I’m Sorry; We Don’t Accept U.S. Dollars – Have You Any Rupelyuans?

Uncle Volodya says, "I lent a friend of mine $10,000.00 for plastic surgery, and now I don't know what he looks like."

Uncle Volodya says, “I lent a friend of mine $10,000.00 for plastic surgery, and now I don’t know what he looks like.”

For the love of money
People will lie; Lord, they will cheat
For the love of money
People don’t care who they hurt or beat:
For the love of money
A woman will sell her precious body
For a small piece of paper, it carries a lot of weight
call it lean, mean
mean green.

When they released, “For The Love of Money” in 1973, Philadelphia soul group The O’Jays probably were not thinking of anything but a catchy lyric (and what was probably the most infectious bass line of the 1970’s). But pretty much since money was developed as a medium of exchange for goods and services, there have been wars over it and desperate struggles for control of it. Because money is power, and control of it is more power still.

In the case of a couple of wars fought over it recently, money – or control of it – was not the obvious motive. However, it is an astonishing coincidence that in both cases, the national leaders of the countries which were razed announced their intention to make their nations independent of the world’s reserve currency. A campaign of demonization in the press followed, escalating quickly to military intervention which left both these nations in ruins. It hardly needs saying that there was no more talk about abandoning the reserve currency.

Let’s back up a bit, before we get into that, and do a quick review. Following World War II, the victorious allies got together at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, for the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference; 730 delegates from the 44 Allied nations hammered out over a period of days – and signed, on July 22nd, 1944 – an agreement for the rebuilding of the international financial system in which all parties agreed to maintain the exchange rate of their currencies by tying them to the value of the U.S. dollar, which was backed by the Gold Standard. Nixon unilaterally abandoned the Gold Standard in 1971, and the U.S. dollar became a fiat currency; which is to say, one that takes its value from government regulation. Although it remains the world’s reserve currency, other currencies were able to “float” in value against it, and the U.S. government sometimes became irritated at countries which pegged their value to the dollar, such as China.

The USA seems extremely keen on holding on to world reserve currency status for the U.S. dollar. Why? Are there advantages? Well, yes, there are, although this discussion paper by McKinsey & Co. downplays them and suggests they are really not much; MGI estimates that in a normal year, the USA reaps a benefit equal to about 0.3 to 0.5% of its GDP ($40 Billion to $70 billion), and in a “crisis year”, the benefit falls to perhaps $5 Billion to $20 Billion, owing to dollar appreciation as other countries flock to it as a safe haven. But there are other advantages. One is the effective interest-free loan the USA realizes from issuing currency to nonresidents, but that’s pretty puny by big-money standards; about $10 Billion. Another, though, is that the USA can raise capital cheaply by selling large blocks of U.S. Treasury securities to foreign governments and government agencies. While the cash realized from it isn’t huge, it has the effect of depressing the U.S. borrowing rate by 50 to 60 basis points or more.

What would happen, theoretically, if that wasn’t having enough of an effect, and you as the U.S. government started buying huge blocks of U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage notes yourself, to the tune of about $85 Billion per month? What would result – and has resulted – would be a stock market at record highs on a tidal wave of cheap dollars, a rock-bottom interest rate and near-zero inflation. Some people believe that is automatically good, but it’s not and without some inflation it is very difficult to achieve growth; the U.S. economy desperately needs growth. The target inflation rate is about 2%. What do you think would happen if the government’s top money-man announced a forecast end to constant stimulus through this method – not now, but, say, a year from now? Well, I can tell you that, because it happened: the market tanked. A couple of days later, Bernanke reversed himself, because he had to. What happened? The market soared to a dangerous new high on his implied promise that the gravy train of cheap money would just keep on a’ rollin’, for at least as long as it can. But I don’t think I have to tell you the risks inherent in just continuing to print more and more of a fiat currency that, without trust, is just coloured paper.

The U.S. dollar continues to maintain its strength and preeminence – worldwide, really, but it is to Americans that its continued solvency remains the most important – based solely upon faith; on trust that those pieces of paper will be exchangeable for goods and services tomorrow at or close to the same rate they are today, and the dollar remains worth a dollar because the United States government says it is. And one of the ways the United States government protects the credibility of the greenback…is by stomping hard on anyone who tries to get a rival currency off the ground.

Let’s go back for a minute, back to Iraq, 2000. Saddam Hussein announced that Iraq would no longer accept U.S. dollars for oil purchases under the UN oil-for-food program. His reasoning was that Iraq did not want to deal “in the currency of the enemy”. Instead, Iraq would accept only Euros. It would have cost the UN what was described at the time as a small fortune in accounting and paperwork changes – but, more importantly, oil was something the west could not simply announce it would buy elsewhere, and boycott. Remember, this was almost a year before the attacks on the World Trade Center in September, 2001.

What happened? You remember – mostly. You probably did not know at the time, but the clock was ticking on Saddam Hussein well before that, because of Iraq’s oil and Hussein’s unwillingness to do as he was told. Within hours after the attack on New York, Donald Rumsfeld and his merry men were already discussing how they might start a war with Iraq, and just 9 days after 9-11, the Project For A New American Century forwarded a letter to President Bush, in which it argued for “…a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq…even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack…” Check out the list of signatories – a veritable who’s who of neoconservative movers and shakers. Father and son dream team Donald and Robert Kagan, of course. Richard Perle, urban planner and advocate of George Bush Square in Baghdad. Frank Gaffney. Krazy Kolumnist Charles Krauthammer. Mikheil Saakashvili adviser and Georgian government lobbyist Randy Scheunemann. As I live and breathe, our old Russophobic Rogue’s Gallery alumnus, Nicholas Eberstadt, author of the Russian tourist brochure, “Drunken Nation“. Arch-fiend William Kristol, and Norman Podhoretz. Anyway, cue demonization in the press, pounding of the war drum interspersed with weepy renditions of The Young Rascals “People Got to Be Free“, support to the Iraqi opposition, establishment of safe zones, and finally the lunge into full-on undeclared war. Saddam was eventually captured, tried (sort of) and summarily executed by the new hand-picked Iraqi government. The world was made safe again for the world’s reserve currency.

Fast-forward, now, to Libya, 2011. Gaddafi has been pushing for a common African currency, the gold dinar, which will become the only currency African nations will accept for oil purchases. As both a fairly serious, if inefficient oil producer and the owner state of 144 tons of gold, Libya is fairly well-placed to float and back its own currency. Quick as a flash, renouncer of nuclear weaponry and bad-guy-gone-straight Gaddafi is a demon once again, violent suppressor of a peaceful democratic movement of al-Qaeda thugs and flip-flop-wearing warlords who have set up shop in Benghazi. Before you can say, “stick this up your Jamahiriya”, NATO has a no-fly zone established and has embarked on a blur of mission creep that will see it acting as the de facto rebel air force of al Qaeda, Peaceful Benghazi Chapter. Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom, Tripoli falls, Gaddafi is captured, murdered, and the greenback heaves another sigh of relief. Another crisis averted. Libya’s 144 tons of gold, incidentally, vanishes.

Iran, also, announced a move away from the U.S. dollar, and its intentions to open its own oil bourse, or stock exchange which would take direct payments in international currencies tied to the Euro, not the dollar. Although this site suggests the oil bourse went online in 2008, that’s not exactly correct; some sort of…ummm…accident severed the seabed cables which provided internet service to Iran just as the great day drew near. That couldn’t stall things forever, but in a more decisive move which was allegedly to punish Iran for its depredations against the perennial peaceful opposition, strategically-applied “international pressure” persuaded Brussels to cut Iran out of SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Telecommunication, last year. This, should you wonder, is unprecedented. And while the west has not gone to war against Iran, I don’t think you would find much argument if you suggested it was a western goal, and that Syria was a turnstile on the road to Tehran.

But it must be difficult to start up your own currency, isn’t it?

Apparently not. Although I’m sure this guide is grossly oversimplified, there are – theoretically – only three steps. One, establish something of value to which this currency will be tied. The author suggests gold, and while he points out it could be anything of value, I’m going to say oil. I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your notice that several nations have already tried to do that, and been whacked like a stool pigeon for their efforts. But I’m pretty confident that wouldn’t happen in this case, because I’m talking about a group that is more or less immune from the threat of military comeuppance – the BRICS. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Step two, think of something to call your currency. I chose the Rupelyuan, an amalgamate of the Ruble, Rupee, Real, Rand and Yuan, but that was just off the top of my head, and I’m open to suggestion.

Three, convince what the author describes as a “critical mass” of people to adopt and trade in your currency. How about all the people who like to use oil, and things that are derived from oil, burn oil as a fuel or are shipped by vehicles which do?

Why now? Well, of course it doesn’t have to be now. But I notice, as I’m sure you did as well, that Russia has just moved into position as the world’s fifth largest economy, displacing Germany. I further notice that 3 of the BRICS are in the top 5, and a fourth is in the top 10; only South Africa has yet to reach that milestone, and China is forecast to move into top spot in the next couple of years.

The top 3 BRICS nations are all nuclear powers. I don’t think the group needs to worry unduly about a western direct military intervention, although at least one (Russia) has been subjected to a barrage of media demonization since…well, since the end of the Cold War, really, allowing only a brief caesura during the golden years when Boris Yeltsin sold the people’s wealth to the oilgarchs, thrashed around privatizing everything his Harvard advisers advised him to, and woke up with a terrible hangover, remembering nothing. The highest BRIC on the totem pole, China, has the world’s largest cash reserves. The Newly-Arrived Number Five has the world’s third-largest cash reserves, and is the world’s biggest oil producer.

This is not new; the BRICS have been talking among themselves for some time about establishing their own Bretton institutions to challenge – and perhaps edge out – the World Bank and the IMF. They have agreed in principle to establish a BRICS Development Bank, targeted at the developing world, with an initial capital startup of $50 Billion.

