Arrested Development – The West Redoubles its Efforts to Derail Sochi

Uncle Volodya says, "People's behavior makes sense if you think about it in terms of their goals, needs and motives."

Uncle Volodya says, “People’s behavior makes sense if you think about it in terms of their goals, needs and motives.”

Surprisingly, there is an abundance of homespun wisdom on the subject of childish behavior in adults. “Behavior in the human being is sometimes a defense, a way of concealing thoughts and motives, as language can be a way of hiding your thoughts and preventing communication“, said Abraham Maslow, psychological pioneer and developer of the “Hierarchy of Needs” model. If you prefer your philosophy a little more lighthearted, P.J. O’Rourke says, “I like to think of my behavior in the sixties as a learning experience. Then again, I like to think of anything stupid I have done as a learning experience. It makes me feel less stupid“. German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said simply, “Behavior is a mirror in which everyone displays his own image“.

What, then, are we to make of western behavior as it strives ever more stubbornly for a boycott of the Sochi Olympic Games in Russia, under the aegis of gay rights?

Oh, and terrorism. There was a brief suspension of the daily braying about the incredibly dangerous climate in Sochi, centered immediately around the latest double bombing in Volgograd, in which the U.S. State Department released a brief “We are all Volgograders Now” type statement and in which foreign leaders expressed solidarity with fighting terrorism: then it was straight back to towing the gay-rights, homosexual-advancement bandwagon through the streets, and encouraging everyone to jump on.

At around the same time – attacking on another front – U.S. President Barack Obama announced that he would not attend the Olympic Games in Sochi (which he was not likely going to attend anyway; he sent Vice-President Biden to Vancouver in 2010 and First Lady Michelle to London in 2012), at the same time appointing “openly gay” athletes to the American delegation, for the sole purpose of “tweaking“, “slamming” and “sending a message to” Russia and Putin.

What message would that be, Mr. President? I mean, I’m sure Billie-Jean King will be all over it like Mr. T on…well, anything shiny, because attention is the lifeblood of politics and her escalation to leadership of the American delegation will focus attention on her new Political Action Committee, launched in 2012. LPAC is intended to channel funding to political candidates who support lesbian rights. Not human rights, or even women’s rights. Lesbian rights. LPAC “distinguishes itself from existing women’s and LGBT groups – such as EMILY’s List and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund – by specifically targeting lesbians.”

According to Ms. King herself, speaking as a homosexual, only 50% of homosexuals know who they are by the age of 13. I’m not sure where that statistic comes from, but since it is offered by a gay icon who should know what it is like to be gay, we are forced to give it due consideration. The remainder, she says, do not know until they are adults, presumably when some watershed moment reveals to them their true desires. If we assume that to be a fact, I am damned if I can understand why Billie-Jean King is throwing her weight behind opposition to a law which says you may not market homosexuality as a behavioral norm to children under 16. In theory, some 4% of children will be homosexual, and of those 4%, 50% will not realize their true orientation until they are adults. But in order to be comfortable with their orientation, children should receive reassuring information on same-sex relationships before they are 13, and since 50% of them will not even know they are gay until they are adults, you pretty much have to pitch it to them all, right? However, about 96% of them will actually be heterosexual. Is there any harm done by informing heterosexual children who are 13 and under about the pleasures of homosexual love? I couldn’t say; I’m not a psychologist. But if I were asked, as a parent,  if I thought basic sex education in schools taught kids what they needed to know about sex as a reasonable supplement to instinct, I would say I think so. If I were asked did I think a homosexual supplement should be added to the school curriculum, I would say I did not think so.

By her own admission, Ms. King knew she was a lesbian by 1968, but she kept it a secret until a lawsuit revealed it in 1981, 13 years later. Why? Because America was homophobic, and her parents were homophobic. Although she asserts that it cost her all her endorsements within 24 hours of the lawsuit’s being filed and at least $2 million – more than she made in prize money over her entire career – she dealt with it to the best of my recollection with courage and dignity, for which she deserves the respect such courage earns. I can’t help wondering, though, if she was bitter about her secret being blown to the world…and what she would have thought in 1981 of a bunch of crusading foreign busybodies trying to impose their “national values” on America, and insisting she come out immediately and be free.

But we live in a different world today; a world of tolerance and encouragement for human rights. Which reminds me – where’s all the American support for Jerry Sandusky? I mean, after all; all the visionary man was doing was encouraging boys to explore their sexual horizons and experience the piercing sweetness of homosexual gratification. I mean, when you’re gay, you know, right? For some unaccountable reason, mainstream America described Sandusky’s behavior as “disgusting and appalling“, and he was convicted of child abuse.

I'm layin' pipe, baby...all night long...

I’m layin’ pipe, baby…all night long…

Nor was that the only incidence of a clash between heterosexual and homosexual values at the unfortunate Penn State; my, no. Penn State Women’s Basketball coach Rene Portland instituted and maintained a firm policy for the teams she coached – no lesbians. Ironically, she was “outed” by those who thought they were endorsing her with positive reviews; “She does make it known when she’s recruiting that she doesn’t put up with homosexuality,” former Penn State player Suzie McConnell had told reporter Jere Longman, then with The Philadelphia Inquirer. Another former player, Patti Longenecker, had said, “She tells you, flat-out, ‘I don’t have any appreciation for the homosexual lifestyle. I won’t have that on my team.”

Those who are defensive about America’s human-rights record will be quick to point out that she was fired for her intolerance, but actually she was not – she was fired for insubordination because she refused to pay a $10,000.00 fine imposed upon her by Penn State for violating its anti-discrimination policy, after repeated lawsuits by gay-rights activists and after she had been employed as the Penn State Women’s Basketball coach for 27 years.

Oh, but those examples of intolerance were years ago, right? Au contraire. As recently as this past Monday, in a fit of open rebellion, the Utah State Supreme Court struck down gay marriage, and that ceremony will not be performed in Utah at least until a federal appellate court decides the constitutionality of the case on its merits, and in such cases, state law frequently prevails – especially since the Great Gay Victory which resulted in the modification of the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) struck down only provision 3, which provided that marriage was the state of union between a man and a woman. Performance and recognition of gay marriages was still left up to the discretion of state law.

In light of these facts, what message does America mean to send by selecting gay athletes for the American delegation based on their sexual orientation?  That it is pathologically incapable of minding its own business? Mission accomplished.

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1,806 Responses to Arrested Development – The West Redoubles its Efforts to Derail Sochi

  1. marknesop says:

    In other news, Ukraine’s cash flow is sliding into the toilet, and its bestest pals the EU and USA are talking over an aid package for Ukraine. Russia is still not allowed to visit Ukraine , ’cause that would be bullying and that is “unacceptable”, but Leddy Ashton is on her way to Kiev now. She will be wearing a Union Jack micro-mini, and word is that she hopes the knockout combination of her patrician accent and killer legs will persuade Yanukovych to do as the EU wishes.

    I was kidding, of course, although Leddy Ashton does have killer legs. Except the killer is Jeffrey Dahmer. No, I’m afraid there are conflicting signals, because although many sources say the aid package is definitely not tied to an association agreement and the EU absolutely does not want to be seen as getting into a “bidding war” with Russia, it begs the question why they could only come up with a paltry € 600 million before, and in order to get that Yanukovych had to free Yulia Tymoshenko and admit he put her in prison only to stop her from running against him.

    There’s a catch, of course, and that’s why I was kidding when I said Ashton would try to seduce Yanukovych – she probably will not even talk to Yanukovych. No, the EU is playing its old divide-and-conquer game and continuing the narrative that the Yanukovych government has “lost its legitimacy”. That apparently means the EU can just form a new government, and its intention to offer the aid to a new government which will “implement reforms” suggests it will be the Klitschko/Yatsenyuk axis which gets offered the money, in return for which it will have to deliver a pacified and compliant Ukraine. I still can’t see it happening.

    “However, Ashton said the amount of money, which “won’t be small,” would be dependent on political and economic reforms, a transition that analysts said would be unlikely to be led by Yanukovych’s government.

    “I have doubts that anyone from the current government can expect an aid package given to them because they’ve been so discredited by the wrongdoings … there is widespread corruption,” said Solodky. “The aid package will be for a pro-democratic and pro-reformist government.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/02/03/ukraine-europe-united-states-president/5185407/

  2. peter says:

  3. peter says:

    • Drutten says:

      …Yes, because the lightweight partitions haven’t been installed yet in every bathroom. This has been made clear by the organisers, so I don’t quite understand this… Well, as a matter of fact I do. When viewed in the light of the deliberate misrepresentation, courtesy of the BBC, of a bathroom that had since been converted into a storage room, it all becomes rather clear.

      To save face, everyone set out to try to find similar things elsewhere and sure enough, they found a few examples where the dividers were still missing, among the thousands of bathrooms in the area. Nevermind the caveat that these things weren’t quite ready yet.

      Oh well. I guess my predictions came true, lacking anything substantial to criticise it all came down to banalities in the end.

      • kirill says:

        It’s a rabid Russian toilet fetish amongst the western media. They really should do more of what they used to do (e.g. the CBC) and shove the TV camera into seat hole of Russian outhouses. Shock the world with Truth (TM) about Russia.

        • patient observer says:

          Banality has crossed over into anality among western commentators.

          • Jen says:

            Phenomenon of Western commentators regressing to the anal stage of Freudian psychosexual development which parallels with the regression to Cold War fantasies about Russia and Putin as the new Soviet Union and Stalin.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Earth closets were not uncommon when I was a schoolboy in some districts of the area where I lived over half a century ago. The “night soil” men used to collect the contents of the “middens” every month or so. And some of the “toilets” were lined up side by side at the back of the old colliers’ rows in big yards: no indoor toilets and no hot rrunning water those days.

              Those 19th century dwellings that I can recall were only knocked down in the early ’70s, and 10 years later the whole place was de-industrialized, so now there are neither collieries left nor earth closets.

              Never saw any Pravda or Izvestia photo-journalists, though, snooping around those yards and outhouses and taking pictures to show how the proles lived in Merry England.

    • marknesop says:

      Oh, give it up already with the double toilets, for the love of God! Nobody cares except for western journalists and third-graders.

  4. Fern says:

    The Wall Street Journal is reporting this on the proposed US/EU offer. Catherine Ashton might describe it as ‘not small’ but it sounds as if it’s going to be ‘not big’ either:-
    ‘The U.S.’s expectation is that a transitional government would at least start to implement the reforms sought by the IMF, U.S. officials said.
    “Nobody is going to give them money if they’re not doing the economic reform as well as the political reform, because then it is money down the rat hole,” the senior U.S. official said. “The point is to say to them we will be with you if you walk this tough economic path and we’re not going to let you fall into default as you do it.”
    U.S. officials said the interim aid package could be put together relatively quickly, in as little as two weeks, once the West knows who will sit on the transitional government and that it will be empowered to work with the IMF. “We’re just at the beginning of analyzing the options,” a senior U.S. official said.
    U.S. officials say they knew from the start that the U.S. and EU wouldn’t and couldn’t match the Russian financial package to lure Mr. Yanukovych away from the EU.’

    Ashton is also suggesting that whatever deal is arrived at, not all of the ‘aid’ package is going to be paid in money – she’s talking about ‘investment opportunities’ and ‘guarantees’. Ukraine seems pretty close to the financial edge – do any of the opposition leaders (or the current government) have any plans at all to deal with this?

    • marknesop says:

      It appears the EU is not going to be told, “No”, and is just going to go ahead and start treating Klitschko and Yatsenyuk as if they were the transitional government: to basically set up and fund a shadow government, in the hope of broad public support when the public sees that the “shadow government” has the wherewithal to begin implementing reforms on its own, and that with its EU contacts it can get them started in business ventures with EU customers. In this way, as best I can see, the EU hopes to run a second and parallel government, and then further hopes that Yanukovych will get tired of fighting the inevitable and just kind of fade away as the Klitschko/Yatsenyuk axis outpaces him. That way the transition will be relatively painless, as the government(s) will consist of Yanukovych and Klitschko/Yatsenyuk, and when people cannot get satisfaction from one they will go to the other, and then one day it will just be Klitschko and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, or perhaps as soon as Yanukovych is out of the way it will be President Tymoshenko and Prime Minister Klitschko. If Angela Merkel couldn’t get anything she wanted plus a free pair of shoes out of a government like that, well, I don’t know what it would take to satisfy her.

