The Moscow Times’ Latynina Blows Her Wheels: Next Stop, Bellevue?

Uncle Volodya says,”You only know where the edge is after you’ve gone over it.”

As newspapers go, The Moscow Times is heavy on the outrage and light on the research. It employs a stable of colourful journalists, including Alexei Bayer – whose articles typically carry the byline “Alexei Bayer, a native Muscovite” although he emigrated to the United States in 1974 and has lived there ever since, lending his articles on Russia a certain authoritative cachet which relies on Russia’s not having changed since 1974 – as well as the begging-to-be-made-fun-of Nickolaus von Twickel, white-ribbon activist and inept strategy hopeful Vladimir Ryzhkov (who is not actually a journalist, but whose sarcastic mockery of the Russian government for warning in 2006 that Georgia intended to invade South Ossetia set a new benchmark for foot-eating; that was in the St Petersburg Times, which has the same owner), bipolar defense expert Pavel Felgenhauer, who probably would not recognize a tank if it was in his parking space when he arrived at work in the morning, and a cavalcade of assorted complainers who remind me of something Lonnie Anderson said once – as her character Jennifer Marlowe in the now-defunct “WKRP in Cincinnati” – “We employ some people who, otherwise, would not be able to get jobs”.

But the jewel in The Moscow Times’ crown is its flame-haired, fact-free fantasy factory, the Duchess of Distortion, Yulia Latynina.

The customary target of her spitting, speed-blinking invective is Russia’s current president, Vladimir Putin, and she often works herself into such a state that you expect her head to start doing creaking revolutions on her shoulders, like Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist. She will say – literally – anything, and as if being a journalist murdered by the Russian regime were a badge of honour, appears to regard Mr. Putin’s continuing disinterest in killing her both a personal challenge and a dare to hit even greater heights of hyperbole.

This time, however, her basilisk glare falls upon the beneficiary of the recent Georgian elections and soon-to-be Georgian leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili. This really has nothing to do with any particular offense Ivanishvili has committed, but is a furious and spit-flecked defense of his predecessor and Latynina love-object, President Mikheil Saakashvili (thanks to Moscow Exile for the link).

Those familiar with Latynina’s style know she likes to be always on the attack, and to leap to another subject while you are still unraveling the first. This is no exception, as she launches into an apologia – if you can believe it – for former Saakashvili Defense and Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia. You remember; the guy who resigned in disgrace over videos that showed prison guards raping prisoners in Georgian jails with a broom handle. Why would he do that, if he was no longer Interior Minister in charge of prisons? Because, as his accuser specifically points out, the abuse began years ago, when Akhalaia was still in charge and after he had put his cronies in leadership positions. But of course he is not being charged with that, because there is no proof directly tying him to that incident. I point that out merely to show you what kind of guy has Yulia Latynina rushing to his defense – the same Yulia Latynina who took a shot at Alla Pugacheva (over the Pussy Riot affair) for “living in sin with a gypsy who has a daughter older than herself”. I’m a simple guy, but the message I get is that living in sin with a partner much younger than yourself is way up there on the scale of disgrace, in comparison with having a broomhandle shoved up your ass. Really? Bend over, Yulia. I want you to assist me with a social experiment.

Anyway, as I said, Akhalaia is not being charged for that. According to Latynina, who deliberately muddies the story so as to give her own hallucinogenic reasoning some semblance of credibility, Akhalaia was to be charged with an incident in which Georgian servicemen were imprisoned, beaten and starved, in 2010. Instead, she tells us, a smaller number of military officers was “given a tongue-lashing” by Akhalaia in his office last year, one was struck on the head with a knife handle, and then the group was taken to Vaziani military base where the officers were subjected to physical abuse in the presence of subordinates. This, Latynina assures us, bespeaks an instance in which officers have disgraced their uniform, and their punishment is therefore appropriate. Although she knows absolutely nothing about the case other than what she tells you here, she has concluded that Akhalaia was merely meting out appropriate punishment to “lowlifes” who had brought dishonour on their uniform, and Ahkalaia is some kind of patriot. He should probably have been given a medal for his conscientious and personal enforcement of discipline! She is further curious to know why the head of the General Staff and the Commander of the 4th Army are also implicated “simply because they were standing beside Akhalaia when it happened”, as if it is perfectly unremarkable in civilized military forces for the Defense Minister to physically strike servicemen while senior officers charged with their care look on. Would she be as defensive if former Russian Defense Minister Serdyukov struck a Russian officer in his office while Makarov and the officer’s Army commander looked on, speculate that Serdyukov had only been doing his duty in defending Russian honour, and conclude that the officer struck must have been a lowlife who had disgraced his uniform? I find myself groping for a suitable expression of incredulity.