The next logical step would be the establishment of a common currency, like the Euro, which was also the result of a purely monetary rather than an inherently political union. Would they have any trouble getting people to use it. Gee…I don’t know. There would be resistance. But toward winter, when it started getting cold in Europe…

They might be just bluffing, gathering negotiating weight to argue, as an earlier-cited article suggested, for more say over global monetary policy and the practice of always selecting the leaders of existing global monetary institutions from the same countries.

But then again, they might not.

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777 Responses to I’m Sorry; We Don’t Accept U.S. Dollars – Have You Any Rupelyuans?

  1. yalensis says:

    Later today (August 1), Russian “nationalists” (cough cough neo-nazis cough cough) will be holding their non-gay parade through Manezhnaya. Here is their VKontakte page , summoning the social network to fight for the rights of the glorious (and much victimized) aryan race.

    Organizer requests of participants: “Bring your own mask, if you don’t have one, you can buy one… If you are thinking of beating up non-Russians, please wait and do that in your own province, this isn’t the place…” Well, that sounds reasonable!

    • yalensis says:

      P.S. and pay attention, Slavs:: NO MIXING OF THE RACES is allowed, ’cause it’s unnatural, see.

      In past years, Navalny always made an appearance at this march, although he didn’t come last year, and his friends were upset about that, but he had some kind of valid excuse, like he had the flu, or something like that. Will he show up this year? I don’t know. Probably not. McFaul might disapprove…

      • reggietcs says:

        I find it interesting that McFaul, HRW and Amnesty international are always cheering on Navalny. Are these so-called champions of “Human Rights” aware that Navalny is basically a neo-nazi? If so, have these western NGO supporters ever had anything to say about it?

        • kirill says:

          This just confirms that the attack on Russia by various western outfits and regimes has nothing to do with the claims being made.

        • yalensis says:

          I don’t know about Amnesty (they might be skipping around la-la-la thinking that Navalny is a western-minded liberal democrat), but I am pretty sure that McFaul is aware of Navalny’s neo-nazi views.

          Bottom line, McFaul just wants to see Navalny succeed, no matter what it takes. LIke, with their Ukrainian candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, the Americans could care less that he had Nazi connections. In his case, ACTUAL Nazis (not 20-something wannabes), old dudes who fought on German side in WWII. Yushchenko campaigned on the idea of rehabilitating these Nazis and paying them veterans benefits. Yushchenko was touted by the Americans as a “democratic” and “anti-authoritarian” reformer. Ukrainians themselves knew what was what, and who was who.

          Anyhow, this Navalny movement is starting to worry me, because nobody really knows how extensive his support actually is in Moscow. It is even possible that there might be an upset, due to the uptick of hard feelings towards Central Asian and Caucasian immigrants. Neo-nazis are agitating around issues of crime and safety. Navalny has a stock phrase in his stump speech that he uses every time: “My wife is afraid to walk out onto the street alone.” Since I would bet a million dollars that McFaul personally vetted and edited Navalny’s stump speech, then it follows that McFaul is not opposed to him gaining votes based on this “anti-immigrant” issue. Americans really believe that Navalny is going to be their next Yeltsin.

          In summary:
          While toning down his views somewhat on the campaign stump, on his BLOG Navalny is still emitting powerful dog whistles, and certain known types (Hint: they prefer blondes)are hearing and heeding that call.

          I follow Navalny’s blog pretty closely (as in “know thine enemy”), and this is where I am seeing an increasing number of links to neo-nazi and white power web sites. Every time I click on on of these things I cringe, wondering if the NSA is tagging me for going to an extremist web site! That, plus, in their metadata software, NSA will link those white power sites back to “Kremlin Stooge”, and then I imagine Mark Chapman will have some ‘splaining to do.

          • Misha says:

            Reminded of a story told to me by someone with Ukrainian roots, who was married to a DC stink tanker. His org was formally present at an event on Ukraine which included pro-Bandera advocacy. After telling her then husband about what these folks were supporting, she was told to pipe down.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          This is the Navalny the West doesn’t report on:

        • peter says:

          … basically a neo-nazi?

          Can you guess what this is?

  2. Misha says:

    Re: http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2013/07/ukraine-and-russia?fsrc=scn/tw_ec/the_1_025th_anniversary_of_the_baptism_of_kyivan_rus

    Like a not so distant RFE/RL piece, there’s the erroneous suggestion that during the Rus era, “Kievan Rus” was used to describe all of Rus.

    The term “appropriated” is used to describe how Russia got its name.

    After the Mongol subjugation, the Rus area north of Kiev (present day Russian territory) emerges as the strongest and most independent of Rus land. Prior to the Mongol subjugation, there were signs that the northern area of Rus was exhibiting the potential to have greater influence.

    The Mongol sacking of Kiev saw many in that area move north. Before and after that instance, there’ve been centuries of back and forth migration among the Slavs making up modern day Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

    Reference is made to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate. It’s headed by an individual who was a Moscow Patriarchate loyalist. He remains at odds with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Prior to his break, he spoke positively of the religious and historical ties between Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. These Gorbachev-perestroika era thoughts of his are referenced in Hedrick Smith’s updated edition of “The New Russians”.

    • Misha says:

      As a follow-up to the thoughts directly above, the linked article in question starts off with this:

      “UNLIKE its western counterpart, eastern Christianity has always maintained close ties to the state.”


      A broad characterization which suggestively presents a certain image, that’s not absolute in actual reality terms.

      Did the Vatican excommunicate Hitler unlike some others? In its takeover of western Rus land, Poland coercively dissuaded Orthodox-Christian observance, while encouraging the Greek Catholic denomination. In Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church played a role in opposing the Polish attack and occupation of Russia.

      These thoughts aren’t intended to disrespect the Roman and Greek Catholic denominations. Rather, it’s a pointed counter to the slanted articles against Orthodox Christianity which are evident, with RFE/RL serving as one example.

      If RFE/RL were consistent, it would run things like critical features on the degree of contemporary Croat Catholic support for the WW II era Nazi allied Ustasha regime.

      • Misha says:

        To be historically accurate, the Vatican, for centuries not only had “close ties”, but actually possessed huge territories – in Italy, once practically entirely “owned” by the Pope. When Garibaldi freed Italian lands and left the Vatican with only its current territory, the Pope was so angry, he said that he will not step out of his boundaries. It was the Vatican which granted European Kings their crown, according to its will – thereby making them heavily dependent on the Roman Catholic Church’s political demands and “good will”. In the Anglican Church, the Queen of England is still its Head.

    • peter says:

      Prior to the Mongol subjugation, there were signs…

      The incongruous, unwieldy, and precocious Empire heaped together by the Ruriks, like the other empires of similar growth, is broken up into appanages, divided and subdivided among the descendants of the conquerors, dilacerated by feudal wars, rent to pieces by the intervention of foreign peoples. The paramount authority of the Grand Prince vanishes before the rival claims of seventy princes of the blood. The attempt of Andrew of Susdal at recomposing some large limbs of the empire by the removal of the capital from Kiev to Vladimir proves successful only in propagating the decomposition from the South to the centre. Andrew’s third successor resigns even the last shadow of supremacy, the title of Grand Prince, and the merely nominal homage still offered him. The appanages to the South and to the West become by turns Lithuanian, Polish, Hungarian, Livonian, Swedish. Kiev itself, the ancient capital, follows destinies of its own, after having dwindled down from a seat of the Grand Princedom to the territory of a city. Thus, the Russia of the Normans completely disappears from the stage, and the few weak reminiscences in which it still outlived itself, dissolve before the terrible apparition of Genghis Khan. The bloody mire of Mongolian slavery, not the rude glory of the Norman epoch, forms the cradle of Muscovy, and modern Russia is but a metamorphosis of Muscovy.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        The Tatar yoke was not felt in all of Rus’: Novgorod and Pskov never fell to the Tatar hordes. When the Teutonic knights were banging on the front door of Novgorod, the Tatars were threatening the back. Alexander Nevsky sorted out the former, and the Tatars never bothered after that. No one knows why they did not press on their advance northwestwards. I think it was simply because they were sated, that their lines of communication were becoming overstretched, and because the heavily forested northwest negated the advantage that the Tatar light cavalry and its mounted bowmen had over the ponderous Slav armies on the less heavily forest lands and the steppe to the south.

        • peter says:

          To entertain discord among the Russian princes, and secure their servile submission, the Mongols had restored the dignity of the Grand Princedom. The strife among the Russian princes for this dignity was, as a modern author has it, “an abject strife—the strife of slaves, whose chief weapon was calumny, and who were always ready to denounce each other to their cruel rulers; wrangling for a degraded throne, whence they could not move but with plundering, parricidal hands—hands filled with gold and stained with gore; which they dared not ascend without grovelling, nor retain but on their knees, prostrate and trembling beneath the scimitar of a Tartar, always ready to roll under his feet those servile crowns, and the heads by which they were worn.” It was in this infamous strife that the Moscow branch won at last the race.

          • yalensis says:

            Plagiarism детектед!

            • peter says:

              You’ve spoiled all the fun, you dummkopf! Mike would’ve never figured out what it was.

              • yalensis says:


              • Misha says:

                Is it KM? You’ve peddled his babble on this period before.

                I didn’t click into Y’s hyperlink. Knowing his preferences and seeing how he picked up on your source, I’ve made an educated guess.

                KM is someone who is reasonably considered as being anti-Russian and certainly not among the better historical sources of the period in question.

                I’ll stick with Karamzin, among some other more knowledgeable sources on that subject.

              • SFReader says:

                My favorite quote from Marx and Engels guys:

                “We, Friedrich Engels, supreme poet in the Bremen town-hall cellar and privileged boozer, announce and make known to all and sundry, past, present, absent and future, that you are all asses, lazy creatures, who are wasting away from disgust with your own existence, scoundrels who don’t write to me, and so on, and so on. Written on our office stool at a time when we had no hangover. Friedrich Engels”

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  My favourite KM quote is:

                  “What is certain, is that I myself am not a Marxist.”

