To add a couple of things that are Russia specific:
(1) We now learn that the FBI had interviewed the older brother at the bequest of an unspecific foreign government – almost certainly Russia. Tamerlan had visited it for 6 months in 2011. I wonder if he established links with some of the Caucasus Emirate Wahhabi types while there – and if so, whether US suspicions about Russia’s “assaults” on human rights in Chechnya made them drop their guard on a man who, it is now clear, was by then fast becoming an Islamist radical. The one silver lining to this horrible event is that it will become even more obvious that the Chechen rebellion has now been completely subsumed into the global Islamist struggle – and by extension, it will encourage the West to take a closer look at its “friends” in Syria.
(2) The reactions of Russian liberals has as always been as hilarious as it is nauseating. They seriously believe that the FSB is behind this.
Vasily Gatov, state news agency RIA employee: “I am watching three TV channels and listening to the radio, and reading the Boston Globe, and I gather that the main task of the FBI is to take the suspect alive. There is a drama brewing between Watertown, Washington, Moscow, and Grozny… And who knows which other cities. But I’m sure that the greatest fear is felt in Grozny. Which is why he will be taken alive.“
Self-hating random Echo of Moscow commentator: “I will not be surprised if it turns out that the Tsarnaev brothers where recruited by Russian special forces for the execution of this terrorist act, because Russia will benefit from it. Why? Because this terrorist act will change American and Western public opinion – and hence, that of their politicians - towards Chechnya. If before the Western public supported the Chechens’ independence struggle, it is now more likely that they will support the Russian government’s policy on the Caucasus. And this means that the Kremlin KGBists will be able to use still crueler and more barbaric methods to fight separatism on the part of the Caucasus peoples. In other words, this terrorist act will untie the hands of the Kremlin in its war against the peoples of the Caucasus.“
I had great fun observing the fallout over Depardieu’s “defection” to Russia. The reason for the apostrophes is of course because it had nothing to do with it. It was Depardieu trolling Hollande and the French “Socialists”, and Putin trolling Westerners and his own homegrown “democratic journalists.” (Or maybe not? In any case, I for one have a difficult time comprehending why anyone would care so much.) This trolling was both entertaining and successful, because it elicited so, so much beautiful rage and loathing from all our favorite quarters.
The Western press
Predictable enough, coverage of this on the right-wing sites like the Wall Street Journal was schizophrenic. After all the writers and readers have to decide on who they hate more: Socialist France or Putin’s Russia? Of course the faux-left/neoliberal press like Le Monde and The Guardian had no such problems. They went stark raving apoplectic:
Gerard announces the closure of several Parisian Boulangeries.
The hilarity of this is that the Guardian is a majormouthpiece for “fat acceptance”; indeed, it is not atypical for its contributors to write inanities like this: “While obese is a medical term, fat is the language of the bully. It’s not a word doctors should use.”
While I certainly have no problem with making fun of fat apologists and their enablers, but what’s hilarious is that the Guardian CiF is notoriouslycensorious and would have surely deleted those comments had they been directed at anyone the Guardian likes for violating its “community standards.”
An American politologist and a Russian journalist from Komsomolskaya Pravda tried to find out whether it’s possible to change Washington’s attitude to Moscow.
America Hates The Russia That It Invented Itself
Discussion with Edward Lozansky, Alexei Pankin, and KP’s Aleksandr Grishin.
A new period is beginning in US – Russia relations at the start of Vladimir Putin’s new term as Russian President. Washington doesn’t hide its critical attitude to Moscow, despite mutual assurances that the Reset is here to stay. American politologist Edward Lozansky and Russian journalist Alexei Pankin are with us at Komsomolskaya Pravda to discuss what we can expect from these new developments.
For some – a partner, for others – a competitor
Lozansky: I would identify two schools of political thought and public opinion. One of them is more influential than the other. It considers Russia to be not far removed from the Soviet Union, and while there may no longer be ideological differences, geopolitical conflicts remain unresolved. That is why Russia is seen as an unfriendly country. And how do you deal with an unfriendly country? You use hard power – the Pentagon, and soft power, including the media. And you take other opportunities to portray this country in a bad light. The vast majority of the American media holds these positions.
National Library of Belarus. Who says tractors and Bat’ka are all there is to it?
