursday suspected PKK militants ambushed a Turkish military bus in the western province of Izmir, killing a soldier and wounding at least 11 people.

    • There is increasing talk of unrest in Turkey by the Kurds and the Alawites (possibly 40% of Turkey’s population). There is growing violent unrest in the Shia regions of Saudi Arabia and in Bahrain. There are reports of an attempted coup in Qatar. Everybody is arming rebels against everybody else. Everybody is sending assassins to kill everybody else. What did they expect?

      • yalensis says:

        @alexander: Yes, alas! The region is blowing up and spinning out of control, and many innocent people are being harmed, thanks to these evil-doers. Once Turkey joined the Saudi-led invasion of Syria, then it was only to be expected the Syrians would retaliate by encourating Kurd and Shiite separatist movements within the bosoms of their enemies. Syria has every right to engage in these machinations, out of pure self-defense.
        This can all be put ultimately down to the manipulatory foreign policy of the Americans and British. A lot of this dates to the so-called “Sunni Awakening” in Iraq. After Americans/Brits foolishly dismantled the Baathists (Sunni) in Iraq, they eventually realized that this would lead to a regional Shiite alliance between Iraq and Iran. On the verge of losing militarily to Shiite insurgents, Americans made one last desperate stand in 2006, by bringing Al Qaeda into Anbar Province and organizing Sunni militias against the new Shiite government of Iraq.
        This tactic worked for the Americans, and consolidated the renewal of the America/Al Qaeda alliance, which began in the 1970’s but then for various reasons became strained in the decade leading up to 9/11 and obviously for the first few years after 9/11.
        Al Qaeda can be seen as a joint project of Saudi Arabia and United States. This re-energized international alliance then morphed into the “Arab Spring”, and to the events we see today. Each side gets what they want: The Saudis want to be regional rulers of the Middle East and eliminate the Shiite sect. Americans want to rule the world, but first need to destroy insubordinate governments. They don’t really care Sunni or Shiite (Gaddafy, after all, was Sunni), they just don’t like anybody who disrespects their authority.

        • Misha says:

          I hope to re-locate a not so distant article that went into Turkey’s being reluctant to support direct military intervention in Libya versus how it has carried on vis-a-vis Syria. The article says that Saudi and some other Gulf interests have pulled some clout in Turkey. In addition, the piece in question notes a disconnect between a good segment of Turkish public opinion on Syria, relative to the Turkish government.

          The nay sayers on these points will stress the Syrian refugee issue in Turkey as an influencing factor as well.

  4. Not that it particularly matters but the Guardian and the Independent have been made to look idiots by the latest news from Aleppo. A few days ago both were reporting that the city was about to fall to the rebels who were supposedly in control of 60% of it and I even read a report in or other of the two newspapers that Aleppo was expected to fall on Wednesday. In the event the great rebel offensive never materialised and it seems it needed only the deployment of about half a dozen Syrian tanks to drive the rebels out of the key suburb that was their operational base. The rebels now seem to be in headlong retreat and are predictably demanding a no fly zone.

    It seems to me that the whole attempt to overwhelm the Syrian government that began with Operation Damascus Volcano back on 15th July 2012 has ended in failure. Amidst all the tragedy there have also been a few moments of unintended farce such as the rebel announcement of the death of the Russian General who then turned up on Russian television to announce that he is actually alive and well and in Russia (why doesn’t Prince Bandar do that if he is alive?). There is also just a chance that the diplomatic ground may now be shifting with the west’s failure at the General Assembly a week ago and with talk of a meeting between the Saudi King and Ahmadinejad. Let’s hope so.

    • marknesop says:

      Here’s hoping, indeed. I’m sure nobody who reads this blog took seriously the claim that Aleppo was about to fall to the rebels, but it now seems the done thing to get all one’s news updates stovepiped direct from the rebels via activists. And the rebels know well that they must take a major city, such as Damascus or Aleppo, because the west – not even an international embarrassment like Sarkozy, who seemed to have forgotten he is no longer somebody, and made noises the other day as if he were about to recognize the rebels as the legitimate government of Syria – is not going to recognize a Syrian government-in-exile that has captured a handful of mud huts back of some sand dune.

      Assad is doing better than I had hoped, and indeed seems to be teaching the west a lesson. I saw a YouTube video the other day featuring the treacherous former Foreign Minister turned Prime Minister who quit and fled to the west when Bashar al-Assad assumed power from his father (I forget his name, and I’m too pressed for time to look it up), and he said he expected to see the Syrian leadership in prison in 3 months. That was back in early 2011. Here’s a tip, Mr. ex-PM; if you’re looking for a second career, don’t pick fortune-teller.

      Assad is far from out of the woods yet, but it seems clear that as long as the west is prevented from direct military intervention, the rebels are unable to overthrow the regime alone. I’m glad I’m not Hillary’s pillow; it must be saturated with angry tears.

      What we should bear in mind is how this will be viewed through the lens of history, as it will eventually become well-known that the west knowingly backed the rebels even though most were not Syrian, and that most Syrians were opposed to the west’s meddling. Then Russia and China’s steadfast insistence on adherence to international law will have to be viewed as statesmanlike, mature and prudent.

    • yalensis says:

      @alexancer: Yeah, that whole thing about “rebels controlling 60% of Aleppo” – that tactic started in Libya war, where Rat cannon-fodder were expected to report (to their superiors in Qatar) their Rat metrics on an hourly basis. As in: “We just seized two more huts in the village of X and now control 100 meters leading to the dirt road, hence Rat control of this village has increased from 35% to 40% in the past hour.”
      All of this reeks of American-style project management technique, where Cubicle-Robots are expected to report their completion metrics to their supervisor, who then compiles them into a spreadsheet with graphs showing the overall state of the project. “Yassa, Boss, we’re up to 60% completion, with a projected ETA of one week….”
      Meanwhile, I read yesterday that American warships and aircraft carriers are steaming towards the Mediterranean, so this may bode ill. British warships (who are currently stuck at home defending the Olympics) are supposed to join them as soon as the Games are over. Sounds like maybe they are intending to launch rockets into Syria to help Rebs?

      • marknesop says:

        American warships and at least one aircraft carrier are pretty much always in the Med; they have a permanent presence. Before you can launch a cruise-missile attack to “disable the leadership”, you have to know where all your own forces are. I suppose that is theoretically possible – after all, the west is coordinating much of the communications for the rebels, but it would still be a war of aggression, which is forbidden under UN rules. This was reinforced by a resolution in the General assembly, helpfully spelt out at the Centre for the Study of Interventionism (which boasts a couple of well-known names), here: “No State or group of States has the right to intervene or interfere in any form or for any reason whatsoever in the internal and external affairs of other States.” In case there should be any doubts, a subsequent UN General Assembly Resolution appeared to address meddling and intervention, here: “Recognizing also that there is no single political system or single universal model for electoral processes equally suited to all nations and their peoples, and that political systems and electoral processes are subject to historical, political, cultural and religious factors…” That one is mostly concerned with elections, but does seem to touch on respect for sovereignty. It’s a handy one to remember, too, when western nations start screaming about the right to conduct exit polling, political advertising, bla bla. Uh uh; not unless requested. “Reaffirms further that electoral assistance to Member States should be provided by the United Nations only at the request and with the consent of specific sovereign States, by virtue of resolutions adopted by the Security Council or the General Assembly in each case, in strict conformity with the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of States, or in special circumstances such as cases of decolonization, or in the context of regional or international peace processes;”

        I realize western countries get around that by working through their NGO’s, who often include nationals, which is another reason their activities should be strictly regulated and their campaign materials clearly labeled as originating with a foreign agent. That was a pretty good segue back to the subject, if I say it myself.

  5. Moscow Exile says:

    That the Gruaniad had been reporting the imminent fall of Aleppo to anti-government forces is hardly surprising considering that the former Moscow correspondent of that rag has been skulking around that Syrian city.

  6. kirill says:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9098585/Voice-of-God-to-scare-church-roof-raiders.html

    I remember people laughing at metal theft in the FSU since it supposedly represented the 3rd world conditions in Russia, Ukraine, etc. I would say that the price of metal is not the only reason for metal theft in the UK. It must have something to do with employment conditions as well. I don’t recall such measure having to be implemented in the past when the price of copper was quite high too.

    • marknesop says:

      People have stolen the small metal plaques from gravestones in veterans’ cemeteries here, and new-home construction projects have had to post security they pay for themselves to prevent thieves from stripping the exposed walls of all their copper piping. That cost gets passed on to the consumer, and the thieves are usually crackheads looking for their next fix. In the case of theft from cemeteries, the thieves should be identified and held up to public disdain, at the very least. No shot at rehabilitation for anyone who would stoop to that.

      • kirill says:

        I agree. There is no room for sympathy for scum that steal from cemeteries and from vital infrastructure. Such as the clowns in Ukraine (or Belarus?) that tried to steal important wire at a nuclear power plant. These are not people are stealing just to eat.

  7. kirill says:

    http://en.rian.ru/society/20120810/175109093.html

    So RIAN claims that the Pussy Riot trial has “split Russian society”. Really now? From the polls I have see posted it looks like the overwhelming majority do not support them.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Sometimes I just despair!

      See: http://rt.com/politics/russian-parliament-ban-officials-344/

      Note how RT headlines the article as though the ban is a future certainty (“are to ban”), then in the first sentence of the article this future certainty becomes a planned action, and then the reality of the situation is announced, namely that a bill is going to be proposed in the Duma, which bill, if passed, will result in public officials not being allowed to hold office if they have a foreign spouse.

      The Western press will have a field day over this one. I can see it now: Adolf Putin’s Nuremberg Laws!

      • yalensis says:

        Stanislav Apetian (PoliTrash) did a blogpost on this issue:

        http://politrash-ru.livejournal.com/93165.html

        Stas supports that part of the legislation that forbids Russian officials to own property abroad, however, he opposes the “spousal” legislation as going too far (=forbidding Russian officials to marry foreign citizens).
        I pretty much agree with Apetian’s position, however I do see a certain logic to the anti-spouse law, if you see it as a logical response to the Magnitsky law. In other words, Russian government is very afraid of Magnitsky Law, because West will now be able to secretly blackmail any Russian legislator. Having family members of dual-citizenship only adds to the blackmail possibilities, as these spouses and children could now be used as a type of “hostage” to Western interests. Another consideration is that cheating oligarchs are able to put Russian property in spouse’s name and syphon it out of Russia by that route.
        In summary, this is a semi-ridiculous lustration law that is a logical response to a sly and vicious series of Western attacks against Russian sovereignty.

    • Misha says:

      A Russian friend told me that the Russian public at large would’ve a more negative view of Pussy Riot if they knew the full extent of their activities. Someone else more sympathetic to Pussy Riot nevertheless finds them immature and naive.

      They shouldn’t be unnecessarily made into martyrs.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        That’s why PR are continuously labelled in both the Western and Russian media as a feminist punk band. They are not, as Alexander Mercouris clearly points ot in his PR case analysis. One thing, though, their leader is an accomplished actress. In her end of trial Portia-like address to the court, she piled it on thick, associating the actions and thoughts of both herself and her colleagues with those of Russian 19th century revolutionary members of the intelligentsia and men of letters. She pleaded that she had apologized and had “reached out her hand” for forgiveness and then, turning her gaze to the prosecution bench, she claimed that no mercy was forthcoming.

        The reality of the situation, however, was that she and her associates sat smirking throughout most of the trial in the glass-walled booth that serves as the dock in the court wherein the trial took place, which dock being continuosly described by the Western media as a “cage”.

        • Misha says:

          Their social criticism or however one wants to term their activity is lacking in quality when compared to some of the substantively serious criticism made on such issues as Western mass media coverage of the former Communist bloc.

          In this latter aforementioned instance, the penalty is to be significantly downplayed as much as possible the more high profile of venues.

          • Misha says:

            as much as possible at the more high profile of venues.

            From someone out there:

            In short: I have read the original of the Russian law, and Mercouris has it right.

            As for Western courts, let’s not fool ourselves. In liberal California: if you have money, you can stand a much better chance of winning your case.

            One of the better examples of suspect justice is the case of “British Justice” in the famous trial of count Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, who wrote a book about the betrayal of the Cossacks in Lienz, naming the SOB who “gave his word of honor” to the Cossacks and then turned them over to the Soviets. He made his career on this, and then sued Tolstoy-Miloslavsky for “slander”. The trial was publicized and lengthy – I took a video in 1996 of a lecture he gave on this account, describing the farce trial, when, in the end, the “honorable judge” instructed the jury to bring in a verdict of “guilty”. At that point Tolstoy-Miloslavsky, half British himself exclaimed – and this is British “Justice”!!! The courageous count was totally ruined financially, and the Congress of Russian Americans raised money to help him survive…

            http://www.5rb.com/case/Tolstoy-Miloslavsky-v-United-Kingdom
            Facts
            The applicant had written a pamphlet containing defamatory statements about Lord Aldington, including the allegation that he was a war criminal. After a 10 week libel trial at which the applicant sought to justify his allegations, the jury found for the Claimant and awarded him £1.5 million in damages. An injunction was imposed restraining further publication. The applicant sought to appeal but was ordered to pay £124,900 by way of security for costs as a condition. The applicant alleged violations of Article 6 and 10 of the Convention and claimed just satisfaction under Article 50.

            Comment

            By the time this case got to Strasbourg, the United Kingdom authorities had taken action to prevent such high awards being made in the future, by virtue of section 8 Courts and Legal Services Act 1990 and Court of Appeal judgments in Rantzen v Mirror Group Newspapers and subsequent cases. The libel in this case was one of the most serious imaginable and aggravated by unsuccessful plea of justifcation. Nevertheless, it was over three times the previous next highest award. The question which the Court’s judgment does not answer, however, is: what size of award would have been proportionate to protect the Claimant’s reputation?

        • marknesop says:

          It should be kept in mind that the court itself is just window-dressing. You don’t serve your sentence in the courtroom, cage or no. When it’s time to do your time, you go to prison, and western prisons as well as the proportion of their populations which are incarcerated are not much of an aspirational standard.

          The same weepy standard was applied to St. Mikhail, when he was in the courtroom; he was in a cage where he could barely move. What does he need to move for? Was he planning on running a couple of laps around the room? If Putin traded places with him, I think the complainers would find the standard more than adequate.