      It’s fraught with risk, though; for one thing – and it’s a big thing – it must be illegal. You can’t just set up a puppet government loyal to you in a sovereign nation, without a vote by the electorate, and announce you will do business only with your pet government. There would be a revolt by the east, and even if there were not, Yanukovych would be within his rights to consider it an act of war and order the army to throw them off the property. It just leaves me jaw-agape, the continuing and ongoing cheek of the EU, all the while blatting that Russia is bullying Ukraine. Incredible. I can’t for the life of me understand why Yanukovych keeps struggling to pretend everything is normal, and doesn’t say “Ummm….can I ask you what the fuck you’re doing?”

      The best I can figure is that the EU has given up on trying to dislodge Yanukovych, and is now trying to push its chosen rulers in the direction of governing a seceded Western Ukraine which includes as much land as it can get away with. Perhaps it figures that when the rest sees how prosperous the seceded west will be, there will be no stopping a reunion with the whole controlled by the EU. But still, you can’t just come in and do shit like this. Somebody has to say something, otherwise they will just keep on pushing.

      • reggietcs says:

        This has to be a joke right????

        Where and HOW will this government function without accommodations such as administrative buildings, tax collecting enforcement and the big one: a military?

        If Yanukovych allows this to slide, chances are that the East will revolt on its own accord and Yanukovych will become effectively irrelevant. Now effectively ignored by the opposition and his supposed constituency, what he does or doesn’t do simply won’t matter since he’s pretty much proven he’s incapable of doing anything anyway – which is why Ukraine would be at this sorry point in the first place. It’s Yanukovych’s lack of action that is prompting the EU to go to these extremes because they seem to be quite certain that he won’t do anything about it — and so far they’re right about that.

        I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sitting leader this incompetent. Simply incredible.

        • teo says:

          Yanukovich is not weak.
          His party has a very weak position and very powerful enemies.

          Of course the behavior of the western group is illegal and defies any norms of international or national law. But that is irrelevant. Any attempt to restore order would have been met by a huge media campaign against the bloody dictator killing his own people. Plenty of money and volunteers would have flooded to the heroic revolutionaries.
          Emotions would have run high. Western media and its local outlets would have provided plenty of horrific images about large numbers of heroes killed by the bloody beasts of the murderous dictator.

          The above chain of events was exactly what US and NATO payed and prepared for. So in order to resist and stay alive Yanukovich had to avoid any attempt to impose order. Just delay any action and squeal all the time. I mean talk about peace and trying to get friendly with the goons burning the police officers in the streets.
          Best case scenario for him was the revolution transforming into a blood bath. Impressive the level of control NATO security structures have on their assault brigades in Ukraine. They managed to stop the boys from burning the country down. And they were so enthusiastic bringing freedom and democracy by burning stuff down.
          So because nobody went violent we basically have a stalemate now. Revolutionaries made some violent mistakes but they have a larger margin of error, so those were affordable.
          Now the revolution is fizzling down so NATO has to do something about it. Otherwise it looks like a defeat. They gave their best and it all boiled down to burning some police officers, some tires in center of town and making a mess of it, and then going home. A collapse into irrelevance. Hard to mobilize the base again and recover a serious image of the revolutionary forces.
          Western provinces live off money transfers from the Eastern ones. So the taking over of provincial governments is for show. Something akin to Black South Africans taking over Ciskei and Trankei.
          The flurry of diplomatic and political activity by NATO is an attempt to compensate the weakness of the boys on the ground.

  5. yalensis says:

    Continuation of the Dozhd TV channel story.
    Recall how Dozhd sly mocked the activities of the Leningrad Seige anniversary memorials. (Jan. 26 was the anniversary of the lifting of the Nazi siege.)
    On this day, which is holy to many Russian families, Dozhd posted a snide “poll” asking viewers if the Stalinist government should have just handed over Leningrad to the German invaders, in order to “save lives”.

    Reaction from the Russian public was so furious that the owners of the parent cable company “Tricolour TV” decided to exclude Dozhd from their channel line-up, effective 10 February.
    Dozhd owner Alexander Vinokurov admitted that this exclusion will mean the end of Dozhd as a profitable TV channel..

    So, guess who gallops to the rescue of Dozhd?
    None other than our gallant Knight Alexei Navalny , who is launching a “consumers rights” and “anti-monopoly” movement to save Dozhd.
    Navalny will be launching his campaign on his blog.

    One should always keep in the back of one’s mind that Navalny stems from a half-Ukrainian family that has some Banderite roots and sympathies. This simple ethnic fact explains a lot of his otherwise inexplicable actions.

    P.S. as I said above, I don’t support censorship. However, this is a private cable business, and the private owners have the right, according to the rules of capitalism (which I also don’t support) to add or remove channels as they please, based on ratings and other indicators. If bumped off the channel line-up, Dozhd always has the option of becoming a web-based media/portal, or whatever. It’s not like their liberast views would be driven underground. So people shouldn’t feel too sorry for them.

    • yalensis says:

      And on above topic, here is an interesting piece of research from the Russian blogosphere.

      This blogger alleges that the Dozhd channel was originally created on the “corrupt money” of Kudrin, this was back in 2008, Kudrin allegedly “took” 135 billion rubles of government funds to create the liberal channel Dozhd on behalf of media oligarch Vinokurov.

      Over the years, Vinokurov has invested 40 million dollars of his personal wealth, in an attempt to keep the channel afloat, however nothing would help: Dozhd has been losing money and hemorrhaging with predictable regularity. It only ever pulled in 12 million dollars of revenue, and has always operated at a loss.

      According to Forbes, Dozhd used “administrative resources” to insert itself into a cable channel line-up. In other words, this channel was never popular enough to be on a major line-up, and was just a liberal project that had friends in high places in the government (=Kudrin).
      Under normal circumstances, Dozhd would be saved by American money, however after te 2013 NGO laws, they can’t take foreign money any more. Hence, being unpopular and unprofitable, the channel is doomed. The latest “Leningrad seige” stunt is just the nail in the coffin.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, that’s exactly right – Dozhd and others like to take things right to the edge, claiming the old rules no longer apply, and then when they run into problems, squeal and fall back on the old rules, while claiming it is the ossified state that is moving against them because it can’t stand the heat. Maybe I’m getting old, but I can’t stand the modern attitude of being deliberately offensive in order to shock people into acceptance of a particular agenda and then claiming to be beat up upon when people are upset and don’t want it, at which time they are claimed to be toadies of the government and resistant to change which would benefit everyone.

      We should not be surprised at Navalny’s reappearance; he has been invisible since his failed mayoral campaign and probably was grinding his teeth in frustration waiting for a vehicle which would catapult him back into the limelight of western attention he loves so much.

  6. yalensis says:

    Extry! Extry!

    Saakashvili is rushing off to Munich to support his good friend Vitaly Klichko.
    Saak arrived in Munich on February 1 to insert his snout into the discussions about Ukraine. (even though he wasn’t formally invited to the talks)
    Saak says he received an invite from Ukrainian Opps.
    Saak is BFF with Klichko, they have been pen pals for several years going back, when Saak was grooming future leaders for Ukrainian Oranges..

    Gruzia DOES have an official delegation to the Munich talks, a member of which Saakashvili is not.
    The official delegation is headed by Gruzian PM Irakly Garibashvili.
    Another official Gruzian delegate, Tedo Japaridze took the Izvestia reporter aside and whispered in his ear: Ukrainian Opps just don’t “get” that Saakashvili is a hated figure, and his support only repels decent people.

    • marknesop says:

      Saakashvili, however, is just like Navalny and misses the bright lights and attention and everyone sticking a microphone in his face. Always the same old figures, do they not get that it will make Klitschko toxic in many Ukrainian minds as a liberal fifth-columnist and western stooge? Centrists who might have accepted him will be turned off, but nobody can say “No” to the Columbian Georgian who speaks 5 languages.

      Mind you, Saakashvili’s counsel on how he himself came to power in a western-backed coup would probably be valuable to Klitschko, and I see John Kerry will be there also to meet with the opposition leaders and give them their marching orders.

      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/31/ukrainian-protester-kidnapped-tortured-kiev-bulatov

      Live it up, boys – western political figures just cannot seem to get that their closeting and cuddling with opposition leaders merely makes those opposition leaders look like western puppets. Lady Ashton – you know, the expert diagnostician-from-afar who said she was “appalled by the obvious signs of prolonged torture” in Bulatov –

      http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2014-02-03/europe/46962075_1_kiev-president-viktor-yanukovych-protest-leader

      shuttles in and out of Kiev like she has a vacation home there, and Victoria Nuland will be there again as well. Putin aide Sergei Glazyev describes the situation in which Yanukovych finds himself as a “creeping coup”. But more and more it looks as if the west is trying to provoke civil war which will end in a split, as its reporting regularly uses language like “Ukraine more divided than ever” and regularly refers to the threat of civil war.

      • marknesop says:

        I see also on the Moscow Times – which is increasingly unavailable and seems to be having problems – that the intrepid Ambassador McFaul is indeed leaving Moscow, just like earlier speculation before Christmas suggested and which he mockingly denied at the time. Maybe he didn’t know. Surprise, Mike!! Now the rush to choose a successor, at least for public appearance, although that’s probably already done. I say, why bother.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          It’s been down for a while now, has MT.

          The last story I saw in that rag about McFaul was that he’d broken a finger playing basketball last week.

          He’s off to Sochi next week.

          I wonder if, when he’s there, he’ll publicly give some bloke a big sloppy one on the mouth – only a token gesture, mind you – as the Grauniad has advised that visitors to the games do in defiance of the Evil Homophobic One?

  7. Al says:

    Dosvidanie McFaul!

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/us-ambassador-russia-stepping-down-124620397.html#Hu7QFHo

    ..The ambassador announced his departure in a blog post on Tuesday, saying he would leave after the Sochi Winter Olympics..

    • yalensis says:

      Пора, мой друг, пора! покоя сердце просит —
      Летят за днями дни, и каждый день уносит
      Частичку бытия, а мы с тобой вдвоём
      Предпологаем жить, и глядь — как раз умрём.
      На свете счастья нет, но есть покой и воля.
      Давно завидная мечтается мне доля —
      Давно, усталый раб, замыслил я побег
      В обитель дальную трудов и чистых нег.

      (Pushkin, of course)

    • kirill says:

      After all his chumming and photo-ops with seditionists and terrorist wannabes in Russia he probably lost usefulness. Any kind of interaction with him was likely of the most token variety.

      But I don’t expect the next US ambassador to be any different.

      • marknesop says:

        I think his masters must be more than a little disappointed in his complete lack of results. I mean, he went to Russia as a known democracy fetishist, but he was seasoned enough as a diplomat that he probably expected to not only thoroughly liberalize the Russkies, but to make them like it. I grew to dislike him less during his tenure rather than more, because he actually seemed like a nice guy and he did relatively unconventional things like appear on Russian talk shows where he had to think on his feet in a foreign language, which he actually spoke fairly well. But I won’t be too sorry to see him go home, and relations are so poor between Russia and the USA now that they could just leave the post vacant for all the difference it would make. I’m sure they won’t, and I’m sure the new appointee will be a bright-eyed democratizing regime-changer, too, because the USA doesn’t quit. I nominate Kimmie Zigfeld.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Nah! There’s only one man in the USA that has the political nous to deal with Russia in the capacity of US Ambassador.

          Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s hear it for Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski!!!

          Note Brzezinski’s taken out of context “the disintegration of the Soviet Union was greatest calamity of the 20th century” meme so beloved in the West, whereas this is what Putin actually said:

          “Прежде всего следует признать, что крушение Советского Союза было крупнейшей геополитической катастрофой века. Для российского же народа оно стало настоящей драмой. Десятки миллионов наших сограждан и соотечественников оказались за пределами российской территории. Эпидемия распада к тому же перекинулась на саму Россию.

          “Накопления граждан были обесценены, старые идеалы разрушены, многие учреждения распущены или реформировались на скорую руку. Целостность страны оказалась нарушена террористической интервенцией и последовавшей хасавюртовской капитуляцией. Олигархические группировки, обладая неограниченным контролем над информационными потоками, обслуживали исключительно собственные корпоративные интересы. Массовая бедность стала восприниматься как норма. И все это происходило на фоне тяжелейшего экономического спада, нестабильных финансов, паралича социальной сферы.

