One of the most interesting new bloggers on the Russia watching scene is Augis Barkov and his Red Hot Russia. Much like chinaSMACK for China, he searches out trending stories on Runet and translates them – with comments from netizens – for a wider English-speaking audience. Some of his topics I found interesting included Chechen fashion, “Naked Party of Love”, and Russian dating profiles (from the 1900′s!). Augis recently wrote this exclusive article for Da Russophile on the Russian opposition’s use of sex, scandal, and slapstick to highlight various social and political issues.
There is no such thing as bad publicity. This paradigm works fairly well in advertising consumption products from chewing gum to works of art. But will it succeed in advertising political ideas? Can they be promoted by means of sex and scandals?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but some activists of Russian opposition seem to believe in Succès de scandale. Let me describe the most infamous examples of such acts and leave to readers the judgment whether they were performed by artists or hooligans, liberals or liberasts.
First name which springs to mind in relation to social and political protests expressed in scandalous form is the art-group “Voina” [“War”].
They are best known for the pornographic act which took place in Moscow Museum of Biology in 2008. Few days before the presidential elections in Russia (won by Dmitry Medvedev) a group of 12 activists conducted an orgy in one of the rooms of museum. Five couples simultaneously engaged in sexual intercourse while two other members were holding placard with the writing “Fuck for the Heir Puppy Bear!”.
[Note: Puppy Bear (in Russian “медвежонок”) has the same root as Medvedev’s surname (“Медведев”)]
The above photo, part of a photo report by Ridus, shows the Anti-Orange protest at Poklonnaya Gora in Moscow on February 4th. Does that look like 35,000 people to you, let alone 20,000 or 15,000? Because those were the most commonly cited figures in the Western media, apart from those cases where they ignored them altogether (The Guardian) or even tried passing them off as a ANTI-Putin rallies (e.g. Le Parisien).
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!