          • yalensis says:

            Gaddafi didn’t even get a trial, or a courtroom. The leader who made Libya the wealthiest and most prosperous nation in the Middle East, with something like $600 billion dollars in cash and gold reserves – this man was tortured, sodomized, and lynched by a gang of Blackwater and Al Qaeda psychopaths.
            And, by the way, this is exactly what Western mercenaries would do to Putin, if they could. I think Putin himself realizes that.

            • Dear Yalensis,

              Even if Gaddafi had been a criminal his public torture and murder in circumstances of astonishing cruelty was a total disgrace. Rogozin put it very well when he said that the pleasure he found in NATO headquarters when the murder took place made him wonder whether he was amongst people who as children enjoyed stringing up cats in their basements.

              • Meanwhile I gather the news from Syria is of the further retreat of the rebels from Aleppo. It seems the intention of creating a “liberated” (or should that be an “occupied”) zone for a march on Damascus has failed. Here is a good discussion from Voice of Russia.

                http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_08_11/Syria-in-flames/

                As the article says I gather there is growing unrest in Turkey at where all this is going with criticism of Erdogan increasing.

                • marknesop says:

                  I think it’s “put up or shut up” time for the west, because it seems plain the “rebels” cannot take Syria unassisted. If they did, they couldn’t hold it. Meanwhile, as you allude, there are some undesirable (from the western perspective) spin-offs like civil unrest in Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia. In Ringology, the Great Eye must soon focus elsewhere, while its power diminishes. I’d like to be a fly on the wall at the State Department; the gnashing of teeth must be quite something to hear. I kind of hoped the Syrian army was going to wipe out the “rebels” at Aleppo.

                  I still think they will find a way to get Assad and blame it on – or credit it to – the “rebels”. The west does not lose gracefully, but we are getting close to decision time, because the situation is getting increasingly difficult to manage.

              • marknesop says:

                Perhaps I’m the same sort of person Rogozin described, because I could not help feeling a rush of sympathetic agreement with a commenter on the YouTube video of Hillary Clinton’s college-girl-giggly “We came, we saw, he died” statement, who wished a similar fate to visit Clinton soon.

                • yalensis says:

                  @mark: We all have violent and evil thoughts, but there is a big moral difference between wishing something bad and actually doing it (or abetting it). The people that Rogozin described actually DID something really bad, they organized it, incited it, etc., as opposed to just abstractly wishing something bad on somebody. I have a feeling that if, by some bizarre set of circumstances, Hillary did actually come into your power, that you would limit yourself to just telling her off in a vigorous and eloquent fashion. (Well, maybe one little gentle smack on the snout…)

                • marknesop says:

                  In my dream, we are on a high balcony when we meet. I show her a doughnut, and let her get a smell of it. Then I throw it over the rail.

    • Misha says:

      Russia’s most famous ballerina condemns revolting acts of nonentity Pussy Riot considering it a crime against Orthodox believers, but thinks that a jail sentence would be a “gift” for these hooligans, and she would suggest they be sentenced to serve society by cleaning public toilets “until they shine”.

      http://newsru.com/cinema/10aug2012/volochkovapus.html

      Волочкова отправила бы Pussy Riot “начищать до блеска общественные туалеты”

      • cartman says:

        That is funny because Guardian did a piece on her to gloat that she had left United Russia to join the seething masses ready to overthrow Putin in a theatrical orgy of blood.

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/04/putin-anastasia-volochkova-united-russia

        • Misha says:

          Touches on the thought that Russian criticism of Russia’s government (preferably constructive) doesn’t equate with being supportive of Pussy Riot.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I agree: community service is most definitely an appropriate punishmented for these smug egoistical exhibitionists. However, if such a punishment were to be handed out by the court, I am sure they would refuse to do it – and I’ m not simply talking about cleaning lavatories. They will simply continue to claim that they did not intend to offend anybody and, therefore, that in their sweet innocence, they should not suffer such demeaning punishment.

        The real reason, though, why they would find community service demeaning is because they are bourgeois. All this revolutionary, anarchistic, sexual posturing and exhibitionism is their chosen leisure time activity.

        They seem to have plenty of free time. How do they earn their bread? How do those who are mothers feed and clothe their children? Some of them are or were philosophy students at MGU, were they not?

        As regards the community service order meted out to Udaltsov, another revolutionary oppositionist whose real agenda is veiled by the Western media in its description of him as being a left-radical, as far as I am aware, he is still refusing to comply with said order.

        • marknesop says:

          It should be presented as a choice: do community service, or your parents will do it for you. Refusal is not an option. If you get a fine and you refuse to pay – at least in the west – they say, “no problem, Sir/Ma’am”, and just take it out of your wages. If you don’t have a job, they repossess and sell your property at auction, up to and including your house, until they recover the amount of the fine. If you have no job and no property, you are indigent and that’s as good a reason to lock you up as any. Why should this be any different? If the ladies are too proud to clean toilets, let’s see Mum and Dad out there.

      • marknesop says:

        I don’t have much appreciation for ballet – although I enjoyed watching my 5-year-old dance “Petite Ballerina” at the annual recital this past spring – and my potential leotard-wearing days are past me, but she and I are tuned into the same wave on this one. Something that presents an apologetic persona to the public, while simultaneously bringing them low enough that their days of demanding the country’s President be called to the witness stand in their trial will be just a giddy memory. Also, it should put the western chatterers on notice – butt out. Personally, I believe not even the allegedly-preferred 3-year sentence would have been considered were it not for the western posturing and screeching.

      • Misha says:

        From a Global Voices piece, Navalny is paraphrased for saying that PR shouldn’t be dealt with too severely:

        Акция их в ХСС – идиотская и спорить тут нечего. Какой аргумент ни возьми, от “в мечеть-то вы не пошли” до “а зачем вообще” – всё правда. Мне бы, мягко говоря, не понравилось, если в тот момент когда я в церкви, туда забежали какие-то чокнутые девицы и стали бегать вокруг алтаря. Имеем неоспоримый факт: дуры, совершившие мелкое хулиганство ради паблисити.

        Their action in the Cathedral was idiotic, there is no argument there. Whatever argument you pick, from “why didn’t you go to a mosque” to “why even” — it’s all true. To put it mildly, I wouldn’t appreciate it if, when I am at church, some crazy broads ran in and began to run around the altar. We are faced with an indisputable fact: [these were] stupid women, who committed a minor act of hooliganism for publicity.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Volochkova was the UR poster-girl that renaged, much to the delight of the Western commentariat.

        She’s intrigued me for some time, not least because of the fact that unlike most ballerinas, who, as they say in my old part of the world, “look as if a good feed would kill them”, she’ s quite a buxom lass. She got the push, they say, from the Bolshoi because she was too heavy. Well, I suppose one has to have some sympathy for the trials of the leading boys who had to toss her around the stage.

        And then she had this curious kitsch wedding at a Petersburg palace – I’m sure it’s one of those that has been labelled as Putin’s own private pad; I forget it’s name now, but it is used for government receptions and also hired out for private functions – where she made her bridal entry by means of hot air balloons from which she was suspended on a trapeze and drawn into the palace court yard by a gaggle of what looked like leading boys.

        Anyway, she now claims that she was never married to the millionaire who appeared at the palace as her groom, that it was just all show, though I believe she did live with him for a spell.

        In short, Volochkova appears to me to a bit whacky in a harmless sort of way, though I have to agree with her opinion as regards imposing a communal service order on PR, though not, as she suggests, the punihment of scrubbing the urinals until they glisten.

        She’s a bonny lass though!
        🙂

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Seriously off topic: I’m getting a bit brassed off at how this iPad contraption that I am using at my dacha changes the possessive adjective “its” to the contracted “it’s” form of “it is”, as has happened above in “I forget it’s name now”. If I’m not sufficiently observant, this damned machine always does this.

          I have written this in order to ward off any possible comments concerning my perceived illiteracy.

          • yalensis says:

            youve an ipad? im impressed!

            • Moscow Exile says:

              I’ve still not got the hang of it yet. It’s chief function is to prevent my being incommunicado whilst dwelling at my summer residence during the summer months, which present summer, by the way, seems to be on its way out: it has gone noticeably cooler this week and today it has been raining continuously. Another reason for purchasing an iPad is that with it I can use iFace, an application with which I can communicate with my nephew much better than I can with Skype: he is in Brunei. For some reason or other, however, iPads are more expensive in Russia than they are in the West. The same goes for cell phones. One of those middle-class acquaintances of mine who is not an “opposition” supporter bought her iPad whilst on a business trip to France. She’s the person, by the way, who spent several months working in my home town. She has also lived and worked in the USA.

        • Misha says:

          Needless to be said perhaps, but said anyway: to one degree or another, we all have our shortcomings of very types – some more than others.

          I’ve seen that RT piece you mentioned earlierat some online news services. RT shoukln’t have an above the cloud mindset to constructive criticism.

          On an earlier brought up matter of anti-Russian bias at this thread, something is scheduled to be due out soon. Let’s see what kind of support it gets – a roundabout reference to some of the ass kissing cronyism that has been evident.

        • yalensis says:

          @Exile: I agree Volochkova is a very attractive and sexy lady, and she certainly doesn’t look fat to me🙂

          check this out:

          On the other hand, as you point out, suppose she weighs a healthy 54 kilos, that is pretty normal, but 54 kilos is still 54 kilos that some guy has to heft across the stage, all the while doing his own fancy footwork.
          My sister is a ballet instructor, so she has some experience with these issues, trying to keep her girls small and skinny.
          I personally have a lot of experience within the figure skating subculture, where male pair skaters have the same issue. They have to lift the girls up and toss them over their heads, imagine lifting and throwing a 60 kg weight. It’s not so bad for ice dancers, they only do small below-the-waist type lifts.
          Shakespearean actors have the same issue, especially those who portray King Lear (who has to spend the whole of his last scene carrying Cordelia’s body around the stage while spouting out monologues). Lear’s usual question, upon meeting fellow cast member who portrays Cordelia, is always the same: “Well, you look like a right bonny lass, my dear, and HOW MUCH DO YOU WEIGH?”

      • yalensis says:

        Bravo for Volochkova! She is exactly on the mark!
        Just to put in perspective the difference between a professional ballerina and a “professional” punk rocker:
        To become a successful ballerina, a girl must start training as young as 3 years old, and put in grinding hours of work at the barre for the next 15 years or more, training as much as 7 hours a day. All that in addition to regular schooling, and so on.
        To become a punk rocker, all one needs is to jump up and down squawking and pretend to play an instrument. Even I could do that, therefore it is not legitimate art.
        I love that Volochkova advises the “Pussy” girls to study, work, and acquire an honorable profession. This is EXACTLY the same advice that their supposed hero Chernyshevsky (whom they have apparently not actually read) gave to young women.
        Under no circumstances would a man like Chernyshevsky have condoned the ridiculous and narcissistic actions of these anarchists.

        http://thelectern.blogspot.com/2010/04/what-is-to-be-done-nikolai.html

    • marknesop says:

      Western and western-leaning media sources have said that of everything about which they would like it to be true. A great majority of Russian middle-class society had never heard of Pussy Riot before this manufactured controversy, and could have no reasoned opinion on them now since all they know is the silliness they are being bombarded with. And even at that, I have my doubts the Russian-language Russian newspapers are treating it with the same frantic hype as the west, which treats Russia like a safe it is trying to crack – if they can just get a corner up, the door is as good as off. And that’s what they’re always trying to do: get a corner up.

      Remember when Navalny had “split Russian society”? And then the protests themselves, even though they involved less than 1% of the population. Before that, if you look, I daresay you could find a few sources which said the murders of Anna Politkovskaya and Natalia Estmirova had “split Russian society” as well. The regime-change dreamers continue to dream, and reality is whatever they say it is. Revolution is always in the air.

      • Dear Mark,

        I think where Pussy Riot is concerned the words “manufactured controversy” hit the nail on the head. This is a public order case, nothing more. It does not justify all the fuss. All blowing it out of proportion has done is harmed the defendants’ prospects of avoiding a lengthy gaol sentence.

  8. Moscow Exile says:

    Further to the above linked RT article, the articlle linked below has also recently appeared on the RT site:

    http://rt.com/politics/calls-united-russia-members-332/

    Is there going to a purge of the United Russia membership? I should hope so, and the idiots who have proposed the bill referred to in my previous posting should be the first to go. When I first saw the marriage bill article in RT, I thought Zhirinovsky must be responsible.

    With party members that make such ludicrous proposals for changes in legislation, who needs
    enemies?

  9. Why not? says:

    Moscow Exile, are you reffering to this bill:

    “Wives and underage children of civil servants must also declare their property and cannot own property or real estate outside the Russian Federation. If a civil servant’s spouse is a foreigner, this person would not have the right to occupy the post. The officials will have to vacate their post if they wish to marry foreigners.”/i>

    Why do you think it’s a bad idea? Surely there’s a conflict of interests, isn’t there?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I think that that part of the proposed bill concerning the declaration of a civil servant’s wife and children’s foreign interests is good idea; what I do disagree with, however, is that if the bill is passed, a civil servant shall then be dismissed from employment if he/she chooses to marry a foreigner and, I presume, shall be dismissed if he/she is already married to one. And what would happen to a civil servant who had a foreign mistress/ ladyfriend?

      Is it really a conflict of a civil servant’s duties and interests if he should choose to marry a foreigner?

      Do the proposers of this bill really believe that all foreign wives of civil servants are potential “honey traps”?

    • marknesop says:

      Perhaps they were thinking of Viktor Yushchenko and his hardcore conservative Republican activist American wife. Look how well that worked out.

      The whole idea seems to be that whatever Russia proposes in the way of law is barbaric and cruel, but if they change nothing then they are in dire need of immediate legal reform. I’m glad I chose the title for the post that I did, because it seems to sum up the situation fairly accurately.

      • Misha says:

        A “hardcore conservative Republican activist American wife,” with an even more hardcore anti-Russian past.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          One of Bandera’s fans, if I am not mistaken. I’m pretty certain her father was.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Here’s Katherine Yushchenko’s entry in Wiki:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kateryna_Yushchenko

            Note how Wiki describes the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33 as the “Ukrainian Genocide Famine”.

            Mrs. Yushchenko’s father had the great misfortune, it seems, to have been captured by the Nazi invaders of the USSR in 1942 and was taken to Germany, where he met his Ukrainian wife, who was employed as a slave labourer, married her and they had their first child in 1945 – in Germany.

            What a truly remarkable tale that is and how fortunate was Mrs. Yushchenko’s father to survive being a Soviet POW of the Nazis!