                  Actually he said it in French in 1880 after criticising French Marxists Guesde and Lafargue, accusing them of “revolutionary phrase-mongering”.

                  Marx made his famous remark that, if their politics represented Marxism, then “ce qu’il y a de certain c’est que moi, je ne suis pas Marxiste” – at least, in 1882 that’s what Engels said his pal had said two years earlier.

  3. Moscow Exile says:

    So the Princes of Muscovy out-Tatared theTatars!

    Did these servile “Russian” princes include servile “Ukrainian” ones?

    There are many Ukrainian Russophobes who say that the Russians are a different people to their own, that “Russians” are a Slav-Tatar hybrid, that the true descendants of Rus’ are “Ukrainians”, that Rus’ was “Kievan Rus'” and that the Tatar-Mongols usurped the glories of ancient Rus’.

    Near to present day Donetsk in the Ukraine, at the Battle of Kalka River (1223), whom did the Tatars defeat: Russians or Ukrainians?

    In 1237, the Golden Horde, headed by Batu, the grandson of Genghis Khan, invaded the Ryazan principality, which is in present day Russia. Whom did the Tatars murder to a man woman and child when they razed the city of Old Ryazan: Russians or Ukrainians” (Old Ryazan was never rebuilt: the modern city of Ryazan is situated some 50kms away from the scene of the Tatar butchery.)

    In 1238 the Tatars then conquered the Moscow and Vladimir principalities. Were these places in Russia, Rus’, Kievan Rus’ or the Ukraine?

    In 1239 Batu resumed his attacks. Now his aim was to conquer the southern principalities – of Kievan Rus’, of Rus’ of Russia or of the Ukraine?

    The first to fall was Chernigov. The following year Batu’s armies approached Kiev’s walls. Kiev fell. The Tatar Yoke was securely in place.

    The Slavic lands (Russia, the Ukraine, Rus’ etc….?) lands were devastated, its people either annihilated or enslaved.The Slavic principalities had to accept the power of the Khan and agreed to pay tribute to their overlords. Slavic princes also had to have Tatar approval before they could rule their principalities.

    Meanwhile, in the north, the weakened Slavic lands – were they Russian lands or were they, as some Russophobic Ukrainians suggest, populated by a “mixed-race” Slav/Finno-Ugric folk? – were threatened by their neighbours. In 1240 Roman Catholic Crusaders attacked Novgorod, which had not fallen to the Tatars. The Orthodox Slavs were considered by the Westerners as “heretics”, you see.

    Prince Alexander Nevsky, Prince of Novgorod, Grand Prince of Kiev, Grand Prince of Vladimir – was he Russian or “Ukrainian” or Finno-Ugric/Slavic? – defeated the Swedish Crusaders on the Neva River in 1240 and, 2 years later, the Teutonic Knights of the German Order in the Ice Battle that took place on Lake Chudskoye.

    The regathering of Slavic lands (Ukrainian, Russian…?) began 200 years after this, and it started in the Principality of Moscow.

    “Go tell all in foreign lands that Russia lives! Those who come to us in peace will be welcome as a guest. But those who come to us sword in hand will die by the sword! On that Russia stands and forever will we stand!”
    “Alexander Nevsky” (1938), S.Eisenstein.

    (In fact, in the film Nevsky says “Rus’ lives” [Русь жива] and “Russian land” [русская земля])


    • Misha says:

      This link is about Prince Daniel of Galicia, a contemporary of St. Alexander Nevsky They had common views and cause in the challenged days of Rus-Russian history – the Mongol invasion from the East and invasions from the West.


    • yalensis says:

      I know I have real Russian blood in my veins, because I still get chills down my spine every time I hear this speech. (I know, I know, it’s only a movie, and it probably didn’t even really happen that way, but stil…)

      • yalensis says:

        Damn, Mosfilm blocked the clip. Blaggarts!

        Well, here is the link, anyhow: replace underscores with dots, you know what to do:


        • R.C. says:

          The Prokofiev music for this film is the greatest film score ever written, imho.

          The Termikanov performance from 1993 with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra is my favorite performance of it.

      • Jen says:

        In its own way, this was a remarkable film for its extended battle sequence – at least half the film’s running time and maybe more than that – and its portrayal of the war dead, and women’s searches for fathers, husbands and sons lost in battle. The figure of Nevsky shows mercy to the Knights Templars’ foot soldiers and pardons them, holds the Knights Templars themselves for ransom and throws Russian traitors to the crowds for punishment. Rousing music by Prokofiev fits the action perfectly.

        • yalensis says:

          The film is brilliant. The combination of two wild geniuses Eisenstein + Prokofiev. Plus the great acting of Nikolai Cherkasov. It doesn’t get any better than this!

          • reggietcs says:

            Famed conductor Andre Previn once called Alexander Nevsky “the greatest film score ever written with the original track sounding as if it was played through a hollow tube or over a telephone.” Early Soviet sound technology certainly left much to be desired. Stalin insisted that everything pertaining to the film industry be Soviet made, but the western sound technology was better at the time since they had emerged from the silent film era several years before the USSR did. I’ve got the Criterion DVD here in the US – which utilizes the best surviving elements of the film – and the sound quality is indeed atrocious. However, despite the technical shortcomings, you can still hear the greatness shine through in the music. “The Battle on the Ice” has always been particularly memorable for me.

            • yalensis says:

              Eisenstein was always eager to improve technology in his films. Germany was the world leader in film technology and had colour film before Soviet Union. Eisenstein was eager to get his hands on some colour film. Near the end of WWII when Soviet troops took Berlin, they “liberated” some colour stock and sent it back to Eisenstein. He added it as a special scene in his film Ivan II. Since the rest of the movie was in black and white, it made an impression when all of a sudden the action was in colour. (Then , after the dance, action returns to black and white. Eisenstein ran out of colour film!)

              The scene he filmed in colour was the “Dance of the Oprichiniki”, which is basically a musical number. “Ivan” has been called an opera, but it is essentially a musical, with plot action intermittently stopping for a song or, in this case, a group song and dance number.

  4. yalensis says:

    And follow-up to my above thread on annual Russian March – I mistakenly gave the date as today, but it’s actually going to be on November 4. Silly me.

  5. SFReader says:

    I just recalled another Engels quote on a very important political issue nowadays:

    Engels To Marx
    In London
    Manchester, 22 June 1869
    The Urning [Homosexial] you sent me is a very curious thing. These are extremely unnatural revelations. The paederasts [homosexual paedophiles] are beginning to count themselves, and discover that they are a power in the state. Only organisation was lacking, but according to this source it apparently already exists in secret. And since they have such important men in all the old parties and even in the new ones, from Rosing to Schweitzer, they cannot fail to triumph. Guerre aux cons, paix aus trous-de-cul [war on the cunts, peace to the arse-holes] will now be the slogan. It is a bit of luck that we, personally, are too old to have to fear that, when this party wins, we shall have to pay physical tribute to the victors. But the younger generation! Incidentally it is only in Germany that a fellow like this can possibly come forward, convert this smut into a theory, and offer the invitation: introite [enter], etc. Unfortunately, he has not yet got up the courage to acknowledge publicly that he is ‘that way’, and must still operate coram publico‘ from the front’, if not ‘going in from the front’ as he once said by mistake. But just wait until the new North German Penal Code recognises the droits du cul [rights of the arse-hole] then he will operate quite differently. Then things will go badly enough for poor frontside people like us, with our childish penchant for females. If Schweitzer could be made useful for anything, it would be to wheedle out of this peculiar honourable gentleman the particulars of the paederasts in high and top places, which would certainly not be difficult for him as a brother in spirit.
    Best greetings.

    F. E.

  6. According to news agencies Snowden has been granted temporary asylum and has left the airport.


    • kirill says:

      Good. It’s nauseating listening to US officials baldly state that Snowden is not a whistle blower. I see, so its the regimeniks who determine who and who is not a whistle blower. Things like objective facts are not important. For example, that Snowden exposed *illegal* NSA activity. Meanwhile every two bit degenerate criminal in Russia is some dissident hero to the west and its media mouthpiece.

    • marknesop says:

      I only had time to read a few of the comments, but they looked extremely positive.

    • yalensis says:

      I scanned a lot of the Russian press today. Most of the comments are overwhelmingly positive, even on liberal papers, there is so much pride that Russia did the right thing by Snowden.

    • Jen says:

      Yes, Snowden has been granted a year’s asylum and has gone to an undisclosed location. He’s still not out of danger yet; there’s a possibility that the US government may find a way to track him down even inside Russia. Does anyone see any irony in that? If the US can hunt Snowden down and kidnap or assassinate him in Russia without Russian authorities being aware of such activity, doesn’t that in itself discredit media reports about Putin and the Kremlin running an omniscient police state that can track people’s movements and whereabouts?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Welcome to the Evil Empire, Mr. Snowden!

        You may like it here.


        (Please note: The content of the above link does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Moscow Exile, who has had the pleasure of meeting many intelligent, attractive and pleasant women from the United States of America.)

  7. Misha says:

    An expected blowhard comment:


    In the US, this situation will IMO be somewhat diffused if Snowden isn’t in Russia before Obama’s scheduled visit to that country. Obama can still go to the G-20 meeting in question and avoid a customary one to one meeting with Putin.


    Propaganda from HRW:



    Bandar in Moscow:



    Confident Assad:



    Defense news items:



  8. yalensis says:

    More on Navalny campaign finances in Mayor’s race.

    Navalny, in his usual dodgy manner, is trying to circumvent campaign financing laws by depending on wealthy anonymous donors.
    Campaign laws require candidates to receive donations through the central bank, Sberbank.
    Navalny is circumventing this by having a couple of wealthy donors put money in Sberbank, and then asking his hamsters to compensate the wealthy donors via Yandex money transfers.