Not that such a thing would ever happen in Russia, of course; in Russia – I can’t believe I’m hearing this – such repressive measures are not used against political opponents. You’ll want to bookmark that one, I suspect. Apparently Akhalaia is some kind of political oppponent of Ivanishvili, although he resigned some time ago. Just by the bye, I also suspect that while Akhalaia (and several other “high-ranking Interior Ministry Officials”) is in custody, the new government will want him to do some ‘splainin’ about the computer virus his department used to penetrate citizens’ computers and gather personal information; in the case of political opponents, used to discredit them.

Not that we expect much of Ivanishvili; after all, he promised to lower prices and triple pensions, and he’s been in office a whole month already and he hasn’t done it!! What?? Who voted for this hammerhead, anyway??

Sadly, Ivanishvili’s agenda is already crystal-clear. To Yulia, at least. He’s going to “destroy the state machinery that President Mikheil Saakashvili created and that had done such a good job of serving people’s interests. Second, he will have to find some way to distract Georgian voters who are waiting for him to fulfill his grossly exaggerated campaign promises.”

I’m pretty sure we’ve already taken a look – several times – at the impressive state machinery that Mr. Saakashvili created and that had done such a good job serving the people’s interests. But what the hell, let’s look again. Here’s a snapshot of Georgia in the rest of the world as the torch is passed to Ivanishvili, provided we can all agree that a month is not quite enough time for it to have moved to the head of the list. See it? Right down there, three slots below Congo. The ranking is based upon GDP. But hey, it’s really easy to set up a business in Georgia!! that must count for something. Well, let’s see. GDP, $14 Billion. GDP growth year-over-year, 7.3%; pretty good. All Saakashvili’s doing , of course. Really, 7.3% is excellent considering American growth is a sickly 2.3%; both Russia and Canada are doing better than that. I can’t help noticing, though, that Congo’s growth is only a tenth of a point lower than Georgia’s, and I haven’t seen too many articles singing the praises of Congo as an economic juggernaut with impressive state machinery that serves its people’s interests. GDP growth (back to Georgia) quarter-over-quarter is unavailable. Interest rate, 5.75%. Inflation, .10%. So far, so good. Oops. Unemployment, 15. 1%. Ladies and gentlemen, the impressive state machinery of President Saakashvili has just come to a shuddering halt.

How bad is 15.1% unemployment? Well, first of all, that’s only the rate the Georgian government reports. Once Ivanishvili gets a feel for where things actually stand, expect it to go up sharply, because the former Georgian government had some eye-wideningly creative ways of making unemployed people look employed; in fact, that will be a good test of Ivanishvili’s honesty, because if he says the unemployment rate has doubled since he took over, he’s going to take a lot of flak for it, notably from assrockets like Latynina. Anyway, back to how bad is 15.1% unemployment. Let’s look, in the context of who else is exemplary of horrible unemployment. Senegal, 12%. Gabon, 16%. Mali, 10.5%. Kyrgyzstan, 8.6%. Egypt, 12.6%. In fact, of all those countries listed – 150 in all – only 24 are worse than Georgia. The jobless rate in the poorest country in the world (Liberia) – in terms of GDP – is 3.7%.

We don’t want to spend a lot of time poring over boring statistics, but one I think is particularly illustrative of the fine state machinery President Saakashvili put in place to serve the people’s needs is the nation’s balance of trade. This records how much money Georgia makes on its exports balanced against how much it spends on imports. In a perfect arrangement, it’d be a strong net positive, indicating the country was accumulating wealth by not spending as much as it is earning on its exports. As you can see, the fine state machinery of President Saakashvili resulted in a staggering negative ($509 million at last count, only slightly less than its worst performance of $580 million in 2007 – reset the default start date to 2004 to see Saakashvili’s entire debacle), suggesting the country is in about 10 times the financial trouble it was when Saakashvili took over. Would you like to see what a healthy balance of trade, over the same period, looks like? Here you go. The Georgia balance of trade site helpfully points out that Georgia – under Saakashvili – “has failed to diversify its exports and relies heavily on agriculture and low value added resource exploration”. Meanwhile, the state borrowed heavily to finance President Saakashvili’s megalomanaical ambitions.