            During WWII some 3.3 million of an estimated 5.7 million Soviet POWs of the Nazis died during their captivity. That’s 57% of all prisoners died. They died either by arbitrary execution on their capture, or during “death marches” from their area of capture to “camps”, or, having survived such a march, from inhumane conditions in such camps, usually through starvation. Others also were taken to extermination camps, where they were, of course, exterminated as Untermenschen.

            Most of these deaths, an estimated 2.8 million of them, occurred during the period 1941- 1942, namely when Mrs. Yushchenko’s father was captured by the Nazis.

            See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_crimes_against_Soviet_POWs

            What a really lucky fellow he was to be not only shipped to the Fatherland, but also to find there a wife, a compatriot even, who was busy slaving away there, though not so busy, it seems, to have prevented her from getting married and having a baby during the year the war ended. Why, she even must have conceive while the Thousand Year Reich was crashing down around their ears in flames during the Führer’s version of Götterdämmerung.

            Mrs. Yushchenko (she’s Mrs. Yushschenko No.2, by the way) was born in far more fortunate circumstances than her eldest sibling was: she was born in Chicago, USA, where her very, very fortunate parents had emigrated to in 1956. They had been invited there by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

            Just like a fairy tale!

      • Moscow Exile says:

        She wasn’t his wife: she was his station controller.

        • marknesop says:

          That’s taking service to country to a whole new level.

        • yalensis says:

          She was the plucky and beautiful CIA Station Controller. He was the handsome yet unpredictable Agent of Influence.
          It started off as an arranged marriage (arranged in Langley, Virginia). They were introduced, they disliked each other at first sight. Forced to live together, they quarrelled frequently and exchanged witty barbs. Just like in a Hollywood romantic comedy movie.
          Eventually neither could deny the “chemistry” that actually existed between them. Irritation turned into passion, and passion into love.
          And then one day, Kateryna came home to find that her beloved “Vic” had been replaced with a horrid-looking pock-marked body double. “This is your new husband,” her CIA boss told her, as she stood in the doorway aghast. The End.

  10. peter says:

    Mark,

    Since the topic has changed to Pussy Riot bashing, I propose that you (and anyone interested) answer the concrete question I already asked here and over at Alexander’s blog:

    In your opinion, what exactly are they legally guilty of?

    a) Хулиганство (Статья 213 УК РФ)

    b) Мелкое хулиганство (Статья 20.1 КоАП РФ)

    c) Нарушение законодательства о свободе совести, свободе вероисповедания и о религиозных объединениях (Статья 5.26 КоАП РФ)

    d) other offence (clarify which)

    e) nothing punishable by law

    f) no clue

    We already have three answers: Alexander reluctantly picked (a), Navalny is (b), and Misha is (f), as usual. You?

    • yalensis says:

      Four votes, don’t forget me… On Mercouris’s blog I voted for (b) – petty hooliganism. With a recommendation of no jail time, but the maximum fine of 2000 rubles. (Just for being a**holes.)

    • Misha says:

      As usual, the troll posting as “Peter” carries on like a trolling twerp. His idiotic delivery is the opposite of what he seems to suggest.

      • Dear Peter,

        I will confess to being slightly puzzled by your multiple choice question. Any view we take on this question is purely an expression of our personal opinion. We are not trying Pussy Riot the Court is and it’s the Court’s opinion not ours that matters. What then is the point of canvassing us for our opinions? You are not I hope suggesting that criminal cases should be decided by popular vote?

        Let me repeat again that the purpose of my article was not to say which particular offence under Russian law Pussy Riot committed. That is not my business. The purpose of my post was to explain why a prosecution was brought in the first place. Since no one any longer denies that a crime was committed (even Pussy Riot and you accept that) there is no doubt that despite all the hysteria the decision to bring a prosecution was justified. There may be a legitimate argument about whether Pussy Riot are guilty of the offence under Article 213 for which they have been charged (as you rightly say I rather think they were). However that is ultimately a question for the Court not us. If the women and their lawyers decide the Court has decided this question wrongly they have a right to appeal and the question will then go to an appeal Court but bluntly I do not see the sense in us in the meantime trying to second guess what we think the Court should decide especially when the Court has made no decision yet.

        By contrast since everybody now accepts that a crime was committed where I think we are entitled to a view is about the kind of punishment this crime merits. You, I, Yalensis, Putin, Navalny and it seems Volochkova all agree that this is a crime that should be treated leniently. Since we all agree on that why can we not leave it at that?

        • yalensis says:

          @alexander: Of the 6 people you list who expressed opinions, only 3 are lawyers: Putin, Yourself, and Navalny (although I am not even 100% sure that Navalny isn’t a fake laywer, but I am pretty sure youse other two have plaques hanging on respective walls proving that you passed your bars). Of the other 3, they/we include a computer programmer, a physicist, and a ballerina.
          One could argue that the opinions of (we) 3 non-lawyers are fairly worthless!

          • marknesop says:

            I almost swallowed a cherry stone thanks to that. It was doubly funny because I looked for myself in there the first time without catching it. Consider the appointment for Minister of Comedy filled.

            • yalensis says:

              Huh? I was being completely serious, you Nut!
              Hey, if you want comedy, check out this link, Navalny has been MIA on his own blog the last couple of days, an anti-Navalny troll has hijacked it and posting funny pictures.
              Caption: “I was only joking, Misha! Volodya isn’t coming…”

          • Dear Yalensis,

            Neither yours nor indeed Peter’s opinions are ever worthless at least not to me.

            • yalensis says:

              Aw, shucks, thanks, Alex! I just meant to say, peter and I are not lawyers, so what do we know?
              (My father, who was a professor, taught me to have a healthy respect for other people’s professions, he used to say, “If a person has something hanging on their wall in a frame, that means you need to respect their authority in that particular field.”)
              I have stuff hanging on my own wall in frames, of which I am very proud, but none of it is a law degree!
              Although, to be sure, after all this intensive research I have been doing on the Navalny case, I feel I should be at least halfway towards passing my bar exam in the field of white-collar crime!

              • Misha says:

                “If a person has something hanging on their wall in a frame, that means you need to respect their authority in that particular field.”

                ****

                Ideally, “respect” should be a two way street, inclusive of not letting lawyers, medical doctors, or others to get away with deceit in their respective field.

                In the soft sciences like political studies, all of the academic degrees in the world shouldn’t serve as a cover for misinoformation – something that the more earnest of academics have readily agreed with.

                There’s an objective enough of a technical way to judge quality input.

                Pardon if this seemes like a bit of a ramble. I’m by no means alone in having some disgust with paper credintials lacking qualitatively better input over some other sources not getting the nod at the more high profile of venues.

    • marknesop says:

      Okay, I’ll bite. I pick “e. nothing punishable by law” That’s why, as I mentioned earlier and again just now, Russia will now be forced into rewriting legislation so that it’s clearer what you are and are not allowed to do in your search for artistic expression. Which in turn will be rolled out by Russia’s detractors as a “further crackdown on dissent”, and around and around and around we go. When you do something that should have been crystal clear to anyone with the slightest sense of propriety is off limits and then shout triumphantly, “but I didn’t break any law!!” it usually isn’t too long afterward and surprise! there’s a law. Which makes people afterward, when the hubbub dies down and everyone has forgotten what it was all about, say “What a stupid fucking law – is that what we pay the government for?” In summary, the provocative act is a disservice to society from every angle you look at it, unless you’re advocating for more hooliganism which is virtually guaranteed to be offensive to broad swathes of society in the interests of artistic expression.

      Oh, there’s enough aspect of general hooliganism about it that making a 3-year prison sentence stick shouldn’t be too hard. But the denizens of the “protest movement” seem to have as a goal forcing the government to write nit-picky laws that regulate public behavior to a fare-thee-well, then bitch about what an authoritarian bunch of pricks the government is. Ditto Akunin with his stupid “strolls” and the brief “Occupy”-style protests in public parks. Now there will be a tightening of by-laws which will inevitably catch up a few well-meaning citizens who weren’t doing anything wrong, and further an atmosphere of discontent.

      Remember when Michael Fagan decided to drop in on the Queen, back in 1982? Oh, I’m sure the wall with the razor wire on top should have cued him that he was to keep out and not climb it. But he did it anyway, because he had an impulse that he wanted to talk about his personal problems with Her Majesty. He might have been mentally disturbed, but he was certainly high-functioning enough to know that much. It would have been counter-productive and silly to put signs every 3 feet that read, “Do NOT climb over the wall and enter the palace, it is private property even if it does belong to the taxpayer”. Instead, the Brits got increased security and I’m sure some altered routines in the palace, which need not have happened. That’s not the best example, because it didn’t really inconvenience very many people, but you also didn’t see the British press argue that every poor git with mental problems must be allowed free access to The Monarch at a time of his/her choosing.

      At bottom, the whole thing is just childish, like someone entering a computer store with a handful of cowshit because the sign only says “No food or drink allowed inside”, and does not specifically mention cowshit. Which eventually narrows us all down to two alternatives – punish the behavior because it violates the spirit of the rules if not the letter, or allow it to continue and escalate because you believe the rule of law ties your hands. Actually, I should have said three alternatives, because there is another: write laws that are specific and detailed to fit every possible – not conceivable – situation, with the result that society is over-regulated and miserable.

      • Dear Yalensis,

        Hilarious, though actually I am sure Navalny is a lawyer.

        • yalensis says:

          Well, Navalny CLAIMS to have received his law degree from Patrice Lumumba in 1998. I don’t want to start rumors, but Navalny’s arch-enemy Karnaukhov has questioned whether Navalny really is a valid lawyer. Could be just sour grapes, but Navalny could clear up the controversy very quickly by producing the hardware to prove it!

  11. Foppe says:

    here, perhaps, a nice illustration:

    A protester belonging to an Occupy Wall Street group in rural Pennsylvania is being charged with felony attempted bank robbery and a terrorism-related charge for holding signs up during a demonstration at a local Wells Fargo branch.
    David C. Gorczynski, 22, was charged on Tuesday with attempted bank robbery and terroristic threatening, both felonies, as well as one misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. Police detained him after he walked into an Easton, PA Wells Fargo branch with a sign that read “You’re being robbed” and another that said “Give a man a gun, he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob a country.”

    (The sign is a nice riff on Bill Black’s book title The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One; which is about the 1980-1990s S&L frauds.)
    Needless to say, I am happy that I do not live in that corporate police state..

    • marknesop says:

      What in the name of God is going on in that oppressive hellhole?? Anyone could see he was only exercising his perfectly legitimate human right to self-expression!! Did he actually have a gun in his possession? It is quite a stretch to imagine tellers these days can be robbed with a sign. I demand he be freed at once, with an apology and perhaps a free savings account to compensate him for his suffering, or I’m taking this to the ECHR.

      • “We can’t allow the perceived idea of protesting to be a defence of criminality. People have to understand if they want to protest there’s a line”.

        Carl Scatzo, Police Chief, Easton, Pennsylvania, USA
        9th August 2012

        • Actually this prosecution is doubly crass since Gorczynski’s placard seems to be an adaption of a phrase from Bertold Brecht’s Three Penny Opera.

          • …..and here right on cue is a case reported by the Guardian of a prosecution this time of a political figure in London which was misconceived and which has misfired after causing a lot of distress and career damage to the person who was its subject.

            http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/12/nick-cohen-simon-walsh-cps-pornography-prosecution

            I don’t think we should fall into the trap of making too much of these cases. Every day in every country prosecutions are brought for various offences. One can argue about the wisdom of some of these prosecutions and one can try to pick holes in the law under which they are brought but at the end of the day it is the courts that should be left alone to deal with these cases and to sort them out. It only serves to undermine the courts and the rule of law when they are not. This is especially so in a country like Russia that has subordinated its entire court system to a foreign court, in this case the European Court of Human Rights, providing an important safeguard if anything goes seriously wrong.

            • AK says:

              That is seriously effed up.

              Is Simon Walsh at least going to be recompensed? Say what you will about the American justice system, but from what I recall you at least get considerably money in such cases.

              • He will get some compensation but nowhere near what he would get in the US and nothing like what he would need to get to compensate him for the ruin of his career.

                • marknesop says:

                  The Chief Inspector estimates that one in ten of its prosecutions is baseless and vexatious. Yet nearly every prosecution has the effect of ruining a career or a life or both. How is this different, except for scale, from the Iraqis who turned in their fellows for arrest and incarceration (and much, much worse) in Abu Ghraib knowing they had done nothing – which was true of the great majority of the prison population – simply to satisfy a personal or secular grudge?

          • yalensis says:

            By the Hammer of Thor, Alex, you are absolutely correct! How could I have not noticed this before? The quote about robbing versus owning a Bank comes directly from Mäckie Messer’s final speech while waiting for the hangman’s noose. (Some of these Occupy people must be very well educated!)

            “Meine Damen und Herren. Sie sehen den untergehenden Vertreter eines untergehenden Standes. Wir kleinen bürgerlichen Handwerker, die wir mit dem biederen Brecheisen an den Nickelkassen der kleinen Ladenbesitzer arbeiten, werden von den Großunternehmern verschlungen, hinter denen die Banken stehen. Was ist ein Dietrich gegen eine Aktie? Was ist ein Einbruch in eine Bank gegen die Gründung einer Bank? Was ist die Ermordung eines Mannes gegen die Anstellung eines Mannes? […] Das Zusammentreffen einiger unglücklicher Umstände hat mich zu Fall gebracht. Gut – ich falle.“

            (Bertold Brecht, “Die DreigroschenOper”)

            • yalensis says:

              “Ladies and gentlemen,” Mack the Knife addresses the audience with great pathos:
              “You see before you the dying representative of a dying class. We, petty-bourgeois artisans, who employ the hand crowbar to open the coffers of the small shopkeepers, we are being crowded out by big business and the banks. How can a pick-lock stand up against a packet of stocks? What is breaking into a bank compared with establishing a bank? What is the murder of a man against making a man unemployed? […] The coalescence of a serious of unfortunate circumstances has brought me down. Fine…. I fall.”
              But do not despair at MacHeath’s fate! Just as the noose is placed around his neck, a emissary comes galloping up dispatched from from Queen Victoria! MacHeath is pardoned of all his crimes and elevated to a Knighthood. (How totally BRILLIANT was Brecht!) Occupiers, take hope!

