One principal advantage this blog enjoys over many other Russia-focused blogs in English is the participation of some ethnic-Russian and extremely competent speakers of English, some of whom still live in Russia. We are therefore offered direct access to at least some opinion which comes from the country which is our focus of interest, rather than being told what Russians think by English-speaking journalists such as Shaun Walker, Roland Oliphant, Edward Lucas and thoroughly-westernized Russian émigrés like Julia Ioffe and Leonid Bershidsky. The importance of that unfiltered opinion cannot be exaggerated, because the foregoing journalists and émigrés frequently sample only the opinions of groups likely to provide the soundbites they are looking for, or simply make them up. This offers the comforting – for some – picture that there is widespread discontent within Russia of the current government, wages have remained stagnant for decades and Russians envy and covet western freedoms, which we must acknowledge is a popular narrative in the Anglosphere. Our only opportunity to rebut it comes from passionate Russians who can express themselves competently in English, and substantiate, flesh out and bring to life the alternative reality we know exists.
This, of course, is leading into another post from the erudite native Muscovite we know as Lyttenburgh. I am delighted to be able to offer it here. Lyttenburgh, it’s all yours.
Prince Andrew was somewhat refreshed by having ridden off the dusty highroad along which the troops were moving. But not far from Bald Hills he again came out on the road and overtook his regiment at its halting place by the dam of a small pond. It was past one o’clock. The sun, a red ball through the dust, burned and scorched his back intolerably through his black coat. The dust always hung motionless above the buzz of talk that came from the resting troops. There was no wind. As he crossed the dam Prince Andrew smelled the ooze and freshness of the pond. He longed to get into that water, however dirty it might be, and he glanced round at the pool from whence came sounds of shrieks and laughter. The small, muddy, green pond had risen visibly more than a foot, flooding the dam, because it was full of the naked white bodies of soldiers with brick-red hands, necks, and faces, who were splashing about in it. All this naked white human flesh, laughing and shrieking, floundered about in that dirty pool like carp stuffed into a watering can, and the suggestion of merriment in that floundering mass rendered it specially pathetic.
“Flesh, bodies, cannon fodder!” he thought, and he looked at his own naked body and shuddered, not from cold but from a sense of disgust and horror he did not himself understand, aroused by the sight of that immense number of bodies splashing about in the dirty pond.
– L. Tolstoy, “War and Peace”, volume 3, Book 10, Chapter V.
I was “triggered” into writing this article by two factors. First – by a somewhat “popular” in narrow circles writer, Lyudmila Ulitskaya (a regular of “intelligentsia gatherings” organized by Mikhail Khodorkovskiy) who just recently compared Russians to “filthy, sick savages”. Not something out of the ordinary, really – sadly, this is just another example of the self-proclaimed members of the “Nation’s Conscience” passing judgment on the rest of the people, who might (o, horror!) disagree with them and their foreign sponsors.
Another came from a rather unusual source. As you all probably know, the “Kadyrov Scandal”, started when the President of the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation called non-systemic oppositionists “traitors” and “enemies of the people” and called for them to be investigated and, if needed, prosecuted in accordance with Russian Law. The scandal is not abating in Russia and now even the Foreign Democratic And Independent™ press began noticing it. And so we have many different pieces from across the Civilized World, all of them professing their love for the so-called “Russian liberals”, “true opposition”, “civil society” and a burning hatred for the “wrong” Chechen Kadyrov (as opposed to the “good ” Chechens, whose actions they supported in the 90s and 00s). This article on a British government funded BBC Russia site is typical. Its author – Artyom Krechetnikov – is a fine example of sad and failed dissident and émigré, who just physically can’t write a good thing about his former country of birth.
