It’s A Culture War, Stupid

One of the things that most annoys me about Western coverage of St.-Petersburg’s law against homosexual propaganda to minors, the case against Pussy Riot, etc., is how it is almost always presented as a show-down between “liberated” and “creative” Russians and the macho dictator Putin.

In reality, of course, it’s a culture war – and as a result the majority is on the conservative side of the spectrum and the government merely accedes to this fact. This is the case with Pussy Riot. It is also the case with the anti-homosexual laws. According to the polls, which no Western journalist cares about for all his feigned concern for the opinions of “ordinary Russians”, 14% of Russians support homosexual marriages, 84% oppose; 8% want to allow gay parades, 82% are against. Three quarters consider homosexuality to be a deviancy, a disease, or a mental illness.

A honorable exception to this rule is Sam Bollier, whose recent piece for Al Jazeera I highly recommend: Madonna to sing out on ‘gay propaganda’ law.

Yet whatever their own ideological leanings Western journalists pay no mind whatsoever to these elementary realities. Liberal Guardianistas believe that most Russians think just like them when they are oddballs even in Britain. One might think Conservatives might have a more nuanced view, but that is not the case. As noted by Kononenko, they pass off the prosecution of Pussy Riot as a political punishment for their song “Holy Mother of God, chase Putin out!”; whereas as meticulously documented by Alex Mercouris there is nothing tying Putin to the case (indeed one wonders why Putin would wish to involve himself at all with those freaks with colored bags over their heads) and the prosecution is for a hooligan act that is in contravention of Russian laws that are not dissimilar from laws in numerous European countries*.

I don’t agree with all its arguments, but another very good article I came across recently was Robert Kaplan’s STRATFOR piece Putin’s Geopolitical Logic.

Regrettably, it’s behind a paywall, but its well worth quoting in extenso:

Tyrants who kill millions or at least hundreds of thousands are well known to history and are consequently seen as impersonal forces of nature, like hurricanes or tornadoes. But the dislike of Putin is quite personal**. He is not a mass murderer, but he gets under the skin of Western elites in ways that mass murderers do not.

Even Syria’s notorious dictator, Bashar al Assad, is always nattily dressed in a suit and tie. Not so Putin, who sometimes wears a leather jacket and occasionally rides bare-chested on a horse. Putin flaunts the mores and conventions of the global elite. A black belt in judo, he affects the appearance of a manly bully in a world where high culture is increasingly cosmopolitan and feminine. …

In fact, it is Putin’s very rational foreign policy that truly insults Western elites. These elites, whether liberal internationalists or neoconservatives, are intent on Progress — in the magisterial uppercase sense of the word. … Putin is no warmonger. For when all sides are looking out for their own interests, they comprehend the interests of their adversaries, and therein lies compromise. It’s often when the national interest is equated with a moral absolute that conflict tends to become violent, because in that case your adversary is judged to be immoral, and thus compromise becomes harder to achieve.

To be sure, it is the West that has played the warmonger in Iraq, Libya and Syria — in terms of rhetoric, if not always in terms of action. And while the West’s goals may have certainly been laudatory in some cases, they have also been at times self-righteous and destabilizing. …

The West considers Putin’s hostility to regime change in Libya and Syria immoral. But what I think secretly enrages Western elites is that they themselves know that Putin’s hostility is not immoral at all: It is amoral, or morally indifferent. An immoral foreign policy can be easily attacked as such. But an amoral policy — a policy rationally based on geopolitics, on geographically-based self-interest, that is — is a greater threat to Western elites because it is an assertion that the world has actually changed less than they thought following the toppling of the Berlin Wall. It is an assertion that fundamental opposition to what the West wants is not necessarily evil or even necessarily wrong.

Exactly. This is Putin Derangement Syndrome in a nutshell.