    This is actually a brilliant dodge, and by doing this, Navalny can kill 2 birds with one stone: collect a lot of dough, conceal the sources, and pretend that he is funded by the little people. (Actually, that is 3 birds.)

  9. yalensis says:

    My candidate Melnikov, on the campaign trail.

  10. Moscow Exile says:

    5th December 2011, Chistiye Prudy, Moscow

    General summary of what the Chosen One says and his devoted followers repeat:

    Navalny: We are!

    Hamsters: WE ARE!

    (Repeat over and over)

    N:We exist!

    H: WE EXIST!

    (Repeat over and over)

    N: We have a voice! We exist!

    H: WE EXIST!

    (Repeat over and over)

    N: They may laugh at us and our microblogs but “I’LL BITE THROUGH THESE BASTARDS’ THROATS!


    N: Party of crooks and thieves!


    (Repeat over and over)

    N: We shall never forgive and forget!


    (Repeat over and over)

    N: Putin is a thief!


    (Repeat over and over)

    N: Crooks and thieves!


    (Repeat over and over)

    N: We exist!

    H: WE EXIST!

    (Repeat over and over)

    N: We shall have the power!


    (Repeat over and over)

    N: One for all!


    (Repeat over and over)

    And so it goes on and on and on….

    I wonder if anyone wanted to ask him what his policies are?

    • reggietcs says:

      You don’t speak to the chosen one, well, you listen to em’………………

    • yalensis says:

      Navalny’s speech has been translated into Latin:

      Vocem habemus!
      Iugula bastardibus rodemus!
      Pars cleptarum et furium!
      Non condomanus, non ignoscamus!
      Putin est clepta.
      Potestatem habebimus!
      Omnes per unum, unum per omnes!

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Et clamavit voce stolidum vulgus Ave ducem! Morituri te salutant!

        • yalensis says:

          Tam pro papa quam pro rege
          bibunt omnes sine lege.
          Bibit hera, bibit herus,
          bibit miles, bibit clerus,
          bibit ille, bibit illa,
          bibit servus cum ancilla,
          bibit velox, bibit piger,
          bibit albus, bibit niger,
          bibit constans, bibit vagus,
          bibit rudis, bibit magus,
          Bibit pauper et aegrotus,
          bibit exul et ignotus,
          bibit puer, bibit canus,
          bibit praesul et decanus,
          bibit soror, bibit frater,
          bibit anus, bibit mater,
          bibit ista, bibit ille,
          bibunt centum, bibunt mille.


      • marknesop says:

        I think the “Woooooo” really makes it, gives it that contemporary feel.

  11. Misha says:

    Re: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/all-in-/52648421

    Former NSA analyst John Schindler (whose enlightened commentary on former Yugoslavia has been featured in The National Interest) describes Israel Shamir as a Russian government operative.

    Has Shamir been approached by Anglo-American TV media outlets? Has any of his commentary appeared in JRL? As a follow-up to the last question: agree, disagree or partially agree with Shamir, his commentary in Counterpunch isn’t less interesting than some of the sources preferred by JRL – a point that applies to some others besides Shamir.

    All the more reason to break away from the lavochka (crony) situation which has existed.

    This segment touches on Edward Snowden’s ability to successfully leave Russia for a country willing to accept him. If possible, there’s the matter of how safe and secure he would be in that other country in contrast to Russia.


    Re: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/all-in-/52648421#52648469

    This segment with David Remnick of The New Yorker, focuses on US-Russian relations. Emphasis is placed on the image of Russia having been humiliated in the 1990s, in a way that has created a boomerang effect. Issue can be taken with this perception. Russia has arguably rebounded relatively well from that prior period. Some present day realities is what appears to be of primary concern to the Kremlin.

    The Russian government is perhaps of the impression that if it can be expected to conduct “business as usual” with the Magnitsky Act and unfair portrayals of subjects like Pussy Riot, the US government can take some hits as well. Note that the Russian government has emphasized the view that the issue of Edward Snowden shouldn’t hinder US-Russian relations.

    • peter says:

      … lavochka (crony) situation…


    • kovane says:


      I can hardly claim the perfect command of the Russian language, but nevertheless, I read quite a lot. And I’ve never seen the word “lavochka” used in that context. Maybe it’s some kind of a buzzword popular in intellectual circles that I don’t belong to, but the way you use it sound very strange to my Russian ear. Just saying…

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Well, I’ve asked my mobile, living dictionary, Наталья Владимировна, and she says that there’s a meaning to лавочка that arises from the expression подпольная лавочка, which in English means something like a cellar where you store things away in secret, hence we have the meaning “a secret business or undertaking”.

        From this, we have the following definition of one of the meanings of лавочка:

        Темное, нечестное, сомнительное предприятие, затея; шайка нечестных людей, с корыстными целями поддерживающих друг друга.

        Устроили там лавочку.
        Это одна лавочка!
        Надо закрыть эту лавочку (прекратить это безобразие).

        [A shady, dishonest, dubious enterprise, venture; a gang of dishonest people who support each other out of selfish reasons.

        They’ve set up shop there.
        This is one shop!
        We must close the shop (so as to stop this mess.)]

        The word “shop” above having the meaning “shady business”.


        Is that not what “cronies” do?

        Is not “cronyism” that unethical support system employed by closed groups (i.e. “closed shops”), whose members offer each other mutual support purely out of selfish, unethical and often criminal reasons?

        See: АКАДЕМИК

        Now I really do hope that nobody accuses my wife of idiocy because she believes that the word лавочка also has the above described connotations.


        • peter says:

          Nothing wrong whatsoever with Наталья Владимировна and shady connotation, the problem is usage. Just show her those “lavochka situation” and “lavochka exists in one form or another” and see the reaction.

          • SFReader says:

            Usage in what language exactly?

            Misha wrote in English and English sentence using a truly foreign word does sound unnatural and awkward. It would be strange if it didn’t….

            • Misha says:

              SF Reader,

              What you raise isn’t so out of the ordinary. For example, at this thread, Yalensis used a Yiddish word. Languages the world over have periodically exhibited situations of utilizing foreign words/terms.

            • peter says:

              In Russian, лавочка is always a countable noun referring to a particular лавочка — you cannot make an adjective out of it or use it to describe a phenomenon. My Russian eyes hurt when I read monstrosities like “the lavochka factor” or “lavochka exists in one form or another”.

        • Misha says:

          As previously noted, two native Russian speakers of high intelligence say I got it right.

          Over the course of time, words and terms can be broadened out a bit. The “penalty box” in ice hockey has been used to describe non-hockey instances, involving a person who has been put in a suspended status for inappropriate manner.

      • yalensis says:

        My father used the expression “баба на лавке” a lot. Not sure exactly what it means, something like “gossipy wagging tongues” ?

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Yeah, it means an old gossip, old chinwag etc..

          They’re always sitting on their little bench outside the entrance to our block, watching, nattering,

          It’s the same in the country: they’re always there and they don’t miss a trick! They’re bloody murder.

          All too sadly, these change into these.

          О смерть, где твое жало, о могила, где твоя победа?


          • yalensis says:

            Joke I heard from my girlfriend regarding 2 Russian ladies. I forget the setup to the joke, but basically these 2 ladies met in prison, and were cellmates, they had each committed some kind of crime, although they both had husbands and families on the outside.

            So, anyhow, they have been sharing the same cell for 10 years. And they both get released on the same day. They collect their things, get out their cellphones and call their respective husbands to tell them they are on their way to the bus-stop and will be home soon.

            Ten hours go by, and both ladies finally arrive at their respective homes. And both husbands ask: “What took you so long?”

            And both say the same thing, “We left the prison yard together, but then we ended up sitting on the bench outside the building, because we had so much to talk about, and we just lost track of time….”

      • kovane says:

        Yes, now these are the two meanings that are common and widespread. “Подпольная лавка” – a shady firm that provides dubious goods and services, “бабка на лавке” – an unreliable source of information, rumour. But still not a coterie of close-knit experts that support each other’s opinions.

        • Misha says:

          While knowingly leaving out some others, who offer as good and in some instances better input. Instead, doing things like bad mouthing them in closed company, as well as negatively misrepresenting them elsewhere.

        • peter says:

          But still not a coterie of close-knit experts…

          Well, Russia House is surely какая-то подозрительная лавочка.

          • Misha says:

            You’re here for the purpose of turning a flame into a fire, to suit an agenda which is counter to my earnest pursuits.

            • peter says:

              Oops, I notice they didn’t invite you to their latest event. Do they no longer appreciate your earnest pursuits?

              • Misha says:

                You spend a good deal of time targetting me in a negatively inaccurate manner, which arguably serves to provide further evidence of what I’ve said.

                I’m by no means alone. At JRL, are the likes of Arutunyan and Guillory that much more worthy for propping than Shamir, the American Institute in Ukraine and yours truly? The honest answer IMO is no.

                I’m all for improving things by reducing the lavochka factor. This effort sees a basis to either change the emphasis placed on certain individuals and orgs and/or seek to have these situations changed.

                i judge people on their sincere ability to express themselves. I feel fortunate enough to know that I’m not a sleazy dirtbag like yourself.

          • AK says:

            Sorry, but what exactly is so suspicious about it? As far as such organizations go it’s pretty much an open book; typically organized on the fly, and with next to non-existent official support.

            Feel free to ask questions – I will be happy to satiate your curiosity.

            • peter says:

              A man is known by the company he keeps. Didn’t you translate a “fresh Kashin” the other day? «… с Александром Раром или Николаем Злобиным уже ничего не поделаешь…»

              • AK says:

                Translation at TRS does not, of course, imply agreement.

                In any case, I don’t believe Rahr is associated with AUM at all, whereas Zlobin gets invited probably largely on account of being based in the same city; certainly he is not deeply involved either.

