Friday, June 28, 2013

Review 2009 - 2011: Page 17

The day on which the words "Putin" and "mafia state" reached tens of millions of readers on the internet, Rossiya, Russia‘s state-controlled television channel, reported the following in its mid-morning broadcast: the Moscow river was freezing over, two Russian tourists had been attacked by sharks in Egypt, and US truck drivers had got drunk while transporting nuclear weapons. Rossiya did carry Larry King’s interview with the Russian prime minister, and report Mr Putin’s riposte to Robert Gates’s remark that the Russian government was run by the security services – being a former CIA man, Mr Gates should know. But on the substance of the US embassy cables themselves, nothing. Russia’s supine television channels, from which 70% of the country get their news, were silent.
This does not mean there will be no reply, but it will probably be something along the lines of WikiLeaks being manipulated by the Pentagon to defame and weaken Russia. The US embassy cables, if anything, understate the extent to which the Russian government amounts to a giant protection racket. The closer you are to the seat of power, the more money you can extort and the more immunity you enjoy. But this system was not Mr Putin’s alone. He industrialised a process that Boris Yeltsin started. The difference is that in Mr Yeltsin’s case the US embassy in Moscow did their level best to aid and abet. For a variety of reasons: they regarded Mr Yeltsin as their man; he was still, usefully from their point of view, demolishing Soviet structures; that demolition was done in the name of privatisation, and the grand theft of the state’s resources was conducted by people who called themselves democrats. But when it is done in the name of a nationalist autocracy rather than a young pro-western democracy, US diplomats express outrage. Their words would carry more weight if they had piped up a decade earlier.
The problem of describing a government in which officials, oligarchs and organised crime are bound together in a virtual mafia state – one, moreover, that has just won the World Cup – is how you deal with it. Do you ignore its views and tear up the treaties, as Bill Clinton and George W Bush did? Do you place missile defence batteries on its borders? Do you suck up to it, as Silvio Berlusconi is suspected to have done for personal profit? Or do you engage with it in the knowledge that you do not have the luxury of choosing your partners? The picture of Russia presented by US diplomats does not undermine the policy of pressing the reset button on US-Russian relations. It reinforces the need for it. Most cases being heard by the European court of human rights are Russian. So much so that a better name for the Strasbourg court would be the Russian court of human rights. But that is the last reason for suspending Russia from the Council of Europe.
The US embassy cables will not deal a terminal blow to the 16 working groups established under the commission that Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev set up to improve their relationship. But failing to ratify the Start treaty in the lame-duck session of Congress could. So, too, could ignoring the warning contained in Mr Medvedev’s recent state of the nation speech and Mr Putin’s CNN interview – that if the US went ahead with a missile defence programme which excluded Russia, Russia would respond by moving short-range tactical nuclear warheads closer up. If there is a lively debate in Russia about how to modernise it, those voices campaigning for accountability and transparency are still all too easily silenced by the perception of an external threat. It could still take a generation before Russia is run by an accountable government. The duty of its neighbours is not to exacerbate the process, as they did in the 1990s. To do anything else would be to make ordinary Russians hostage to the system that preys on them.
US and Russia: Cosa Putina | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian

Filed under: ПутинПутинизмWikiLeaks        

Vladimir Putin and the real plot against Russia

Putin and Medvedev – Mr Alpha Dog and his poodle – are jailers of the regime but they are also its inmates, Thursday 2 December 2010 18.17 GMT
Russian President Vladimir Putin adjusts
‘The problem is that Putin is both a product and beneficiary of a thuggish regime’. Photograph: Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images
Apart from the small matter of the football, that a Spanish prosecutor has told an American diplomat that Russia is a "mafia state" has made headlines today. With and without reason. Not a single Russian newspaper, not even those that are chummy with the Kremlin, has failed to use such terminology over the past two decades. Before the fall of the USSR few Russians knew what the mafia was. Now the Sicilian name has entered all the Cyrillic lexicons – and always the core meaning is entanglement of politicians and criminals to cream off the country’s assets by whatever means are necessary.
In the old Soviet Union, public theft was possible through a corrupt political system without need for out-and-out hoodlums. Private dachas were constructed at public expense. Factory profits were siphoned off into the bank accounts of thenomenklatura. Elderly party bigwigs took their pick of foreign merchandise in special shops banned to ordinary citizens.
De-communisation changed all that. Privatisation led to a vicious scramble for the country’s abundant natural resources, and strikingly imaginative schemes were dreamt up by the "new Russians". Some of them – the oligarchs – became billionaires, and they made themselves useful to President Yeltsin at times of economic crisis and in election campaigns. In return they exacted a price. Yeltsin had to promise to make it possible for them to lay their hands on ever larger quantities of resources. The greedy competition fostered enmities. Many oligarchs, having fought their way up to wealth and fame, were keen to keep their money by illegal and violent methods.
When Putin came to power he acquired the image of a ruler who would cleanse the filthy stables. He stood for order. He denounced corruption and privilege. And although he never turned the clock back on the privatisation programme, he arrested or intimidated those oligarchs who failed to acknowledge his primacy. Mikhail Khodorkovsky objected. He is now in prison in eastern Siberia. Boris Berezovskywailed and criticised before fleeing to political asylum in London.
To the fore came men like Putin. He drew on ex-comrades from the KGB. He praised them for their patriotism, honesty and dynamism. All too quickly the assets seized from the dissident oligarchs ended up in the pockets of the newcomers from the security and defence establishment. Everybody in Russia knows this. It was certainly no secret from Putin during two presidential terms when he called repeatedly for the installation of the rule of law. His protege and successor, Dmitry Medvedev, has been even more expansive about the need for reform and legality.
Both men appreciate something in theory. This is that Russia, if it is to have a competitive future in the world alongside its Chinese neighbour, has to build a framework where thrusting entrepreneurs can drive home from the office without fear of a hail of bullets. And they know that foreign investment will be enhanced by introducing an enforceable system of business contract legislation.
The problem is that Putin and Medvedev – Mr Alpha Dog and his poodle – are products and beneficiaries of a thuggish regime. They themselves are thugs. Alpha Dog growls while the poodles simpers; but each has got a sharp bite. They are like 18th-century monarchs contemplating a set of reforms. If they go too far too fast, an aristocratic clique may well remove them in a coup. In today’s Russia the current badge of nobility is the old KGB identity paper. They are jailers of the regime but they are also its inmates.
Much that happens in Moscow is their responsibility and they deserve the opprobrium heaped upon them by a plain-speaking Spanish prosecutor. But how much faith should be placed in the US ambassador’s contention that Putin knew about the operation to assassinate Alexander Litvinenko in London? This is much less credible. Putin is the big man at the centre of a system in which many operate – and diplomatic cables that caricature the internal reality of Russian politics are not going to clarify analysis in the way that is needed in our complex world of rapid change.
The man from Spain said nothing unusual in itself. What is remarkable is that such remarks have at last surfaced in the public domain. Putin has been quick to claim that there’s a plot against Russia. There is indeed a plot against Russia, and it is one he knows a lot about from the inside.
Vladimir Putin and the real plot against Russia | Robert Service | Comment is free |