          “Многие тогда думали, многим тогда казалось, что наша молодая демократия является не продолжением российской государственности, а ее окончательным крахом, является затянувшейся агонией советской системы.

          “Те, кто так думал – ошиблись. Именно в этот период в России происходили крайне значимые события. В нашем обществе вырабатывалась не только энергия самосохранения, но и воля к новой свободной жизни. В те непростые годы народу России предстояло одновременно отстоять государственный суверенитет и безошибочно выбрать новый вектор в развитии своей тысячелетней истории. Надо было решить труднейшую задачу: как сохранить собственные ценности, не растерять безусловных достижений и подтвердить жизнеспособность российской демократии. Мы должны были найти собственную дорогу к строительству демократического, свободного и справедливого общества и государства”.

          Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and compatriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself.

          “Individual savings were depreciated, and old ideals destroyed. Many institutions were disbanded or reformed carelessly. Terrorist intervention and the Khasavyurt capitulation that followed damaged the country’s integrity. Oligarchic groups – possessing absolute control over information channels – served exclusively their own corporate interests. Mass poverty began to be seen as the norm. And all this was happening against the backdrop of a dramatic economic downturn, unstable finances, and the paralysis of the social sphere.

          “Many thought or seemed to think at the time that our young democracy was not a continuation of Russian statehood, but its ultimate collapse, the prolonged agony of the Soviet system.

          “But they were mistaken.

          “That was precisely the period when the significant developments took place in Russia. Our society was generating not only the energy of self-preservation, but also the will for a new and free life. In those difficult years, the people of Russia had to both uphold their state sovereignty and make an unerring choice in selecting a new vector of development in the thousand years of their history. They had to accomplish the most difficult task: how to safeguard their own values, not to squander undeniable achievements, and confirm the viability of Russian democracy. We had to find our own path in order to build a democratic, free and just society and state“.

          The above is the official Kremlin translation of what Putin said at his Annual Address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on April 25, 2005.

          I have added my stress on the indefinite article before “major geopolitical disaster of the century“, whereas Brzezinski chooses in his adress to use the definite article “the”, notwithstanding that neither definite nor indefinite articles exist in Rudssian – nor do they in Polish for that matter!

          Brzezinski then goes on to mention other great calamities of that century – the two World Wars etc. – implying that Putin considers these events as less calamitous than the “disintegration of the Soviet Union” because of the definite article “the”, whereas Putin only categorized the collapse of the USSR as “a major geopolitical disaster of the century“.

          Apparently, Brzezinski still lives in the 20th century: around 1960 or thereabouts, I should imagine.

  8. Sam says:

    I’m off to Sochi! I can’t believe the day has finally come! With all the hysterical squealing from the media and the ridiculous declarations and behavior of some western “leaders”, I really feared it was going to be cancelled/boycotted.

    Just to report on the administrative aspect of things, this trip has been by far the easiest to plan. I got my visa so quickly (4 days) that I thought the Visa center called back to ask for more details, not to tell me my passport was ready for pick-up. My spectator pass was immediately approved and I got it in the mail two weeks after the request.

    Anyway, I’ll be in Sochi on the 6th, and attend the Opening Ceremony on the 7th. I’m sure It will be the experience of a lifetime!
    .

    • marknesop says:

      I’m glad to hear it; have a great time, Sam!!! I’ve seen some reports that journalists are having trouble getting connectivity, but if you go to an internet cafe you should have no problem. You’ve been to big events before, no doubt, so you know it will likely never be as crowded again as it will be this time. Anyway, if you can drop us a line from time to time and let us know how it’s going, you can be our very own eye on the Olympics, because nobody else I know will actually be there. Again, I hope you have a wonderful time – be safe!!

    • yalensis says:

      That’s so thrilling, Sam!
      Good luck and have a wonderful trip!
      When I watch the Opening Ceremony on TV, I’ll be thinking about you.

  9. Al says:

    A rare correction:

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/correction-russia-vodka-story-134704929.html#HpmawHO

    AP: Correction: Russia Vodka story

    LONDON (AP) — In a Jan. 30 story about the impact of vodka on the risk of dying in Russian men, The Associated Press reported erroneously that the probability of U.S. men dying prematurely before age 55 was less than one percent. The rate is about 10 percent.

    A corrected version of the story is below:

    Vodka to blame for high death risk in Russian men

    Study: Vodka responsible for high death risk in Russian men, binge-drinking a major problem

    By MARIA CHENG

    AP Medical Writer

    Does russophobe western reporting have a bad effect?

    http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/winter-olympics/25932270

    BBC: Sochi 2014: Gay snowboarder Belle Brockhoff will limit protest

    .. Australia’s Belle Brockhoff also says her parents are worried for her safety.

    “I’m not afraid to express my opinion after the Games, but I don’t want any official to pull me aside or someone stop me at the border,” she said.

    She added she would not do “anything crazy”, like wave a rainbow flag at Russian president Vladimir Putin…

    .. She added that her parents are “so worried” about her competing in Sochi and send her messages all the time.

    Her father is concerned the media will “crucify” her in the lead-up to these Games, which start later this week, while her mother fears her daughter may be targeted by Russian police.

    “I’m sure Putin’s already reading about me or other athletes who have said things,” added Brockhoff…

    Well well. If only Sochi cold be more like tolerant Australia. Wait! Trenton Oldfield, Oxford-Cambridge boat race protester, argued before the UK courts against his deportation back to Australia that he “could not take his wife, Deepa Naik, who is of Indian descent, or his daughter back with him because Australians were “passive aggressive” racists.”

  10. Al says:

    BBC: Boat Race protester Trenton Oldfield: Home Office deportation bid criticised

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-25504051

  11. Jen says:

    Article by the Herald Sun newspaper (owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation) on Sochi:
    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/more-sports/despite-all-the-negative-buildup-to-winter-olympics-host-city-sochi-is-a-beautiful-city/story-fnibbyyv-1226817101887

    Note that the article says that security is noticeable but low-key and patrolling officers do not have visible weapons, and that (heh heh) some journalists are facing a shortage of hotel rooms which will trigger a storm of criticism on Twitter and keep our Peter busy posting tweets here.

    • Drutten says:

      So basically, the venues, the housing and the surroundings are all absolutely beautiful, the service is great and all the peripherals are running smoothly.

      But as minor nitpicks, a snowboarder said that the snowboard ramps weren’t quite comparable to the world’s best, there are some unfinished buildings in this unprecedented Caucasus construction hotspot, there is an unconfirmed rumor about brown tapwater somewhere and some journalists haven’t gotten their rooms yet.

      A success, I’d say. The stuff that is criticised now is either A. based on misconceptions about somebody elses money or B. minor nitpicks regarding things that are in no way unexpected given the scale of it all.

    • marknesop says:

      I was going to say maybe some western sources felt a little bad at the eagerness with which everyone in the English-speaking “journalism” business piled on as soon as they got the signal, and hoped to make amends now that a boycott is practically impossible. But then I read the article. It still hits all the high points about corruption and the enormous cost and the brown water and bla, bla, bla, just a bit of praise sprinkled on another shit sandwich.

      I guess Torah Bright has a lock on the gold for snowboarding. She’d better, after she criticized the course as substandard.

      And in case anyone was wondering what kind of gossip rag they were reading, note the story at the bottom right: “Putin’s “flame” may light up Sochi”; yes, Alina Kabayeva, Putin’s “rumoured lover” despite there not being a single shred of evidence to connect them beyond that she is an attractive woman and he is a man, may be extended the honour of lighting the Olympic flame at Sochi, probably so Putin can sneak up behind her and cop a squeeze of her ass. I wonder if she will bring their children.

      I had to get the actual story somewhere else because the link in the paper yields an internal server error.

      Tune in next week for news about the latest film starring my rumoured lover, Keira Knightley.

    • Jen says:

      More photographs of the Winter Olympics Games venue at this link:
      http://www.news.com.au/sport/sochis-shocking-secret-its-absolutely-beautiful/story-fnl6khi7-1226817110277

      The article is the same as in the previous link but the pictures have changed: a picturesque aerial view of Rosa Khutor and a photo of two security guards in the market-place.

      • marknesop says:

        Ah. There was no hotlink in the first article to Torah Bright’s bitching about the snowboard course (or if there was, I missed it). It now turns out that she did not actually see it, and her complaint was based on the fact that Russia did not use the designer who in her opinion makes the best courses – the USA’s Snow Park Technologies. So if she doesn’t win gold, it’s because the course was so easy and boring that she fell asleep on the way down. Torah Bright is 28 years old, knows everything, and although Australian lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

        • Jen says:

          She’s lucky Udo Gurgel and Stantec Architecture didn’t design the snowboard course.

          http://www.canada.com/story_print.html?id=2c275e90-23c7-4e88-953e-7422d65af4de&sponsor=

          • yalensis says:

            The International Ski Federation is responsible for selecting the course designer in Sochi, who is Swedish snowshaper Anders Forsell. He is directing Russian workers.

            Whereas I mourned Kumaitashvili’s death on that madhouse luge track, I am not sure I would be able to squeeze out a crocodile tear for that spoiled Aussie brat, Torah Bright.
            Let’s just hope that Anders did a good job moving snow around with the snowcats and built a nice safe course for Torah. Would be a shame if somethin’ was to happen to her out there on the half-pipe…

            • Jen says:

              I’d heard that at the Vancouver Olympics, minnow nations whose Olympians were unlikely to win any medals were given short practice times while countries with medal prospects were given longer practice times with the Canadian competitors receiving the most amount of practice time by the officials. The 30-minute practice session that Nodar Kumaritashvili was given (during which he died) was the only session allocated to him before competition began.

              • marknesop says:

                Ah; that’s a good point. Of course the Canadians got the most practice – many of them live here, as BC and Ontario are the main sources for winter sports athletes, and I imagine those who do were skiing and boarding the courses as soon as they were finished. And now that you mention it, I do recall that was a complaint, that the Canadians got too much practice. Mind you, that was in the final week when Canada actually started to win medals; before that, when it got off to a very slow start, mockery and snickering ruled the day. This piece, by American Assrocket Graham Kates, made me so angry that if I had heard he was run over by a truck and killed, my first reaction would have been to cheer. But once Canadians began to build up a respectable medal count, then the talk turned to their palpable dishonesty because they got too much practice. Which advantage you would sort of think would have emerged immediately. Crafty of them to keep it under wraps until the final week.

                As a matter of fact, that’s another thing I hate about the Olympics; the gloating of journalists when their country is racking up lots of medals. It’s not enough to rejoice in a great performance by their own athletes, which is only to be expected and which every country could understand – no, they have to mock and belittle countries who are not doing as well, as if that enhanced the pleasure of victory. As it probably does, when you’re in Grade 6, or the mental equivalent thereof. Maybe it’s not the Olympics I hate, but journalists.

                But it’s a sensible argument that the Georgian luger would have had to maximize his time on the course for practice. I suppose the beam should have been padded, as well, although there are guides on both sides of the track right the way down the luge track and I don’t imagine anyone though a racer would climb the walls until they flew right off the course. And at the speed they are traveling, padding might well have made no difference.

          • marknesop says:

            Yes, I remember that incident and it was extremely unfortunate. Also unfortunate is that the progression of world records is toward faster, harder rather than slower, easier, and that the Georgian luger who died was just running the course for practice but achieved very nearly the top speed possible for the course. Is it practical, do you think, on an unfamiliar course which you are running for the very purpose of assessing it and probing it for hazards, to just point your sled downhill and let ‘er go?

            Torah Bright quite likely can handle whatever challenges are presented – she is, after all, a gold medalist – but her complaint was founded completely in the course not being designed by her favourite, and she seems to imply it is not fast enough, so I guess there’s no pleasing some people; if it’s too fast, you made it deliberately dangerous because you want to risk athletes’ lives to feed your ego. If you make it safer you are a pantywaist who does not dare to live on the edge. As I said, she better win gold because she has just put it out there that she is so good she could do this course in her sleep, and she has yet to even run it.

            The practice of letting one or a minority of athletes dictate the expensive reworking of a course to suit individual preference, which was once unheard-of but which is becoming commonplace, and the reality that higher records cannot be achieved without making course on which greater speed is possible when it may be the humans have reached their full potential in the sport and bearing in mind that people of much less than Olympic calibre are going to be using it after the Games are over merely contribute to my belief that the Olympics has become something it was never intended to be and should be dropped.