  12. Misha says:

    Mark,

    In case you missed it, here’s another take on the documentary blaming Medvedev for the way Russia reponded to the Georgian government strike in South Ossetia:

    http://www.rferl.org/content/putin-medvedev-russia-georgia-war-rift/24672701.html

    Perhaps a bit on the overly-analytical side. It’s no secret that some oppose Medvedev. Latynina and a number of others haven’t been silenced on their commentary against Putin. Putin was quoted as favoring a not so stiff sentence for PR. In short, Russia is a free enough place to have criticism of Medvedev without Putin’s approval.

    • Dear Misha,

      I am obviously not party to the inner workings of the Kremlin but frankly this looks to me to be nothing more than a case of grumbling by a bunch of retired old generals. In the case of Baluyevsky the fact that Medvedev moved him from his post of Chief of the General Staff allowing his successor Makarov to win the laurels for the victory in South Ossetia and to carry out an army reform that Baluyevsky is known to have opposed doubtless explains some of the resentment he feels for Medvedev.

      Russia was not idle on the first of the war. What actually happened was that as soon as news of the Georgian attack on Tskhinvali came through Russia called for an emergency meeting of the Security Council at which proposed an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal by both parties back to their original lines. This was doing it exactly by the book, which is consistent with the way Russia always handles international crises, which is to following exactly the procedures set out under international law. In this case there is no doubt that Russia gained a lot of credit around the world (though obviously not in the west) for going to the Security Council first and you can be absolutely sure that if Russia had not taken this step Saakashvili and the west would have made the most of it and would have used Russia’s failure to go to the Security Council as further proof that Russia was the real aggressor.

      Incidentally because the Security Council meeting on 7th August 2008 is for the west such an embarrassment it is now deleted out of all western accounts of the war (including the one on Wikipedia), which is why few know of it. I was actually listening to an account of what happened in the Security Council on the radio almost as it took place. I remember quite clearly how the ambassadors of the US, Britain and France totally rejected the Russian draft Resolution calling for a ceasefire and a mutual withdrawal back to the original lines. The French ambassador as I remember was particularly aggressive, rudely lecturing the Russians about their “need to respect Georgia’s sovereignty”. At that time of course the assumption was that the Georgians would have little difficulty capturing Tskhinvali and that the Russians would soon be presented with a fait accompli. When this did not happen the horror in the west was a wonder to behold and I still in spite of myself and the tragedy of the situation chuckle at the memory of how when it became clear a day or so later that the Georgians were going to be defeated the US and its allies in the Security Council tried desperately to get the Security Council to agree to a Resolution calling for a ceasefire and a return to the original lines that was in essence identical to the one which on 7th August 2008 the Russians had proposed and which they had so rudely rejected. By then of course it was too late.

      • Misha says:

        Bingo Alex.

        Thanks for the confirmation of what I’ve mentioned to others elsewhere, if not here as well at some point.

        France has no business lecturing Russia on respecting the territory of others given its position on Kosovo.

      • AK says:

        It is in a separate article about the timeline of the war (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_2008_South_Ossetia_war) but problem is 100x fewer people will read it.

        Pretty typical.

        But Russian Wikipedia is actually worse would you believe it or not. Its dominated by liberasts. Russia should organize the creation of an indigenous Wikipedia with a diversity of voices just like the Chinese have.

        • Thanks for this Anatoly,

          Even I who am an addict for this sort of thing was unaware of the existence on Wikipedia of this time line, which makes the point you make. Also the account of the Security Council meeting doesn’t remotely capture the angry exchanges that took place. Nor does it make clear that the Russians proposed a Resolution but were forced to drop the idea when it became clear the western powers would oppose it. By the way Georgia’s UN ambassador with whom Churkin “exchanged positions” (in the timeline’s bizarre phrase) shortly after went over to the Georgian opposition.

          I am not at all surprised that Russian Wikipedia is liberal dominated. Russia absolutely should organise its own version of Wikipedia.

          • Misha says:

            English and Russian Wiki vary in quality. Some of the Russian Wiki material is better. On that last thought, some historical topics come to mind.

  13. Moscow Exile says:

    As regards comments made in the Russian press against Putin, I wonder what would have happened to a British newspaper journalist who had written before the last UK general election that if one of the candidates became prime minister, his first action would be to declare war on a foreign sovereign state?

    That’s what Latynina wrote in a Moscow Times article about Vladimir Putin shortly before the last Russian presidential election.

  14. Romney has declared Representative Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential candidate

    I have to say I find it a strange decision. Usually a Presidential candidate looks for a nominee for the Vice Presidency who will balance the ticket by making up for the Presidential candidate’s perceived electoral weaknesses. Ryan is a white, male, supposedly tax cutting fiscal conservative from an affluent middle class background. To me he looks like someone who rather than balancing Romney merely doubles Romney. Though I can’t stand her Condoleeza Rice would have been a more interesting choice and would surely have balanced the ticket better. It looks as if Romney is more concerned about shoring up his own Republican base than going beyond it. Having said that at least Ryan doesn’t come with foreign policy baggage as Condoleeza Rice would and as Biden does. A sign possibly that Romney doesn’t intend to give foreign policy a high priority?

    • marknesop says:

      Romney is playing to his conservative base and to the Tea Party in an attempt to “unite the clans”, by picking a guy who is well to the right of conservative. There was a lot of talk that it was going to be Tim Pawlenty, for the same reason as that which got him into the final stages last time, before McCain went inexplicably with Sarah Palin – because he is such a cypher, neither a positive or a negative, that nobody would have to worry his charisma might steal the limelight from the presidential candidate. The really funny part was hearing Romney announce that Americans were now going to see the “Romney budget”, when he has run so far for the nomination on his support for the Ryan budget, which is all Ryan is really famous for. Well, actually that’s not quite true: here’s The Washington Monthly, quoting Ezra Klein; “It’s not just that Romney now has to defend Ryan’s budget. To some degree, that was always going to be true. What he will now have to defend is everything else Ryan has proposed. Ryan was, for instance, the key House backer of Social Security privatization. His bill, The Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act of 2005, was so aggressive that it was rejected by the Bush administration. Now it’s Romney’s bill to defend.

      I can’t say how delighted I am with Romney’s choice. And not because I want him to win, either.

    • yalensis says:

      Paul Ryan is an ardent believer in the Ayn Rand ideology of unfettered oligarchy.

    • AK says:

      Alex I have to disagree with you here.

      I think Paul Ryan was an excellent choice. Myself – I support Ron Paul over Obama, but Obama over Romney. That is because Ron Paul is anti-war, doesn’t hate Russia (what can I say? This issue is important to me), and supports state rights. That means his social conservatism doesn’t matter much. If states have more right it will in practice mean things like cannabis legalization in California.

      There are quite a few people like me especially among young people. I.e. dislike Republicans but like Ron Paul.

      By getting Paul Ryan (he is not Ron Paul but not that far away from him either) aboard Romney is going to appeal to this part of the electorate whose numbers are quite substantial and who would otherwise have stayed away or even voted for Obama. Some of them will now vote for Romney. Not me (well I wouldn’t anyway because I’m not a citizen LOL but the thought still counts) but quite a few will.

      Condoleeza would have been a disastrous choice. She is perceived as a liberal among the Republican base and would have diluted its enthusiasm while winning very few compensatory votes from the middle. In general gunning for the middle is a losing strategy. Energizing your base tends to be more effective.

      • AK says:

        Just read what I wrote and realized that it sounds a bit confused. Let me clarify. Getting Ron Paul aboard will entice:

        (1) The libertarian part of the Republican base which is suspicious of Romney’s corporate ties / leftist reputation from Massachusetts where he instituted universal healthcare as governor.

        (2) The people of perpendicular political leanings (like myself) who dislike both mainstream Democratism and Repugnancy but like Ron Paul.

        • hoct says:

          On (2). That is the attempt, I agree, and it goes to show how large the Ron Paul movement has grown — it is now worth courting. I do not think it is going to work in any meaningful way, however, Paulians are a very perceptive and principled bunch and they saw through this in a heartbeat.

          The reaction on the RonPaulforums is negative as it is onDaily Paul.

          • Dear Anatoly,

            What you wrote was not confused and I admit I never thought of the nomination in that way. I say this as someone who actually thought Ron Paul was the outstanding candidate in the election. It just goes to show that one should be careful before rushing out an opinion on the politics of another country.

            In Britain no one apart from a few columnists writing for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail is taking Romney seriously. It was pretty obvious when he was here that the British political class don’t like him. It was striking how even the Conservative leaders like Cameron and Johnson were barely polite to him. I think this seriously underestimates Romney and his prospects and shows how liberal opinion in Britain (and the leaders of the Conservative party are liberals) find it difficult to understand or take seriously people who don’t think as they do.

            • marknesop says:

              Romney does need to work hard on his likeability, because he quite simply isn’t. He comes across as smug and self-righteous, and likes to bury any serious criticisms under a blanket of bluff heartiness, as if you may be sincere but he just knows things you don’t. Somebody else who was just like that, albeit completely devoid of charm, was Dick Cheney, and I think if you looked you could find quite a few other commonalities between them. The one plus I could submit for Romney is that he’s very, very good at keeping his temper even when reporters are deliberately baiting him, trying to make him lose it. But he is far more a stuffed shirt, with no real substance, than Obama – who is himself little like the man I thought he was.

              Ron Paul is charming and often extremely eloquent, especially on subjects he knows well or thinks he does. However, he often seems stuck in some Davey Crockett time warp in which men don’t cheat on their wives, there are no homos and a man’s word is his bond. I question whether the world was ever like that, although it’s true it appeared a lot more like that in, say, 1920. Here’s an example, from an extremely gentle, softball interview with Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show”. “The regulations are much tougher in a free market, because you cannot commit fraud, you cannot steal, you cannot hurt people, and the failure has come that government wouldn’t enforce this. In the Industrial Revolution there was a collusion and you could pollute and they got away with it. But in a true free market in a libertarian society you can’t do that. You have to be responsible. So the regulations would be tougher.” His position on government’s role is fairly well-known, and is even framed on Wikipedia, as “…the proper role for government in America is to provide national defense, a court system for civil disputes, a criminal justice system for acts of force and fraud, and little else.” Perhaps there’s another interpretation, but he appears to believe it is over-governing and vexatious regulation that leads to dishonesty, corporate malfeasance, theft and monopoly-building. Nobody with the slightest element of realism in economics – and most people who don’t know anything about it – believes that if you simply left corporate interests to police themselves, the market would force them to be responsible because people would punish you for dishonesty. There’s a good reason for that, and it’s because that is not even close to being true. Weakened regulation in the lending industry led to packaging of bogus financial instruments so outrageous that buyers who did not even have a job were qualifying for $400,000.00 mortgages in 2007/2008, and the American economy imploded. And wealthy know-nothings like John McCain were out front arguing that the solution to the problem, if you can believe it, was further deregulation. Ron Paul’s ideas on restoration of the Gold Standard also suggest a fixation on a way of life that came and went better than a century ago – can you imagine what reliance on every transaction being backed with gold would do, God help me, I can’t believe I’m saying this – to American competitiveness? Never mind that it might have prevented the global financial meltdown: every nation would have to be on it for it to work.

              According to a longtime staffer, Ron Paul is also in the Twilight Zone where it comes to national security and foreign policy. But the one position that makes him a non-starter even though he once broke the record for political fundraising in a single day is his dislike of and refusal of support for Israel. On that, I’d be inclined to give him a pass, because there’s little doubt Israel is far and away too influential in American politics, but it means he will never be president. Ever. The same staffer is clear that Ron Paul is not anti-Semitic and bears no acrimony toward the Jewish people, but support for Israel and its aims is as knee-jerk in American politics as issues get.

              Lastly, although Americans pretend to be uncomfortable with the two-party system in which there is little real competition and all the campaigning attention goes to swing states, their voting patterns suggest they are not nearly so uncomfortable with it as they let on, and the only thing that does suggest discomfort is low turnout. There are a lot of other explanations for that, only one of which is negative advertising. People say they don’t like that, either, but (a) it works, and (b) the entire American political advertising industry is predicated upon inducing, stoking and maintaining polarity.

              In closing, I like Ron Paul – probably more than Obama and certainly more than Mitt Romney. But I can’t imagine him as leader and believe he would do far greater harm to America than his benign, folksy charm suggests.

              • hoct says:

                Ron Paul accurately predicted (1, 2 ) the 2008 crash. He warned about it in advance, and called for a reversal in the easy money policies that were leading to it. That would imply he may know a little bit more about economics than many other people — for example all those who were caught by surprise by the crisis.

                • marknesop says:

                  Quite true, but in fact a lot of other people accurately forecast it as well, some of the brighter ones as much as two years out. Ron Paul might simply have good instincts for who to listen to and quote, which if true makes him smarter than some of his other more extreme positions would suggest.

                • hoct says:

                  Could you name a few of these other people for me, please?

                • marknesop says:

                  Paul Krugman, for one, although not as far as two years before the event. The gentleman who seems to have done that – and there’s only one I know of – I will have to look up; it’s somewhere in one of the posts. Won’t be until I get home from work, though.

                  Note; I originally said Thomas Friedman, by mistake – thanks, Peter, for the reminder. Friedman is also a columnist (like Krugman) for the NYT, but he is a twit who is most famous for kicking the can 3 months down the road on when exactly Iraq under American “guidance” would become a prosperous market democracy, to the extent that a period of 3 months came to be known as “a Friedman”. He eventually gave up, and that column – entitled “Dancing Alone” – was extremely comical (if it’s appropriate to laugh at such a serious subject as a deliberately ruined country’s rebirth). To the best of my recollection he rarely touches on economics, being more of a political commentator, although he likely knows economics just as well as politics.

                  I didn’t see the individual I was thinking of in the list Peter helpfully provided (which I didn’t notice until after I replied; not reading all the comments before digging in is a bad habit of mine), although it may have been Schiff or Stiglitz; I’ll still have to look it up.