* Of course, before all the trolls pile in, that is not to argue that such laws are correct in principle – be they on the books in Russia or in Western Europe. In the US, for instance, the First Amendment pretty much guarantees that a case like Pussy Riot would never reach the courts. Nonetheless, for all that I am pretty sure that quite a lot of the people foaming at the mouth at Pussy Riot’s treatment were quite happy to see Emma West imprisoned for 21 weeks for holding a racist rant in a tram.

** Indeed, the only other major personage who arouses quite the same level of visceral hatred in your standard Western journalist be (s)he liberal or conservative is Julian Assange. I have long come to the conclusion that deeply psychosexual (feminist / beta male orbiter) reasons underlie both the hatred of Putin and Assange.

Comments

  1. I usually find Kaplan’s foreign policy arguments dubious, but I agree with the section you quoted.

    It’s interesting to consider the ways in which Putin (and contemporary Russia by extension) is misunderstood and subjected to projections of various kinds. If you read paleocon or alt-right material, you’ll often see Putin presented as an upstanding Christian statesman defending Holy Russia from the decadent West. There’s also an eccentric subset of the Western left which thinks he’s some kind of heroic fighter against Western imperialism.

    These are in addition to the standard mass-media narrative of Putin as neo-Soviet dictator. All of these versions require their proponents to massively ignore or downplay inconvenient facts.

    • “There’s also an eccentric subset of the Western left which thinks he’s some kind of heroic fighter against Western imperialism. ” Putin is no ‘progressive’, but Russia can be an “objective ally” with Western peaceniks and dissidents. E.g.: RT’s work with Assange and coverage of the financial sector and WikiLeaks. In fact there’s some continuity with Soviet times, when the USSR was the only international power fighting against Western colonialism in Asia and white supremacy in Africa..

      • You are correct but this alliance is of course purely opportunistic.

        Just as the West glorifies left revolutionaries everywhere except those on its own doorsteps so has Russia/RT (re)learned the gist of the game. :)

        • I think such a “pro Putin” left may exist in the US and possibly in France but I see precious little sign of it here in Britain. The left here hates Putin far more than the right does. You are far more likely to find an article agreeing with Putin in the Daily Mail than in the Guardian.

          There is nothing “heroic” or “idealistic” about Putin’s or Russia’s foreign policy and thank heavens for that. Russian foreign policy is realistic and rooted in self interest. Nor has Putin ever pitched himself as some sort of “ally” of any part of the western left and nor is he interested in abstractions such as “western imperialism”. It is the practical realities of western policies and how these affect Russia that concern him. If some in the west who are on the left think Putin is their ally then they are setting themselves up for disappointment, which when it comes they will have no one to blame for but themselves. Needless to say when that day comes they will not blame themselves but will blame Putin and Russia instead.

          • Hence why I used the term “objective allies,” it’s a coincidence of interests, not of values. I should add that, actually, there is overlap of values between the Russian concept of “sovereign democracy” and European/leftist ideas about the importance of international law. This obviously does not apply to the moralist-”responsibility to protect” wing of Western liberals who, more often than not, use any tragedy as an excuse to violate national sovereignty and international law (see: Kosovo, Libya). Again this isn’t motivated by sentimentalism, but it is that Russia sees some cosmopolitan realism (that international relations, though still harshly dominated by national interest, should be governed by some basic “ground rules”) as a way of defending its national interest and constraining Western unilateralism.

  2. donnyess says:

    “indeed one wonders why Putin would wish to involve himself at all with those freaks with colored bags over their heads”

    Where or from whom did they get the colored bag over the head idea? They didn’t mean to offend or scare anybody right?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/21/olympics-opening-ceremony-israel-munich-ioc-deny_n_1692378.html

  3. well, bending Constitution to suit personal agenda and trample of democracy principles during election campaign IS morally wrong, isn’t it? besides foreign policy Russia has domestic policy

    • Moscow Exile says:

      The “bending of the constitution” that is probably referred to above was the extension of a presidential term of office from 4 years to 6. There was, contrary to a popular misconception in the West, no change in the Russian constitution enabling a president of Russia to serve more than 2 terms of presidential office, as is the case in the USA and has has only been the case there since changes in the US constitution were made after the death of F.D. Roosevelt who had, because of the exingencies of WWII, held more than two terms of presidential office.