        • Misha says:

          Moscow Exile,

          Thanks for the follow-up on the meaning of “lavochka”. For shitz and giggles, I tripled checked byforwarding this discussion to a couple of native Russian speakers, with a high level of education and intelligence – two attributes which aren’t always evident. These sources aren’t yes people. They’ve periodically taken issue with me. (They’re a stark contrast from the trolling likes of Peter.)

          Concerning the lavochka discussion, one of them replied with a simple thumb’s up yes answer. The other gave this reply:

          “The ‘Lavochka’ term is very old and was in use before 1917. You caught the meaning intuitively (after getting a prior explanation of it) and are using it correctly. ‘Pisaki’ is a polite term from the word ‘pisat’ – write, ‘pisatel’ – writer, that describes hack writers, or people of limited ability, who write low-culture comments. Such people are evident in internet discussions – whether on their own, or maybe doing a job. There’s little to stop their dribble. Sometimes it ‘s worthwhile to argue. Other times, it’s a waste of time.”


          On that last thought, I’ve become more prone to simply ignoring an insulting troll who appears at Leos’ blog. He’s a stupid bore, who rehashes the same diversionary BS. On the other hand, in a civil enough exchange, I willingly engage others with a different view from my own.

          As presented, cronyism (lavochka) and political biases have hindered a better coverage of former Communist bloc issues. Those liking the existing status quo have no motivation to seek change.

          The higher profile of venues can be definitely improved upon when it comes to giving a more complete and objective coverage.

          • peter says:

            ‘Pisaki’ is a polite term…

            Idiot. Писака is “scribbler”, simple as that, and писаки is its plural. Leave Russian alone Mike, you have enough problems with your own language.

            cronyism (lavochka)

            Idiot. What part of “countable” do you not understand?

            • Misha says:

              Like I said asshole (no hyperbole on my part), I don’t click into your hyperlinks. I’ll consider clear links that indicate where they’re directly going to.

              You’re either quite stupid, a liar, or likely both.

              In any event, you haven’t exhibited a good enough grasp to question the Russian language skills of my friends, as well as my use of the English language.

            • kovane says:

              That’s simply hilarious!

              Misha, I don’t know where you’ve found these highly intelligent and educated native speakers, but once again Peter is correct.

              “Pisaki” is the plural of “pisaka”, which itself is a disparaging form of the words “writer” or “scribe”, very close, as Peter noted, to the word “scribbler”. Nothing polite about it.

              Don’t take my or his word for it, after all I am only a dim prole, consult a good dictionary.

    • AK says:

      Regarding “lavochka”, I have only heard it in specific contexts, e.g. “time to shut down this lavochka” (aka shady business/scheme).

      The way that Misha is using it is… inventive and wide-ranging. I concur that it doesn’t sound very correct when referring to a general “crony-like situation.” There are many better alternatives, such as “clique” or “coterie,” or even “mafia,” that don’t rely on dubious borrowings from foreign languages.

      • Misha says:

        From the looks of things, it’s correctly being used. Refer to my comment above, which starts off with a thank you to Moscow Exile. Three different sources concur with my use on this particular.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      And just take a look at Zigfeld’s comment below the above linked Navalny blog!

      “It’s nonsensical to refer to Julia Ioffe as a “journalist” and slanders all genuine members of that profession. Ms. Ioffe is a partisan, a propagandist, a cheerleader, and nothing more.”

      The mind boggles!!!!

      Partisan! Propagandist! Cheerleader!

      And at last I can give faint praise to the Chosen One!

      Zigfeld writes:

      “My personal experience with Navalny is not encouraging, either. I criticize him, he blocks me from following his Twitter feed.”

      Not that Ziggy blocks anyone from her russophobic sites.

      • yalensis says:

        Wow, Larussuphobe is rocking it! I remember a time when Julia Ioffe was Kimmie’s protege, but now Kimmie sees through her bullshit. For the record, as Kimmie points out, Julia lied about the “moment of silence” to commemorate Bolotnaya, when it was actually a moment of silence to grieve for the volunteer who got bonked on the head and killed by the sound rigging. Just showing again what a terrible journalist Julia is. Or, if she got a fact wrong, she should have corrected it publicly and not let it stand.

        • yalensis says:

          P.S. On Navalny blocking Ziggy, I noticed that in the last few days Navalny has also started blocking commenters to his blog and even promiscuously deleting wide swaths of comments. He didn’t use to do that before. In this case, though, I don’t think he is so much blocking critics as shutting out some of his more ardent followers, the type who post links to white power websites.

          • marknesop says:

            I imagine that, too, is on the advice of the handlers who are grooming him for public office. I imagine you will see quite a few things go down the memory hole which might resurface to embarrass the candidate.

            Incidentally, if Navalny really were any kind of threat at all, Sobyanin or “The Kremlin” – scaryspeak for any interests that would not welcome a Mayor Navalny – would be sending questioners around to his pop-up public appearances to pitch questions at him that would be a lot tougher to answer than the softballs his hamsters lob to him. Maybe they should be, but I tend to agree with the view that Navalny is just a harmless kook who poses no genuine threat to the customary unfolding of events. I may be surprised, in which case I will have to wash Anatoly’s car in embarrassing attire. But I don’t think so.

            • yalensis says:

              “…would be sending questioners around to his pop-up public appearances to pitch questions at him that would be a lot tougher to answer than the softballs his hamsters lob to him…”

              Aha! But Navalny has deterred that threat in advance. His campaign appearances are surprise “flash-mob” events that are not announced in advance. The hamsters on his blog are clamoring to know where he will appear next, and Navalny’s handlers are telling them sternly: “Navalny’s schedule is top secret. Nobody knows it. Not even us.”

              As a result, Navalny just appears myseriously on some street corner in the middle of a working day. His entourage gather a few pensioners to sit and listen to him in apparent bemusement.
              The whole exercise is completely pointless, of course. The only mystery is why he is bothering to do this? He is about to be separated from his family for 5 years. Should he not be spending the time with them?

      • Misha says:

        Careful now.

        Might recall an Albatts-Arutunyan spat on Ekho Moskvy, which received some publicity. Some insiders informed me awhile back that Arutunyan leans in a Gessen-Albatts direction.

        • Misha says:

          As a follow-up, any pro-Russian identity expression (questionable and otherwise) will be opposed by the more hardcore of anti-Russian advocates.

          No surprise to see LR against Navalny. Ioffe in overall terms isn’t pro-Russian.

          Consider nationalist Riabchuk bashing Navalny. Has either LR or for that matter Ioffe taken issue with the kind of nationalism exhibited by the likes of Riabchuk?

      • marknesop says:

        I almost fell down when I read that. Well, figuratively speaking, I was sitting at the time, but still. I imagine there are a few readers here who still remember how Ioffe was canonized at La Russophobe, and how no criticism of her “work” would be tolerated. I can’t help wondering if there was some private falling-out there, too, in which Kimmie felt she was not receiving the proper amount of respect. I’m glad we have always been enemies, because I don’t think I could take the emotional roller-coaster of being a saint last week and a bootlicker this week.

        Actually, Ziggy’s comment was secondary overall to the article itself, which I ended mostly agreeing with. That was much to my surprise, because it started off so laudatory that I thought Brian Whitmore had temporarily animated Kevin’s body; it sounded just like RFE/RL. But of course it makes sense to offer both points of view, and I think the answer to the title question is no, Navalny has had zero impact on Russian politics – except perhaps for the message to Russians at large that anyone can be a candidate for political office in Russia if he/she says the right things and attracts the support of western political institutions. But any value in that observation is offset by the demonstration that in order to qualify for that support, ones goals for Russia and the goals of those western political institutions for Russia must be indistinguishable one from the other. That would still be okay were the west’s aspirations for Russia truly benevolent and supportive, but they manifestly are not.

        Navalny is a grifter and opportunist whose own true feelings for Russia are at this point unknown, because nothing he has articulated represents his own thoughts. On the one hand they are populist rhetoric for the locals, to lull them into giving up their vote based on the impression he is serious and means many beneficial changes for the country (and let’s face it, Moscow is a target of opportunity only because there is no presidential election before Navalny is likely to lose his appeal and be jugged), while on the other hand he is resolutely pro-western and reassures western think tanks and their tame press organs that he is their man. But I think at bottom he is loyal only to Navalny, and his intentions for Russia if he had the power to turn them into reality are still unknown. The west is happy to support him because it believes a president Navalny would weaken Russia and privatize everything. But would he? Perhaps, but nobody really knows.

  12. Aleks says:

    FYI, Senate strikes Super Tucanos and Mi-17 from appropriations bill (Flight International):


    There may not be much trade between the US & Russia, but buying 86 Mi-17s for the Afghan airforce slated for 2015 made sense because a) they have long experience of using this hardware, b) they are very well suited to afghan austere conditions, c) they are cheaper and easier to fix, though use more fuel and are less efficient but still cheaper than UH-60s. Stopping this deal would directly affect afghan military capability against a resurgent Taliban (If only deceased General Dostum had an equally capable relative) so by cancelling this deal would be the US cutting off its nose to spite its face (or maybe Gogol’s ‘The Nose’ in this case which I’ve read is actually about a castration complex!). It’s hard to believe that they would actually do that.

    If they did, Russia could retaliate simply by cancelling (or better, delaying) the sale of RD AMROSS RD-180 rocket engines to the US, used in ULA Atlas V heavy rockets that loft US spy satellites into the heavens. It’s amazing that this contract still exists.



  13. Misha says:

    This piece brings to mind what was brought up at this thread on Johnny Weir:


    On a related note:


    FYI, international sports bodies have frowned on political expressions by athletes during competition and at the awards ceremony. A Serb swimmer was stripped of his medal for wearing a “Kosovo is Serbia” during an awards ceremony.