Quite predictably, our Artyom is highly critical of Kadyrov’s comparisons of the non-systemic opposition to the enemies of the people. He even decided to write a little “historical essay” devoted to that question – starting with the Great French Revolution and ending with Mao’s China. He makes all possible mistakes one can expect from a rabid Russophobe and anti-Sovietist (which, all too often, means the same thing). Say, while admitting that the Committee on the National Safety executed via “Mme Guillotine” only 18,613 people, he immediately references 1935 “studies” of the American historian Donald Greer, who, somehow, managed to increase this number to 40,000. The same way he acts while talking about the “Great Terror” in the Soviet Union. He claims that in the period of 1921-1953, 3, 777, 380 people were persecuted by “political” charges (read: “they were completely innocent from our absolutely superior liberal POV”) and that 799,445 of them were executed. On the one hand – that’s kinda-sorta progress compared to Beevor-SoLZHEnytsin’s “millions of innocents shot for nothing in the span of a few years” concept; but, still, a gross exaggeration and a shameless lie. First of all he conflates in his “persecuted” claim in the form of a number of people close to 4 million. Both those who were just charged with various political (but very real) crimes and then released, and those who were sentenced to prison time or executed. Next, for an uninformed reader a number of 799,455 looks big, scary and (because it’s uneven) legit. But it’s actually a number of death warrants issued – not the number of the actual executions carried out in the USSR for this sort of crime in the period of more than 30 years. The actual number is lower – about 680,000. Which is, kinda-sorta, less scary and also, by its mere fact of existence, proves that some people (a whopping 120,000 of them) got pardoned or successfully pleaded their cause before the ghoulish, baby-eating Stalinist government. But we don’t want any ideological ambiguity, do we? Even then, possessing basic skills of math, some primitive solar-panel calculator and access to reliable and relevant statistical data will lead any would be “demolisher of Stalinism” to rather disheartening conclusion – that bloody mustachioed vampire managed to repress for political reasons about 2.7-3% of the entire population. Boo-fricking-hoo.
But what does our dear Krechetnikov do next? Oh, that’s a real gem! Here is his main reason for opposing Kadyrov and his “attacks” on the shy and conscientious democratic opposition in Russia, whom he dares to call “the enemies of the people”:
“In fact, the term is meaningless because there is no national-superpersonality, able to want something or do not want it, to love or hate someone. There are many people who have different interests, opinions, and, accordingly, friends and enemies”.
That’s it, people! That was my own “Bingo!” moment, when I finally got it all about the real issue of this “Kadyrov’s scandal”, but most importantly, I’ve ‘groked’ the essence of the modern international so-called Liberalism and its faithful servants in Russian. Let me explain it.
It is considered to be a mauvais ton, a taboo even to talk about ‘the people’ or the ‘working class’ in the Western Respectable Media and Academia. Big Scary No-No. Why? Well, because if you are talking about the ‘people’ then you will inevitably go Patriotism=>Nationalism=>Nazism road. And were you ever to raise a question about the ‘working class’, then, surely you will next arrive at Socialism=>Stalinism=>gulags. That’s a Well Known Fact™ . And no use to argue against the Free and Independent Opinion, you Commie-Nazi Freak!
What does it mean? Well, it means that any given country of the Progressive And Culturally Superior West™ is ruled by this or that iteration of a filthy rich elite brought up to power by this or that iteration of the local Bourgeoisie Revolution™ – with the motto “Fuck the Poor!” engraved on every single decision of this self-perpetuation oligarchy draped in the, ha-ha, republican robes. Then there is a small – but very, very noisy, so they appear larger than they actually are – strata of the “intellectuals”, high-priests in the temples of the long-dead gods of Freedom, Liberty and Equality, who fancy themselves as the one and only true keepers of the Democratic Legacy, of the Quintessence of what their particular “Nation” is all about – but screw the history and traditions if we feel the other way on Tuesday. The fact that both of these“ruling classes” comprise (combined) perhaps less than 10% of the entire population doesn’t discourage them at all in their perceived view of the world at large – naturally, with them at the top.
So, who are the rest of the people? Pfft, what a silly question! They do not exist. At all. Why are you looking so surprised at me? Didn’t the good Sir Krechentikov just say that ‘the people’ do not exist? There you go! Move along – nothing to see here. What you have for the 90% of the population instead of the “people” or even the “working class” are what good pro-democracy (and – as any idiot in the Net will tell you – pro-gay) Greeks referred as “walking and talking tools”. And tools, as we know, usually are dumb, mono-tasked and easily replaceable. By other tools, no matter what their country of origin or the reasons of becoming “tools” in the first place. Ultimately, to the “ruling classes” they are all the same.
So, when the so-called ‘Russian liberals’ are decrying ‘their’ own people and wish it to be replaced entirely one way or another – they are actually voicing in their naive neophyte way what their much more experienced masters and colleagues from across the “Civilized World” have been keeping in mind for a long, long time.
Naturally, it’s a little wonder that the “nonexistent people” (according to the liberal l‘Internationale) have no “enemies” wishing to harm them or to screw them over. And because about 90% of these “non-people” are basically not even cognizant citizens who can take responsible actions on their own – its only in their best interests if some much more educated, handshakeable (albeit – miniscule) group of the “full-rights citizens” will decide what’s better for them and, ugh, the “nation”. And to hell with these “elections” – cattle know not how to vote properly anyway!