Which brings me to the accusation that Ivanishvili will “rule from his palace”. To begin with, I doubt very much he ever said that, or anything close, and I suspect Latynina simply made it up. But even if he did say exactly that – so what? It’s his house: he’s a billionaire, and he paid for it. It cost the citizens of Georgia zip, nada, nothing. Did Saakashvili rule from the counter at the Tbilisi McDonalds? Of course not – he ruled from the Presidential Palace, which he had built to his specifications and with the assistance of Italian architect Michel de Lucci (who also designed that ostentatious glass bridge Saakashvili had built, the man has a thing about glass). The immediately obvious difference is that the Georgian taxpayer footed the bill for Chateau Saakashvili, and which its tenant allowed had cost “a trifle” at GEL 13 Million. You have only to look at it – it’s several times the size of the White House – to know that is just another of the numberless lies out of Saakashvili’s mouth, but that’s as may be – even if it only cost $1 million, that’s $1 million more than Ivanishvili’s residence cost the people of Georgia.

There are other newsmagazines like The Moscow Times; you can find them anywhere. Usually arranged in gaudy review at the supermarket checkout, where you can catch up on what’s really going on – did you know, for instance, that Jill Kelly, Florida socialite at the eye of the Petraeus hurricane, is actually a Russian spy working for Putin? True story. Bet you were way behind the curve on the bombshell that Mitt Romney, grief-stricken at the implosion of his presidential ambitions, has left the USA and moved with his entire family (remember, he’s a Mormon, so that’s probably, what, a million people?) to the Cayman Islands. Remember, you heard it here first. Oh, and Kim Kardashian’s butt implant exploded when the plane in which she was a passenger had to go above 38,000 ft. to avoid turbulence. I’m a little skeptical about that one. Anyway, the point is that there are other outlets where you can just make shit up and never have to explain, or give vent to your journalistic creativity, depending on your point of view. I’m sure such outlets would welcome dirt on Vladimir Putin – perhaps one in which Putin was piloting the plane, on a secret mission to pick up girlfriend Jill Kelly, when Kardashian’s butt exploded.

Bellevue has a lovely facility, where I’m sure Yulia would be welcomed as a prestigious guest. And she’d be in wonderful America, where all things are possible, instead of stinky rotten Russia where everything is dirty and hateful and the stupid people keep voting for Putin. Only one thing in her life would remain unresolved, one tiny barrier standing in the way of blissful happiness.

Okay, then; they can hire a Putin lookalike to creep in and pretend to try to kill her. That will set her poor jellied mind at rest.

This entry was posted in Caucasus, Corruption, Economy, Georgia, Government, Rule of Law, Saakashvili, Vladimir Putin and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

716 Responses to The Moscow Times’ Latynina Blows Her Wheels: Next Stop, Bellevue?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      А снег идет, а снег идет …
      И все вокруг чего-то ждет.
      Под этот снег, под тихий снег,
      Хочу сказать при всех:

      “Мой самый главный человек,
      Взгляни со мной на этот снег.
      Он чист, как то, о чем молчу,
      О чем сказать хочу.

      Ко мне любовь мою принес
      Наверно, добрый Дед Мороз.
      Когда в окно с тобой смотрю,
      Я снег благодарю.”

      А снег идет, а снег идет …
      И все мерцает и плывет.
      За то, что ты в моей судьбе,
      Спасибо, снег, тебе.

      А снег идет, а снег идет …
      И все мерцает и плывет.
      За то, что ты в моей судьбе,
      Спасибо, снег, тебе!

      And the snow is falling, the snow is falling…
      And all around waiting for something
      Beneath this snow, this quiet snow,
      I want to say something in front of everybody:

      “My most important person,
      Take a glance with me at this this snow.
      It’s pure, like something I’ve never told you about,
      But always wanted to.

      My love for you
      Has probably been brought by kind Dyed Moroz.. [Father Christmas/Santa Claus – ME]
      When I look out of the window with you
      I am grateful to the snow.”

      And the snow is falling, the snow falling…
      And everything is shimmering and floating.
      That you have been fated to me,
      I thank you, snow.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      21:10 Moscow Time: Youtube dead. The Evil One’s work I suppose they’ll say.

  1. yalensis says:

    And speaking of Navalny, he spent a recent blogpost showing off his family: his skinny ultra-glamorous wife and 2 stunningly cute children:

    Navalny himself was wise to stay out of the photo, since (1) he is not all that good looking any more, he has really gone downhill in the last couple of years, and (2) he doesn’t have any nice clothes to match the fashion designer duds worn by his wife + kids, and (3) he may have to leave them soon to go to jail for KirovLes-LesVorik case. (Although I’m starting to wonder if that will ever come to trial – is the backup rate in Moscow courts as bad as the backup on the highway?)