    Mention was made at this thread of Tommie Smith (John Carlos as well) at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. At the Sydney Olympics, Cathy Freeman had no problems doing a victory lap with the Australian and her native flags because of her overwhelming popularity of herself and (from what I gather) her stand taken.

    • Jen says:

      The Australian second-place getter in the 200-metres race, Peter Norman, supported Tommie Smith and John Carlos giving their Black Power salutes by wearing a badge they gave him. For that, he was thrown off the Australian Olympic Games team for the Munich Olympics even though this meant the team had no representative in the men’s track and field events during those Games. Norman initially was not asked to participate in the Sydney Olympics opening ceremonies but was included only after the US Olympics team protested his being overlooked. Norman died of a heart attack in 2006 and Smith and Carlos flew to his funeral to be his pallbearers, but the Australian government still has not found the courage to apologise to his family for treating him so badly.

      A mural of the three men was painted on a wall in the Sydney inner suburb in Newtown; you can see a reproduction of it at this link:

      • Misha says:

        I recall that aspect.

        In the opening ceremony of the 1980 Moscow summer Olympics, there was a form of political protest allowed in the opening ceremony. At the time, Olympic delegations were permitted to do things like march under the Olympic flag, instead of their national variant (not sure how effective a protest was that) and/or have a black ribbon on top of the flag pole.

        I’m not offhand sure if the IOC still allows this kind of action. I offhand sense not (could be wrong).

        Sometime around the era of the early 1980s, I recall Sweden going thru a kind of PC period, which sought to deemphasize national identity at major international sporting events. Sweden’s ice hockey team briefly dropped the Tre Kronor (Three Crowns) national emblem on their jersey, in favor of the 5 Olympic rings. I’m no so in favor of that. IMO, a patriotically non-chauvinist approach to national identity is within reason.

        While sympathizing with issues like the 1960s US civil rights activism and the mainstream Serb position on Kosovo, I nevertheless see a reasoned basis for keeping such political expression away from major international sporting events. It leaves open the claim for many to promote a given advocacy at a ceremony intended for something else. Filed under the belief of a right time and place. There’s enough politics in the Olympics as is.

        Seeing how Kosovo cropped up in this particular discussion:


      • marknesop says:

        As a race we have made so many grotesque errors over the course of a lifetime that it makes you wonder if emotion and the power to reason should not be taken from us, so we could root in the dirt like hogs and be guided solely by instinct.

        The situation with the way blacks were treated at one time is in a way analogous to the present discussion in the new post; Black Power and Gay Pride, although the one was driven by race and the other by sexual orientation. But once upon a time, belief that the black people should be kept in their place and that intermarriage with whites would sunder the fabric of society was commonplace. There were marches and gatherings of black people, but those – if I recall history correctly, and we often do not where emotional subjects are concerned – were for the purpose of gaining rights, and ceased once that purpose was accomplished. Blacks seemed to genuinely want not only to be accepted, but to blend in and to become unremarkable by anything save for achievement. Here Gay Pride differs, and its proponents (once again, we’re talking mostly about activists and not about every single gay person) seem to want – nay, demand – an annual celebration of their sexual orientation that serves no real purpose other than to remind you that gay people are among us. This is completely at odds with the oft-expressed desire to blend in and be thought an unremarkable part of society as a whole.

  14. Misha says:


    WASHINGTON (VOR)— The U.S. political elite expressed great dismay over Russia’s decision to give NSA leaker Edward Snowden temporary asylum on Thursday.
    VOR host Crystal Park spoke with Mark Kramer, Program Director, Project on Cold War Studies at Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Kramer does not see any reason for the U.S. to be surprised by Russia’s decision. As much as Russia would have liked for Snowden to have found refuge elsewhere, or, better still, traded to the U.S. for convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout, they could not let Snowden wait in limbo forever. Kramer suspects the U.S. never took seriously the idea of trading Bout for Snowden. Likewise, given the unfortunate roughness of US-Russian relations in recent years, the Kremlin could not allow themselves to bow to U.S. wishes and hand him back to the Americans. Nevertheless, nothing in the Snowden affair portends a return to the nearly universal tension between the nations during the Cold War. Nor will it cause a permanent dent in US-Russia relations, in Kramer’s opinion.

    • Here is my interview yesterday on RT about Snowden, which touches on some of these questions. You can now see more of hideous visage and poncey accent.


      • Misha says:


        Is Larry King part of some kind of NY accented quota?

        Hope there’s no shaft evident. It has been known to happen.


        Here in the colonies, post-Soviet Russia has been likened to a frenemy. Let’s see what happens with Snowden. For now, it seems like he’s influenced on the idea that a safe transfer to a Latin American country might not be so secure for him in the long run.

        On Fox’s O’Reilly Factor last night, a realization was expressed that the US has limited options. O’Reilly was a bit shortsighted in suggesting that Putin should turn Snowden over for future consideration. He apparently doesn’t see the track record of post-Soviet Russia not getting anything back in return. In addition, O’Reilly appears oblivious at the positive feedback that Russia has gained among a good number in the West.

      • yalensis says:

        Dear Alexander:
        RT spelled your name wrong (=Mercuris!) – ha ha!

        Aside from that, it is a great interview, nice job!

        You don’t look at all like what I expected, I was expecting somebody very swarthy and Greek looking. And you are actually quite handsome. But yes, you DO have a poncey accent, that is a fact, LOL…

        • Quite handsome? Yalensis you make me blush! However my accent is indeed poncey. Well no one’s perfect.

          • marknesop says:

            You sound just like a lawyer, you great ponce, what are you?? Actually, I would characterize that accent as “plummy” rather than poncey, and I consider it an advantage in view of its target audience. Americans fall over in windrows before a public-school accent, they are stricken with the urge to believe everything it tells them because they have a secret vein of respect for “the old country” from which so many of them are descended, and secretly believe anyone with a plummy accent must be extremely well-educated and know more than they do.

            Nor is that your only advantage – you were born to pontificate on television. You look extremely self-assured and confident, never lost for words but never repeating yourself in that curious circularity many people get when the tiny red eye is on them – I remember reading a Stephen King description of the phenomenon once: “…conscious that his mind was broadcasting echoes of itself but helpless to stop it”. You came across as knowledgeable but not condescending, good-humoured but not a chuckleheaded simpleton.

            I saw an avatar of yours once, which showed you as a younger man, but I must concur with Yalensis that you have worn well, Mercouris. Now just let them believe your roots are Mayfair rather than Mykonos, and you’re quids in! Well done; I was a little bit proud even though I had nothing to do with it, and I’m glad it was you rather than me.

            • yalensis says:

              You’re right, Mark. Mercouris was born to be a TV host. He didn’t stutter and go “um”, not even once. And there is that cute little chuckle, which still sounds authoritative.

              • marknesop says:

                Well, bear in mind that he was unchallenged in this appearance, and while the host was not exactly feeding him softball questions, he was merely getting opinions on record and then moving on to the next question. Now a position has been established, and I am confident it will be challenged. Just like in court, when a witness makes a statement in a jury trial that is damaging to your case, just before a recess, as soon as the recess is over your side must bring him back for cross, and try to discredit it. You just can’t afford to leave that statement out there, affecting perceptions and making the jury – in this case, public opinion at large – rethink what they thought they knew. Politics is a dirtier and rougher game than law, but some of the rules are the same, and in a few offices people will be asking questions; who the fuck is this Mercuris guy?

                I think it is possible if not probable that the next offer will include an opponent with a far different perspective of the Snowden affair, and that ability to defend one’s position will be put to the test. Alex was, after all, billed as a “London legal expert”. Anything with “expert” after it is flinging down the gauntlet, if the viewpoint expressed contradicts a popular narrative. Also, there has been a determined effort to remove “whistleblower” from the media vocabulary, and Alex said it several times.

                • Misha says:

                  Americans at large as well as others will be more convinced with good point-counterpoint exchanges in a relatively well moderated exchange. Good media isn’t always about cosmetic matters. In a solo instance, the responsible journalist asks the hard questions, which shouldn’t be confused with being an obnoxious prick.

                  The bottom line is that the US government would’ve likely done pretty much the same in a reverse situation.

                  On the run. Will answer some other points in a bit.

          • Jen says:

            Dear Alex,

            I’ve just heard the interview now and your accent not only is not poncey but would not stand out at all here in Sydney. It was an excellent presentation.

            • yalensis says:

              His plummy accent wouldn’t stand out in Sydney? Are you sure??
              I thought everybody in Australia said “g’day” and talked like cockneys !

              • Well thanks guys. Perhaps I don’t need voice lessons after all.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Well done Alexander Mercouris!

                  Just seen the RT interview. Couldn’t before because I’ve been out in the sticks again, where the Internet connection is problematical and it would have taken ages to download. I’m back in Moscow now.

                  As far as Alexander Mercouris’ “plummy accent” and
                  cockney” and Aussie accents, those residents of former British colonies who contribute to this site are sadly misinformed: his accent is strictly RP (Received Pronunciation, sometimes called BBC English), is absolutely neutral to British ears, in that it is not primarily associated with a British region but with a social group.

                  There are, however, different types of RP. The “plummy” RP is that spoken by a tiny number of “Hooray Henry” Berty Wooster-types or “Sloane Rangers” such as the former Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson.

                  Plummy-RP speakers, for example, would pronounce the words “tire”, “tower” and “tar” in the same way, namely as /ta:/ (tah). I am quite sure that Alexander Mercouris does not pronounce those words after that fashion.

                  Northerner that I am, I would say the above three words thus: “tie-er” (rhymes with “fire”), “t-ow-er” (rhymes with “flower) and “tar” (rhymes with far). I would also pronounce my letters “r”.

      • Aleks says:

        RT News Mercouris clip@7:100


        RT: US has no legal ground to object to Snowden temporary asylum

        Published time: August 02, 2013 14:44


        “…The ball is in the American court now, says legal expert Alexander Mercuris.