                • hoct says:

                  Take all the time you need.🙂

                • hoct says:

                  Krugman stated in 2005 there was a bubble in housing, as far as that goes. However, in 2001 and 2002 he had advocated the Fed create an artificial bubble in housing ” to replace the Nasdaq bubble”, in order to increase spending and fight the recession. Indeed when he stated there was a bubble in housing in 2005 he was already looking around to see what the Fed could artificially inflate next, and he was distraught only because he could not see what could it be and was worried that now the Fed was “running out of bubbles”. So yes, Krugman identified the housing bubble, after advocating for there to be one, and without ever having criticized the easy-money policies that led to its appearance, or having called for their reversal. (1, 2, 3)

                  Peter Schiff is another person who predicted the crisis, that’s right. But I do not think this takes anything away from Ron Paul. Both Schiff and Paul credit their rare insight to their familiarity with the Austrian theory of the business cycle. It isn’t that Paul listened to what Schiff (who would later be named his economic adviser for the 2008 campaign) was saying and decided to echo him, it is that both come from the same intellectual milieu. Paul is an author of ten books or so, many of which are economics-related, and he is on record as having been motivated to run for congress in his first attempt in the 1970s, because of his concern over Nixon taking the country from the gold standard, which he knew was a bad idea because he had already immersed himself in the works of Austrian economists. So he would have been familiar with the Austrian theory of the business cycle long before Peter Schiff came around. Folksy charm or not, he’s no dummy and he can think for himself.

                • marknesop says:

                  All right. I’m prepared to stipulate that Ron Paul is a very smart guy, and that he may have seen the housing bubble coming. However, you didn’t have to be particularly bright to see that the conditions were ripe for financial catastrophe as things got closer to the collapse, and it’s a miracle – partly supported by the nation’s leading financiers, such as Alan Greenspan, reporting that everything was just fine – that it staggered on as long as it did. The restless spirits at most Canadian banks begged the government to deregulate as well so they could get in on all that lovely loot, and the government refused, so perhaps you can add the Canadian government to the list of those who saw the pending crash before it happened. That’s not to take anything away from Ron Paul, because likely some of the other wizards who predicted it were just lucky – the conditions for financial collapse are frequently present and require only the right set of circumstances for mayhem to ensue.

                  It was – conveniently – Schiff that I was trying to think of.

                  Still, I maintain Ron Paul has some very irrational ideas about government that make it very unlikely he will ever be looked at seriously as national leader.

  15. Misha says:

    A just released follow-up on the Captive Nations Committee mindset and some tangential issues:

    http://www.eurasiareview.com/12082012-cherry-picking-the-soviet-past-and-russian-present-analysis/

    The kind of substantive analysis that on the whole has been lacking at the more high profile of English language mass media/English language mass media influenced venues.

  16. yalensis says:

    This report shows Syrian Rebels, in any area controlled by them, launching reign of terror against civil service employees such as postal workers, doctors, scientists, and so on:

    http://www.rt.com/news/syria-aleppo-post-video-476/comments/

    As happened with Libyan Rebs, Syrian Rebs are in the habit of fully documenting and posting their own crimes on youtube.
    Instead of recoiling in horror or rushing these war criminals to the Hague, Western sponsors cheer “Bravo, atta boy!” and then blame Russia for somehow causing this by not allowing the Rebs to win even more territory.

    • marknesop says:

      Pretty hard to blame that one on the government, although I’m sure western reporters will give it a go. The curious thing is, according to the saccharine-infused portraits of the rebels hyped by the increasingly weird Richard Engel, the rebels ARE the civil servants; postal workers, teachers, bank tellers and so forth.

      Doubtless encouraging defections and calming skittish civil servants are the motives behind Hillary Clinton’s fervent promises to “keep post-Assad Syria intact“, a promise it has no power to keep, and if the west is successful in dislodging Assad and enabling the rebels – something it increasingly threatens to do by negotiating the infamous “no fly zones” with Turkey independent of any UN input – there will be purges of Allawites and Shiites and whoever else the rebels don’t care for. The west will look on indulgently and then claim, when the few disgruntled reports make the news, that freedom is untidy or another of those deathless regime-change slogans. Meanwhile, rebels in Aleppo claim they are running out of ammunition, and complain the west needs to supply them with more weapons. Curiously, at least some rebel “commanders” fret that the weapon taking a heavy toll on them is snipers – what, weapon, pray, is the west to supply that will help rebels destroy an entire building? Can you think of another way to dislodge a sniper? Or perhaps the “rebels” are in on the no-fly-zone chitchat as well, and are talking about assistance from western attack helicopters.

      In a suggestion they may have set their sights lower as regards a “rebel stronghold”, the rebels claim to have set things up so well in Azaz, in the north, that people want to move there: why, it’s just like Mayberry. The new leader is a schoolteacher, and those rebels won’t stand for any lawbreaking, either. But somehow I think the west envisioned the capture and “liberation” of something a bit more ambitious than a town of about 35,000. The western press is doing its best, though, hyping it as a “large enclave” which the rebels have “carved out”.

      If the west applied itself to, say, solving the Eurozone’s economic problems with the zeal and unswerving purpose it applies to overthrowing Middle Eastern governments it dislikes, what great benefits might not ensue? But it’s always more fun to be bad than good. In the last 20 years or so, anyway.

  17. Misha says:

    *Re: Pussy Riot

    Elsewhere, I’ve come across some suspect attempts at hypocrisy busting against the ROC. One was really perplexing in that it noted how the church in question has been used for a number of events, including one for Russian Olympians.

    The “moleben” is a prayer service engaged for a variety of reasons that can include pre-battle sendoffs, as well as the beginning of the school year and graduation. There’s nothing extraordinarily off base for the moleben involving the Russian Olympic team. Other events such as concerts, conferences and lectures can take place in parts of a church such as the one in question – as noted to me by someone familiar with that venue.

    The issue is having formal approval to do so as well as respecting the venue in question. Someone pointedly noted alcohol being made available at that church. WOW!!! It’s a church and not a mosque. Jewish houses of worship typically have an attached ballroom for catered events that include booze.

    • Misha says:

      As a follow-up to the alcohol in the church point: having permission to do such in no way compares to doing something that’s not authorized beforehand and is understandably considered offensive.

    • peter says:

      Elsewhere, I’ve come across some suspect attempts at hypocrisy busting against the ROC. One was really perplexing in that it noted how the church in question has been used for a number of events, including one for Russian Olympians… Someone pointedly noted alcohol being made available at that church…

      Have you just cowardly called Eugene Ivanov a hypocrite behind his back? Poor, Misha, very poor.

      There’s nothing extraordinarily off base for the moleben involving the Russian Olympic team.

      Indeed, one doesn’t even need to believe in God to be an Orthodox Christian: “только около 40% православных уверены в существовании Бога, а около 30% из числа тех, кто называет себя православными верующими, вообще полагают, что Бога нет.”

      • Misha says:

        What’s “very poor” is the trolling “physicist” who remains cowardly as an anonymous cyber crank.

        Meantime, the point made on the molebin wasn’t successfully refuted

      • Dear Peter,

        Viz your second point, could you translate or paraphrase it for me? I seem to remember reading an opinion poll somewhere which appeared to show that the number of Russians who claim to be Orthodox Christians and the number who say they either don’t believe in God or are agnostics is in each case so great that the only explanation is that some people who say they are atheists and/or agnostics are at the same time also saying that they are Orthodox Christians. Is that what your last paragraph says?

        I have also heard that the level of regular as opposed to occasional Church attendance in Russia is also low.

        If so it suggests that for many Russians a declaration of themselves as Orthodox Christians is more a statement of national identity than of religious belief.

        • Misha says:

          The national identity point is something evident elsewhere as well with other major denominations.

          On the propped poll, someone commented:

          There is no science – it is a matter of a POV “supported” by phrased questions, then by an “analysis” based on the POV. A detail: they asked if the person was “sure” that there is a God… then others “suppose/think” that there is no God…. all of this is very soft data and the questions are NOT quoted

        • peter says:

          Viz your second point, could you translate or paraphrase it for me?

          According to Boris Dubin of the Levada Center, only 40% of Orthodox Christians are sure that God exists, while 30% believe he doesn’t.

          • Thanks. That confirms what I recall.

            • Misha says:

              Keeping in mind that the major religious denominations are faith based. “Faith” meaning a belief which can’t be scientifically proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

              There’re believers in G-d, inclusive of those acknowledging the scientific point.

            • Misha says:

              *Some might consider these set of comments from someone else to be “nonsense”:

              “This Dubin, born in 1946 is a Soviet product – would not be surprised if he was a residual atheist. NOTHING in his background has anything to do with religious study – all his works are on “social matters” – mostly sociology on the Soviet and post-Soviet individual, some on literature…. this is an expert on philosophy and religion who comments on polls regarding the belief in the existence of God? Yes, the answer to a poll question is periodically formulated to result in a specific response – a very old game…”

              ****

              I’ll add that such a poll result is relative. How many CPSU members actually believed in the motivating ideology behind that party? Moreover, it’s not be surprising to see similar results with other denominations. Specifically, people who identity with a particular denomination, while not actually going along with a good portion of its beliefs.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I’ve been to the Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer twice with my children at New Year for “Yolochka”, which is the Germanic pagan ceremony of greeting a decorated fir (“yolka”) tree and adapted both by the Russians and the English speaking world. Of pagan origin or not, the ROC does not frown on this celebration. Each time we were at the yolochka in the cathedral, we were at the huge theatre complex in the crypt. And at the end of the show – it was an adaptation of Anderson’s “The Ice Queen” last time – all the children received a present of a big, ornate tin of sweets and chocolates with a musical Christmas card signed by the Patriarch and which played a seasonal Orthodox hymn. It wasn’t a free show, of ourse, but it was worth every kopeck.

      • yalensis says:

        Despite me being ethnic Russian, I have never in my life attended a ROC ceremony. (Due to me coming from hardcore Soviet-type family.) However, it sounds like a cooler place than I thought, what with all the pantomimes and parties and so on. Also, as peter points out, only 40% of Church members actually believe in the existence of God. From this I deduce that the other 60% must be hanging around for the entertainment. As for the serving of alcohol in the Church, well, let us not forget that Vladimir’s initial choice of Christianity over Islam as official state religion, was factored by the Muslims’ forbidding of alcohol. “We Russians,” Vladimir objected, according to Old Russian Chronicles, “really love to drink.…”

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Alcohol is served every day, apart from, I should think, on Holy Saturday (the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, namely the period between Christ’s alleged death and resurrection) in every ROC church in the world. It comes in a bloody big chalice and has bread floating in it. It’s called “prichastiye” in Russian, “The Eucharist” or “Holy Communion” in English. You see, the ROC, unlike the tight-arse RC church, uses a big golden spoon to give you a glug of wine out of the chalice with a bit of bread floating on it. Those RC priests usually neck the lot and only give you a thin measly wafer of unleavened bread to the faithfulI. I’ve always thought that if you are an alky and are hard up and need a wet, you just need to pop into an ROC church and get a free slurp there.

          : -)

        • Moscow Exile says:

          And he knocked back the Jewish faith because of the dietary rules. Just think, if the Eastern Slavs had adopted Judaism, there’d be no pork shashlyk and no salo!

        • Misha says:

          No legitimate excuse whatsoever for “Peter” (troll extraordinaire) to incessantly address thoughts with personal insults in one form or another.

          How accurate is the aforementioned statistical claim?

          Regardless, it’s not something exclusive to the ROC and OC in general. Long time established religious denominations have a cultural aspect to them.

          Over the course of time, I’ve run into my share of atheists who still see themselves as being Jewish.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          @yalensis:
          In my opinion, the major drawback at ROC services is that they are unbelievably long (2 hours minimum in my experience) and there are no seats. You stand up all the time. On the other hand, though, you are only obliged to attend the canon (the sacrificial bit between the offertory and ablutions – in the Roman church the canon ends with the petition “…sed libera nos a malo” [but deliver us from evil] at the end of the Pater Noster). Technically speaking, the same applies in the Roman Church, but I think it’s fowned upon just to roll in for the canon, receive the eucharist and then bugger off.

          Correction! I don’t think it is: I know it is because I tried it on once when at school and got a lengthy lecture because of my late entry and early exit off Brother Augustine, my monastic nemesis at the time. He told me that one leaves after the priest says “Ite missa est!” (Go, the mass is over) and no earlier.

          All my children were christened into the ROC and my wife was as well, shortly after her birth. That was in the late ’60s, so bang goes another myth that you couldn’t go to church in the USSR. She was christened in a church situated on ulitsa Bolshaya Ordynka (Great Horde St.), which church is over 200 years old and is still there, about 10 minutes walk south of the Kremlin after you have crossed the Moscow River near St. Basil’s Cathedral. Oh, and she was a member of the Communist Party as well, even though she has always worn a cross and very often prays.

          I should add that I am a devout non-believer, but I like the singing.

          • Misha says:

            Many were in the CP for the (similar) reason that it was at one time especially beneficial for New York City residents to be registered Democrats. Ditto how some have over the course of time chosen to be registered Republicans in some other areas of the US.

            Religion in the USSR had limits. Before Gorbachev, how many prominent CPSU members (Politburo and Central Committee) were openly religious? In Vilnius, the few Jewish believers would go to synagogue with their prayer books carried in a brown bag for the purpose of not advertising the content. That aspect likely had to do with another issue not having to do with the Soviet government.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              It was noticeable at the re-internment in Sts Peter & Paul’s Cathedral, situated in the fortress of that name at St. Petersburg, of the remains of the Romanovs found at Ekatinburg that very many Russian politicians,dignitaries and civil servants seemed not to know what to do or say during the ROC service that took place there: Putin certainly looked somewhat adrift during the ritual. Now he “religiously” attends the Easter and Christmas ROC vigils that are televised on many channels nationwide and is most certainly au fait with ROC liturgy. Must have been on a crash course.

              • Misha says:

                I recall it being said that the more ideological of Communists favored the use of Church Slavonic in the ROC on account of many not understanding it.

                BTW, the more popular of Ukrainian Orthodox denominations separate from the Moscow Patriarchate observe their services in Ukrainian – something that Rus era Orthodox Christian believers didn’t do.

                Something to chew on the next time you come across charge of Muscovite ROC historical revisionists or some line of BS along such lines.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  There has of late frequently arisen debate here wheher religious instruction, specifically that of the ROC, should be introduced into the school curriculum. I don’t think it should, but I’m not against denominational schools per se. In fact, I sent my children for the first 2 years of their schooling to an ROC school, where they were given religious instruction one morning a week, which morning included a church service. They learnt Church Slavonic texts on those days and the Church Slavonic alphabet. The School, St. Alexander Nevsky, was right facing my house; that’s why I sent them there: I was worried about their crossing main roads in order to attend the local state schools. Also, the academic standard at the church school was very high and the classes small.

                  They might even still be going there but for the school moving to a new site a couple of miles away. The old school building has now almost been fully re-converted into what it was – a church that was almost totally destroyed by the Bolsheviks.