Filed under: PutinPutinismWikiLeaks        

The specter of Joseph Stalin continues to haunt post-Soviet Russia, as the GOR and average Russians alike struggle to reconcile their pride in past Soviet glories with the harsh fact that the Soviet system, especially under Stalin, destroyed the lives of millions of its citizens. This uneasy and ambivalent relationship with the past is further complicated by a GOR policy of occasionally exploiting nationalistic emotions about Soviet history — especially the Soviet victory over the Nazis — to buttress support for its own, modern brand of authoritarianism (ref A).
GOR efforts to sanitize Soviet history have continued throughout the year, and have the potential to reach into numerous walks of life and hence to encroach upon academic freedom. In May, the Kremlin announced that it had formed a "Commission to Oppose Historical Falsification," and its state Duma supporters introduced legislation to defend Russia’s honor in any discussion of World War II and the subsequent creation of the Soviet Union (ref B).
More recently, on October 14, the Moscow Times reported that the German government had written a letter to President Medvedev complaining about an investigation into an Arkhangelsk historian, Mikhail Suprun, for "violating privacy rights" by researching deportations of Soviet Germans under Stalin. The police official who gave Suprun access to the archives is also accused of "abuse of office," while Suprun could receive up to four years in prison, and has had what he called "a lifetime’s work" on computers and research data confiscated by the Federal Security Service (FSB).
(C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that she personally knew professors at academic institutions in Moscow who had received such memos during the summer, including memos asking them to "identify falsifiers." She added that the Foreign Intelligence Service also has a presence at RAN. Discussing this potentially disturbing trend, XXXXXXXXXXXX also alluded to the "unpleasant rewrites" found in officially sanctioned textbooks which whitewash Stalin’s role in the country’s history. While acknowledging the existence of "a broad variety" of history books (approximately 24 schoolbooks on history are available in bookstores), XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that the official version outnumbers the others by 250,000 books to approximately 10-15,000.
On October 24, the liberal Daily Journal reported the release of the latest in a long line of history textbooks rehabilitating Stalin; this one, ironically produced by the "Enlightenment" publishing company, denies the existence of totalitarianism in the USSR. The article noted that every time someone brings up the topic of history, it engendered a furious on-line debate.
(C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that a "virtual war" has flared up between pro-Kremlin and anti-Kremlin bloggers every time someone published papers on the Internet that they received from state archives 15 years ago detailing Soviet human rights abuses. The papers date back 15 years, XXXXXXXXXXXX explained, because now, "as in Soviet times," people need to complete special applications to receive permission to read such documents. A brief window opened after the fall of the Soviet Union, and just as quickly closed again.
Охота на призрак вождя сделала призраком страну
The past is not dead; it is not even past.
(C) For XXXXXXXXXXXX, such debates tell as much about the present as they do about the past. He believes that the GOR is "trying to create a newly obedient society," which "as in Orwell," only knows history from a standpoint beneficial to the authorities. According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, "when the power structure talks about falsification, they are simply attempting to hide part of history." He added that knowledge of the real history carries significant power. He was struck by the "shock" of people who learned historical facts, because "sometimes just one fact can overturn a person’s whole world view."
According to XXXXXXXXXXX, "the Kremlin fears people learning about past atrocities and crimes," and hence "tries to manipulate people’s consciousness." XXXXXXXXXXX added that he understands the GOR’s policy, because "if people knew the extent of Soviet crimes," the Kremlin would not be able to control the populace. XXXXXXXXXXXX expressed a similar view, saying that the GOR prefers to present itself as "infallible, making only correct decisions," and that discussions about Stalin’s misdeeds might lead to unwanted questions for today’s government.
(C) XXXXXXXXXXX said he suspected that at least some of the pro-Kremlin bloggers who participate in these historical debates were professionals in the pay of the GOR (and perhaps special services). This notion may not be so far-fetched.
(C) For the GOR’s part, it held a session of its Commission during the summer, and its director claimed that participants were "not here to censor, but simply to oppose" perceived attempts by other countries to gain at Russia’s expense on the geopolitical scene. Although the stated focus is on international disputes, the GOR’s primary audience for its hardline stance is domestic. Rhetoric defending Russia’s honor on the international stage scores easy political points for the GOR at home. (Note: This occasionally results in some fancy footwork, as when Putin visited Poland on the anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and wrote a conciliatory article for his Polish audience, which — according to Lipman, by GOR design — received scant coverage in Russian media. End Note.)
That Stalin continues to have a following, 56 years after his death, is undeniable. After Aleksandr Prokhanov, editor-in-chief of the ultranationalist paper Zavtra, praised Stalin on the "Honest Monday" political talk show on Gazprom-owned NTV, television audience members were invited to phone in their opinions. Of those who participated, 61 percent called Stalin a hero, 32 percent an enemy, and 7 percent "a great, effective manager."
It is undeniable that nationalists continue to link Russia’s past greatness with its past political system, which showed disdain for the value of individual human life and for freedom of expression, and that this approach places these fundamental freedoms under threat. However, there remain enough Russians both in and out of the government who question the nationalists’ logic and strive to keep the memory of Stalin’s victims alive. In the meantime, the GOR occasionally remembers to name a street after Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn just to make sure that nobody confuses them with the Soviets. When discussing this issue, Russians frequently refer to the poet Anna Akhmatova, who, when Khrushchev opened the doors to Stalin’s prisons, wrote that the half of Russia who had imprisoned the other half would now come face to face with its victims. Since according to a recent Levada poll, 27 percent of current Russians have relatives who perished under Stalin’s rule, that "other half" is not going away any time soon. Beyrle
US embassy cables: Stalin’s spectre haunts Russia | World news |

Filed under: NeostalinismPutinPutinismWikiLeaks        

Modern Russia: From Stalinism to Fascism
by Alexander Massa
“Russia has become, in the precise sense of the word, a fascist state.”
When were these wise words spoken? Soon after the 1917 Red Revolution? Perhaps during the height of the Stalinist era in the post-war forties? Wrong. Try 2007, by columnist Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal. Far from a democratic paradise, the modern Russian state is increasingly coming to resemble a nightmarish fascist state, not too different from the Soviet state which preceded it. It is sad that Russia’s brief encounter with democracy, corrupt as it is, seems to have come to an end. We have seen the emergence of a strongman in Vladimir Putin, and while there are still elections, there is no guarantee that they are free or fair, and I sincerely doubt that the people will ever dislodge the former KGB officer from the Kremlin.