      What is proscribed by the Russian constitution, however, is more than two consecutive terms of presidential office. After having served two consecutive terms of office, Vladimir Putin could not act as president for a consecutive third term. Upon the termination of President Medvedev’s term of office, Putin had the constitutional right to stand for president again. There is nothing unconstitutional in Russia in a president serving more than two terms of office on condition that no presidential office can last longer than two consecutive terms for any president. That means that a president can now hold office for a maximum of 12 years, after which period he must stand down. He then may stand for president again 6 years later at the next presidential election.

      Is that undemocratic? No doubt many in the West hold it to be so because it is not the same democratic procedure as is carried out in the USA.

      Time and again there arises criticism in the West about Putin’s manipulation of the Russian constitution, as if state constitutions are cast in stone. The former British foreign minister Milliband seemingly was not of this opinion, though, when he, on learning that it was against the Russian constitution to allow a Russian citizen stand trial on criminal charges in a foreign court, then blithely told the Russian government to change the constitution.

      Interestingly, there were no howls of derision from the West when Yeltsin changed the Russian constitution “to suit personal agenda” and, I should add, that of his oligarchical backers; nor were there criticisms from the West concerning Yeltsin’s trampling of “democracy principles” when he actually passed a decree before a presidential election that many felt he was likely to lose forbidding
      opposition parties transmitting party political broadcasts in a TV and printed news media that was controlled by Yeltsin and his oligarch
      chums.

      • In fact, Yeltsin temporarily banned the Communist party altogether – twice – which looked likely to drive him from power. He was also the leader who instituted the famous “power vertical” that people can’t seem to mention without suggesting it is Putin’s brainchild.

        http://countrystudies.us/russia/69.htm

        It’s also true that on the second day of the 3-day rule in 1991 by the coup d’etat Communists who seized power from Gorbachev, the KGB opened 157 criminal investigation into what were described as “economic crimes” involving “superprofits” and links with criminal groups. Of these, at least a third involved foreign firms in joint ventures. Yeltsin assumed the throne (figuratively speaking), and badda-bing-badda-boom: the investigations went away.

        http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1991/09/23/75512/index.htm

  4. A large monotreme says:

    If you being the Constitution in a direction that the majority of the population desires,you are obviously not trampling on democratic principles.

  5. Dear Anatoly,

    I think this is one of the truest articles you have ever written. I cannot endorse it or recommend it to others too highly. When I find myself in such enthusiastic agreement with an article it is difficult to know what further to say save the obvious point already made implicitly in the article that it is totally unreasonable and completely unfair to project onto Putin and Russia the west’s private culture wars or to make relations with Russia somehow hostage to those wars.

  6. As noted by Kononenko, they pass off…

    That’s not what he says. Not even close. Try again.

    • Close enough.

      Оттуда видно так, что Пусси Райот судят за фразу «Богородица, Путина прогони». То есть, что это Путин судит Пусси Райот за то, что они против него.

      I’m just further refining K’s observation that it is more of a conservative feature, whereas Western liberals believe in both the political persecution aspect as well as (unlike conservatives) the nihilistic view that church profanation is fine anyway.

      • There’s no way you can translate “оттуда видно так” as “they pass off”, especially in this context. Speaking of which, should we assume that by quoting Kononenko you subscribe to his theory that the whole thing is just Patriarch Kirill’s personal jihad?

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Get the thing in context!

          “Но снаружи, из-за границ России, ситуация выглядит принципиально иначе. Там вообще ничего не знают про РПЦ и патриарха. Оттуда видно так, что Пусси Райот судят за фразу «Богородица, Путина прогони». То есть, что это Путин судит Пусси Райот за то, что они против него.”