    • yalensis says:

      typo: should read KirovLes-SelVorik
      It’s an internet pun, of course. SelVorik is KirovLes spelled backwards, and in Russian “SelVorik” is an entire sentence, meaning “little thief went to jail” which is a perfect commentary on Navalny.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      But he’ll get a get-out-of-jail-free-card off the US Embassy for sure, won’t he?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I wonder why he calls them the Addam’s Family?

      She looks nothing like Morticia.

      I wonder who he thinks his Uncle Fester is.

      And Lurch?

      • kirill says:

        It’s just drivel from an Americanophile sycophant. It’s “cool” to bring up American themes in any context. But in reality it is inane.

    • marknesop says:

      He does have a lovely family. His wife, at least so far (Yulia, if I remember correctly) doesn’t seem to crave the spotlight herself and doesn’t go out of her way to be associated with his political activities. I wonder what she really thinks of it all. Politics is hard on families. In any case, I wish them a peaceful and joyous Christmas. Even him.

      I’m sure when his case does come up it will coincide with the moment that he is about to assume power over the whole of the Russian Federation, his name is a household word and the whole world is holding its breath waiting for this delightful miracle to unfold – and it will all be ruined by Putin and his penchant for tying up the opposition with legal trickery just to desperately hold on to power.

  2. Misha says:

    This morning’s BBC aired this Daniel Sandford piece from Russia on Raz:

  3. Misha says:

    Regarding foreign policy spin, you aren’t likely going to find a propped Western commentariat view saying that the West is unnecessarily provoking things by announcing a Patriot missile deployment in Turkey, shortly after Putin’s visit to that country:

    Another related piece:

    No mention on the US government (over the years) attempting to influence some countries from not buying Russian weapons for monopolistic reasons.


    This Moscow Times piece isn’t so out of line with the propped Western commentariat as some might think:

    Among the promoted establishment punditry, there’s a view that’s negative about Russia’s political development, while being more upbeat about other trends in that country.

  4. Misha says:

    This post and follow-up discussion below it, concerns a particular media bias that indirectly relates to the coverage of Russia:

  5. AK says:

    So here’s my thoughts on Navalny/Serdyukov.

    I have come to agree that he is indeed a crook based on the KirovLes evidence. That said, his crookedness ran to the “modest” sum of about $100,000 whereas Serdyukov’s ran to the $100’s of millions (!).

    My test: If Navalny is prosecuted and jailed but Serdyukov is not then that will be a crushing indictment of the Russian legal system.

    • Dear Anatoly,

      I would make the following points about this:

      1. There is no doubt that the Serdyukov scandal is of a wholly different order of magnitude from Navalny’s squalid little fraud. I don’t think anybody would try to argue otherwise. However we still do not know exactly what Serdyukov’s role was. He may have been deeply involved or he might just have been an innocent dupe. There is also of course the possibility that his (very attractive) girlfriend pulled the wool over his eyes. He would not be the first man that was done to. That does not exonerate him, as I said he could still be liable for charges of negligence and breach of fiduciary duty even if he was a dupe, but it would be a very different thing from his being an active fraudster.

      2. It is still very early days. It took 6 years to bring charges against Navalny. I think we should wait a little before coming to any conclusions Having said this, I would repeat what I said before, which is that given the extent of his involvement it will be a cause of concern if Serdyukov is not called in for questioning before very long. I am not going to put on a date on it but if nothing happens before the New Year I will start to wonder why.

      • kirill says:

        Another point is that government/institutional property sales are corrupt in the precious west as well. A certain Canadian university sold off lots of land for a price that was significantly below market value. There is no coverup in the Russian case and in fact it is being over-hyped. What is par for the course in the shining beacons of humanity becomes the worst of crimes in Russia.

        The climate for conducting corrupt activity in the Russian defense establishment has gotten less secure for the perpetrators. While the western media and various anti-Russian bleaters will try to spin this as epic failure of “El Corrupto” Putin, in reality it is an improvement.

  6. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, the Russian internet is abuzz with rumors that Putin has some health problems and has become a hermit. Supposedly that swine Erdogan had to help him sit down into his chair. All that is known is that Putin is suffering from back pain. The vultures are jubilant, they want to see the “old man” go down.
    I personally don’t think it’s old age, I think it’s a sports injury. It might have happened during his “летят журавли” (cranes are flying) stunt, Putin might have landed wrong and threw his back out. Back injuries are healable, but they sometimes take a long time. The best treatment is pilates and yoga, with lots of stretching.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, I’ve seen hints of it on English-speaking sites as well. The general impression I get is that the offices are reluctant to commit to jubilation just yet, but they have all the subordinates in the back room using hole punches to turn old memos into confetti just in case Christmas comes early.