Putin’s regime reeks of old-style Soviet thinking and tactics.
We must not ignore the signs coming out of Moscow, whether it be government agents poisoning a dissident in broad daylight in London, or the not exactly free press in that country, or the rise in popularity among extremist movements, including the Communist Party (apparently they learned nothing) and Mr. Putin himself.
The Russian Federation is essentially a democratic state in name only now. We must, as a true republic, recognize this fact and make note of it in our future dealings with the Russians. Make no mistake about it, they are not our friends. They are the same old adversaries we’ve been fighting since May 1945. They may be flying a new banner, but the message is essentially the same – tyranny and subjugation of the masses. We must dutifully oppose them as sentinels of liberty and guardians of freedom and the inherent rights of all men on the globe.
European Public Opinion Polls
Disturbing trends are emerging in Eastern Europe…property of Pew Research.
Modern Russia: From Stalinism to Fascism | Alexander Massa

Filed under: PutinPutinismRussian fascismRussian natinalism        

Независимая судебная система, эффективные правоохранительные органы, система образования, доступные и работающие социальные лифты и в первую очередь высокое качество госуправления — все это снимает большинство вопросов о национальности, минимизирует конфликтные ситуации, которые могут к таким вопросам приводить.
Обращенная в прошлое вывернутая логика премьера фактически сводится к следующему: не получилось, потому что пробовали. Но не получилось не потому, что пробовали, а потому, что не умели сделать.
ВЕДОМОСТИ – От редакции: Помянуть прошлое

Filed under: Национальный вопросРусский национализм        

4Экономическая основа
Недавно опубликованы официальные данные Росстата: «В крайней нищете в России живут 13,4% населения с доходом ниже 3422 рубля в месяц. В нищете пребывают 27,8% с доходом от 3422 до 7400 рублей. В бедности – 38,8% населения с доходом от 7400 до 17 тыс. рублей. "Богатыми среди бедных" являются 10,9% с доходом от 17 до 25 тыс. рублей. На уровне среднего достатка живут 7,3% с доходом от 25 до 50 тыс. рублей. К состоятельным относятся граждане с доходом от 50 до 75 тыс. рублей. Их число составляет 1,1%»[v].
Итого: 41,2% нищих, 49,7% бедных (всего нищих и бедных – 90,9%), 8,4% – среднего достатка и состоятельных, очевидно 0,7% – богатых. Доходы богатых россиян выше доходов бедных в 800 раз… Столь огромный разрыв между бедным большинством и сверхбогатым меньшинством – основной криминогенный и девиантогенный фактор[vi]. Подростки и молодежь – наиболее активный и наименее обеспеченный слой населения – объективный резерв национализма (неонацизма, неофашизма) в условиях беспрецедентного социально-экономического неравенства.
5. Политические предпосылки
Процитирую самого себя: «Фашизм выполняет минимум три функции в современной России.
Во-первых, служит «страшилкой» для режима перед грядущими выборами: или мы (ВВП, преемник), или – фашисты!
Во-вторых, … «инородцы» – превосходный «козел отпущения» для бездарной власти, не способной решить ни одну из социальных проблем (бедность, жилье, армия, образование, медицина, наука и т.п.).
В-третьих, фашисты – социальная база, «резерв главного командования» в борьбе с предполагаемой «оранжевой революцией», до смерти напугавшей власть.
А, кроме того, существует некое «родство душ»: «фашисты (нацисты) – сукины дети. Но это наши сукины дети»[vii].
6. Что делать?
По большому счету ничего сделать нельзя (ничего не будет делаться). В обществе, которое началось с «мочения в сортире», в котором «все ненавидят всех» (цитата из декабрьского же выступления по радио «Эхо Москвы» известного психолога), – трудно рассчитывать на позитивные сдвиги.
Примечательна реакция властей: отменим половину дисциплин в старших классах школы и вместо этого будем денно и нощно воспитывать… патриотизм! Да ведь националистические выступления и происходят под «патриотическими» лозунгами! Настоящий патриотизм тих и личностен. О нем не кричат, им не хвастаются и не рвут рубаху на груди! А громогласно клянутся тем «патриотизмом», который служит «последним убежищем негодяев». Воспитывать-то надо толерантность, космополитизм, интернационализм(кому что больше нравится)! И не только в школе, но и в семье, и в СМИ, и в выступлениях политиков, ученых, деятелей искусства. Ну, так ведь этопонимать надо… (А у нас по ТВ сплошной М. Задорнов, гордящийся своим прославленным антиамериканизмом).
ПОЛИТ.РУ \ ДОКУМЕНТЫ \ Некоторые источники ксенофобии и национализма в современной России. Декабрьские тезисы

Filed under: Русский национализмРусский фашизм        

Результаты выборов 14 марта знаменуют фундаментальное изменение общественного настроения. На наших глазах рушится главная фундаментальная опора многолетнего тотального доминирования властной вертикали – массовое гражданское неучастие. В целом общие тенденции по всей стране едины – за оппозицию голосуют в максимальной степени города, наиболее образованное и молодое население. Что касается федерального политического расклада, то выборы показали главное – запрос на перемены есть, и он усиливается.
Итоги выборов в России 14 марта 2010 г. – обзор СМИ – The results of Russian Local Elections on March14, 2010 – Press Review
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Filed under: Выборы в России-14 марта 2010г.Обзор НовостейОбзор Печати,СМИNews ReviewPress ReviewRussian Elections March 14, 2010Russian Politics        

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