        “The Russian authorities have been extremely careful to do this by the book. They have insisted on Mr. Snowden making a proper application, he has done it through a lawyer. There is a well-founded case here for asylum. The US has no legal ground to object to this,” Mercuris told RT.

        Mercuris believes Snowden’s intention now will be to apply for full refugee status.

        “If the US, none the less, want to jeopardize its very important relationship with Russia, because Russia has done something which it is legally, fully entitled to do, that is a decision for the US. Many will, I think feel, that if the US does that, the US frankly is behaving in a very strange and self-destructive way,” Mercuris concluded. …”

        • marknesop says:

          I thought it was a tour-de-force performance and that Alex appeared compelling and reasonable rather than arrogant and mocking. It will be hard to challenge the reasoned argument he presented, but I am sure an attempt will be made.

  15. Misha says:

    Regarding some comments made about Novgorod and Pskov during the Mongol era, someone said that these two areas had to pay a tribute. A quote from Pushkin was mentioned as well:

    Russia was ordained a high destiny… Its boundless plains engulfed the Mongol strength and stopped their invasion at the very edge of Europe; the barbarians did not dare leave behind their lines a subjugated Rus’ … so our martyrdom gave Catholic Europe the possibility of unhindered energetic development… But toward Russia, Europe was ever as ignorant, as it was ungrateful.


    This was also included:

    Some final, general comments – these trolls, as well as many “journalists” in the “free-if-you-can-afford it” media treat subjects in and on Russia within the scope of traditional Russophobia ,as well as if it was located on Mars – not within a historic context of the rest of the “Western world”, let alone the rest of the planet. One only has to read classical literature to see what was going on. Some facts to ponder:

    – Was there a feudal, fractured Europe, rife with civil war (the Hundred Years War, for example), some of it in this condition until the end of the 19th century? – Did Europe not have absolute monarchs, ruling by ‘Divine Right” before Russian rulers became “autocrats”?
    – Compare how long serfdom existed in Russia, and in what form (in the form described in the West, only after Peter the Great and until Alexander II) as compared to the rest of Europe, which for the most part continued the serfdom, often in forms close to slavery (with right of First Night, unheard of in Russia – but illustrated in Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro”), from the fall of the Roman Empire to 18-19 centuries, with the severe form of serfdom ending in 1918 in Austrian ruled Bosnia (Christian serfs owned by Muslims).
    – The ancient Russian city/town assembly was replaced by a National Assembly under Ivan the Terrible (while Europe had no such thing), and lasted until Peter the Great – who got his idea of absolute monarchy from Western Europe and abolished the National Assembly.
    – On the theme of Russian “barbarians” and “enlightened Europeans”, compare how Napoleon’s army behaved in Russia, inclusive of destroying and defiling Orthodox churches. When victorious Russian “barbarians” liberated Europe from Napoleon, there was no noticeable retribution, with Russian forces behaving in a comparatively more civilized manner.

    • SFReader says:


      Misha, you don’t know much European history, do you?

      Every single European country I can think of had medieval representative institutions – variously called Parliament, Estates General, States General, Cortes, Landtag, Rigsdag, Sejm, etc.

      In Russia they were called Zemsky Sobor and in fact, their appearance in Russia was rather late (16th century) and rather short (the last one was convened in 1684).

      Regarding absolute monarchy – this is also a European phenomenon, but by no means universal. Some European countries did manage to transition to absolute monarchy (France, Spain and most of German states as well as Russia), but King Charles in England failed and was beheaded for his attempt.

      • Misha says:

        Quickly relayed what someone communicated. Much like this quick reply. Will check back.

        Briefly –

        No need for you to carry on like a sarcastic shmuck.

        Perhaps you didn’t like my last reply to what you said. At least I was civil about it.

      • Misha says:

        Upon further review, there’s the view that the Veche (which you omit) and Zemskij Sobor in their time periods had a greater scope than your Western reference. On the latter, you seem to be actually suggesting, if not confusing later institutions that BTW had restrictions.

        The Zemskij Sobor was an enlargement of the Veche.

        Absolute monarchy was widespread in Europe at the time that the “Westernizer” Peter the Great tilted in that direction. Thereafter, the idea of a constitutional monarchy in Russia was being looked into. Alexander II was assassinated as he was leaning in that direction.

        • SFReader says:

          Veche in Novgorod, Pskov and a few other cities was purely a town assembly.

          Needless to say, every single city in Europe (and most towns) had them in some form or other.

          As for absolute monarchy being widespread in Europe at the time of Peter the Great, this is not true.

          European countries with closest relations with Russia like England, the Dutch Republic and Poland-Lithuania were not absolute monarchies. In fact, the former was a constitutional monarchy, the second a republic and the third was…an anarchic republic would probably the best description…

          PS. By the way, I think Russia was an absolute monarchy only in time of Peter the Great. After that Russian nobility and gentry acquired so much influence and power that they essentially run the country (frequently overthrowing and murdering czars who tried to put them back in place)

          • Misha says:

            Russian czars weren’t often assassinated. Alexander II wasn’t assassinated by nobility interests. Ditto Nicholas II.

            The Veche was far more than just a few areas besides Pskov and Novgorod, which had it the longest. The Veche extended downwards onto the territory now known as Ukraine. Awhile back, Andrew Wilson had a piece which erroneously suggested that the Veche was only in Ukraine.

            Note that some of the individual territories having the Veche were larger than most present day European nations. The assemblies constituting the Veche chose princes and made decisions on issues like going to war. The film on Nevsky shows this. I’m not of the impression that the West at large had anything like this at the time.

            • SFReader says:

              Let me count the czars…

              Peter III – overthrown and killed.
              Ivan VI – overthrown while still in infancy, imprisoned for the rest of his life and killed by prison staff during attempt to free him.
              Paul I – assassinated during the coup.
              Alexander II – assassinated by revolutionaries (but there does appear to have been a court intrigue involved)
              Nicholas II – overthrown and killed by revolutionaries

              The list of czars who weren’t overthrown and killed is much shorter – Peter II in 18 century, Alexander I, Nicolas I and Alexander III in 19 century.

              • Misha says:

                By no means approaching anything near a majority. Not all of them were killed for the benefit of a given nobility interest. I take it that the last comments on the Veche have been acknowledged.

                • SFReader says:

                  Novgorod and Pskov are quite typical medieval urban republics of which there were literally hundreds in Europe.

                • Misha says:

                  You bring up what was earlier discussed. Novgorod and Pskov were the last vestiges of the Veche structure on the territory of what’s now modern day Russia.

                  However, in an earlier instance, the Veche was evident throughout Rus, in places in the north like Novgorod, on down to Kiev. During this period, there doesn’t seem to be anything comparable to a single Western entity of considerable size with this kind of arrangement.

                • SFReader says:

                  I fail to see how the size of Novgorod’s colonial empire is relevant here.

                  If we are to judge democracy by geographical size, then the winner is surely the ting assembly of Norse Greenland which ruled over area larger than Europe and medieval Russia combined…

                • Misha says:

                  What “Novgorod colonial Empire”? I’m referring to Rus around the 9th century and thereafter. The latter day termed “Kievan Rus” highlights Kiev’s influence of that entity during that period. Prior to the Mongol sacking of Kiev, there were signs that the northern area in Suzdal later Muscovy was going to replace Kiev in influence. This is what happened after the Mongol subjugation.

                • SFReader says:

                  We know close to nothing about Rus in 9th century, but what we do know is that Novgorod did not exist back then (archaeologically the earliest finds in Novgorod date to mid 10th century)

                  Kievan Rus was essentially a family possession of Rurik’s descendants. Veche or similar assemblies had only limited role in a few cities and the country was ruled by Rurikid princes.

                • Misha says:

                  Your characterizations of a “Novgorod colonial empire” and Novgorod being “urban republics” are indicative of a lack of knowledge on the subject matters under discussion. As previously noted: at its zenith, the Veche was widespread from areas like Novgorod in the north, going down to Kiev. FYI, it’s well accepted that Prince Oleg of Novgorod had relocated to Kiev in the late 800s.

                  A good deal more is known about Rus than what you suggest. The maps of St. Olga’s Rus, the territory ruled by St. Vladimir’s grandmother, Olga (pre-988) doesn’t have most of modern Ukraine’s boundaries:

                  From Wiki as well as other sources, inclusive of some follow-up notes –

                  Western European medieval entities evolved from the Holy Roman Empire – the barbarian-ruled continuation of the fallen classical Western Roman Empire (not Byzantium) and these “communes” were based on commerce, and were quickly absorbed by monarchies (the Hanseatic League, both a commercial and defense alliance, which included Russian cities, endured longer). Some, like Venice and other Italian communes, and “a handful” of others, were able to gain more power as independent city-states, but their GOVERNANCE was still primarily in the hands of dynasties, and decisions regarding state policy, reform, going to war, as well as law, etc., was not open to decision-making by the population. The focus remained on commerce.

                  Rus-Russian entities evolved from Eastern Slavic tribes, their ancient traditions, specifically, Tribal Councils, and culture, which developed OUTSIDE of the Greco-Roman Empire, although they had commercial and other ties with it, as well as occasional clashes, from antiquity. These traditions are described by ancient classical historians, Byzantines Procopius of Caesarea and Mauricius, who knew them in the 6th century. Procopius of Caesarea writes in his “On Wars of Justinian”, describing the culture of early Rus: “These tribes, the Slavs and Antes (another name for Slavs) are not ruled by a single man, but from the most ancient times, have been living under rule of the people (democracy) and that is why for them, well-being and misfortune is considered to be a common concern for all.”