  12. kirill says:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/the-costly-distraction-that-is-vladimir-putin-s-sochi-olympics-1.2521816

    Don “Professional Russophobe” Murray excretes more nuggets of his wisdom. My policy is not to take seriously any piece that claims the cost for the Olympics is over $6.5 billion, but this is a sample of the brainwashing Canadians get on their own tax coin. I would find some opinion piece like this at Global or CTV much less galling.

    “Costly distraction” really now? This is not Rome and its games at the Coliseum.

    • marknesop says:

      Bla, bla, bla. The Olympics serve as a costly distraction from the “growing problems in his empire”. Like what? Like the lowest debt in the G-20? Like the third-largest cash reserves in the world? Like a standard of living that has more than doubled in a decade? Oh, dear; but they have potholes in the roads and double toilets. Someone fetch me the smelling-salts, I feel faint – it’s probably the stench of corruption.

  13. kirill says:

    http://www.finmarket.ru/currency/news/3611537

    The savings of Russians grew 19% in 2013 compared to 2012. Not too shabby for a “stagnant economy”. The high savings rate was one of the causes of the growth of Japan and the Asian Tiger economies. The savings rate dynamic in my view further puts into question the GDP figures being released by GKS. I suspect that aside from methodological problems (i.e. over-estimation of inflation) there is a policy to make Russia appear weaker and less threatening to the foaming at the mouth west. Russia needs a window of peace and quiet to develop and cannot allow itself to be dragged into conflicts over Ukraine or some other, pardon my French, shithole.

  14. kirill says:
      • Moscow Exile says:

        What are they trying to say as regards Putin’s fondness for posing with wild animals?

        Is it really all the idea of Putin’s PR team?

        Perhaps he does have a keen interest in wild life? If he does, I shouldn’t think that would make him unique in his tastes?

        He might even have a way with animals. Russian reports of that animal centre visit, where the picture above was taken, say that the leopard was seemingly content alongside the Evil One but then it suddenly got angry… with the journalists, which is quite easy to understand, actually.

    • yalensis says:

      Awwww!! that’s so fucking cute!
      The leopard likes him too, see how he puts his paws on Putin’s legs.

      Animals seem to like Putin. The leopard looks relaxed and content. Although with cats, sometimes it’s hard to know…

  15. kirill says:

    They have moved from filming/photographing closeups of toilets to those of the alleged menu. Looking at this image I do not see anything wrong with it. I have seen similarly overcooked vegetables around the world at different hotels and even restaurants. If this monkey wants Szechuan style stir fry then he should get himself the fuck to a Chinese restaurant.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Apparently, Merkel is not overly fond of dogs and the spin on this story was that Putin knew this and therefore had his Labrador stroll in in order to unnerve the German chancellor, hence the smirk on his face.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Which, of course, all just goes to prove that Putin is one evil bastard.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          With reference to Western journalists’ fascination with toilet facilities at the Sochi games, I trust things have improved in China since this article appeared in 2012 and in which it is claimed that “Beijing spent nearly $57 million to get its bathrooms up to par for the 2008 Olympic Games“: Beijing’s Public Toilets to Become Fly-Free

          Never mind the bathrooms! What about the state of the toilets?

          🙂

          Bear in mind, I’ve experienced toilets like those pictured above in Russia: the last time was in 2002 in St.Petersburg at the Moscow railway terminus at the end of Nevsky Prospekt, which all goes to prove that Russians aren’t Europeans but Asiatics…doesn’t it?

          Hellenic (or Roman Empire – not sure) communal
          toilets
          , Ephesus, Turkey.

          Modern visitor to communal Roman toilets – note abscence of toilet paper (paper yet to be brought to Europe from China) and use of sponge and its washing in running water gully after use.

          • marknesop says:

            Funny you should mention that, because my wife and mother-in-law returned only and hour or two ago from Vancouver, where they visited the U.S. consulate to interview for a transit visa for the latter, since she is a permanent resident rather than a citizen. Apparently you wait for your interview outside in the street (normally not a big deal, I guess, but today was the second-coldest this winter at -9 and tomorrow is forecast to be the coldest at -16). However, they returned agog over the fact that the bathroom for guests is communal, for both genders. Apparently they found it a little awkward.

            The only place I’ve ever personally seen that before was in France.

          • carman says:

            Turkish toilets? They were standard for some parts (mainly the Turkish parts) of the Soviet Union. Apparently they stimulate better circulation in the lower body and lower risks of some kinds of cancer. Some idiot journalist posted a sign from Sochi on twitter and HP and thought the shadowy figure squatting over the toilet meant “no upper deckers.” Visitors from the Arabian peninsula, Central Asia, East Asia, and even parts of Russia are known to approach the throne types of toilets by squatting over them.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              I’ve seen them in France as well – stainless steel and spotless ones in Paris even, in smart restaurants, and at the little lay-bys/picnic spots on the Routes Nationales there.

              For some reason or other, those squat places were called jokingly in the UK “Shanghai toilets”, a term that I should think came from the Royal Navy.

              Actually, I think they’re more hygienic, especially in eastern countries, than your usual Western European pedestal toilet bowl.

              Shanghai toilets are commonplace at railway stations here. And even when toilet bowls are installed, the natives, especially those from Central Asia, still climb upon them and squat over the bowl. In fact, I’ve often seen toilet bowls in the country that had a flight of steps made out of bricks mortared together and standing either side of the bowl and which had been constructed so as to give ease of access for those who wished to squat over the pan. That was how it was in the student hostel where I Iived in the late ’80s when I was a student in Voronezh.

              The big – really big!!! – downside to the Shanghai toilets, though, is that where they are installed soon become full of swarming flies, because the hole is always open: I’ve never seen one with any kind of lid on it, and there is no water trap, the waste pipe going straight into the sewerage system, so, as you can all well imagine, these places usually hum in summer – especially in the south and east.

              • Jen says:

                I guess if you live in a country where squatting, kneeling or sitting cross-legged on the ground is the norm when you are not standing, moving or sleeping, and Western-style chairs with legs are exotic novelty items, then sitting Western-style on toilets would not come naturally and might even cause backache and strain leading perhaps to constipation in someone used to squatting.

            • marknesop says:

              I understand the journalists’ fascination with foreign bathroom habits; when I was part of a naval exercise called EASTLANT (Eastern Atlantic) in the 80’s, we visited England and picked up one of our sailors from the ALGONQUIN who had been left behind when ALGONQUIN sailed with the NATO Squadron. He was doubtless up to no good and very likely drink was at the bottom of it, but he seemed quite cheerful in spite of his predicament and the comeuppance he was likely to get at home, and was well-liked and perhaps even envied among those of us who were not well-traveled. He had brought along a sample of British toilet paper such as was commonly available in public toilets, to take home and show the folks. It appeared to be made of unprocessed wood fibres and was as abrasive as a belt sander; the effect on the unwary must have been like dropping your bare ass onto a surface planer while it was running. Certainly an argument for going easy on the roughage.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                That must have been down South, in “Guzz” (Plymouth/Devonport) or “Pompey” (Portsmouth), where they’re all soft-arses.

                Up north they use emery paper – at least posh Northerners did when I was a lad.

                • marknesop says:

                  It was, in fact, Portsmouth. I am tempted to submit you to the Moscow Times as a fascinating resident of Russia who can place a person anywhere in the UK by the type of toilet paper he uses. I’m sure they would jump at it, because the notion fairly screams “freak”, and the Moscow Times loves a freak story in Russia. It would be almost worth it for the reaction of angry betrayal when they learned you are an Englishman.

        • yalensis says:

          Putin looks so evil in that photo that he could be mistaken for a Bond villain!

      • marknesop says:

        I think she is afraid of big dogs, and her expression and body language do suggest extreme discomfort. A few Russophobes tried to make a big story out of it, as you say, and suggest Putin knew of it in advance and did it just to terrify her, but they’ve met several times since then and there was never a dog there again. I imagine he did not know. My wife is afraid of large dogs as well, although she does not dislike dogs in general.

        Merkel, however, seems to have not forgotten it and now also seems determined to get back at him for scaring her.

  16. peter says:

    • marknesop says:

      Go the fuck home, then. I’m sure it’s nice there.

    • reggietcs says:

      As if ANY of these people would have anything positive to say anyway.

      Many of these “journalists” went to Sochi with the mission of wrecking the games and that’s what they’re attempting to do.

      Did Kevin Bishop actually post pictures of the “floorless” reception area?

  17. peter says:

    • yalensis says:

      “Cakes in ass” is considered a delicacy in some Russian towns.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Perhaps the silly ass couldn’t work out the Russian for “cake assortment”.

        I’ve often eaten ass. Ass flesh is a tasty addition to many Eastern European salami: it adds a certain piquancy to the flavour. I knew old Germans who used to prefer Hungarian salami for that reason and who complained about how EU regulations had spoiled the quality of traditional German Wurst.

      • marknesop says:

        In the privacy of their own homes, of course.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          I have never eaten ass in Russia, though, and not, I may add, because of any legislation against my doing so, which legislation, if such were to exist, would of course be a gross infringement of my human rights.

          I have, however eaten horse flesh and drunk mare’s milk here. There’s a fermented mare’s milk drink that the Khazaks and other Easterners drink that I like as well: it’s called kumis.

          They used to reckon that it was a good preventative medicine against tuberculosis.

  18. yalensis says:

    Yanukovych will travel to Sochi to attend the Games. Peskov says he will meet with Putin while there.
    More importantly, scroll down and watch the unrelated video in which Banderite mob loots a building and steal everything that isn’t nailed down. (after breaking windows, defacting with graffiti, littering, and probably shitting everywhere)

    http://www.kp.ru/online/news/1650159/#

    • yalensis says:

      In related story, American Vice Prez Joe Biden called Yanukovych on the phone and demanded of him that he call the special cops (American equivalent would be SWAT teams) off the streets and engage in dialogue with the rampaging Banderites [my words, not Biden’s].
      Bully-boy Joe demands that Yan form a new transitional government that includes Opps.

      I wasn’t privy to the conversation, but I am guessing Yan muttered something like “Yes, dear, yes, dear, anything you say, dear.” and then hung up the phone and ignored him.

      • marknesop says:

        I’m sure they realize now what an opportunity they blew off when Yatsenyuk said “No” to Prime Minister. Now they’re trying to negotiate that back into the script, except likely with a guarantee that would prevent Yanukovych from simply de-appointing him as soon as things settle down. And they probably want Klitschko to have it rather than Yatsenyuk, who is about as charismatic as cheese curd and as dynamic as novocaine. He would likely be dreamily compliant in the office of PM, but the hard part would be selling him to the Ukrainians he would have to pretend to govern. These, though, are all reliable signs that the “revolutionary rebellion” has lost momentum and is no longer popular if it ever was; now its western backers are trying to pretend they are still negotiating from a position of strength, when they originally envisioned they would never have to talk with Yanukovych again at all – that he would simply be bulldozed out of office and badda-bing, badda-boom, new transitional rebel government which would snuggle with its western advisors before making any decisions.

        It makes me laugh out loud how one of the western leaders’ key demands is always that the government withdraw all its regulatory forces and abandon all public property to the cause of public protest – just pull back to the palace, boys, and let ’em run wild. Create the appearance that you have lost all control and that there is rioting in the streets, so we can say “He has lost all control, demonstrated by the rioting in the streets. It will be necessary to restore order and implement a transitional government: this one has clearly lost legitimacy, as the disorder attests”. Has anyone ever responded positively to such a suggestion, I wonder?

  19. Drutten says:

    @dchesnokov @OlgaKhmylev Люди на Западе не знают правды, им врут. Я уезжал из России в 99-м, это было ужасно. Путин сделал Россию лучше.— Ruslan Salikhov (@rushockey) 5 februari 2014

    • Drutten says:

      Well well, I am clearly not nearly as adept at linking tweets as our friend Peter.

      At any rate, fun twist on the old “no snow in Sochi” bullshit:
      http://lenta.ru/news/2014/02/03/zhukov/

      Apparently it’s been snowing so much lately that the organisers are now scrambling to get rid of excess snow that could impede the competitions.

      This just keeps getting better. But of course, some slightly dodgy menu translations are top news now.

      Oh, I almost forgot. The HRW timely released a compilation of a few old videos of gay beatings in Russia (from the last couple of years or so), LiveLeak compilation style. Oh, and instead of mentioning that people have been brought to justice over homophobic hate crimes and put in jail, they repeated the Fry/Laurie (who was it, again?) thing about the cops being “passive onlookers”.