Don’t believe me? I remind you, that thoroughly-beloved-by-the-West Russian journalist Yulia Latynina argued against allowing poor people to vote. Plus, this Russian Ayn Rand-wannabe also denies global warming. She insists that only when the “proper” Russia will “cut-away” the Far East, Siberia and North Caucasus will we “start living like human beings” To no one’s surprise, she’s a great fan of Pinochet’s Chile and Lee Kwan-Yew’s Singapore.
Another rather descriptive example: Garry Kasparov, touted by the Free Press as yet another “leader of the Russian opposition”, now living in a self-imposed (and very comfortable) exile in the West, who recently “erupted” with a program of actions for the Liberal Opposition when (not if – when!) they capture the power from the Regime. A breathtaking read, I must say. He calls for the “purification” (that’s not totalitarian purges, no – it’s democratic “purification”!) of the society, because “the society will have to pay for everything – for the support of Putin, for Georgia, for Crimea and for Donbass” – just like Germany and Japan had to pay after 1945. He, jumping from here, calls for a “historical Nuremberg”, with real “judicial process punishing the architects of the current regime”. And elections, democracy and all that jazz? Oh, no – it’s impossible. No elections after the destruction of the Evil Regime – the people are too brainwashed, could be easily swayed and, Freedom forbid, might not vote for the Good Guys. Dictatorship of the Warriors of the Light (now with Filtration Camps of Freedom) are the only true way.
And now read anything from a bunch of other articles about “poor, isolated Russia” from our usual suspects belonging to the Free And Independent Western Media™ and you’ll notice the trend – not a peep about what the Russian people really, really want. Sure, you will find here many ballsy claims about “Many in Russia suspect that Kadyrov [something-something-something-Dark Side]” – without any real proof about these mythical “many”. ‘Cause this particular ambiguously big “many” actually covers only a Barbie-seized crowd of shy and conscientious intilligents, democratic journalists, kreakls, hipsters and gays from the breadth of Russia. They are seen as the voice of Russia and the true Elite who is entitled to rule the country – not the 86% of unmentionable “others”.
See for yourself. There is no more vanilla anti-Russian pro-jingoistic neo-con paper in the American Olympus of the 4th Estate than the “Pravda on the Potomac” AKA “The Washington Post”. This time, they scare their readership shitless with this scaaaary tale:
“Now, the attack dog seems to be unleashed. Mr. Kadyrov has written an article published in the daily Izvestia that pours scorn on the “nonsystemic opposition” to Mr. Putin and suggests it be punished. The term “systemic opposition” in Russia usually refers to the toadies and sycophants who support Mr. Putin. Mr. Kadyrov’s sights are on everyone else who criticizes the president — and he named names, including prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny and journalists for Echo of Moscow radio and Dozhd television, both progressive outlets. In the article, Mr. Kadyrov declares that “there is a very good psychiatric hospital” in Chechnya where “we will not be stingy with injections” to these critics. “When they are prescribed one injection, we can give two.” He says the opposition is a “pack of jackals,” “bunch of traitors,” “Western lackeys,” “enemies of the people,” “haters of Russia,” people who are trying “to destroy our country and undermine its constitutional order.” Stalin would recognize the language. Mr. Kadyrov’s chief of staff drove the point home with a photo posted on social media of the Chechen leader holding back a massive Caucasian Shepherd dog named Tarzan, saying the beast’s “teeth itch.”
Well, what can one say? These fuckers are beyond redemption. Yes, I’m talking about WaPos Editorial Board – not the Chechens. Not only did Mr. Kadyrov avoid naming anyone whom this article claims he already wrote down into his “proscription lists” – the article fails to mention that, in both of his articles, Ramzan Achmadovitch didn’t call for extra-judicial punishment of the so-called “non-systemic opposition”. He called for them to be investigated in accordance with Russian law. Meanwhile, the very same Russian oppositionists who decry at every opportunity the brutality of Stalinist purges and the sordid fact that a lot of people indeed wrote anonymous reports to NKVD…wrote an anonymous report accusing the president of Chechnya of violating art. 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, i.e. “inflammation of national strife” (as if “non-systemic opposition” is in itself a nationality or ethnicity to be targeted specifically) and “the humiliation of dignity of a certain social group”. Some of them even went as far as to demand his resignation. But, understandably, the chances of such demarches are very slim – “traitors” and “the enemies of the people” are not a social group according to existing Russian legislation, as well as “non-systemic opposition”, so that people labeled such could not demand any kind of legal recognition or compensation. Besides, if the so-called Russian liberals are truly innocent before Russian law – why are they fretting so much at quite ordinary calls for an inquiry? C’mon, liberals are just a bunch of shy and conscientious blokes and shiksas, who only want to embrace sweet Freedom and Universal Western Values! And, really guys, no one is threatening Russia – claiming otherwise means endorsing Kremlinite propaganda! Right?