          From outside, beyond the frontiers of Russia, the situation in general looks the other way a.round. Seen from there, where they basically know nothing about the ROC and the Patriarch, Pussy Riot are on trial because of the phrase “Mother of God, drive Putin away”, namely that Putin has put Pussy Riot on trial because they are against him.

          • Seen from there…

            Right, that’s exactly what I’m saying: “seen from there” is not the same as “they pass off”.

        • There’s no way you can translate “оттуда видно так” as “they pass off”, especially in this context.

          They (laymen MSM consumers) do indeed “see” this as political persecution. But it is Western journalists who “pass it off as” because they are actually in Russia, know the language, report on it, etc, etc, and are as such presumably better informed.

  7. Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that in 1966, the Finnish author Hannu Salama was convicted for blasphemy. The suspended sentence (6 months in prison) was based on his book Juhannustanssit (St John’s eve dancing), especially on a passage from it, a mock sermon. Salama was pardoned by the Finnish president Kekkonen. Probably not many people in the West know that blasphemy of most raw kind was officially encouraged in the Soviet Union after the revolution. It’s not to justify the harsh treatment of the Pussy Riot girls, but to give some background to what has happened.

  8. People worldwide will hold protests if Pussy Riot members are convicted – lawyers

    Moscow, August 8, Interfax – Defense lawyers for the Pussy Riot feminist punk band members being tried for disorderly conduct at the Christ the Savior Cathedral have warned that people in different countries will hold demonstrations in their support if they are convicted.

    Mark Feigin, a lawyer for Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, told Interfax the defense team is sure that the women will be convicted.

    “If our expectations prove true and the court sentences the girls to real prison terms, people all over the world will take to the streets to demand freedom for Pussy Riot right on the day the sentence is handed down,” Feigin said.

    This action has been planned for quite a long time, and a lot of people have learned about these plans from the Internet.

    “We are not calling on anyone to go anywhere, but we are just urging the people to go out and demand justice,” he said.

    Judge Marina Syrova had told the participants in the trial, journalists and the public earlier on Wednesday that she would hand down a sentence on the Pussy Riot case at 3:00 p.m. on August 17.

    http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=9674

    • I believe Putin has said that PR should not be punished too severely. Let’s hope they get sentenced to time served and maybe some community service. The authorities should avoid making martyrs of them.

      • American Imperial Nationalist or AIN says:

        What America wants, is that the streets rules and not the Russian Law.
        It would be the best that people like you and me are asked for the punishment and the Court on ground of it decides what should be the punishment.
        The purpose is to discredit the Russian legal system…so let the American come to Russia and conduct the trial…to rule the country.
        That is the message…why nobody questions a trial in America?

    • American Imperial Nationalist or AIN says:

      “If our expectations prove true and the court sentences the girls to real prison terms, people all over the world will take to the streets to demand freedom for Pussy Riot right on the day the sentence is handed down,” Feigin said.
      ………………
      Nobody would support them if behind them is not American Foreign Office
      american money, american establishment, CIA and American Imperial Nationalists.
      The goal is to destroy Russia from inside and this is just 1/1000 of their effort.

      • They tried to stage a similar Pussy Riot type incident in Finland.

        Pussy Riot-like stunt averted in Finland

        Helsinki, August 6, Interfax – Security has been tightened in all Orthodox churches in Finland over possible provocations like the stunt perpetrated by the Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot.

        “Тeivo Teivainen, professor of international policy at the Helsinki University, tried to repeat the Pussy Riot stunt in the Helsinki Assumption Cathedral over the past weekend, but was barred from the church,” Finnish human rights activist Johan Backman told Interfax on Monday.

        After that, Teivainen organized a performance by Finnish girls in the street near the church. The girls demanded the release of the Pussy Riot women and freedom to sexual minorities in Russia.

        “The attempt to conduct a concert in the Assumption Cathedral was part of the ‘lecture walk’ around Helsinki organized by the Helsinki University and the Finnish Museum of Contemporary Art,” Backman said.