      Sigh.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        This “funny foreign English” thing is a regular feature in the British right-wing Telegraph.

        What always makes me smile about this, though, is that those mocking foreigners’ mistakes in English are anglophone monoglots: they take the piss out of mistakes in English made by non-native speakers of that language without having any knowledge of any other language themselves.

        A major criticism made against the appointment of Catherine Ashton as foreign minister, as it were, of the EU was that she had absolutely no knowledge of any other EU member state language whilst others that were vying for this highly remunerated appointment could speak at least three other EU languages besides their own: English, French and German.

        She got the job though – and a “title” as well.

        “Lady” Ashton was brought up not 3 miles from where I spent the first 40 years or so of my life and, as regards foreign languages go, is typical of that region. When I was last back on my old patch with Natalya Vladimirovna, my spouse suddenly began nattering away to me in a shop in Russian. (She was trying jeans on and asked me if her backside looked alright in them, hence the private conversation in Russian.)

        After my wife had posed that question and gone back to the changing room, the shop assistant asked me: “Whereabouts in France is your wife from, sir?”

        “Why do you think she’s French?” I asked.

        “Because she was just talking in French to you”, she replied, “…wasn’t she?”

        • Patrick Armstrong says:

          But, speaking as one husband to another, how did you answer that explosive question?

          • Moscow Exile says:

            I take it, Patrick, that your question is addressed to me.

            I answered that question as I always do: “И так всё прекрасно выглядит” – “Everything looks just fine to me”.

            I was, of course, being absolutely truthful in my response!

            🙂

      • peter says:

        Well well, I am clearly not nearly as adept at linking tweets…

        Copy, paste, post. Done.

  20. Fern says:

    “Although with cats, sometimes it’s hard to know”. I’m afraid I have to contradict you here, Yalensis. Writing as the hoomin of two cats, they don’t do subtlety when it comes to their likes and dislikes. Other than brute force (and there’s no sign of that in the photo), there’s no way to hold a domestic cat let alone a leopard somewhere it doesn’t want to be.

    The photo was taken during Putin’s visit to the Persian Leopard Building and Rehabilitation Centre at Sochi National Park. Being a bit of an animal nut myself, this is a terrific project which started some years back to rebuild the leopard population that was pretty much eradicated in the 1950’s. These cats, like the Siberian tiger, are rare and If this was taking place anywhere else in the world, it would be widely publicised and celebrated. Since it’s happening in Russia, of course, it’s depicted quite differently.

    I had to smile at Belle Brockhoff’s comment “I’m sure Putin’s already reading about me or other athletes who have said things”. This is just so typical of a certain sort of western ‘activist’ who believes that they are the centre of the known universe. You just know how disappointed they are going to be if they’re NOT picked up by the FSB. After checking in at their hotels, they probably spend the first half hour in their rooms shouting slogans into lightbulbs and lampshades where they imagine the microphones are hidden.

    • Jen says:

      Putin must have more superhuman powers of observation than does that venerable old bearded gent who sits on his throne on a white cloud high in the firmament observing little children in bed at night and making sure their hands stay put by their sides or under their cheeks on the pillow.

  21. Drutten says:

    It seems like various Russian athletes and sports journalists are becoming increasingly disgusted with the ridiculous Western media campaigns.

    In other news, the first dog shelters have opened in Sochi, by popular demand. Guess you won’t hear about that though, since it’s now a widely known fact that Sauron hates dogs with a passion and enjoys strangling little puppies.

    • reggietcs says:

      And the Russian athletes can counter this by giving the best damn performances of their lives and countering all of the low expectations the Western AND Russian media have for them.

    • kirill says:

      That’s the plus from all this hate drivel aimed at Russia. Russians are waking up and smelling the coffee. The more the west shrieks the less power that assorted Navalnys, Nemtsovs, and whatnot have. Western elites must be in some sort of tantrum on account of their current circumstances. Declining economy in the west and growth in Russia and elsewhere. They probably know that by 2020 things will be in a crisis that will make 2008 look like a joke. But they do not see a way out.

    • yalensis says:

      That’s because, if a man is being tortured continuously, the stress causes all his facial hair to fall out. This is a known scientific fact, the clinical term is “alopecia Bulatova”.
      The good news is that, once the victim is safe in Lithuania and free of stress, then his beard grows back instantaneously, without any need for rogaine.

      • Fedia Kriukov says:

        What about his ears? Do they grow back?

        • marknesop says:

          I see Lithuania – not surprisingly, I guess – promptly rolled over and backed the Ukrainian opposition’s and Leddy Ashton’s assertions that Bulatov showed evidence of brutal and prolonged torture. Naughty Lithuanians – don’t you know your nose grows long when you tell lies?

          Just my opinion, of course, but I’d be willing to bet most of the signs of “cruel treatment on his body” can be attributed to doughnuts rather than crucifixion.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            My! Just look at that scratch on his left cheek. Clearly the result of 8 days’ torture.

            And it certainly bled a lot. He was absolutely soaked with blood that gushed out of that scratch that clearly cut deep to the bone.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              That scratch when it was first revealed to a shocked public:

              The Walking Dead!

            • Jen says:

              You can bleed quite a lot from cheek wounds and scratches and other wounds about the head as the blood supply is usually rich. Nerve endings in the cheeks are abundant too which is why children don’t usually like having their cheeks pinched. One of my brother’s children when she was a toddler hit her head against the edge of a cupboard and made a gash near her temple while mucking about in bed at night and the wound bled so much her parents panicked and called an ambulance. The paramedics just put a bandage on the wound and said the bleeding made the wound look worse than it really was.

        • Jen says:

          I predict the Blessed Saint Bulatov’s ears will suddenly appear whole with no trace of scars, once he lands in Latvia or Lithuania, just as the stigmata on his face and hands will also mysteriously heal themselves. Just wait until he flies back to the benighted lands of Ukraine, then he will go dog-eared again and his wounds will weep anew. Only when Ukraine is freed of its Mordor shackles and comes blinking into the light of Orangestani democracy will Bulatov become a complete human being again.

          • yalensis says:

            Bulatov is the Fisher King.
            Vitaly Klichko is Parsifal.
            Yatsenuk is Gurnemanz.
            Yulia Tymoshenko is Kundry.
            Yanukovych is Klingsor. No, hold that: Putin is Klingsor. I don’t know who Yanukovych is.

            • Jen says:

              Wait a minute! Aren’t Latvia and Lithuania also the EU-member countries with similar laws against disseminating information about homosexual and other unconventional sexual behaviours and life-styles to minors?!

              So the Blessed Bulatov’s ears might heal but still burn with righteous fury on Baltic national soil.

  22. Moscow Exile says:

    And the Grauniad continues to beat out that same monotonous rhythm on that same, tired out old drum: John Amaechi: ‘Silence in the face of attendance in Sochi is complicity’

    And the person interviewed in the above article adds a little more to spice up the human rights indignities that abound in Sochi:

    Amaechi adds that while the anti-gay laws, which campaigners claim have led to an increase in homophobic attacks, have garnered the most attention, the Russian authorities were also guilty of other human rights abuses in the run-up to the most expensive Olympics in history. ‘I first heard about Sochi in the context of migrant worker abuse, then I heard about the environmental issues and then I saw the LGBT laws come in’.

    He forgot to mention the diabolical plan to cull dogs in Sochi, though.

    Dogs have rights too, you excuse for a human being!

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, everyone be sure to speak out in support of the ongoing sanctification of sex for pleasure. No sitting on the sidelines – if you’re not pro-gay, then you’re anti-gay. Ambivalence is just a long word beginning with “A”.

      The Grauniad has been told so many times that minor children in Russia are under 16, not under 18, that it is apparent they are doing it deliberately to confuse the issue.

  23. Moscow Exile says:

    Yes, the Grauniad is now pulling out all the stops in its maniacal campaign against Russia as the opening day of the Sochi Olympics fast approaches.

    Here’s Shawn Walker on the man who nailed his ball-bag to Red Square and about whom everyone has forgotten: Petr Pavlensky: why I nailed my scrotum to Red Square

    And some wag has replied:

    I don’t think it will make a vas deferens to the situation in Russia.

    Absolutely bloody brilliant!

    🙂

    • yalensis says:

      Another great comment from “waspjuice” (5-FEB, 4:24 PM):
      “Somebody should get the sac for publishing this.”

      • yalensis says:

        Also:
        “nailed it!” (The DogShouterer)
        “I prostate myself before the altar of your wit” (GorillaPie)
        “Will the situation in Russia stay the same? It’s semen that way” (Steve Back)
        and
        “human rights really are getting shafted over there at the moment” (GeoffWoade)

  24. yalensis says:

    Shaun White CHICKENS OUT slopeside event at Sochi.
    Shaun says the course is too difficult (boo hoo!) and he doesn’t want to risk wiping out, he would rather focus all his energy on winning gold in the half-pipe.

    This is probably a prudent decision, and I don’t criticize White for making a strategic choice to focus on his best event.
    What I do object to is, that he tries to excuse his own lack of audacity by blaming the course itself. (similar to those athletes piling on Russia for supposedly not making an up-to-standards X-games run for them):


    “With the practice runs I have taken, even after course modifications and watching fellow athletes get hurt, the potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympic goals on.”

    Riders raised concern over the course’s safety after a three-hour training session Monday and proposed changes to officials after Norwegian medal contender Torstein Horgmo broke a collarbone in a crash and withdrew from the Olympics.

    Of course, this is typical of snowboarders; if they crash and break a collarbone, they blame the terrain, not their own edging skills or loss of balance.

    • Drutten says:

      Here’s Russian snowboarder Alexey Sobolev going down the Sochi slopestyle course:
      http://vimeo.com/85831388

      • yalensis says:

        Looks like a tough course, but a safe one, for experts. They put down the blue paint, so they know how much air to grab and where to land.
        Woo hoo!

    • marknesop says:

      I was kind of disappointed in the goading and unsportsmanlike comments from the Canadian athletes, and frankly I despise Twitter for responses like these which people fire off without thinking of the consequences. The proper reaction would have been to respect his decision outwardly regardless of their own personal opinion. There’s nothing wrong with an athlete backing away from something he or she feels is too dangerous provided they don’t make the decision for political reasons, and White’s choice seems pragmatic to me.

      The pursuit of records is going to naturally dictate that courses get harder and faster, in the same manner that you are not going to win an auto race by driving the same speed as everyone else. When you are in a free-fall event where you are not propelled through the course but reap all your speed advantage from your weight and your equipment and when there is a threshold beyond which you cannot make surfaces any more slippery, the most likely way to increase the possibility for higher speed is to steepen the slope.

      Should this result in a Canadian podium sweep for the event, as was forecast, all spectators will remember will be their intemperate and immature remarks and their cockiness rather than their performance. Deliberate rudeness rarely wins respect.

      • yalensis says:

        Mark: You’re absolutely right. Maybe I was too hard on Shaun. My hackles went up when I thought he was piling on to Russia, implying they didn’t build a safe run for him.
        On re-reading, I don’t think that’s what he was saying; but I do think his remarks were misnterepreted by the anti-Russia crowd.
        In any case, I shouldn’t have called him a chicken. He is doing the smart thing to not risk injury and to focus on his best event. He is a great athlete, and I wish him well.

  25. Moscow Exile says:

    From the Telegraph: The shambles behind the scenes at Sochi

    And the readers’ comments (there are very many of them) are something to behold, such as this one:

    i have worked in Russia for 15 years, i made tons of money but couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there – it’s an effin’ sh!!hole where you have to bribe EVERYONE to get anything done.

    meanwhile at the hotels you see 13 year old girls being dropped of by their mother’s !

    it’s a nasty country full of nasty people

    He must have been to a different Russia than the one that I know and have lived in longer than he did – or is he still there?

    It’s hard to tell, for his using the present perfect thus: “I have worked in Russia for 15 years…”, means he still works there, but by using the past simple, thus: “…i [sic] made tons of money but couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there…”, means that his making money there finished in the past and his inability not to wait to get out of Russia is also over and finished in the past, as indicated by the past of the modal auxiliary verb can.

    Perhaps English is not his mother tongue?

    Or perhaps he didn’t go to school – at least to his English classes – that often?