Wrong. Just last Saturday, on ultra-liberal pro-opposition radio “Ekho Moscvy” (hailed by the West as “one of the few remaining Free Media Sources in Russia”) site, an article by equally ultra-liberal and pro-opposition Andrey Piontkovskiy had been brought to the attention of urbi et orbi. And there was a good reason for that – in his article Piontkovskiy calls for the secession of Chechnya from Russia. In this article, among other things, the author claims that the continued presence of the Chechen republic within Russia threatens “a third Chechen war”, so stopping the “ticking clock of the Russian-Chechen disaster” is only possible through the provision of the full state of independence of the republic. Among other reasons why it is necessary to do so, Piontkovsky lists the murder of Boris Nemtsov and Anna Politkovskaya, and the story of the Krasnoyarsk deputy Senchenko, who was forced to make a “humiliating apology” to Ramzan Kadyrov for calling him “a disgrace of Russia”. According to the “journalist” (sorry for the word journalist here), the Chechen people are the “most difficult” of all the peoples of Russia and they don’t want “to transform from the Germans into the Jews of the Third Reich.”
Later that part was cut from the article, but only after a huge (and I mean – HUGE!) wave of angry responses from both readers and from the people beyond the “comfort zone” of the “Ekho”. And, of course, ordinary users of RuNet proved themselves wily beasts by making lots of screenshots of that page pre-“purging”. Meanwhile, this whole fracas is more serious than it looks. According to art. 280, p.1 of the LC RF there is a real legal responsibility for public calls for action aimed at violating the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation. Part two of this article states that said actions are punishable by up to 5 years of imprisonment for such calls made with the use of the media. Also, not only the author, but the editorial board of the media source hosting such articles are equally responsible, and must answer before the law. That’s the current Russian legislation. And not knowing it does not absolve anyone from having committed a crime.
Andrei Piontkovsky is a “Russian journalist” (once again – sorry for the word “journalist”), a researcher at the Institute for Systemic Analysis, a member of the International PEN Club. In 2012 he was elected to the Coordinating Council of the Opposition. In 2014 Piontkovsky signed a statement demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of the Ukraine and an end to “the annexation of Crimea”. Such a paragon of handshakeability is just a rank’n’file “non-systemic opposition” figure – a very typical representative indeed, but not on par with some of the more notorious ones.
I think the whole world must be reminded about other “achievements” of the so-called “Russian liberal opposition”. In 1994 they went to Dudayev’s stronghold in separatist Chechnya and, while there, used the radio relay to call for Russian soldiers to commit an act of treason and surrender to the militants. Among them, human rights activist Sergey Kovalyov, who swore that no harm will come to all who will surrender immediately – they will even be transported back to their military bases. The lucky ones of those naive soldiers who raised up their arms and surrendered entered into years-long slavery. The less lucky were brutally tortured and mutilated, and then – killed.
And, yes – these are the people hailed as true heroes by the Western Press, NGOs and Governments (which, as Everybody Knows, are totally not interconnected between themselves). Should such persons be investigated in accordance with Russian law and do they really deserve the term “enemies of the people”? Well, the collective West thinks “No!”. Russians have a diametrically opposite opinion – but who cares, as long as the Western Enlightened Populace’s™ opinion is formed by the rabid Russophobic spin-doctors from the WaPo and their ilk? Hell, even the best of them in the professional circle of the “Russia-watchers” (read: as ethical and loyal as 17th century German mercenaries) are no better and can’t even bring themselves to say one simple phrase – “Russian People”. But they, unwittingly, provide a useful insight into other interesting tidbits of this ugly elitist worldview.
Editor’s Note: We’re only halfway through this thing, gang, so I have decided to break it in two so that it will not be too long. We’ll give this first installment a week or so of exposure, and then follow with the conclusion. I have to say I like it so far!