        “However, the Finnish Pussy Riot activists were barred from the church. Apparently, someone warned the priests,” Backman said.

        http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=news&div=9649

  9. American Imperial Nationalist or AIN says:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19207439
    Could somebody break down or to analyse this article from BBC and show the lies and the manipulation methods which BBC uses, please?

  10. American Imperial Nationalist or AIN says:

    It’s A Culture War, Stupid
    I disagree with this statement, if it was not PR Anglo-Saxons would find something else.
    The purpose is just to demonize Russia, to destabilize this country, break down into many parts and to create unipolar world.
    It would be UKUSA’s Third Reich.

  11. American Imperial Nationalist or AIN says:

    Sooner or later something will happen in Russia.
    This time it is Pussy Riot, tomorrow it will be something else.
    UKUSA countries are waiting for anything to happen so that they can blow it up, exploit in order to destabilize Russia.
    It seems that Russia is not allowed to put on trial own citizens and America is allowed to arrest anybody anywhere in the world and to put on trial.
    People around the world are going to demonstrate in support for Pussy Riot on CIA demand
    and nobody made demonstration for new “Munchen 1938″ that is happening in Syria.

  12. Pussy Riot case is a litmus test for Russia and the Putin regime that shows the fragility and house of cards that he has created with a fairly insignificant protest performance in a church and the Kremlins overreaction to it shows even an obscure challenge to Putin’s rule is dealt with harsh measures is a harbinger of Russia’s social decline and fragmentation.

    http://www.network54.com/Forum/84302/thread/1345172271/last-1345172271/Pussy+Riot+have+an+activist+YouTube+channel

    • I’m not sure the harsh treatment of the Pussy Riot girls is Putin’s initiative. In any case, Putin must take into account the rise of the conservative and intolerant orthodox public. In my view, what we see in Russia is similar to what happened there a century ago. But, fortunately, Putin and his entourage are still much more intelligent than the Tzar and his court. Here, it means that Putin has to be more skilful in maneuvering between the conservatives and liberals, “patriots” and “internationalists”. So far he has managed. Russia is a more or less democratic country, but here it means that the majority tends to be conservative, nationalist, religious and intolerant. Not an easy situation for any minority. As it was in tzarist Russia. But still, I’m not pessimist, I see signs of evolution, and this tends to be more positive than negative despite many a sign of intolerance and authoritarianism.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Well they’ve been sent down for two years minus the five months that they spent on remand. And if they had done something similar in, say, Westminster Abbey, London, and obscenely screeched out that the British head of state, aka Elizabeth II, be driven out with the help of the “Mother of God”, they would very likely have received a custodial sentence as well.

        In the summer of 2011, during protests in London against austerity cuts in education, a student leaped towards and seized one of the flags at the Cenotaph (the memorial to the fallen in two world wars), Whitehall, and then swung on it tarzan-like.

        He was arrested and charged with breach of public order and in court he was accused of hurting the feelings of many and showing disrespect for dead servicemen.

        See: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3271873/Student-riots-Cenotaph-yob-is-son-of-Pink-Floyd-star-Dave-Gilmour.html

        He was sent down for 16 months but released after 4 months with “a tag”, namely a home detention curfew.

        See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-15734986

        The student in question, Gilmour, studies at Cambridge; his father is a Pink Floyd musician. He is wealthy and “priviliged”. If Gilmour were a “working class yob”, he would still be inside, I’m sure.

        • Dear Moscow Exile,

          I totally agree with this. I cannot repeat this often enough but what Pussy Riot did was a very serious public order offence at the very upper end of the scale. Whether one agrees with the fact or not (and I don’t agree with it) the consistent trend in international jurisprudence is for public order offences to be punished more severely. Gilmour’s offence was by any measure much less serious than Pussy Riot’s especially when you consider that what Pussy Riot did was carefully premeditated and given that Gilmour can hardly be said to have acted out of malice. He got 16 months and as you correctly say if he had not been a privately educated son of a famous rock musician he would never have got early release. Moreover there is no doubt in his case that he was a political protester since when he committed his offence he was participating in a political demonstration. In Britain Pussy Riot would have got at least 2 years. Someone I know who is in a position to say has told me that if Pussy Riot did what they did in New York they would get 3 years despite any defence they might have under the First Amendment (PS: I am not familiar with the criminal law in any part of the US so I cannot confirm this).