    Furthermore, having lived in a place called Russia for considerably longer than this semi-literate correspondent claims to have done, I have never ever seen “13 year old girls [sic] being dropped of [sic] by their mother’s [sic]” at hotels and have never paid a bribe to anyone there.

    I mustn’t get out that much.

    And the commenter can’t have gone to school that often – or at least not to his English classes.

    • kirill says:

      Or more likely he is some anonymous internet turd making it all up and trolling others with his claims. Anyone who cherry picks a country’s problems is a turd. I could invoke as an example of Canada’s deficiency the serial murders of prostitutes, mainly aboriginal, in Saskatchewan and the fact that the local cops didn’t try too hard to solve this case because these women were “fallen”. There were dozens of victims and the case has not been solved. There could be several serial killers involved.

  26. Moscow Exile says:

    Six month prison sentence for Fathers4Justice campaigner who defaced portrait of the Queen

    And in the media…a deafening silence.

    Meanwhile, back in the USA Tolokonnikova and Alekhina have been interviewed on the The Colbert Report, about which interview Dina Gachman writes in Forbes: Pussy Riot’s Interview On Colbert Report Is A Must-Watch

    As regards the reason for their conviction, in the interview Tolokonnikova says “We sang a fun song in a church” and later Alekhina adds that in Russia they are “about to turn homosexuality into a criminal offence”.

    And the audience continually howls.

    Why all the howling off the audience?

    Is that a US “tradition”?

    • cartman says:

      Did they mention that conditions in Dutch prisons were excellent? They certainly weren’t for Aleksander Dolmatov when he killed himself in one (admittedly it was a detention centre, but those should be better, right?) He was involved in the Bolotnaya riots, whose arrestees PR claimed to be raising awareness for. I would say they know very little about the event or any of the people arrested there.

      Also, they bragged about doing their performance many times, but only getting arrested for the one in the cathedral. Colbert did not seem to notice that, but then he didn’t seem to know anything about this case at all.

  27. peter says:

  28. peter says:

  29. Fern says:

    Back to Ukraine and the Russophobic media for a moment. An extraordinary article appeared a couple of days ago, originally in the NYT but subsequently picked up by a number of other outlets, entitled “Don’t let Putin grab Ukraine’ by Timothy Synder. Here’s an extract giving a flavour of its calibre:-
    “The current crisis in Ukraine began because of Russian foreign policy. The Ukrainian government, led by Viktor Yanukovych, seemed poised to sign a popular association agreement with the European Union. Mr. Putin jumped in quickly with cash and low gas prices for Mr. Yanukovych, who then abruptly changed course, refusing to sign it.”

    This happened a couple of months ago, within living memory, you’d think, but easy enough for Mr Synder to check the sequence of events if he can’t quite recollect them. The article goes on to suggest, without a shred of evidence, that Russia may try to grab Ukraine through military action once the Sochi Olympics are out of the way (Putin doesn’t want to appear the ‘imperial aggressor’ Synder knows he is) and that the ‘West’ needs to be ready for this. What’s disturbing about the article is that Synder is not some newspaper hack but, God help us, a history professor at Yale, the sort of person you’d think (and hope) might have some regard for accuracy and truth. The full article is here http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/04/opinion/dont-let-putin-grab-ukraine.html?hpw&rref=opinion

    • yalensis says:

      Dear Fern:

      Nobody should be surprised that a Yale professor would write such tendentious garbage. Yale is a great school and employs top brains in many disciplines. However, when it comes to international politics, the faculty is simply a rats nest of minimally functional CIA agents, all of whom have lower than average IQ’s and who get hired only due to “affirmative action” quotas and government grants.

      In other news, since you are a cat lover, you might like the full video of Putin’s rendezvous with the leopard cub in Sochi:

      http://rt.com/in-motion/putin-leopard-sochi-olympic-640/

    • kirill says:

      So Mr. Snyder (I refuse to call him Professor since he is a turd) wants NATO to intervene first? That is the only logical conclusion from his concocted theory that Russia is going to invade (itself, btw). Mr. Snyder must think this 1998 and not 2014. Mr. Snyder is going to be sorely disappointed that NATO will be too chicken shit to start a nuclear WWIII.

      So, another case of vapid hate propaganda against Russia. Do these morons think there will some sort of crusade if they agitate enough proles to hate Russia? Seriously, what do agitated western proles matter? It’s clear they can’t impose economic sanctions on Russia. So there is nothing left to do and watch as Russia rises from the ashes.

    • marknesop says:

      How soon we forget. Only as far back as mid-October, Dan Peleschuk penned this piece for Global Post. Back then, the freeing and pardoning of Yulia Tymoshenko was described as “the chief precondition for signing the association and free trade agreements.” It was that more than anything else that caused the deal to go sideways, but the EU negotiators held out for it until Yanukovych changed his mind and did not back away from this key demand until it was too late. Why? Because Yulia Tymoshenko in the driver’s seat is what the EU wanted and it did not see why it should settle for anything less. Why should it, when it was negotiating from a position of strength and dictating terms?

      There is mention even here, when most everyone still thought Yanukovych would sign the deal, of his “fending off aggressive Russian advances”. I wish someone could tell me what those were. A supposedly leaked document surfaced which reported that if Russia took perfectly well-substantiated and logical steps to protect its own markets and producers, it would hurt Ukraine’s economy badly. That is nothing but the truth, and you certainly did not need to be an economic genius to figure it out; I was able to demonstrate it months ago using the EU’s own statistics, and Putin predated me by more than a year. He warned at least that long ago that Russia would take steps to protect its own markets from a flood of cheap Ukrainian products the EU would not buy, but which Ukraine otherwise could not sell, and which Ukraine would dump into Russia so that it could buy European goods. And that’s exactly what would have happened. If pointing out the truth is aggressive, then that was an aggressive advance. Yet now, somehow, supporting the opposition in a coup attempt to overthrow a democratically-elected government is not aggressive.

      Other clues were more interesting, and one resulted in a bit of an epiphany for me that I probably should have seen much earlier.

      Such positive signals should provide hope for Ukraine’s oligarchs, who control most of the country’s top industries and have helped prop up the president.
      Analysts say those gray cardinals want access to more lucrative and transparent European markets, where they face far less competition from their well-connected Russian counterparts than they would in a Moscow-dominated customs union, which the Kremlin is pushing as an alternative. Denis Denisov, head of the Kyiv branch of the Kremlin-funded Institute for CIS Countries, says their preferences have largely dictated Yanukovych’s shift away from Moscow. “Of course the political and economic elite in Ukraine are worried about the Russians swooping in and taking everything away,” he says.

      These oligarchs control most of the private wealth in Ukraine, just as minted-overnight rich men controlled most of what was state wealth only weeks before in Yeltsin’s wild-frontier Russia. But although the west rails against corruption, it has no problem at all with Ukraine’s oligarchy; they are “the grey cardinals” – not thieves, but dynamic go-getter businessmen, and if they want increased access to EU markets, why, the EU is happy to oblige. Hey, man – I’m not judging. You have money – lots of money – I have stuff to sell. I don’t see any need of labeling, do you?

      But it took an unrelated item to make me see it: in the sidebar, entitled, “As War on Corruption Mounts, China’s Rich Flee to America”.

      You know something? This is what’s behind the west’s constant pressure on countries like Russia and its satellites to “crack down on corruption”. Whenever that happens, the oligarchs with all their lovely delicious money cut and run, and their preferred destination is London or New York. What a beautiful scheme – it’s win/win. The west’s leading politicos get to polish their veneer of blunt honesty by hammering on corruption in “autocratic regimes”, and then when those nations start shaking the trees in an effort to comply, a bunch of billionaires promptly fall out and pack their bags for the west, where they are welcomed as “New Money”.

      “Such developments aren’t lost on most ordinary Ukrainians, who appear to have given up on their political leaders. Many are still struggling in a stagnant economy whose currency hasn’t recovered from a crippling 40 percent devaluation that followed the 2008 global financial crisis.”

      An eagerness to help such struggling Ukrainians is probably why a devaluation of the currency and the removal of the gas subsidy were cornerstones of the proposed association and free trade agreement Yanukovych turned away from.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I forget who mentioned this in the blogosphere long ago, but despite the Western yammering about corruption and oligarchy in Russian, where exactly do these self-appointed, self-righteous Western critics of Russia assume the money of the stinking rich in that country ends up: in Sberbank?

        It’s all over there – in Western banks, the critics’ banks and financial institutions.

        No such thing as “dirty money”.

        And when the heat is turned on, the oligarchs flee to where their money is stashed away.

        The same applies to the occasionally re-surfacing story of Putin’s palaces: when and if the Evil One retires or is removed office, be such removal according to democratic process or not, is he going to live in his allegedly criminally gained pseudo-classical palaces in Russia, the land that he has allegedly continuously milked, so that he can spend his twilight years in blazing glory for all to see and all to hail as a thief?

        I should hardly think so.

        Thieves cut and run.

        Witness London.

  30. Fedia Kriukov says:

    Can anyone tell for sure if the voices in this video are really Nuland and Pyatt?

    And if they are, is it me, or do you get the impression that the three stooges are really nothing but puppets to these dept of State functionaries? I mean, they’re already deciding which one of the three is going to be the fearless leader… The nicknames are also quite disrespectful, IMO.

    • yalensis says:

      AT 3:05 in, did she just say “Fuck the EU” ????

    • yalensis says:

      Dear Fedia:

      Great research! This is huge! Looks like the conspirators (Pyatt and Nuland) were caught in flagrante delicto, plotting their coup against the legitimate government of Ukraine. Also looks like Ban Ki Moon is in on the conspiracy too. No surprise there: he is well known as an American puppet.

      Here is a video of Geoff Pyatt speaking , the voice DOES sound (to me) the same as the one on the tapped phone call. (I am not an audio expert, obviously, but it sure sounds like the same voice to me. Maybe somebody with audio experience could do a forensic analysis.)

      This is huge stuff! How did the SBU get such a clear-as-day wiretap of these clowns? Usually the signal is scratchy.
      Did Pyatt/Nuland not use any precautions when plotting? Did they simply talk to each other over open networks? Or is the SBU super-slick? (or maybe the FSB took the tap? heh heh..)

      • yalensis says:

        To compare Nuland’s voice, I found this video of her swearing-in ceremony as Assistant Secretary of State. You have to fast-forward to around 10:25 minutes in, when she starts to speak: “I Victoria Nuland do solemnly swear… blah blah blah….”

        Once again: the voice sounds the same to me, but I’m not an audio expert. I did study linguistics, but my specialty was morphology, not acoustic phonetics.

        Somebody, hopefully a graduate student in acoustic phonetics, with real equipment, needs to make side by side audio tapes and compare the sine waves on specific words, in order to authenticate that these are the speakers on the wiretaps..

        But I have to assume that the FSB has already done that.. heh heh heh…

      • marknesop says:

        I agree it is the biggest thing to break for months, and has the potential to be a game-changer if it gets wide airing. Unbelievable that Nuland is going with Yatsenyuk (and it’s just a personal thing, but I detest the way politicians assign shorthand nicknames to Slavic politicians – in this case “Yats” – as if they were incapable or too lazy to learn to say it properly, I doubt Nuland would appreciate being referred to as “Nool”) as a leader, because they could never sell him to Ukrainians, he is a bland and uncharismatic ideologue and both governments and bookstores are full of those. Great scoop, Fedia!

    • yalensis says:

      The “UN guy Serry” that Nuland mentioned in the wiretap, I think she is talking about this guy , Robert H. Serry. He bops around the world like an International Man of Mystery, mostly focused on the Mideast, but he does also have experience in Moscow and Ukraine. He was the first Dutch ambassador to Kyiv, according to this wiki page. Sounds like a primo colour revolution guy to me.

      In the wiretap, Nuland mentions that Serry is supposed to show up as an envoy of Ban Ki Moon, and his job is to “glue together the deal” (in forming a new transitional government with Yats in charge). Americans are bringing in the UN at this point, because they already gave up on the EU. (“Fuck the EU!” Nuland chirps in her cheery voice.)

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Yep! Old Moon gets an article in yet another anti-Russia Grauniad article that has just popped up on-line: Ban Ki-moon condemns persecution of gay people in Russia

        The endless beating of the drum!

        Like in those corny 193os films where the British colonial governor looks out from his villa verandah into the darkness, saying: “Those damned drums, Caruthers! My God! When are those damned drums ever going to stop?”

