Don't get me started on Russia

  1. 4 years ago

    So, there's been a lot of outrage about Russia's recent "homosexual propaganda" laws, but I think I have it figured out. Putin is not the problem. The Russian Orthodox Church is not the problem. The social backwardness of chunks of the Russian population is not the problem. They are all parts of the problem, but criticizing Putin, the church, or the people of Russia is beside the point. The thing is, these laws are just another nebulous, open-ended, selectively-enforceable instrument of dissent-stifling where the charges brought and the verdict reached and the sentence handed down has no relationship to whatever the accused did or did not do, except insofar as they were critical of the security/military/energy/crime clique.

    Dissenting journalists go to jail for "divulging state secrets", "state secrets" they read in open-source Russian publications. Mikhail Khodorkovsky has Yukos stolen from him and winds up in prison for "tax evasion", when he was probably the most (only?) conscientious corporate taxpayer in post-Soviet Russian history.

    I would hope from my past posting history that it's obvious that A: I truly love Russia and Russian stuff, so this is not coming from a place of ignorant xenophobia, and B: I don't believe that the United States is above criticism or that terrible things in other countries allow us to overlook or ignore our own faults. But it's pretty fascinating. In fact, post-Soviet Russia is way more complex and mind-blowing than the USSR. Or Czarist Russia, for that matter. The "Siloviki"..."The Family"..."The St. Petersburg Lawyers and Economists"..."The Power Vertical"...Chubais, Sobchak, Berezovsky, Luzhkov. And I thought they were scary and opaque and compelling in 1985!

    I don't know who I'm lecturing or am mad at, since I doubt anyone on the board is a homophobic American evangelical flying to and from Russia to "consult" with Russian officials about family issues. Although if they were, I'd caution them about unintended consequences, as it might someday be them or one of their Russian contacts looking down the barrel of a Makarov in the basement of the Lubianka. That's a figure of speech since it's well-known the organs of state security always shoot you in the back of the neck when you least expect it.

  2. hey man is the story from a few years back about the spetsnaz killing the families of the Chechnyans who took that theatre hostage (and then mysteriously went up in flames) true? I think Redheat (rip) told me that story. Like, they executed the families of the hostage takers while the shit was going down. Brutal. Also, fairly effective.

  3. Nice followup PL to a great post. It is probably the most crazy town than it has ever been over there now. In the internet article about what other people say about America, one Russian woman remarked that she was surprised that when you become President, it automatically doesn't make you the richest guy in the country. I think the very protective individualist culture is in a hyperstate over there with collective good at a low priority and personal gain the ideal.

  4. I hadn't heard that, Princelumber, but it wouldn't surprise me. That theater "rescue", like the one at the school in Beslan, was unbelievable.

    I'm not much of a conspiracy theory guy, but most of the ones I believe, or are inclined to believe, have to do with Russia. For example, that the FSB perpetrated the apartment bombings in 1999 that triggered the second Chechen war and the nationalist surge brought Putin to power, that they killed ex-FSB whistleblower Alexander Litvinenko in London with Polonium-210, and that they murdered dissident journalist Anna Politovskaya.

    If anyone's interested, a couple worthwhile books on the broader subject are Stephen Kotkin's Armageddon Averted: The Soviet Collapse, 1970-2000 and David Satter's Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State.

    I wonder if the current Russian state is sustainable. The country is bursting at the seams with natural resources, brilliant scientists and artists, gnarly helicopters, and dreadful pop music but, like under Stalin, albeit for different reasons having nothing to do with ideology or personal paranoia, and unlike the USSR from Khrushchev to Gorbachev, it's becoming very difficult for the rest of the world to deal with and for the average person to live in with any sense of security.

  5. In other conspiracy news, what was Karl Rove doing in Yalta in the run-up to the South Ossetia war during McCain's 2008 presidential bid?

  6. Being fooled into thinking that Russia is a liberal democracy and a valuable ally in the war on terror?

  7. That might be why Condi was there, but I doubt it was Rove's motive.

  8. In other non-conspiracy news, mass protests in Ukraine over the delay of an association agreement with the EU. Russia is of course opposed to it and trying to draw Ukraine into its "customs union" alongside Belarus and Kazakhstan. What's Russia going to do about it, though - cut off their natural gas and poison their president with dioxin? Because they already have done both those things before.

    Ukraine falling securely into the EU/NATO orbit would be highly undesirable for Russia as its currently constituted, diplomatically, militarily, economically, and agriculturally,

  9. How can there not be gas in the Ukraine...or is it just undeveloped resources?

  10. Their consumption exceeds their production by more than 2 to 1.

  11. crazy. I guess I thought the ukraine wasn't as populous.

  12. They also dropped the The a few years back.

  13. For a while it was "Ukraine: A Country".

  14. One of my regular internet stops a while back.

  15. knowing you aren't supposed to use The will most likely make me use it even more, as a misplaced The is one of my favorite things.

  16. Ukraine: Not Entirely a Nuclear Wasteland


  18. "Ukraine: the former Soviet republic that's needles."

  19. @Mannyapolis One of my regular internet stops a while back.

    That's an entertaining site. I'm going to make up a few stories off the top of my head:

    "Giant hole in Krasnoyarsk is hazard for wildlife and bicyclists"

    "Russian ladies like cheetahs"

    "Nuclear icebreaker has crazy paint job"

    "Komplex-153 command bunker in Urals now school for deaf children"

    "Eagle nest on rotor hub of abandoned Mi-24A"

  20. Dear The Netherlands,

    I think it's time for all of us to get rid of "the."

    Some United States of America

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