          I deplore this trend. I think far too many public order offences are being punished far too severely. That is what I think about the Pussy Riot case. However it is staggeringly unfair to single out Russia for following a trend that everyone else is following.

          • Brother, I’ll sign that. Madonna’s act, in which she descends upon a glittery cross while wearing a fake crown of thorns, had the Vatican foaming that she should be excommunicated for disrespect to the church and the faith, and she wasn’t even in the church. She was near to the Vatican, and that was most definitely the deepest wound; Cardinal Ersilio Tonino said as much, and he was speaking on behalf of the Pope. Where’s the storm of outrage against the Catholic church for inhibiting Madonna’s right to make an artistic political statement?

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-398931/Vaticans-fury-Madonna-blasphemy.html

      • It was the system he has created in which he could have intervened like the Khoderkovsky case to give them a lenient sentence of time served, a fine and some community service instead they have received a 2 year prison sentence.

        “Russia is a more or less democratic country, but here it means that the majority tends to be conservative, nationalist, religious and intolerant.”

        That’s bull. With the exception of the ethnic Russian racist monkeys the minorities especially in the North Caucasus are ethnocentric and racist like every other place in the world throughout history and not this bogus artificially created post WW1 and WW2 multi-culturalism reinforced by strict measures in collusion with the government, media and affiliated rights groups.

        The exception with Russia in regards to hostile ethnic groups is that they are being promoted and supported by establishment connected think tanks and organizations like The Jamestown Foundation with favourable global media coverage.

        • If he had done that, the west would’ve claimed “victory.” If I’m not mistaken, Putin did state that he believed that the courts should show leniency. Do you expect him to get involved and over-ride the court? Also, maybe the court knows something about this:

          http://landdestroyer.blogspot.ca/2012/08/russian-punkers-get-2-years-jail-for-us.html

          I agree that these girls should’ve been given community service and time served, but perhaps the brouhaha kicked up over this case and exploited by PR’s defense team – who seemed more interested in making his clients cause celebre’s than getting them off by defending them – pissed off the court.

  13. IMO Putin played this one to perfection. The criminal court got it pretty much right also.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/story/2012/08/03/pussy-riot-putin-comments-london.html?cmp=rss

  14. On the Pussy Riot business my view is these women deliberately set out to provoke the authorities into overeacting in order to raise their profile and become martyrs for the opposition to Putin. When they come out they will have succeeded in becoming international celebrities and can take their band on a tour of the West where they will be received with open arms by the music industry and the media as heroic dissidents who stood up against the tyrant Putin. This incident has given the opposition an issue and a symbol to unite around. They will all be wearing their balaclavas at the next mass demonstration in the autumn. Three highly offensive and utterly talentless members of a punk band unknown to anyone outside the bohemian fringe of Moscow now have a lucrative and glittering career ahead of them. It’s all worked out very nicely for them.

    The authorities should have resisted being provoked into playing their game and called for no more than a thumping fine and community service. Given the media bias in the West against Putin they and their allies in the liberal opposition were going to make hay with this from the moment the women were charged.

    Best case scenario would be if Putin exercised clemency and pardoned them before the case is appealed to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. If I were their lawyers I would appeal under Article 10 right of free expression thereby keeping the issue in the public eye.

    Alex Mercouris believes that the way the girls defence lawyers handled the case was detrimental to their clients interests and was always likely to lead to a longer sentence. I suspect that they were trying to politicise the case for maximum affect right from the start and didn’t care whether this would lead to a longer sentence and its quite likely the girls were in full agreement with this strategy. It’s worked very well for them.