                  About 6 months ago they started building anew the cupola and belltower that was completely destroyed in the anti-clerical frenzy of the 1920s. The whole thing is been done by public subscription. I thought I would never see the project completed in my lifetime, but I reckon it”ll be done in 2 years at the most now.

                  I should think that very few if any of the folk that attend church services there in the nave of the church, which has been functioning since the mid-90s, will hold PR in much esteem. The place is packed on Sundays and feastdays; likewise the churches in the nearby Novospassky Monastery (the New Monastery of the Redeemer: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novospassky_Monastery) and the Pokrovsky Convent (The Intercession Convent: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intercession_Monastery_%28Moscow%29), in which latter lie the remains of a modern day (1885-1952) saint: St. Matrona (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matryona_Nikonova).

                  On any day of the week you’ll see the faithful – mostly women as St. Matrona is especially revered by devout Russian womenfolk – waiting in great long queues that stretch along the street to the convent gates and thence within the convent grounds to the church situated there, where, I presume, the devout women kiss the sarcophogus containing the remains of St. Matrona.

                  Of course, the thoughts and feelings of these churchgoers, priests, teachers at church schools and the devoted, such as those who stand in all seasons to revere a dead body, matter not one jot to those PR supporters – to Madonna, Sting, Red Hot Chilli papers and others of their ilk – to say nothing of the opinions of those members of PR who “performed” in the Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer.

                  I should add that I hold religion to be irrational superstition, but I would not wish to insult anyone because of their beliefs. Likewise, I don’t ridicule children for believing in Father Christmas.

                • Misha says:

                  I’m in general agreement.

                  Moreover, a religious denomination’s overview of varying matters need not be so religious. I’m sensing that the ROC doesn’t seek to wipe out other denominations in Russia.

                  I’ve fond memories of attending the Christmas and Easter festivities, which typically included nt going to church.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Re-interment of course!

          • Dear Moscow Exile,

            That is always the problem with many of the services of the Greek Orthodox Church. Unlike Yalensis I was exposed to the full blast of Orthodox Christianity by my grandmother who was a religious fanatic. I used to have to endure impossibly long services in Greek Orthodox Churches as well as tedious prayers with my grandmother at home. Given that these were all conducted standing they were a painful physical ordeal for a small child. Also when I was a very small child in Greece and went to school there before I came to Britain I used to have to endure hours of religious instruction at school whilst even our literature and history classes were full of what I can only call Greek Orthodox Christian propaganda. During the Greek dictatorship of 1967 to 1974 the government’s official slogan was actually “Greece for the Christian Greeks”, the implication being that you could not be a Greek if you were not a Christian and that of course meant an Orthodox Christian.

            The end result of all this was of course to make me extremely hostile to the Greek Orthodox Church and to this day I still keep my distance from it though I like and get on with the present Greek Orthodox Archbishop here in London whom I have met a few times.

          • yalensis says:

            @Exile: I am an atheist too, but I love certain hymns and religious music, especially Baroque. I love Handel’s “Messiah”, and I get a chill down my spine every time I hear that bit that goes “But thou didst not leave his soul in hell, nor didst thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.” This piece takes you down into the depths of suffering and despair, and then gives you hope. A genius like Handel can make even a person like me understand (at least to a certain degree) the emotional appeal of religion!

            • cartman says:

              I don’t really like music composed for pipe organs. Unique to the Orthodox Church, musical instruments are banned from services, so this gave rise to a tradition of choral music (Chesnokov – who was the last choir director of the original Cathedral of Christ the Savior wrote a lot of these).

              This is a lot nicer than the cacophony of Pussy Riot with guitars and instruments which are forbidden in the Church. Those unaware of these customs are also unaware how much they tried to offend Orthodox Christians, and assume they are just making a protest in a funny language.

              • Dear Cartman,

                I have heard it said that the reason Russia has such an extraordinary tradition of bass singing that is that the bass voice substitutes in Russian church music for the organ. I don’t know whether this is so or not (we don’t have organs in the Greek Orthodox Church but neither do we have good bass singers) but there is no doubt of the extraordinary beauty of much Russian church music. Rachmaninov’s Vespers is for me one of the greatest religious pieces ever composed.

              • Misha says:

                For sure Cartman.

          • marknesop says:

            There’s another revealing glimpse into the private life of Boris Nemtsov – he must not be RO, because at one of his trials he wailed that he had to stand for 4 hours, and his hamsters kept trying to bring in plastic chairs as a symbol of protest against such cruelty.

            Crosses are a big deal with Russian women; my wife is never without hers, although I would not say she is particularly religious and I don’t actually even know what religion she practices. Suffice it to say she may have been to church once since her arrival in 2005, but I honestly can’t recall. Our daughter was baptized in Russia, in a small village whose name I forget, very near to Dalnegorsk.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Most of the Russian ROC members whom I know never take their crosses off after their baptism – or hardly ever. It is very noticeable whenever we go swimming how many wear crosses. Russian women ROC faithful almost invariably wear a cross. I’m pretty sure, therefore, that my wife was wearing a cross when she was taking her test to become a member of the CP. She had gone through the usual process of being a Pioneer and then a member of Komsomol before she had to answer questions concerning Marxist-Leninism in front of a local CP committee in order to get a party card. She failed first time, as it happens. Then came Boris the Drunk, who oulawed the CP as it was.

              I found my wife’s CP card buried at the back of a drawer amongst old bric-a-brac a few years ago. She told me to throw it away, but I kept it. Interestingly, her granddad was an old Bolshevik. She tells me that he fought in firefights in Moscow against contra-revolutionaries (more than likely against Mensheviks) and during the civil war.

              When my sister, who is a devout Roman Catholic, first visited me and my family in Moscow, I took her one Sunday to the Novospassky Monastery, which, as I have mentioned above, is situated close to my house. We stood through the full 4 hours or so of the ROC version of an RC High Mass. The cathedral was, as usual, packed and the choir sang magnificently.

              After the service, with tears in her eyes, my sister thanked me again and again for my taking her to the church. She felt overjoyed, believing that she was filled with “God’s Holy Grace”: she was just on an an emotional high really, which is perfectly understandable.

              And then my convent-educated sister rather angrily said: “So it was all lies that they used to tell us!”

              “What was?” I asked.

              “That you can’t go to church in Russia”, she replied, “and that they send people to prison who try to do so and and that they execute priests”.

              “Who told you that then”, I asked, knowing full well what she would say.

              “The nuns at school” she answered.

              • marknesop says:

                God may well see the little sparrow fall – but he’s remarkably lenient on the issue of lying. I suppose it’s because of the shock value, really; I mean, you could be having a conversation several times a day and see someone in the group – perhaps even the other person with whom you were speaking – suddenly develop a corona of flame and vanish in a puff of smoke, leaving nothing behind but a slight tincture of ozone.

                Our mortal nerves could not stand it. But punishment delayed remains punishment denied.

              • Misha says:

                Moscow Exile,

                Was your wife’s cross experience in the aforementioned CPSU application process in the pre-Gorbachev era?

                There were no openly stated ROC believers in the Politburo and Central Committee that I know of during the pre-Gorbachev period. Offhand without checking and giving much thought, that might’ve been evident in the Gorbachev era as well.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Misha,

                  Oh it was well into perestroika days when my wife became a CP member.

                  She is much younger than I am. She is an an engineer, having graduated from the prestigious Bauman Moscow State Technical University. I am pretty sure that it was at the Bauman that she took her test for membership of the CP, after which she graduated, as it were, from being a student Komsomol member into a fully fledged member of that erstwhile political party that was the enemy of all that is good and wholesome on earth, such as freedom and democracy, mom’s apple pie and Hershey bars.

                  It must have been around 1987 when she got her party membership.

                  She was born in the late 60s, though. So when she was baptized into the ROC, an act not done furtively but openly in an operating church in Moscow, Brezhnev was Gensec of the CP of Russia.

                  I’m pretty sure her old Bolshevik granddad was still alive then, when her parents decided to have her baptized. I guess he wasn’t too pleased about their decision, but maybe
                  not. I’m also sure both her parents were baptized, but perhaps not during their infancy.

                  I’ll ask her when she gets back to Moscow from the country next week.

                • Misha says:

                  Thanks for the reply to my question Moscow Exile.

                  Pre-Gorbachev era, there was religious freedom in the USSR up to a point.

            • yalensis says:

              @mark: I don’t how how to break this to you, but I think I have heard it said that Nemtsov is … [drumroll] … Jewish! (Gasp!)
              Although, to be sure, not the kind of Jew who spends hours poring over his Talmud and refusing to tuck into that tasty bacon-McCheeseburger at the local fastfood.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                He’s ethnically Jewish – father: Efim Davidovich Nemtsov; his mother: Dina Yakovlevna Eidman – but is a baptized RO Christian. He claims an RO grandmother of his had him baptized:

                “In his 1997 150-page autobiography, The Provincial Man, Nemtsov disclosed that he had been secretly baptized by his grandmother at the age of 5. Although he considered
                himself Russian Orthodox, he admitted that he rarely went to church and that religion ‘plays an insignificant role’ in his life. At the same time, Nemtsov found it important to stress that, compared to other faiths, ‘Russian Orthodoxy is much closer to us all’.”

                See: http://www.ajc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ijITI2PHKoG&b=838459&ct=875489

              • marknesop says:

                I didn’t know that, although it probably wouldn’t have made any difference – I just wanted to work in that bit about what a baby he is because he had to stand in court. He was being tried and sentenced, for Christ’s sake – what next? Should he be allowed to recline, while he is fanned by one of his devotees as another pops grapes into his mouth?

                He and his type have a lot of things in common, but that’s one of them – Russia must have law and order right now, but it need not be applied literally; that is, to the extent it applies to them and their convenience. The law is for peasants – the ruling class gets a free pass. I suppose all leaders are like that to some extent, and are indignant when they have to kneel like the common swineherd. But few of them declare the expectation before they actually make it to leader.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  You stand in the dock in the UK if you’re fit and healthy. I did so for 3 days from 10 am until after 4pm before I was finally sent down by some doddering old bewigged bastard of a judge who never stopped picking his bloody nose all the time!

  18. Misha says:

    *Regarding the doom and gloom commentary on the Russian Olympic team:

    http://www.nbcolympics.com/medals/index.html

    In total medals, Russia trailed second place China by five. Russia finished a convincing third in total medals. Great Britain won five more gold medals than Russia. Don’t look for GB to do as well in 2016. The home team is said to often see around a roughly 20%-25% (give or take a few points on this range) bump from what they’d otherwise get. In 2012, China wasn’t as dominant as in Beijing in 2008.

    Sports wise, Russia isn’t the USSR, as in the other former Soviet republics, which have their own teams. Lumping the results of the former USSR teams together is further indicative that some of the panicky complaints about Russia’s Olympic performance are faulty. In Russia, there’s a stated advocacy to improve Russia’s performance. This is a hopeful sign in that it shows some degree of caring.

    • yalensis says:

      Thank goodness Russia pulled it together in the last couple of days and garnered more hardware! Otherwise, things could have ended very bleak. I was particularly thrilled to see Russia come in first and second (with Belorussia for the bronze) in rhythmic gymnastics.
      These girls are amazing: They start at age 4 or 5 and train up to 8 hours a day. They have to combine many of the skills of a gymnast with a ballet dancer, plus some elements of circus (manipulating objects such as hoop, baton and ribbon).
      They are a credit to their country. (Unlike you-know-who).

      • Misha says:

        RT says Russia finished fiourth in the medals tally among countries:

        http://www.rt.com/sport/russia-us-medal-olympics-498/

        • PvMikhail says:

          The Soviet Union would have still won the most medals… If we count the four main republics (Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia and Kazakhstan) into one…, they have quite outstanding results. But hey, what about Hungary? WE RULE… 9th with such a tiny country and so underfunded sporting sector. Pundits predicted, that we will fail and this will be the first olympics without Hungarian gold medals… I say: THEY HAVE FAILED, and WE RULE. I am so proud.

          • Misha says:

            Like the US and some others, Hungary was proficient, but not in some of the events they’ve dominated.

            US didn’t have anyone in the men’s 400 meter track (athletics) final. The US didn’t win the men’s 4 by 400 in the same sport. Hungary didn’t medal in men’s water polo.

          • Dear PVMikhail,

            For such a small country I think Hungary did outstandingly. Congratulations on a fine result!

          • yalensis says:

            Bravo, Hungary! Éljen Magyarország
            (I hope I said that right)

          • marknesop says:

            Congratulations to you, and to the Hungarian people, for such a remarkable achievement!

          • Misha says:

            “Four main republics” of which have a good deal of a shared history among them.

            • PvMikhail says:

              Yeah, I meant, that Russian Empire, USSR was dominated by Eastern Slavs, when we speak about science, culture, sports and outstanding achievements. Recent Kazakhstan’s Northern part has been always Russian Cossack territory. So these are the main elements of the powerful Eurasian geopolitical pole. The other Republics were only buffer zones, and contributed less. This is what I meant.
              Sorry, I know, that I am politically incorrect, but I just don’t care😀

              • Misha says:

                😉

                It’s important to carefully gauge what’s being said. Someone with views like Gessen is given less of a constructively critical hard time for obvious reasons.

                Hence, one needs to be direct in as foolproof a way as possible:

                http://www.eurasiareview.com/12082012-cherry-picking-the-soviet-past-and-russian-present-analysis/

                Upon successfully debunking establishment fault-lines, one can expect replies with distortions of the out of sight/out of mind not answering at all – while carrying on with the same old, same old – which is typically lacking of a truly academic manner – regardless of the stated credentials.

      • Misha says:

        That was some gold medal men’s volleyball game between Russia and Brazil yesterday.

        Russia was down two matches to zero in a best two out of three. They were losing in the third match, before overtaking Brazil for gold.

        Was hoping for a Russian silver in men’s basketball, with a respectable gold medal game against the US. Blatt is a great coach.

      • Dear Yalensis,

        I don’t know whether this is true but I read somewhere that on one of the last days of the Games Russia broke a world record in the number of medals won by a country in a single day.

        Personally I think Russia’s performance was very creditable and shows that the country has recovered from the collapse in its sporting position that happened after the Soviet collapse. I think the way for Russia in international sports competition can from this point only be up. I am very happy with the good result of the British team but I do not fool myself that performing on home turf as Misha says did not have a lot to do with it. Also there was a massive investment in sport under the Blair government, which I doubt will be sustained. I think for Britain and possibly the US the result in these Games was as good it gets, whilst I think Russia (and China) have some way to go before they peak. Suffice to say I think there’s a good chance that Russia will come third in the medals table in Rio.