  7. I thought this article by the Belgian physicist Jean Bricmont attacking western left wing apologists of western “humanitarian interventionism” in Syria, Libya and elsewhere completely brilliant.

    • kirill says:

      The anti-anti-war left is being a given a pulpit by the mainstream corporate media. That says it all, they are nothing more than shills for the corporate, imperialist right.

      • Misha says:

        On the matter of “shills” and “anti-anti-war left”, note some of the more Russia friendly of Western mass media propped pundits, as has been previously discussed – a subject that’s too hot for some to handle in an open-minded way.

    • yalensis says:

      “Please, oh Americans, make war not love!” Better still, inasmuch as since their debacle in Afghanistan and in Iraq, the Americans are leery of sending in ground troops, the message amounts to nothing other than asking the U.S. Air Force to go bomb countries where human rights violations are reported to be taking place.

      Perfect! That is the essence of the matter, in a nutshell: faux-left intellectuals begging America to bomb some other country.
      I consider myself a [REAL] lefty, so I am even more appalled than the average person by what currently passes itself for “left”. We live in a caricature-Hegelian Bizarro world in which left is right, and right is left, and right is wrong, and wrong is right. For example, pro-imperialist fascist interventionists wear Che Guevara T-shirts, which could mistakenly lead one to believe that they are Marxists. But no, turns out they are Islamists! (And they’re not even Muslims themselves, they just believe that the Islamists are the good guys in these conflicts.)
      Alas, the sinister imperialist ideologues of international finance capital have succeeded in muddying and blurring together incompatible ideologies and befuddling the minds of the masses via a series of Orwellian transformations. The peoples of the world demand a return to clarity!

  8. Moscow Exile says:

    Year After First Protest, Future of Movement Uncertain reads a headline in today’s Moscow Times. Has MT has finally given up the ghost as regards supporting the “protest movment”, I wonder? The article gives The MT’s history of popular protests against the “regime” that have taken place over the past 12 months in Moscow. I stress “in Moscow” because the Western media tends to suggest that there have been and still are massive protests throughout the length and breadth of this vast land. The potted history begins with a false statement, namely:

    “One year ago Wednesday, tens of thousands of protesters filled Chistiye Prudy, a leafy park in downtown Moscow, in a spontaneous protest against State Duma elections that they said were rigged.

    The participants — led by students and urban, middle-class professionals — described the event in terms of jubilation and triumph, and with good reason.

    It was the largest public protest in a generation, and it launched a movement that has, over the past year, altered Russia’s political landscape and shaken the regime of President Vladimir Putin”.

    As I have pointed out several times before, the largest public demonstration that has taken place in Russia within living memory happened when people protested against the dissolvement of the Soviet Union. That demonstration dwarfed any that the white-ribbonists have organized.

    And “the regime” is certainly not “shaken”.

    • kirill says:

      The so-called regime is duly elected to office. Putin has the support of over 60% of the population. The heroes of the anti-system, aka comprador 5th columinst, opposition have support of less than 15% of the population. The hard core liberast element is less than 7%. I will not count the support for the KPRF since it is clearly not tied to Nemtsovs, Navalnys and other such slime.

      • 15% or even 7% puts it far too high. If we consider the recent elections, Prokhorov’s vote was 8%. However far from all the people who voted for Prokhorov support the white ribbon opposition. Prokhorov briefly flirted with the white ribbon opposition at the height of the protests last December as let us not forget did Zyuganov, Yavlinsky and Kudrin. However all of these worthies began to distance themselves from the protest movement even before the Presidential election when they realised who was actually running it. The white ribbon played no part in Prokhorov’s campaign. I suspect that many of the people who voted for Prokhorov are not even liberals but simply people who were attracted to a strong and well funded campaign and who were attracted to Prokhorov simply because he is a new face.

        In my opinion the hardcore liberal section of the electorate (by which I mean those who reliably vote for liberal parties and not just those who have some liberal views) is no more than 5%, which is roughly the combined vote achieved by Yabloko and Right Choice in the parliamentary elections. By no means all these people however support the white ribbon opposition. Many (most?) Yabloko voters for example do not and let us not forget that Yabloko is far and away the biggest and most successful (and most left wing) of the liberal parties and the one whose leader, Yavlinsky, was the one important liberal politician who was consistently critical of and in opposition to the Yeltsin government.