                  Therefore, the Veche network, which existed throughout all of Rus – from village and street to major towns and cities, was a natural development of the people’s most ancient traditions. A totally different event from the Western “typical medieval urban republics” – of which there were not many, at all, instead of the “hundreds” quoted by the hack – and their NATURE was different.
                  While Western European “communes” were based on commerce, the Veche was a Governing Body, which invited and “disinvited” Princes and other administrators, decided, by popular will all major policy, war, trade agreements, laws and legislation, land appropriation, collection of taxes, etc, etc. The Prince was chosen mostly for defense, and the Veche could curtail his policies even there, and administrators were the responsible parties for carrying out decisions of the Veche. The Church always played a role, in some cases the Prince was stronger, or the local nobility, or merchants, but the basic principle remained the same all over the huge lands of Rus. The descriptions of the Veche in the Rus Chronicles, also incorporated into Russian literature, are clear evidence.
                  This cannot be, therefore, properly compared with “communes, city-states” of Western Europe.

                  The Zemsky Sobor was the “Veche” of the entire country, instituted under Ivan the Terrible, who in his early reign was a very competent ruler. This consensus-building “Assembly of the Entire Land” was made up of representatives from all classes and regions, which were gathered to carry out political, economic and administrative decisions of national importance. Building on the ancient tradition of the Veche, this first Assembly on a national level was called in 1549 to endorse Ivan’s proposed modernizations and reforms. It was a 700-strong national Sobor in Moscow elected the 16-year old Michael Romanov, second nephew of Rurikid Tsar Fyodor, to be Tsar of Russia in 1613.

                  It would be amusing to see the “writer” show specific examples of a similar governing body to the Rus Veche in a Western European “commune or city-state”, and a similar event to the 1549 and 1613 Sobors in a Western European state or city-state”, of the same period.

                  During the 11th century in northern Italy a new political and social structure emerged ― the city-state or commune. The civic culture which arose from this urbs was remarkable. In some places where communes arose (e.g. Britain and France), they were absorbed by the monarchical state as it emerged. They survived in northern and central Italy as in a handful of other regions throughout Europe to become independent and powerful city-states. In Italy the breakaway from their feudal overlords occurred in the late 12th century and 13th century, during the Investiture Controversy between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor: Milan led the Lombard cities against the Holy Roman Emperors and defeated them, gaining independence (battles of Legnano, 1176, and Parma, 1248; see Lombard League).

                  Similar town revolts led to the foundation of city-states throughout medieval Europe, such as in Russia (Novgorod Republic, 12th century), in Flanders (Battle of Golden Spurs, 14th century) in Switzerland (the towns of the Old Swiss Confederacy, 14th century), in Germany (see the Hanseatic League, 14th-15th century), and in Prussia (Thirteen Years’ War, 15th century).

                  NOTE: THIS ABOVE, IS UNFOUNDED: town revolts led to the foundation of city-states throughout medieval Europe, such as in Russia (Novgorod Republic, 12th century) – what “town revolt” which led to the “Founding” of Novgorod as a city-state they are referring to is a mystery. Such is the reliability of WIKI.


                  Rural communes
                  The development of medieval rural communes arose more from a need to collaborate to manage the commons than out of defensive needs. In times of a weak central government, communes typically formed to ensure the safety on the roads (Landfriede) through their territory, to enable commerce. Perhaps the most successful such medieval community was the one in the alpine valleys north of the St. Gotthard Pass: it later resulted in the formation of the Old Swiss Confederacy. The Swiss had numerous written acts of alliance, so-called Bundesbriefe: for each new canton that joined the confederacy, a new contract was written. Besides the Swiss Eidgenossenschaft, there were similar rural alpine communes in Tyrol, but these were quenched by the House of Habsburg. Other such rural communes developed in the Grisons, in the French Alps (Briançon), in the Pyrenees, in northern France (Forêt de Roumare), in northern Germany (Frisia and Dithmarschen), and also in Sweden and Norway. The colonization of the Walser also is related. The southern medieval communes most probably were influenced by the Italian precedent, but the northern ones (and even the Swiss communes north of the St. Gotthard pass) may well have developed concurrently and independently from the Italian ones. Only very few of these medieval rural communes ever attained Reichsunmittelbarkeit, where they would have been subject only to the king or emperor; most still remained subjects of some more or less distant liege lord.[4]

                  Evolution in Italy and decline in Europe
                  During the 11th century in northern Italy a new political and social structure emerged and the medieval communes developed to the form of city states. The civic culture which arose from this urbs was remarkable. In most places where communes arose (e.g. France, Britain and Flanders) they were absorbed by the monarchical state as it emerged. Almost uniquely, they survived in northern and central Italy to become independent and powerful city-states. The breakaway from their feudal overlords by these communes occurred in the late 12th century and 13th century, during the Investiture Controversy between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor: Milan led the Lombard cities against the Holy Roman Emperors and defeated them, gaining independence (battles of Legnano, 1176, and Parma, 1248 – see Lombard League). Meanwhile the Republic of Venice, Pisa and Genoa were able to conquer their naval empires on the Mediterranean sea (in 1204 Venice conquered one-fourth of Byzantine Empire in the Fourth Crusade). Cities such as Parma, Ferrara, Verona, Padua, Lucca, Mantua and others were able to create stable states at the expenses of their neighbors, some of which lasted until modern times. In southern and insular Italy, autonomous communes were rarer, Sassari in Sardinia being one example.

                  In the Holy Roman Empire, the emperors always had to face struggles with other powerful players: the land princes on the one hand, but also the cities and communes on the other hand. The emperors thus invariably fought political (not always military) battles to strengthen their position and that of the imperial monarchy. In the Golden Bull of 1356, emperor Charles IV outlawed any conjurationes, confederationes, and conspirationes, meaning in particular the city alliances (Städtebünde), but also the rural communal leagues that had sprung up. Most Städtebünde were subsequently dissolved, sometimes forcibly, and where refounded, their political influence was much reduced. Nevertheless some of this communes (as Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Hamburg) were able to survive in Germany for centuries and became almost independent city-states vassals to the Holy Roman Emperors (see Free imperial city).

            • SFReader says:

              Perhaps a list of coups in Russia would be informative.

              1725, 1727, two coups in 1730, 1740, 1741, 1762, 1764 (unsuccessful), 1801, 1825 (unsuccessful), 1881, 1917

              Does this look like an absolute monarchy?

  16. yalensis says:

    Here is an interesting video of Putin speaking to the youth at the annual “Nashisty” Seliger Lake Summer Camp. Putin usually makes an annual appearance, but this year he just popped in for an hour or so to answer questions.

    This year’s “Seliger” had a slightly different format, in that it was opened up to youth of all political parties and persuasions, including KPRF and even “Kreakly”.

    Video shows Putin answering a question about Navalny posed by a “Kreakl”. This is new Russian slang term, popularized by Lev Shcharansky, it is short for “kreativny klass” (=”creative class”) and is often used jokingly to refer to liberal intellectuals.

    The “Kreakl” asks Putin straight out if Navalny is not one of his (Putin’s) special “projects”. Putin laughs off the question and cracks jokes, then makes a serious statement that people who orate about corruption need to be squeaky clean and pure themselves.

    • yalensis says:

      LAKE SELIGER, Russia – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday he was surprised by the five-year jail term a court handed down to Alexei Navalny, his top critic, when another man convicted in the same embezzlement case received only a suspended prison sentence.

      (Putin is referring to Opalev, of course. For starters, Opalev confessed his guilt and cooperated with the prosecution, that’s why he got a suspended sentence.)

      Putin’s comment was probably rehearsed in advance with the “Kreakl” who posed the question. In which case, it could be seen as an attempt to influence the KirovLes appeals process and get a more lenient sentence for Navalny. In which case, Putin is completely out of line, because he should not be trying to influence the ruling of the appellate judge.

      • marknesop says:

        What Putin will likely get for his pains will be condemnation from every side. While I doubt the question was rehearsed in advance with an individual who is plainly opposed, by virtue of his affiliation, to the present government, I imagine it was anticipated and prepared for, which is not the same thing. However, I imagine that accusation will be leveled by the likes of Latynina, simultaneously with scorn at the notion that Putin could be surprised by Navalny’s sentence since he personally telephoned Judge Blinov and told him what it would be.

  17. Misha says:

    This is typical in English language mass media:


    A well premised view to support trying to reach better relations with Russia includes certain negatively inaccurate comments.

  18. yalensis says:

    Navalny on the campaign trail yesterday (August 5).
    In the game “Spot the Doubles”, the pickings are slim today, I only find one. The first 2 photos are 2 different subway stops (Brateevo and Borisovo). I see one repeat: in Photo #1 he is the guy who is closest to the camera foreground (older guy with balding white hair and blue shirt).
    In Photo #2 I am pretty sure it is the same guy who sits in the front row directly in front of Navalny, only now he has changed into a white shirt and carries a black bag. I notice him because I am pretty sure I have seen him in photos from previous days, as well. He usually carries that black bag, which is probably a camera. Well, maybe he is a reporter, I don’t know. In which case he should not have bothered to change his shirt.

    Also of note:
    In Photos #3 and #4, Navalny’s audience was given blue umbrellas. Navalny brags:

    Хорошо, что у нас с собой были зонты. С ними, кстати, занятная история.
    Волонтёр штаба пошёл покупать в оптовую контору покупать 30 зонтов.
    Когда там узнали для чего нам зонты – дали 60 бесплатно.

    “It was good that we brought umbrellas with us. There is a story in that, by the way. A volunteer from our headquarters went to buy 30 umbrellas in a wholesale store. When they learned what the umbrellas were for, they gave us 60 without charge.”

    If that is a true statement (which I doubt – always keep in mind that Navalny is a pathological liar), then that is more good news for Navalny/Ashurkov. Every ruble NOT spent on this low-budget campaign, is a ruble (from their campaign fund) that they can pocket at the end of this farce.

  19. yalensis says:

    More on Navalny, here is that famous “Srok” interview with Navalny’s campaign manager, Leonid Volkov.

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