        • yalensis says:

          @alexander: I think Russia is back on the right track, as far as sports, but still quite a way to go. I have high hopes for Winter Olympics in Sochi, but on the other hand, I am also worried about the weather, for starters. (As in, WILL THERE BE ENOUGH SNOW????)
          As for Great Britain, sports teams are obviously outstanding in many ways. I hope you do not take offense, but I was disappointed by the London opening ceremonies. I think there were so many lost opportunities. The show is an opportunity for the host country to show off their history and culture. There were so many things they could have highlighted, this is GREAT BRITAIN after all (rich history, art, literature, music, etc.). A few things were touched upon, but on the whole I thought the show was a disappointing mishmash! (My mother felt the same way, and she is a RAVING ANGLOPHILE!)

          • Dear Yalensis,

            No offence taken at all because on the subject of the opening and closing ceremonies I TOTALLY agree with you. I didn’t like the opening ceremony at all and I utterly hated the closing ceremony. Not only were they both confused in their presentation but they were filled with themes that would only make sense to people in Britain. We have here the strange idea that we are somehow the centre of the universe and that everyone knows about and is fascinated by what we do. What was the sense for example of devoting half an hour of the opening ceremony to the British health system? To those of you who do not know the British have an inordinate pride in their health system which they wrongly believe is the best in the world and which they also wrongly believe is the first in the world to have provided medical care for free. Why the British think anyone else would be at all interested in it I can’t think. As for the closing ceremony I thought it so dreadful that after a certain point I simply stopped watching.

            • marknesop says:

              I topped you – I didn’t watch any of it. I looked up the medal counts from time to time, but any of it I caught on television was purely accidental, like if I was in a gas station paying for gas and it was being carried on TV inside.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                I didn’t either. Like Markensop, my occasional glimpses of the event were purely accidental.My two eldest children were glued to the box the whole time, though. My older daughter – the one who would like to be a sniper – was especially glued to the screen when the women’s boxing was on. They kept on telling me if GB had won a gold medal. They were quite perplexed when I told them that I wasn’t bothered one way or the other.

            • Misha says:

              Never bother with the closing ceremony. Somewhat depressing in that the festival ends. The opening ceremony has some drama, inclusive of the poli-sport commentary (at least in the US) during the parade of delegations.

            • apc27 says:

              Self-indulgent would probably be the best way to describe both opening and closing ceremonies and the coverage of the Games in between. That being said, it is not necessarily wrong to do so, quiet frankly, by this point ANYTHING that makes us British a bit more active and a bit more proud is worth any price. British self-centeredness and delusions of grandeur are grating, believe me I know, but this year, with the Jubilee and the Olympics, had been the first time in 15 years when I saw British people as a whole feeling at least some patriotism towards their country.

              Being both Russian and British I can understand that it is a bit of a shame that the organizers of the Games chose to look inward, rather than outward. I do hope Russians will do better in Sochi in finding the balance between the interests of the domestic and foreign audiences.

          • marknesop says:

            We have just come from Whistler/Blackcomb, site of the 2010 Winter Olympics, and I have to say it was not very high up. We went to the peak, and of course there is snow there even now and likely will be right through the summer, but at the foot of the slopes where the entire alpine village sits it was uncomfortably hot, and I can’t imagine – having never been there in winter – there ever being much snow there. Mount Washington – on Vancouver Island – is high, and you climb right into the snow long before you reach the actual lodge; 400-centimeter bases are not unusual. But the climb to Whistler/Blackcomb is relatively gentle, and it doesn’t seem high at all. I know they had some worries about there being enough snow, and they were actually trucking it in as well as machine-making it. But heavy snowfalls in the mountains back of Sochi are common. It’s the events lower down I’d worry about, and I’m sure the Russians were paying attention in 2010. They were there to learn, and they’re not stupid.

        • cartman says:

          The 6 biggest Olympic teams in descending order: 1. UK (541), 2. USA (530), 3. Russia (436), 4. Australia (410), 5. Germany (392), and 6. China (380)

          Sending a bigger team can help (it helped the US team in Atlanta, but London was slightly better), but China is doing better than its size. India sends a small team for a large country, which may affect their poor showings at the games. I think UK’s good performance was a one-off because they were host.

    • cartman says:

      Russia was predicting 25 gold medals in this Olympics and received 24. There were also some close ones.

      • Misha says:

        Overall, Russia has nothing to be ashamed of. Like I said, the talk in Russia about improving is a sign that serves to counter a decline in future Olympics. There has to be a basis for caring.

        Russia has noticeably declined in the winter Olympics. As host of the upcoming winter Olympics, Russia has a push for improvement

  19. If anybody wants final proof that the lunatics have taken over the asylum look at what this latest article in the Guardian about the Syrian crisis says.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/13/syria-opposition-groups-national-council

    I have heard what the Guardian says in this article repeated elsewhere and I am sure it is true.

    In other words the west is realising that the rebellion it is supporting in Syria is becoming a breeding ground for radical jihadi groups who are being funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and that this poses a long term danger to western interests. So what conclusions does the west draw? Does the west reconsider its support for the Syrian rebellion? Does it try to avert the danger by encouraging reconciliation, a ceasefire and talks aiming for a negotiated settlement as proposed by Annan and as supported by China and Russia? Not at all. That possibility is not even considered. The article does not even discuss it. What the west is going to do instead is to try to channel support (that is arms and money) to “other” rebels who are supposedly “less militant” than the jihadis the Saudis and Qataris support.

    In other words we now have a scramble for influence in Syria with the various western powers and Saudi Arabia and Qatar all busy funding and arming and supporting rival rebel groups in competition with each other. Before long these guys will all be shooting at each other. There won’t just be a civil war between the rebels and the government. There will be civil war amongst the rebels themselves with the various western governments and the Gulf monarchies all backing different factions. That is how we “promote democracy” and “protect the Syrian people”.

    PS: Voice of Russia is reporting more government successes in and around Aleppo with most of the city now cleared of rebels. Does the western media report the rebel defeat? Of course not. The “Battle for Aleppo” simply ceases to be news whilst the western “journalists” who have been prowling around the city in the rebels’ company and whose breathless despatches from the front were making headline news a few days ago have now mysteriously fallen silent.

    PPS: Voice of Russia is also reporting the Syrian News Agency SANA as saying that the Syrian army has captured several Turkish military personnel in Syria who were operating with the rebels. I wonder whether that is true. I find to believe that SANA would just make something like that up. Needless to say the western media are not reporting that story either.

    • marknesop says:

      Let’s see if they begin talking up Azaz as the prospective capital of the Transitional Government. At that point I may not be able to resist the impulse to laugh, even though I am aware it is impolite when someone is trying to pretend they are serious.

  20. Misha says:

    Regarding anti-Russian leaning biases, a George Mason University affiliated venue picked up the opening of a recent released piece:

    http://hnn.us/articles/michael-averko-cherry-picking-soviet-past-and-russian-present

    The original in full:

    http://www.eurasiareview.com/12082012-cherry-picking-the-soviet-past-and-russian-present-analysis/

  21. cartman says:

    After reading this article, I am a bit confused about Navalny’s accusations against Bastrykin. It sounds like they have not passed the laws yet.

    http://www.bne.eu/story3900/Russia_to_ban_officials_from_holding_assets_overseas

    • yalensis says:

      Hi, @cartman, I have been doing a lot of research on the Navalny case recently, and I think this article that you link gets the causality (if not the chronology) completely wrong. The embezzlement case against Navalny has been in the works for 3 years (opened, closed, re-opened several times for lack of evidence) and only got a boost recently when all of Navalny’s emails were hacked and published on the web. Just before the Krymsk flood, Bastrykin ordered the Navalny case to be re-opened. Navalny responded by “exposing” Bastrykin’s Czech condo. The proposed “lustration” laws against Duma deputies owning foreign property were NOT a response to Bastrykin’s situation or Navalny’s juvenile exposes, IMHO, but rather to the Magnitsky law, which makes Russian legislators vulnerable to American blackmail. Navalny is simply being an opportunistic dick and throwing dirt around at his accusers, thinking this will somehow save him from his fate. But he has been charged with a very serious embezzlement/conspiracy charge possibly resulting in 7 years of hard labor. Even if Bastrykin were to drop dead tomorrow or flee abroad (dubious, because he is a patriot), the case against Navalny would still proceed.
      P.S. You are right that they have not passed the Lustration laws yet, but there is some existing law under which a man in Bastrykin’s position is not supposed to own a business in a foreign country.

  22. Misha says:

    *Latest Gessen:

    http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/13/the-stalin-in-putin/

    Someone’s rhetorically appropriate reply –

    Masha Gessen is breaking her own records now.

    “Thirteen members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee were killed in Moscow 60 years ago this past Sunday”

    “This coming Friday, the three young women of Pussy Riot, who have recently become known the world over, will be sentenced in a Moscow court.”

    “There are obvious parallels between the two absurd and cruel trials”

    Now, just imagine if the president of Russia would kill 13 Jews in Russia today, then it would be no worse than the Pussy Riot case. Masha really devaluates the price of human life. All for the sake of some cheap propaganda.

    • What a peculiarly horrible person Masha Gessen is. Not only does she make a disgraceful comparison between the Pussy Riot trial and Stalin’s show trials and insert the usual ode to Khodorkovsky but she manages to insult not just the Russian people but even the Russian language saying that they and it are no longer capable of expressing truth. If Masha Gessen wrote like this about any other nationality there would be an outcry and she would be accused of racism, which in this case would be justified. Yet the New York Times publishes her articles, her book receives favourable reviews and she is treated as a genuine authority on modern Russia. One more example of how Russophobia is the one form of racism that remains acceptable.

      • kirill says:

        Nina Khruscheva was spewing racist hate speech on TV Ontario’s “The Agenda” with host Steve Paikin. She called Russians “lazy Ivans”, etc. This racist bile is par for the course. Gessen and the rest of her ilk are sore losers.

      • kirill says:

        I forgot to add that we saw the same racist tripe from the bimbo who ran “La Russophobe”. I guess a certain set of people have big plans for this planet and can’t stand the idea that not everything is going according to their plans. One can’t interpret the incessant hate spewed at Russia any other way. Even the Syria case demonstrates the selective hate towards Russia vs. China.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          “I forgot to add that we saw the same racist tripe from the bimbo who ran ‘La Russophobe’.”

          Is she no longer with us then, gone to the other side, shrugged of her mortal coil in this vale of tears?

          Is she dead?

          Or has she accepted a more lucrative deal as regards propagandizing against Russia and the Russians?

          • marknesop says:

            Oh, she’s still around. She masterminds a new blog, called – evocatively enough – “Dying Russia”. Since I was banned there as well – for drawing attention to a dichotomy whereby she figuratively wept for the plight of abused Russian women only a couple of posts after she had called for Hillary Swank to be gang-raped for showing up at Ramzan Kadyrov’s birthday celebrations or some festivity he was hosting – so I never visit it, but I assume it’s still churning out the bile and venom. She initially abandoned La Russophobe because, she said, the blog was refuted, having served its purpose by warning years in advance that Vladimir Putin would rule Russia until he died. Besides, she said, Twitter was the new thing, you could always follow her Twitter feed. I think the blog was just atrophying under her feet, it mostly had a tiny cult following there at the end, and traffic was down substantially. I don’t think “Dying Russia” has achieved anything like the “success” of its predecessor, either – that kind of stupid vituperation is kind of a niche market. But Twitter can’t have satisfied her need for confrontation, even if there’s nobody to confront. So far as I know, it has the same circle-jerk audience as the old one had.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        re: the Russian language and the concept expressed in English by the word “truth”

        Dear Alexander Mercouris,
        A fact that has long fascinated me concerning the Russian language is that it has two words for “truth”: “правда” and “истина”, whose respective meanings seem at first sight to be identical:

        ИСТИНА
        1) truth:
        голая истина — naked truth
        добиться истины; обнаружить истину — arrive at the truth
        в этом есть доля истины — there is a grain of truth in that
        погрешить против истины — stretch the truth, be wrong
        соответствовать истине — be true (to fact)

        2) truth:
        объективная истина — objective truth
        абсолютная истина — absolute truth
        относительная истина — relative truth

        3) truth; verity
        вечные истины — eternal verities / truths
        избитая истина — truism
        то старая истина — it is an old truth
        святая истина — God’s truth, gospel truth

        ПРАВДА
        1) truth
        это правда — it is the truth; it is true
        это сущая / истинная правда — that is the exact / real truth
        в его словах много правды — there is a great deal of truth in what he says
        в этом нет ни слова правды — there is not a word of truth in it

        2) justice
        искать правды — seek justice
        стоять за правду — fight for justice
        пострадать за правду — suffer in the cause of justice

        3) true
        правда, он не такой плохой работник — true, he is not such a bad worker; he is not such a bad worker, though
        он, правда, уже уехал — as a matter of fact, he has just left
        правда, я с вами не согласен, но… — though I don’t agree with you, yet …
        правда, это не он, а его брат, но это неважно — it’s not him but his brother, but that doesn’t matter

        4) indeed, truly, honestly
        я правда ничего не знаю — I really / honestly don’t know anything
        он и правда закончил работу? — did he indeed finish the work?

        5) is that true?; really?;right?
        передаётся конструкцией разделительного вопроса мы всегда будем вместе, правда? — we shall always be together, shan’t we?
        вы ведь не расскажете родителям, правда? — you won’t tell my parents about it, will you?

        The key to the difference in meaning between the two words is perhaps given in the phrase: это сущая / истинная правда — that is the exact / real truth.

        I, as a mere anglophone, get the feeling that истина means an absolute truth, a verity, whereas правда just means what one wishes to believe is true.

        I love that difference in meaning, for it is now my firm conviction that that which very many believe is true is, in reality, that which they wish to be true; for example, that one has an eternal soul and that death is not the cessation of one’s “spiritual existence” or that Russians are wicked, evil people.

      • Misha says:

        Ditto JRL over some considerably more erudite material.

        • Misha says:

          The JRL point is in regard to what Alex said about The NYT.

          I’m not into the teflon treatment accorded to some.

          The situation is improved by addressing such matter, for the purpose of bringing on board folks who’ve something substantively better, different and valid from what has been getting propped.

          • Misha says:

            The JRL point pertains to RIAN and its affiliates as well as some others.