    • Dear Robert,

      I am sure you are right that the women did support and agree to what the lawyers were doing. However that does not mean that the lawyers were right to do it. A lawyer’s duty is to act in the interests of the client even if that means telling the client things the client doesn’t want to hear. At no point should a lawyer help a client self destruct. The women may feel now it is working for them when the attention of the world is fixed on them. When the international media cavalcade moves on (which it will) and when the Revolution does not happen (which it won’t) they will be three young women in prison two of them separated from their children. There is nothing romantic about prison as their lawyers should have told them. At that point the women may start to feel that it has not worked so well for them.

  15. I’m inclined to agree with your point: that Pussy Riot’s actions straddle numerous fault-lines from the point of view of the Russian people and the media have rather gleefully attributed the verdict to Putin without really giving thought to his involvement because it’s a convenient narrative. That being said, the wider issue of protests against Putin’s government, draconian new laws being introduced to limit protests, the treatment of prominent detractors of the regime and security crackdown- I think Putin can be held responsible for these. There are many legitimate reasons to protest against Putin and I think if Pussy Riot currently serve to bring attention to these grievances (albeit incorrectly), that sort of seems ok because there are genuine substantive issues to discuss. Incidentally, I notice you made no comment on the treatment of the girls during the trial (there were allegations about the girls being denied sleep, etc.,) and that bias that was shown to the prosecution. These also seemed quite important issues to emerge from this case. I’d be interested to know your thoughts on these.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      What exactly are these “draconian new laws being introduced to limit protest”?

      The right to protest is not denied in Russia, contrary to what the Western media says and many Westerners believe.

      One has to apply for permission to assemble and protest in the West in exactly the same way one has to do in Russia. If protest organizers do not do this, they can be fined or imprisoned both in the West and in Russia. The “draconian laws” recently introduced in Russia to deter unsanctioned protests have increased the former paltry fines imposed on illegal protests.

      In the site “Kremlin Stooge” there is a thread that compares the
      law in the West and in Russia as regards the punishment of unsanctioned protest.

      Unfortunately, it seems that many impressionable Russians seem to
      believe that in the West one can do and say what one pleases anytime, anywhere.

      That is patently untrue.

  16. If anybody wants proof that we are talking about a culture war just read this extraordinary rant against the Patriarch and the Russian Orthodox Church by Nick Cohen in the Observer and the Guardian website.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/19/nick-cohen-pussy-riot-putin

    If Nick Cohen wants to prove that there is a campaign underway against the Russian Orthodox Church then he is going about it in the right way.

  17. Quote:
    “The cleric barely makes an effort to disguise how Russia’s dark traditions of occidentalism and antisemistim have influenced his thought.”

    Yukos is dead…get over it. The loony behavior of Kasparov helps the semitic image not at all. Brit pubs really should ditch the medieval desperation rhetoric. Those girls commited a wanton act of radical hedonism bordering on terrorism.

    • The irony is that Cohen whines about Occidentalism (first time I encountered this word) while swimming neck-deep in Orientalism.

      • “Occidentalism” has been around for a while. I first saw it in this 2002 article by Ian Buruma, analyzing Islamic jihadists:

        http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2002/jan/17/occidentalism/?pagination=false

        For the reaction of the American paleo right (as opposed to the establishment right or neocons), it’s worth reading Rod Dreher’s post in the American Conservative, quoting an “Orthodox friend”:

        http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/slag-solzhenitsyns/

      • Moscow Exile says:

        This concept of the Occident has been around for at least as long as Oswald Spengler had become concerned about its decline. His book “Der Untergang des Abendlandes” (The Downfall of the Occident”) was published shortly after the end of World War I and became a best seller, not least because that which Spengler had written about had, for many, been clearly evidenced by the apparent self- destruction of Western European primacy through the blood-letting that took place during the European war of 1914-1918.

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  1. [...] shove our values down their throats. By screaming for these balaclava-clad hooligans to be freed, aren’t liberals shoving their values down the Russians’ throats? They’re not even good values; as ill-conceived as Operation Iraqi Freedom was, at least what [...]

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