In the vein of my recent posts on the myth of Russianemigration, I am now publishing a translation of Уехать в Белоруссию (“Go Off To Belarus”) by Maksim Schweiz writing for Rosbalt news agency. It is a joint effort by Nils van der Vegte, who blogs with Joera Mulders at Russia Watchers and is now busy propagating Dutch language and culture in the Arctic cornucopia of Arkhangelsk, and myself. Nils translated the section on Belarus, I translated the section on Ukraine.
Many pundits have stated lately that Russia is going to experience (or is already experiencing) a large outflow of people who wish to emigrate to other countries because in contemporary Russia, life is supposedly unbearable. However, by looking at the statistics, which we prefer over random quotes, this is not really the case. Also, like some other people pointed out, Russia is not that unique in that a certain percentage has the desire to leave one’s country. Even Russia’s most anti-Kremlin and pro-Western newspapers are fed up with the continuous desire to emigrate. In a recent interview on Echo of Moscow, Konstantin Remtsukov (the editor of the Nezavisimaya Gazeta) commented: “I would like to ask those people who want to “shove off” the following question: just when was it ever better in Russia?” and “Did they want to leave in 1994 and 1993 as well? What aboutin 1998? Do they think they lived better then than we do today?” Instead of doing a serious/academic post on Russian emigration (to counter all these rants) we have decided to translate a rather cynical post by Rosbalt, in which a Russian journalist advises Russians about emigrating to Belarus or Ukraine. – Nils van der Vegte.
Nikolay Starikov, heroic destroyer of Russian liberal myths!
Do you remember the growing chorus of voices in the Western media speaking of a “growing wave” of emigration from Putin’s Russia? Those 1.25 million liberal professionals who have fled that neo-Soviet abyss in the past few years? As it turns out, not only are these stories complete fabrications – in a previous post, I revealed that the actual statistics (as opposed to hearsay) indicate that emigration has fallen to record lows – but they originate with the Russian liberal media.
The words of a government official, whose department has nothing to do with migration, was egregiously MISQUOTED to give the impression of a huge outflow in the past few years whereas he had been talking about the entire post-Soviet period! Nonetheless, too lazy and/or ideologically biased to do basic fact-checking, this false narrative spread into the top Russian liberal media outlets and from then on into Western publications (with their equally lazy and Russophobic hacks) such as Julian Evans for Wall Street Journal and Simon Shuster for TIME.
The full meta-story of how the Russian liberals orchestrated this “Second Wave of Emigration” meme is reconstructed in painstaking detail by Nikolay Starikov in his blog post How Liberal Myths are Created. My translation follows:
So I decide to write about Putin’s mistakes to counter my public image as “ein strammer Putin-soldat“, and guess what, the first comment I get denounces me as a ”completely naive and/or delusional person” for daring to “take “Russia’s corruption trends” seriously” (I suppose it proves the old dictim that you can’t please everyone all of the time). Anyhow, to atone for my brief lapse into liberast heresy, I return to my old neo-Soviet ways by translating Russian businessman and LJ blogger gosh100‘s excellent short essay ”On Liberasts and Liberasty” (Про либерастию и либерастов) from June 2007. In doing so, I hope to introduce “liberast” and “liberasty” into the English lexicon to denote Russia’s self-styled liberals, who are in fact anything but liberal in word and deed*. Enjoy!
One of my readers, Fedia Kriukov, kindly pointed me to a LiveJournal blog post by Ksenia Larina from August 13th, 2009. She’s been working with the liberal “Echo of Moscow” radio station since 1991 and her husband, Rinat Valiulin, had accepted a position with Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty in February 2009. In uncompromising language, she reveals her husband’s unpleasant experiences with RFERL in Радио Свобода – свобода подлости (Radio Liberty – The Freedom of Mendacity). Her impression is that a once-respectable institution has degenerated into a nest of self-serving nepotism, neo-Soviet bureaucracy and US managerial fecklessness. Coming hard on the heels of Mario Corti’s revelations about its plummeting popularity, corruption and retreat from journalistic independence, RFERL will have an increasingly difficult time justifying the tens of millions of dollars of American taxpayer money going into supporting it.
TRANSLATION: Ksenia Larina on “Radio Liberty – The Liberty of Mendacity” (LJ post)
My husband Rinat Valiulin, who was invited to the position of Director of the Russian service this February, abandoned the “hospitable” walls of this human rights-defending radio station Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty on August 10th. His contract had been terminated. The presenter began the traditional midday briefing of the Moscow and Prague editorial offices with congratulations: “Colleagues! Congratulations! We did it!” What did they do? They arranged a civil execution for my husband. A ritual killing. They destroyed him.