            Which views more closely resemble getting persecuted? Like Gessen, Khrushcheva among others are such great talents to be getting the nod over a number of others.

            I’d like to see Khruscheva lay into some of the absurd comments made by the fringe anti-Russian element among a minority of people of Ukrainian origin.

  23. kirill says:

    http://en.rian.ru/society/20120813/175192504.html

    So breaking of the law is now a reason for asylum. Hmm. Serial killers should seek asylum too.

  24. kirill says:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-07/clegg-calls-u-k-libel-laws-a-farce-vows-changes-to-provide-new-defense.html

    That the US had to legislate to protect its citizens against UK libel laws is something Russia should do as well. The UK libel law farce is a tool to suppress the truth.

    • Misha says:

      For sure.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Tolstoy

      In 1989, Lord Aldington, previously a British officer, former Chairman of the Conservative Party, and then Chairman of Sun Alliance, an insurance company, commenced the libel action over allegations of war crimes made by Tolstoy in a pamphlet distributed by Nigel Watts, a man involved with Sun Alliance on an unrelated insurance matter. Although Tolstoy was not the initial target of the action, he felt honour-bound to join Watts as defendant. He lost and was ordered to pay £2 million (£1.5 million in damages and £0.5 million in costs). Documents subsequently obtained from the Ministry of Defence showed that under Government instructions files essential to the defence case had been withdrawn from the Public Record Office and retained by the MoD and Foreign Office throughout the run-up to the trial and the trial itself.[7] A full account of this complicated and convoluted trial can be found in Ian Mitchell’s The Cost of a Reputation. [8] Tolstoy sought to appeal on the basis of new evidence proving Aldington had perjured himself over the date of his departure from Austria in May 1945. This was ruled inadmissible at a hearing in the High Courts of Justice, from which the press and public were barred, and his right to appeal was rejected.[9]

      In July 1995, the European Court of Human Rights concluded unanimously that the British Government had violated Tolstoy’s rights in respect of Article 10 of the Convention on Human Rights, although this referred strictly to the amount of the damages awarded against him and did not overturn the guilty verdict of his libel action. The Times commented in a leading article:

      “In its judgment yesterday in the case of Count Nikolai Tolstoy, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Britain in important respects, finding that the award of £1.5 million levelled against the Count by a jury in 1989 amounted to a violation of his freedom of expression. Parliament will find the implications of this decision difficult to ignore.”
      Tolstoy refused to pay anything in libel damages to Lord Aldington while he was alive, and only until 9 December 2000, two days after his death, did Tolstoy pay £57,000 to Aldington’s estate.

  25. PvMikhail says:

    http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20120814/175210938.html

    And this is a Russian state-owned news agency…. WHERE ARE THE TIGHTENING OF THE SCREWS? Tell me please, because I could punch somebody in the face sometimes, when I read it. Bennets, same sh!t over and over again, even the words are the same.

    • Misha says:

      The kind of “police state” (sic) suggested by the likes of Gessen who get preferential treatment in English language mass media and English language mass media influenced venues.

  26. cartman says:

    18 months to try to pour gasoline on the next Olympic games. I find this an odd comment from Canada – the irony that Canada is a classic example settler colony where the natives were violently displaced. However, the commenters below the line are a bit reasonable.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/08/09/f-sochi-olympics-russia-circassians.html

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, I liked the suggestion that all future winter Olympics be held on a man-made island that belongs to nobody; it was deliberately frivolous, but as the author correctly pointed out, it would end the reliable squawking about insults to native land and displacement of locals which follow the Olympics like mud follows rain. These are no different than any other, and native Canadians protested the 2010 Olympics because games would be held on Indian land. All of Canada was Indian land once; the white European is not native to anywhere in North America. Before that, it presumably belonged to the dinosaurs, but none are left to contest their claim.

      The Canadian government cajoled native Canadians to “let” the games take place on “their land” by, among other things, completely redoing all the road signs and markers on the Sea to Sky Highway – the main route to Whistler/Blackcomb (so called because it is actually double peaks, with the Olympic village at the foot of Blackcomb) in both English and the local native dialect, Squamish. Here’s an example.

      Know how many fluent native speakers of Squamish there are? I mean in Canada; the only place in the world it is spoken? Ten. I am not shitting you. Mind you, that was as of 2010, when it became an issue. All the road signs over a route that extends better than a hundred miles between Vancouver and Whistler, changed at who can imagine the cost, to appease ten people. And all the protesters they could muster, of course, plus the journalists they bent to their cause, plus whatever support they garnered from natives who know a few words. Let’s be crazy generous and say it’s 200 people. The population of just British Columbia alone is over 4.5 million, and there were 2,566 athletes in attendance as well as I don’t know how many spectators.

      Using public events to air old grievances is as much a part of international events as kitschy souvenirs. And I am not anti-native; I have no problem with their language getting equal billing if even one person speaks it, provided he pays to have the language printed for those who appreciate random gratuitous airings of human rights. This Circassian deal has been simmering ever since Russia won the bid. The good professor seems to think winning the right to hold the games was “a blunder” for Putin. Really? What should he have done – refused to bid, out of sympathy for the Displaced Circassians of New Jersey? What bullshit. What if he offered to give them back a few hundred acres of land around Sochi, after the Olympics, on the condition they accept Russian citizenship, own property and pay taxes? How many do you think would leave New Jersey to live in Russia in their new Circassian homeland? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Should he let them carve out a country of their own, with Sochi as its capital, surrounded by Russia? Yeah, sure. That’ll happen. Like any country in the world would do that. Just like Canada gave Whistler/Blackcomb back to the Squamish people just in time for them to make a couple of Billion on the Olympics.

    • Misha says:

      As I’ve previously noted, many Circassians were loyal subjects of the Russian Empire. A good number of them fought on the White side during the Russian Civil War. In exile during the Soviet period and thereafter, it hasn’t been uncommon to see people of Russian and Circassian backgrounds attend each others festive events.

      In Syria, the Circassian community is known to seek close ties with Russia. I’m somewhat reminded of the kind of Ukrainian views (anti-Russian leaning) typically getting the nod in English language mass media – versus that of the Ukrainian majority (pro-Russian leaning).

  27. Misha says:

    *Re: http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2012/08/13/russias-surprisingly-ok-performance-at-the-london-olympics/

    “Russians like to complain” as opposed to some know it all blowhards elsewhere.

    Anyone with a basic knowledge of what was forecast knows that there’s nothing surprising about Russia’s London 2012 Olympic performance. It was also not surprising that Russia didn’t start off well in the medals tally. The same happened in Beijing in 2008. Russia’s best events tended to be scheduled in the final week of competition.

    When comparing past Olympiads, the above linked JRL promoted source doesn’t mention that the USSR consisted of other republics besides Russia. Regarding the just completed Olympics, tack on the medal results of all the former Soviet republics as one and see who tops the chart.

    FYI, post-Soviet Russia and the USSR have had better success in the summer Olympics than the winter variant.

    • Misha says:

      Tack on InoSMI and Forbes to the JRL promoted reference of a source that has previously expressed “surprise” (based on some prior history) at how Russia/Russians at large positively view Jews/Israel – when the US has an elected African-American as president.

    • marknesop says:

      Yeah, although I usually find something to like in Mark Adomanis’s posts – if nothing else, they are often funny – I get a little irritated at the mandatory dig at Russia or Russians that he seems to use to establish his broad-minded credentials. If Russians love to complain, there’s nothing genetic about it, and apparently they are no bigger complainers than anyone else. If what you do is as normal as everyone else, why is it remarkable? And for my money, Russians have a lot to complain about, considering the constant social-engineering efforts against them and their interests. In my own experience, Canadians take a backseat to nobody when it comes to complaining.

      I would agree Mark Adomanis did not approach that particular post from a standpoint of wide-ranging sports knowledge; a certain result simply inspired him to write when, as you say, it would be clear to anyone who devotedly follows international sport that the events in which Russia traditionally is a strong presence were arranged for the final week. In that sense, there was much less unpredictability about it, although that still doesn’t guarantee a win.

      The basic criticisms, though, that Russia could do more to fund team and individual competition within Russia if it truly views Olympic results as an essential part of self-advertising, are valid. I was also interested to see the assertion that Germany’s precipitous decline as a medal-winner is astonishing, since it passed almost without remark by anyone else that I read and in fact I did not notice it myself, being not particularly sports-minded.

      • Misha says:

        Where’e the science that Rusians love to complain more than take your pick? What would the reply be to a non-Jew or non-African-American saying that Jews and/or Blacks love to complain? “The Russia Hand” is a court appointed “alternative” and a not always so good one at that.

        What motivates David Blatt, the highly thought of American-Israeli to coach the Russians men’s team? You can be sure he’s getting well compensated. Russia minus the other former Soviet republics finishing 5 less medals behind China is nothing to be particularly ashamed of.

        In Russia, there’s a movement to see improvement in that country’s Olympic performance. This caring aspect is a positive sign.

        As I mentioned before, there was a time when the two Cold War era Germanys combined would come out on top of the Olympic chart. German unification has brought about fluff to the point that there’s talk in Germany of establishing an East German like system minus the negatives.

      • Misha says:

        *The aforementioned Jewish and African-American examples pertain to a selective sensitivity factor evident in the US and elsewhere – which partly explains the arrogantly ignorant commentary on issues like Pussy Riot.

        I’ve no problems with understanding the past and present problems faced by some groups. The issue is when such a process is lacking towards others – especially among anointed experts.

        Once again, official Russia can be faulted for not effectively addressing such matters.

      • Misha says:

        In addition to having had a relatively high placed standing in the Russian government, Alexander Zhukov is quite familiar with the world outside Russia:

        http://www.kyivpost.com/content/sport/russian-athletes-have-good-chances-in-next-summer-olympic-games-official-says-311582.html

  28. Misha says:

    *Interesting development:

    http://rt.com/politics/communist-tv-channel-internet-717/

    —————-

    Bus in some protestors from Galicia & Volyhnia:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/odesa-regional-council-declares-russian-regional-language-311567.html

    —————-

    To be expected:

    http://www.rferl.org/content/why-the-kremlin-is-losing-putin-russia/24676986.html

    —————

    This is good to see:

    http://www.rferl.org/content/patriarch-kirill-heads-to-poland-for-historical-reasons/24677652.html

    HOWEVER –

    Excerpt –

    “Poland continues to seek justice for the Katyn massacre, in which more than 20,000 Polish officers were executed by the Soviet secret police in 1940. Poles resent Moscow’s subsequent decades of domination in the postwar era, which only ended in 1989.

    Russia, in turn, accuses Poles of mistreating Red Army prisoners in the 1920s.”

    ****

    Note the stated fact in contrast to the presented accusation, which isn’t just a matter of “mistreating.”

    Excerpt –

    “Patriarch Kirill’s landmark visit to Poland could also be overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the all-female punk dissident band Pussy Riot, three of whose members are on trial for singing a song critical of Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow’s largest cathedral.

    A Moscow court is due to hand down its verdict against the trio on August 17, the day Kirill signs the Russian-Polish reconciliation appeal.

    The Moscow Patriarchate has been criticized for its unforgiving stance against the three women, who face up to seven years in prison.”

    ****

    Like PR has been “unforgiving” for its action. The “artists” in question don’t seem to have done much if anything in acknowledging fault. The ROC isn’t the body deciding PR’s fate. Among the ROC faithful, there’s some diversity in addressing the PR issue.

  29. Moscow Exile says:

    Former finance minister Alexei Kudrin has written on his website: “…as a secular state, Russia does not and cannot have criminal punishment for violating written or unwritten norms of the church”.

    Well, that’s your opinion, Kudrin, old chap.

    However, there are plenty of “democratic” and “secular” states that do, in fact, classify threatening and insulting behaviour to members of any religious group as criminal act.

    Now let me think which states can these be…

    Oh yes! here’s one: it has “In God We Trust” on the reverse side of one of its currency bills.

    And if Kudrin or any other PR supporters believe that no one was threatened during the “feminist punk group” protest, as far as I know, according to UK law, if a person feels that he is threatened, that behaviour that has given rise to this feeling is classified as threatening. Likewise, if a robber holds up a bank with a toy pistol in the UK, that robber, if apprehended, is charged with armed robbery.

    Furthermore, insulting behaviour is a criminal offence in the UK. Call a cop in the UK a stupid bastard and see what happens and see what you will be charged with.

    Only a few months ago on a social network in the UK some football fan used racial abusive terminology when referring to a black British footballer who had suffered a heart attack during a match. The person who Tweeted his insulting and hurtful opinions about the unfortunate sportsman was arrested and charged with committing a “racially aggravated public order offence”.

    He was sentenced to 56 days imprisonment.

    The Russian criminal codex includes laws concerning racial and religious public order offences. It was because of a religious public order offence that PR committed, together with that of “hooliganism”, that they were criminally charged.

    But everything that the Russian state does is wrong, isn’t it?

    • marknesop says:

      Similarly, a series of “Prisoners of Conscience” in the USA have done 6-month to 14-month stretches in the jug for symbolically stepping onto the grounds of Fort Benning in the role of advocates for closure of the School of the Americas, which in their view trains mercenaries and members of military death squads in Latin America. I need hardly mention Fort Benning is on American land (Georgia), funded and maintained by the U.S. taxpayer and garrisoned by individuals whose salaries are paid by the U.S. taxpayer. No violence whatsoever was offered in these acts of civil disobedience and in most cases no words were even exchanged. Graduates of the School of the Americas include Leopoldo Galteiri, leader of Argentina’s last military dictatorship who was overthrown by the UK in the Falklands war, and the individual sometimes known as “Pineapple Face”, Manuel Noriega.

      Among the jailed were 64-year-old Charles Lietky (12 months), former Catholic chaplain in the U.S. Army and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honour in Vietnam; 64-year-old Anne Herman (6 months), mother of 6 children and grandmother of 3; 67-year-old Dwight Lawton (6 months, $3000.00 fine), veteran of the Korean War; 53-year-old Carole Richardson (6 months, $3000.00 fine), mother of 2 and a United Methodist Minister and 72-year-old Richard Streb (6 months, $3000.00 fine), a teacher and veteran of World War II.

      As Tony Cartalucci pointed out on the site linked earlier, imagine if the PR incident were perpetrated in the USA by activists in a synagogue, calling for God to cast out Bibi Netanyahu. I’ll bet then there would have been no highbrow patronizing discussion of artistic expression.

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