        • Patrick Armstrong says:

          Don’t hear any denial in this report.

          http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/europe/197656-carney-blames-moscow-for-leaked-ukraine-call

          Sounds as if the Russians, for once, have learned how to play the propaganda game.

          • Fedia Kriukov says:

            I think the US reaction makes it pretty clear the convo is authentic. The remaining question is, is there anything in that convo that contradicts the official position of the US? Other than a very disrespectful way of addressing Ukrainian politicians.

            One thing I take away from this is that it was American pressure, not their own decision, that made “Yats” and “Klich” turn down Yanukovich’s first proposal.

            The fact that the leak first appeared in Russia seems to indicate that the intercept was made by Russian intelligence? I doubt the SBU would dare make any move against the Americans while the situation is so uncertain. Or if it was in fact the SBU, that means the situation isn’t uncertain, and it’s clear which side is winning?

            • kirill says:

              Paging AP. Paging AP.

              • marknesop says:

                I think AP has gone into the wilderness to do a little soul-searching, now that La Revolution is faltering, and I’d like to think he’s a little ashamed of the cons Chornovol and Bulatov pulled to try and get the revolutionary express back on the rails. It’s unfortunate, but things don’t always work out. I’m sorry for him, but not sorry enough to cheer for Yats and Klitch.

            • marknesop says:

              Oh, I don’t think there is any doubt now that the conversation is authentic; they haven’t even bothered to try denying it, choosing instead to opt for injured innocence and a sniffling attempt to regain the moral high ground. But it is clear from the content that this is not some high-minded Martin-Luther-King betterment of man exchange, it is a grubby backroom end-run play to change the government in Ukraine to one that will commit the country to an association and free trade agreement with the EU, since they cannot bully or force the current government into it. The cynical manipulation is breathtaking in its audacity, and I completely agree the Ambassador at least should be PNG’d and sent home. With McFaul leaving Russia as well, this would leave a tremendous regional diplomatic gap. Yanukovych would be well within his rights to order Pyatt out of the country on the grounds that he is party to fomenting of revolution and an attempt to overthrow the government.

              Indeed there is nothing major in the conversation that steps outside U.S. policy. That’s not the problem. The problem is that U.S. foreign policy has nothing to do with Ukrainian domestic policy, and the EU’s position going into the signing phase at Vilnius – publicly announced by Merkel – was that nations freely choose their own orientation, and that there can be no third-party vetoes. Of course, she meant that Ukraine was choosing the EU, and for Russia to keep its hands and its opinions to itself. It never occurred to them that Yanukovych would refuse the offer, so they are trapped by their own rhetoric. This must be the death-blow to the European effort, and Russia never even had to get out of its comfy chair, never mind fly into Kiev two or three times a week to hand out sweets and fire up the radicals. Put another notch on your six-gun, Vladimir Vladimirovich.

          • marknesop says:

            I’ll be goddamned. It’s real. Unbelievable. Yes, I can just imagine their relations with the EU are now “stronger than ever”, after Merkel’s reaction to her personal cellphone being tapped by the NSA, and the coincidence that her choice for Ukraine’s new leader was panned by Nuland in favour of the bland vanilla politician Yatsenyuk (“Yats”, to his friends in the U.S. State Department). That suggests the USA is maneuvering for personal rather than collective advantage, as if the “Fuck the EU” were not a sufficiently clear indication.

            Corrosive, at the very least, and although the slip will be quickly (not to mention publicly) forgiven by Europoliticial leaders – who almost certainly will actually take no offense, knowing there is no lasting loyalty in politics and that betrayal is as common as business lunches – it is unlikely to be so quickly forgotten by the populations upon whose support political decisions depend. Most importantly, If Yanukovych cannot convincingly portray the opposition as western puppets with this priceless gift, then he deserves to be overthrown. This is effectively a green light for him to use his security forces to restore order, as the ones who have just been rendered illegitimate are Yatsenyuk, Tiahnybok and Klitschko.

            It is just icing on the cake that the audio is crystal clear and obviously a very professional intercept. The USA is not doing Russia’s intelligence community any harm by accusing it – it is effectively an endorsement. The State Departments injured moralizing that this is “a new low for Russia” when thus far all Russia has done is post a link to it must be the howler of the decade, coming from the global snoop-on-everyone specialists. I’m just surprised they didn’t think to suggest the Russians were using revolutionary new snooping technology given to them by Snowden, in an effort to distract the peasants with a shiny “look over here!!!”

            Speaking of Klitschko, this reference suggests his net worth is $65 Million. No substantiation, though.

            http://21stcenturywire.com/2014/01/28/ukraine-being-torn-apart-by-western-backed-colour-mobs-on-an-eu-jihad/

            Ha, ha!! To quote one of my favourite British metal acts (with their gay-but-I-never-knew singer Rob Halford), Some Heads Are Gonna Roll.

            • Patrick Armstrong says:

              Yanuk (as we in the know call him) ought to PNG the entire US Embassy and other State Dept people in Ukr right now citing this intercept (and any others — now that’s a thought!) as evidence of interference in Ukr affairs.

  31. cartman says:

    Schumer to Russians: Let Olympians Have Their Chobani

    Can’t they eat kefir? There are 120-year-old Georgians nearby who live off the stuff.

    • cartman says:

      Yogurt’s popularity in America traces back to rumors that it behind the longevity of people living in the Caucasus Mountains (Evidence: this commercial).

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Breathing fresh mountain air and getting plenty of physical exercise herding sheep and goats up and down mountainsides had more than a little to do with highlanders’ general health as well, I should imagine.

        This yoghurt health myth is rather like that concerning the fermented mare’s milk,kumis, that I wrote of above: 19th century Russians thought it was a great cure for and prophylactic against tuberculosis. Count Tolstoy, amongst many other Imperial Russian bourgeois, used to take his family to the steppe in order to drink kumis.

        I should think that the fact that those that drank kumis lived a nomadic life on the steppe and did not live in overcrowded, festering holes of Dostoyevskian Moscow or St. Petersburg tenements also had more than a little to do with the kumis drinking folk’s health.

        • cartman says:

          I screwed up my link to the YouTube video. At the risk of slowing down this page even more, here it is:

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Yes, there is something really amiss with this page, and I suspect, for fear of being labelled an “idiot”, that its cause is not simply due to the number of comments and embedded video clips: the page is jumping up and down to certain comments after I have sought out others and I then have to scroll to the comment that I have chosen to read.

            • yalensis says:

              I find from pragmatic experimentation that if you pick a comment and wait a few seconds, it goes to that comment, then jumps away.
              The solution is to pick the same comment a second time. The second time around it jumps to, and remains on, that comment in a stable fashion.
              In other words, second time is a charm.

            • marknesop says:

              I am working on another post, but it is slow going because there are a lot of distractions (AKA work and family). I hope to have it done before the weekend. Doesn’t matter what the subject is, really, because most of the commentary will be on the Olympics.

  32. Moscow Exile says:

    And bang on cue, the Grauniad opens fire this morning with: Sochi 2014: world authors join protest against Putin

    As Mark has already pointed out earlier, Russian society should remember all of this hatred directed at it.

    According to the article, British writer Neil Gaiman (Never heard of him before, was I supposed to have done? No doubt the Guardianistas know of and revere him. His Wiki entry sheds some interesting light on Gaiman [Gayman :-)] and his works.) has said, “Criminalising those who write positively about gay people and gay themes, or who write negatively about the church, criminalising defamation, these are all things that clamp down on the exchange of ideas, that push dissent and stories underground. I hope that Mr Putin reads the open letter; I hope he changes course”.

    Interesting, that! I wonder when there is going to be a law passed in Russia that criminalizes “those who write positively about gay people and gay themes”? Gaiman seems to think that such a law already exists in the Evil Empire.

    Do these people really know what the “anti-gay” law is about?

    Now if somebody like Mr. Gaiman had a book published specifically for children in which the joys of sodomy were described, that might be another matter.

    Key word: children.

    That means “under 16” in Russia, Gaiman!

    Of course, Gaiman would argue that the prohibition of the dissemination of information to children about homosexual activities would be an infringement of children’s “rights”.

    The thing is, Gaiman, I, as the father of three under-16-year-olds decide what they should read, not you or your ever so progressive and liberated chums!

    Similarly, my children may not marry or live with a sexual partner and even when they are 16 and older, they can only do so with my permission.

    In this respect, they only become “free” on their 18th birthdays. After that, they can do what they want within the limits of the law, which, as far as my son is concerned, includes sodomy, if he should so wish to do so: that would be his choice, not mine.

    I am sure I am not alone in this opinion, namely that I decide what my children shall and shall not do and that my authority over their activities will continue until they are 18; I am sure that is also the opinion of the vast majority of Russian citizens, or are they not free to make their own decisions, Gaiman?

    • marknesop says:

      Actually, Gaiman is a wonderfully imaginative and spellbinding writer – I read “The Ocean at the End of The Lane” just a month or two ago and thought it was one of the best books I had ever read. He also did a graphic novel series called “The Sandman” which looked interesting and which a friend was urging on me, but it’s hard for me not to see a graphic novel as anything but a comic book for grownups, and I’m not into them. I’m disappointed to hear he has come out against laws he does not understand and more disappointed that a smart guy like he comes across as being did not take the time to inform himself, and I suppose this means he is gay, since there is tremendous pressure on prominent gays whose word might be listened to to denounce Putin and Russia. I didn’t know that, although it has nothing to do with his writing.

      Thing is, people give less of a fuck what world authors think about real-life politics, and those who have come out as radicals for one political party or another have often found they lost a lot of readers as a result, because their public statements did not fit with their fans’ image of them and they were no longer able to enjoy their work in the same way. A lot of prominent and experienced authors are adamant about keeping their opinions private for exactly that reason – they want to be a blank canvas on which their readers can paint their own image. Mr. Gaiman is a relative newcomer, and in fact I thought he was probably American.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Key thing about Gaiman’s opinion vis-à- vis Russia is, in my opinion, the origin of his forebears:

        Gaiman’s family is of Polish- and other Eastern European-Jewish origins“.

        He now lives in the USA with others of the same progeny: Ioffe, Gessen, “Professor” Snyder of Yale, Professor Pipes, Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski…

        These people remind me of the O’Connels and Murphys etc. of Boston, Chicago and elsewhere, who have never set foot outside of the USA, let alone onto the Emerald Isle, and whose families have been settled in the Great Republic for generations and yet hate the British (specifically the English) with such an intensity as though they had been assaulted and ridiculed by some nauseatingly conceited and arrogant English aristocrat only the other day.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          I feel I should add to the above that I write as an “Englishman” whose paternal grandmother and maternal great-grandfather were both Irish born and bred.

          I used to holiday in Ireland – in the far West, actually, where the beautifully mellifluous Irish is still the mother tongue of many – and never ever suffered any animosity simply because of the fact that I’m “English”. And in my home town there are very many of Irish descent who do not feel it a precondition of their “Irishness” publicly to detest the English.

          I am very sure that there are many, many folk of Eastern European-Jewish descent that do not feel that they have always to display publicly hatred for Russians as well. However, as is often the case, a minority is always very vocal, no doubt because it, as a minority, feels it has to be in order to be heard.

        • marknesop says:

          I am in the habit, in the library, of selecting books at random; I find I get exposure to authors I otherwise would never have read. “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” was one such. The library has a small table which features books the librarians have read and liked and recommend, and I took the Gaiman book from there; it just came out and was eagerly awaited by his fans. The reason I think he was pressured to make a statement – although it might well reflect his true beliefs – is that his writing typically is all emotion with no particular political affiliation. His descriptions of relationships, at least so far as I have read, were uniformly heterosexual.

  33. Moscow Exile says:

    And today’s Grauniad ploughs on relentlessly:

    Sochi Games held up as a symbol of Olympic extravagance and waste

    Russian laws choking free speech must be repealed now

    Salman Rushdie leads protest against Russian ‘choke hold’ on free
    speech

    Sochi Winter Olympics: who is going to the opening ceremony?

    All on the front page of the same issue.

    As regards the Guardian’s never-ending criticism of all things Russian, the relentless slander of the Völkischer Beobachter against Jewry springs to mind.