        I would guess that the total number of people across the entire country who support the white ribbon opposition is certainly no greater than 500,000 and probably closer to 100,000. Even many of those support the white ribbon opposition for a wide variety of confused and even occasionally idealistic motives and not because they are (to use Kirill’s expression) 5th columnists. I suspect that the true hardcore of white ribbon activists, the sort of people who would act as the conscious shock troops of a colour revolution were one ever to take place, is a few thousand at most.

    • marknesop says:

      Maybe when they said “the largest public protest in a generation”, they were measuring it in dog years.

    • Misha says:

      Without having read that MT article (not sure if I’ll bother reading it), I suspect that it might very well setup the image of hopeless Russians falling short of better advancing their country and themselves.

      On another point raised, Zyuganov and some other Russians who aren’t KPRF supporters acknowledge fault with how the Soviet Union was run. At the same time, these elements also include the view that it’s beneficial for Russia and some of the other former Soviet republics to be on close terms with each other.

  9. Moscow Exile says:

    According to this report in today’s Moskovsky Komsomolets, “feminist punk rocker” Maria Alekhina has been punished by the prison administration for not getting out of bed at the regulated time of 6 a.m. It seems that the “artist” likes to lie in.

    What a precious thing she is! Whilst all around her are already up and making their beds in their dormitories, the “political prisoner” has been sleeping on in the solitary cell that she requested to be transferred to because of “tension” between her and the other convicts.

    Breaking the prison regulations in such a way might result in her not being granted a remission of her sentence when it comes time for her to apply for parole.

    Poor thing!

  10. Moscow Exile says:

    Moskovskaya Pravda, however, reports that Alekhina refused to get up at the allocated time.

    Note how the insidious Peter the Piglet still manages to keep his oar in despite his being ostracized by both Tolokonnikova and Alekhina:

    “Адвокат Марии Алехиной сообщил нам сегодня, что на прошлой неделе руководство колонии наложило на нее взыскание за то, что она якобы не встала с утра вовремя по
    сигналу”, – сообщил Верзилов агентству “Интерфакс”.

    [“Maria Alekhina’s lawyer has informed us today that last week the colony administration had imposed upon her punishment for allegedly not getting up in the morning when the signal sounded”, the agency “Interfax” has been told by Verzilov.]

    I wonder whom Verzilov means by “us”?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Not a “Moskovskaya Pravda” article but a Komsomolskaya Pravda article!

    • Dear Moscow Exile,

      You are quite right about Verzilov use of the Royal “us”. Who indeed is “us”? In fairness I should say that Assange has the same annoying habit.

      By the way there is one continuing unexplained mystery about this case. As everybody knows five women were actually involved in the incident at the Cathedral of whom only three have been caught. A couple of weeks ago there was talk that the other two had fled to the west where they were going to mobilise a feminist army on behalf of their imprisoned sisters. I was looking forward to announcements of political asylum, tedious interviews, long verbose speeches and pompous declarations about “freedom” and “liberty” and “feminism” etc. Instead there has been absolutely nothing. What has happened?

  11. Moscow Exile says:

    And yet another Moscow Times opinion piece that only appeared in the online MT one hour ago and entitled One Year of Protest Turbulence.

    It seems that signals are being given in this and other comments made by political observers that the protest movement has run its course and, according to this latest MT comment, that “the political crisis that erupted a year ago…has largely run its course”, that there now exists one year after the “crisis” a “general state of equilibrium in society”, that the “threat of political crisis has given way to a new normalcy. The opposition may still be able to get thousands to turn up for mass demonstrations, but the likelihood that these protests will result in significant change has faded almost completely”.

    Does this mean that Navalny will be thrown to the Kremlin dogs?

    No get-out-of-jail-free-card in the offing for him from McFaul?

  12. cartman says:

    There must be a quota to meet a certain level negative coverage, which explains why they dusted the cobwebs off this story which I am positive I saw 2-4 years ago:

  13. Moscow Exile says:

    And here’s RIANOVOSTI joining the fray.

    Why don’t they just call themselves CIANOVOSTI?

    • Dear Moscow Exile,

      Indeed another article by Marc Bennetts. He of course attended several of the protests and is clearly committed to the protest movement. Not surprisingly he finds it difficult to accept that it simply was not what it was cracked up by him and others to be. One important point, which he does not mention obviously because it is too upsetting to mention, was Chirikova’s disastrous failure at Khimki in what even Latynina admits was a genuine vote. Ultimately winning elections is the only true test of a movement’s popularity. As I said before if Chirikova could not win in Khimki, where in fact she lost badly, it is difficult to see where else the white opposition can win. Actually there is no excuse for Marc Bennetts failing to mention this given that he quotes Chirikova in the article.

      As for the previous article from Moscow Times, it is actually for once more level headed than the Novosti article though it too does not mention Chirikova’s failure. One thing that does grate is the way it persists in referring to the prosecution of protesters involved in what Ksenia Sobchak has confirmed was the pre planned violence on 6th May 2012 as “harassment”. As someone prosecuted under the British Public Order Acts I do not have to tell you how completely wrong that is.

      • marknesop says:

        I had a post about half done on Marc Bennetts’ story about socialism spreading among the youth of Russia, but I dumped it halfway through. I couldn’t make it say what I wanted to say; but it just made my blood boil, the way he quotes Putin’s statement about what a disaster the collapse of the Soviet Union was, and spins it so it sounds like Putin is lonely for the Soviet Union. That wasn’t what he said at all, there were lots of good reasons for regretting the collapse of the Soviet union, because it hurt a lot of people. But he’s always selectively quoted; I had started out with that George Kennan quote that always makes Americans so angry and showed how it was selectively stitched together to create an impression Kennan never intended.

        The difference is that every time someone misquotes Kennan, there will be a host of angry corrections. When Putin is misquoted….. crickets chirping.

        I still intend to have a go at Bennetts, and I’m sure an opportunity will soon present itself.

        • Misha says:

          Sound bite media having a certain slant and lacking substance will not be prone to following up on what Putin actually meant on the way the Soviet Union broke up and what followed thereafter – hardships that could’ve been averted.

          Without quoting verbatim, I recall Putin specifically saying that those seeking a return of either the Soviet Union or Russian Empire aren’t being realistic. At the same time, there’s no contradiction to also believe that Russia and some of the other former Soviet republics will benefit by being closer.

        • Dear Mark,

          Bennetts definitely deserves a stab from your pen. In my opinion he is a classic example of a journalist (especially a young journalist) who interprets the politics of the country he is reporting from (Russia) by reference to the politics of his own country (Britain). He comes across to me as a classic young British middle class Leftie so he assumes (1) that Russia like Britain is full of Lefties and (2) that Russian Lefties are like him. He is of course completely wrong on both counts. His reporting of the protests is the same. He writes about them as if they were the sort of Leftie protests he has gone to in Britain. Because he assumes that the protesters are mostly Lefties like him he of course buys in completely to their narrative of Putin the evil dictator. Since like all British middle class Lefties he hates the USSR he effortlessly conflates the two things he hates about Russia – Putin and the USSR – with each other.

          The one thing I would say about Marc Bennetts is that he comes across to me as an altogether less malevolent figure than say Luke Harding. In the case of Luke Harding (and Miriam Elder, Julia Joffe etc) I get the impression that they actively dislike or even hate Russia. I don’t get that sense from Marc Bennetts.

          • kirill says:

            He’s a faux leftist. Anyone pushing the neoliberal agenda in Russia is either a dupe or two-faced. Putin is a left-center politician and his policies are the same. The non-system 5th column opposition wants a return to the banana republic looting of the Yeltsin period and give total freedom to oligarchs. They openly put Khodorkovsky on a pedestal and if you listen closely to their whinging they sound like Ayn Randists. So Putin’s opposition is observably a collection of neocons.

            Perhaps he is right, most Russians are “leftists” as they certainly aren’t the neocon slime that the west deems to be the true voice of Russia. But the leftist Russian majority does not feel the need to take to the streets to take down the popular leader. It is the foaming at the mouth neocon fringe that is trying to stage some fake people power coup.

            • Dear Kirill,

              Not for the first time I find myself completely agreeing with you. You will notice that I referred to Marc Bennetts as a “Leftie” not as a “Leftist”. That was completely intentional. There is nothing genuinely left about western “Lefties” who are indeed faux Leftists exactly as you say.

              As for Putin, his economic ideas and methods and his social policies would put him so far to the left on the European political spectrum (not to mention the North American spectrum) that he would fall off the edge. What confuses people about Putin is that he is also conservative. “Conservative” means something completely different in Russia from what it has now come to mean in the west where since the 1980s the term has been stolen by the free market radical Right. It was not always so. Conservative politicians of a previous era like De Gaulle in France and Erhard in Germany also pursued economic and social policies that would today place them far to the left. In De Gaulle’s case that was also true of his foreign policy. As you correctly say many and most probably most Russians could be considered simultaneously Leftists and conservatives or (to use a term of Dugin’s that I rather like) “national gauchists”.