  34. Moscow Exile says:

    From today’s Independent: Winter Olympics 2014: Sochi’s day of reckoning has finally come – just don’t look too closely

    Although many of the commentators are responding gleefully to what they perceive as a disaster – and I’m sure it will send them into raptures if a terrorist attack occurs in Sochi, though they dare not admit this – these commenters are clearly Russophobes and heterophobes. (My new term – like it? It means pain-in-the-arse, we-are-the-centre-of-the-universe sexual deviants who are only demanding the right to love whom we like and how we like and to endlessly go on about our “natural” sexual predilictions.) There are, however, several commenters who are getting brassed off with this relentless barrage of Russia/Putin bashing.

  35. Moscow Exile says:

    Июлия Латынина с радио Эхо Москвы

    Июлия Латынина с радио Эхо Москвы

    “Выплати пособий по рождению детей приведут к безделью и пьянству матерей.”

    Yulia Latynina on Radio Moscow Echo

    “The payment of welfare benefits for childbearing leads to idleness and drunkenness amongst mothers.”

    Yulia Latynina: 47 years of age; never borne or brought up any children; never married. Writer of 20 works of fiction, journalist, radio show host and commentator; awarded the Freedom Defenders Award by the United States Department. Doesn’t think there should be universal suffrage either because those who aren’t extremely rich and/or are members of the bourgeoisie haven’t got a political clue.

  36. Al says:

    On the subject of more noise means less action, reality slowly sinking in:

    From Reuters
    NATO raps Russia for expanding border into Georgia

    http://news.yahoo.com/nato-raps-russia-expanding-border-georgia-170915120–spt.html

    While the US continues to rot from the inside. First the cheating amongst USAF ICBM corps ( http://www.nujournal.com/page/content.detail/id/447492/APNewsBreak–More-implicated-in-nuke-cheat-probe.html?isap=1&nav=5033) and now SSN/SSBN reactor operators:

    Sailors suspected in spreading nuke cheating scandal

    http://www.navytimes.com/article/20140204/NEWS05/302040028/Sailors-suspected-spreading-nuke-cheating-scandal

    And to tie things up from the BBC
    Nato’s Anders Fogh Rasmussen sees power slipping away

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-26019670

    As Earth, Wind and Fire might have sung – ‘NATO, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!’

  37. Al says:

    Even better:

    Russia mocks U.S. envoy Power’s meeting with Russian punk rock band
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/05/us-usa-russia-pussyriot-un-idUSBREA1428020140205

    Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was asked about Power’s roughly half-hour meeting with the two Pussy Riot members during a briefing at the Russia mission.

    “She has not joined the band?” he asked. “I would expect her to invite them to perform at the National Cathedral in Washington. This is my expectation.”

    “Maybe they could arrange a world tour for them, you know,” he said. “St Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, then maybe in Mecca in Saudi Arabia, ending up with a gala concert at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. So if Ambassador Power fell short I would be disappointed.”

    • Jen says:

      In the meantime Pussy Riot is drawing closer into the clutches of the National Endowment for Democracy to be used as a Gene Sharp / DIY Revolution for Dummies playbook tool. Expect the girls soon to appear on TV talk shows and fund-raisers supporting “democracy” in Ukraine and wearing “Yats for Prez” T-shirts.

  38. Fern says:

    Yalensis, thanks for posting the video of the leopards – very beautiful animals. I’m pea-green envious of Sam’s visit to Sochi, mainly because of the opportunity it offers to get away from the western media’s 24/7 hysteria on the games. You cannot open a newspaper or turn on the news without being regaled by negative story after story. This level of spin is without precedent in my experience. The only thing I can recall that even comes close is the run-up to the 2003 US/UK invasion of Iraq when we were regaled round-the-clock by Saddam-as-the-new-Hitler and the deadly clear and present danger presented by his WMD. Over the last few days, the UK’s been hit by ferocious storms that have washed away parts of the coastline including a chunk of the railway line connecting the counties of Devon and Cornwall to the rest of the country but even that isn’t enough to knock Sochi off the front pages. Churkin’s comments on Pussy Riot and Samantha Power are excellent – debunking with humour and ridicule is the way to go.

    If the conversation between Nuland and Pyatt, posted by Fedia, is authentic, then it really is dynamite. Nuland referred to the ‘new UN guy’, Robert Skerry. A quick check on the timeline shows that Ban Ki Moon telephoned Yanukovitch on 27th January and expressed his readiness to send a UN Special Representative to Ukraine. Two days later (29th January), Yanukovitch met with Robert Skerry. Nuland also referred getting Joe Biden to do an ‘attaboy’. On 4th February, Biden telephoned Yanukovitch and ‘urged’ hime to accept international support and take immediate steps to resolve the political crisis. Reports of the telephone call are that Biden ‘encouraged’ Yanukovitch on the steps he needed to take. Sounds like an ‘attaboy’ to me.

    • reggietcs says:

      Yes, I mentioned to someone earlier that the propaganda onslaught reminded me of the lead up to the Iraq war. What’s particularly sad is that people fall for the same propaganda over and over again. I mean, don’t they remember 2003? It’s appalling the number of posters on message boards connected to these stories who buy this crap without question. Some (certainly not all) of the photos are very obviously STAGED for maximum propaganda effect and the western press bitching about Russian internet/cellphone surveillance………PLEASE.

      BTW, Not a SINGLE western media outlet thus far has touched the Nuland/Pratt story – and even if it turns out to be 100% true, I’m guessing they won’t go near it.

    • yalensis says:

      Good stuff, Fern. I think I guessed the wrong “UN guy” in my above comment, so thanks for the correction. The timeline does seem to point to your guy, Skerry.

      “If the conversation is authentic…” seems like it must be, because Americans didn’t even bother to deny it. If I were them, I’d be, like, “Oh no, deary me, somebody concocted this fake conversation by splicing together individual words. And very slickly done.”

      Instead, they were, like, “How dare the damn Russkies wiretap us? Oh, the horror of it!” And “Russia has sunk to a new low.”

      New LOW for Russia?
      More like a new HIGH, in my view. This is the best wiretapping I have ever seen, the sound quality is clear as a bell.
      .

  39. robert says:

    Meanwhile it’s started seeping out into the media that the big petroleum companies have lost a very large amount of money in recent quarters, and a significant part of those losses were due to their heavy investments in the fracking boom in the United States—you know, the fracking boom that was certain to bring us renewed prosperity and limitless cheap fuel into the foreseeable future? That turned out to a speculative bubble,as some posters predicted it might last year. The overseas investors whose misspent funds kept the whole circus going are now bailing out, and the bubble has
    nowhere to go but down. How far down? That’s a very good question that very few people want to
    answer. Looks like there’ll be a demand for Russian gas for some time to come.

    • kirill says:

      The problem is that the US economy will take a nose dive without the much anticipated fracking “bonanza”. This will hit the EU’s and Russia’s economy as well and will be much worse than the 2008 financial crisis. It is routine to talk about the Bakken and the Green River shales as if they were the same thing. So there are alleged to be trillions of barrels of oil for the USA left to exploit. This is a con artist lie since the Bakken is actual oil in a dolomite layer sandwiched between two shale layers but there is only kerogen in the Green River formation. The Bakken will be effectively depleted by 2020 so expect a major oil crisis by then.

      The fracked tight gas is also overplayed. There is lots of talk about moving US transportation to natural gas. If they really start to do this then the vaunted reserves will disappear in less than ten years. This is based on the realistic assessment of the tight gas reserves that fracking can access by Art Berman. Fracking is an old technology that was boosted by *decline* in conventional reserves and production. The real story is the decline in fossil fuel resources and not fracking. It’s another example of techno cornucopianism; the notion that technology will save us from any predicament.

  40. Drutten says:

    Finally some sense being injected.

    Sochi Fail? Nobody told the athletes
    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/sochi-fail-nobody-told-athletes-155933320–oly.html

    ‘Pampered’ Media Members Facing Backlash For Tweeting Sochi Problems
    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/02/06/pampered-journalists-facing-backlash-for-tweeting-sochi-problems
    “DiManno said the complaints out of Sochi were a predictable outcome due to ‘a couple of thousand cranky reporters in one place” armed with Twitter and “a reason to gripe.'”

    • Patrick Armstrong says:

      Years ago I remember a businessman saying he had walked out of an Economist reporter briefing on Russia because his own experience working and living there had convinced him that it was BS. I’m hoping that we will see something similar here: namely that the sports reporters will give a true report on sports and sporting facilities while the general reporters whine on about toilets.

      In the process I hope that another nail is slammed into Western anti-Russia reporting bias. The frenzy is tremendous — in fact so outrageous that if the Games are not utterly disastrous, the reporters will be proved liars to the world.

      I reiterate my long-held belief that the only reporting in papers/TV etc that is honest, accurate and factual is sports reporting. My argument being that sports are relatively straightup — win, lose, you actually see it. Second that people who care about sports are often very knowledgeable and BS is quickly detected. So it’s much harder in sports to endlessly type “Corrupt Putin kills reporters and imprisons opponents”.

  41. Drutten says:

    Sharapova refuses to disclose her role in the opening ceremony tomorrow. I wonder if she’s gonna light the torch?

    Zigfeld’s probably going to implode.

    • marknesop says:

      You know, I never even thought of her? I would just laugh and laugh, because Sharapova is now as American as apple pie, although she has steadfastly stuck to representing Russia in professional sports. If she lights the torch, she will also move into the category of “Putin’s rumoured lover” for the paint-chip-eaters in western jurnalizm.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I noticed in MT the other day that Zigfield dislikes McFaul greatly as well. In a comment to an MT article about the US ambassador’s resignation she called him a liar, in that only a few weeks ago he had denied all rumours that he was going to be replaced.

      He done her wrong somewhere down the line, but I can’t recall why, and when Zigfield feels wronged, she never forgets it.

      It’s the same with Navalny: she thinks he’s a waste of space and slags him off whenever the opportunity arises.

      I hate it when Zigfield does things like this, because then I am at times forced to agree with her opinion.

      • marknesop says:

        Well, don’t feel bad, because she waxes fulsome on the subject of Navalny when it suits her purposes, even comparing him to Martin Luther King, whom she probably does not realize was black. Journalistic integrity was never her strong suit. But I imagine her dislike for him is genuine, perhaps because he did not give her due credit for being the best Russia blogger in the universe or perhaps simply because he failed in his quest to turn Russia into a liberal paradise. If that happened, it would be democratized to a fare-thee-well – meaning just as dysfunctional as any other country it’s already happened to – or it would collapse in anarchy and ruin. Either would suit her fine.

  42. marknesop says:

    And at the all-day Russophobic circus that is Yahoo, a “Russian student” was arrested by Federal agents in Pennsylvania for allegedly making a bomb. This will be the first announcement, for some, of the stunningly covert invasion and capture of California by Russia, where the student is said to be from. Failing that, it just sounds like Yahoo reporters are combing arrest records looking for Russian-sounding names. The commenters appear mostly to get it.

    http://news.yahoo.com/us-charges-russian-student-making-bomb-173701854.html

  43. Jen says:

    In news at AroundtheRings.com, the International Ski Federation head Gian-Franco Kasper has criticised the cost of the Sochi Winter Olympics but then admits that what took most western European nations to achieve in the way of winter sports venues, resorts and supporting infrastructure over 150 years, Russia achieved in five years.
    http://www.aroundtherings.com/site/A__45619/Title__Ski-Chief-Blasts-Sochi-Costs-No-Dutch-Boycott/292/Articles

    It’s pretty telling that Kasper admits France and Switzerland wouldn’t be able to afford holding a Winter Olympics on the same scale as the Sochi games.

    Plus are my eyes playing tricks or is Lviv really bidding for the Winter Olympics in 2022?

  44. Fern says:

    Yalensis, no, you are correct. The guy’s name is Robert H Serry – I mislead his surname as ‘Skerry’. Memo to self – put glasses on when posting on internet forums.

  45. Drutten says:

    Re the leaked phonecalls and stuff; Enter Carl Bildt:
    http://www.svt.se/nyheter/varlden/bildt-4
    “Shoot the messenger” is his suggestion.

  46. Fern says:

    ‘mislead’ should say ‘misread’. I rest my case. In other news, a cat fight has started between the US and Russian branches of Pussy Riot. Those group members not being feted by the western media, have produced an open letter requesting that Ms Alyokhine and Ms Tolokonnikova, currently the toast of the US, not be billed as members of Pussy Riot since they’ve abandoned the ideals of the group. Sounds awfully like brand protection and management, not what you’d expect from those who are, in their own words, advancing feminism, separatist resistance, fighting against authoritarianism and personality cult.

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