            • Misha says:

              More eclectically sophisticated than the neocon/neolib leaning commentariat, which is frequently discussed at this venue.

              That neocon/neolib leaning commentariat is of course open enough to accept some left of neolib criticisms of Russia.

          • marknesop says:

            His time will come, I’m sure; his material is pretty much all the same, so I doubt it will be long before he writes something stupid. The piece I was going to do didn’t work very well, because he implied Putin is lonely for the days of Stalin by selectively quoting him – but then he said the young people are getting more interested in socialism (which I don’t see at all), and suggested this frightens the Kremlin. I couldn’t get the two to come together in any sort of common nonsense theme because the two positions do not make any sense. If young people are responding to socialism, and Putin is lonely for Stalin, wouldn’t the two come together in happy harmony rather than Putin shaking in his boots?

            I think that part about scaring the Kremlin is just an automatic frosting they put on every cake; it’s necessary for them to believe that Putin is afraid of everything they report, or it’s all futile.

          • marc says:

            Not middle-class, not leftie, and not that young, but you got the last part right about not hating Russia. If my articles annoy you, you’re going to loathe the book…

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Dear Alexander Mercouris,

        Yes, I’ve seen a few comments here recently written by white-ribbonists in which, whenever that stroppy woman is discussed, no mention whatsoever is made as regards her falling flat on her face at the Khimki mayoral elections. The fact that she had previously referred to her fellow countrymen as “cattle” (быдло – bydlo) may have had more than a little to do with her abyssmal failure to become the new, tree-hugging mayor of Khimki.

        Of course, in voicing her opinion that the Russian population in general consisted of political morons and couch potatoes, she was simply reflecting Latynina’s line that the Russian hoi-poloi are unworthy of the leadership of the political intelligentsia, namely the white-ribbonists. I also suspect that Chirikova’s political comeuppance at Khimki might have been partly caused by her aping at the hustings of the “punk prayer” of those insufferable “feminist punk rockers”, whose posturing, the constant barrage of the Western media as regards the hero-status of PR in Russia notwithstanding, the Russian population in general holds in low esteem.

        • kirill says:

          This is the sneering dialogue of the lunatic fringe. They are not tree huggers and leftists. The raid haired bimbo is a bloody Pinochet lover. They try to adopt leftist causes as a Trojan Horse ploy to get popular support. But when the “bydlo” suss them out and their ploys fail they squirm and scream obscenities.

          The only leftists in opposition to Putin are the KPRF and they are not as insane as these neocon white ribbonists. Zyuganov is an idiot of epic proportions for getting into bed with these fascists. The only reason they could stage demonstrations as large as they did was because of the KPRF. The KPRF was by all appearances a good 50% of the mass of the demonstrators. The participation of the KPRF also attracted others such as the monarchists/nationalists. I would say that over 70% of the demonstrators last winter were not white ribbonists.

          • “They try to adopt leftists causes as a Trojan Horse ploy to get popular support”.

            Again that is exactly right. By the way they did exactly the same in the 1980s. I still burn with the memory of how the radical free market liberal Right politicians of that era called themselves and pretended to be the Left when they were really the Right. I remember Gorbachev for once complaining about this and being roundly abused for doing so..

            The big difference today is that there has been a quantum leap in Russia in political sophistication and understanding. As I never tire to say, Russians are not sheep and they know exactly who they are voting for and why. The kind of sleight of hand that was successfully pulled on them in the 1980s with the Right masquerading as the Left could not be pulled today since following the lesson they learnt in the 1980s Russians today immediately see through it. That is why the bogus leftism the protest movement has recently cynically adopted has fooled no one. The only people who do not understand this are the fragments of the Right and their western cheerleaders and paymasters.

  14. Misha says:

    RT’s use of “mysterious”:

    The Pussy Riot stunt was ran opposite of a respectful tolerance towards the Russian Orthodox Church – something that has been evident in other instances.

    In the backdrop, one can find numerous articles negatively portraying the Russian Orthodox Church (as well as Serbia’s) that isn’t applied to some other denominations, which have some questionable past and present attributes.


    Based on its rulings, the ICTY is setting a basis to reasonably expect the release of Karadzic and Seselj:

    A reasonable former Yugo commentary:

    The opposite:

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