My Piece On Pussy Riot At Al Jazeera

A PR disaster: Five views on Pussy Riot’s war.

Go, read. Comment there if possible.

Just a couple more notes:

  • Since I submitted the article, commentator peter made one of the most convincing arguments against the validity of the sentence against Pussy Riot. I suppose this will be raised in PR’s appeal.
  • Just to clarify, as I said in the piece above, I do not think consider 2 years to be a fair sentence. I’d have given them 50-100 hours of community service. I agree with Kononenko here.
  • But the law’s the law in Russia as elsewhere. On that note, see this story (h/t Jon Hellevig) in which it is said that three German PR supporters who disturbed a service in Cologne cathedral may be liable for imprisonment of up to 3 years.

Other non-MSM line coverage of the PR not mentioned in my Al Jazeera case includes thisthis, this, this, this, this.

There is also an active discussion of my Al Jazeera piece at reddit (h/t Sam Bollier).

PS. Also apparently the second link I threw in about Iran(ian universities banning women) isn’t as straightforward as that. h/t Fatima Manji

Addendum 8/24: There have been a number of reactions to this article at AJ, Reddit, Twitter, and other platforms, and it is good to see that a majority of them have been positive even if they picked over some details. I don’t disagree with that. This is a culture war and as such there are going to be vehement disagreements; besides, it’s not exactly like I’m in the “hardline” camp that wants to lock em up and throw away the key either.

That said, a few reactions have been strongly negative, and I want to draw attention to them. Not because I think they’re correct (duh) nor because of my narcissism (at least not primarily so) but because in my opinion they very considerably illuminate the mind frames of Russian liberals and Western journalists in Russia.

Exhibit one: Miriam Elder, Western democratic journalist.

Do not see what relevance this has to anything. But as I told her if she dislikes the fact that much, she already knows how to remedy it: Go tittle-tattle to The Guardian.

Exhibit two: Tomas Hirst, Western democratic journalist.

https://twitter.com/tomashirst/status/238891570135461889

Aka I don’t like what AK says ban him from the MSM wah wah wah. How very democratic.

Exhibit three: Konstantin von Eggert, Russian democratic journalist.

So if you don’t have a higher degree, you’re not allowed to comment. In my experience, people who place a lot of emphasis on someone’s educational credentials tend to be incredibly vapid. Most of this commentary seems to be about praising NATO and smearing Assange.

Eggert, BTW, in his very person also puts the lie to any notion that the Russian media is substantially controlled by the Kremlin, seeing as he regularly writes for state news agency RIA Novosti and newspaper Kommersant.

Also as above unlike many “democratic journalists” he is quite explicit about his double standards. That is quite rare though not unheard of.

Exhibit four: Andrey Kovalev, editor of Inosmi and a liberal with principles.

That I can respect. Though I don’t really agree with the “undemocratic” aspect. I consider myself very democratic (which is not synonymous with “liberal”).

Comments

  1. Tom Sullivan says:

    A well written piece, It seems Miriam Elder, author of the perjorative-laden hit pieces on Russia in The Guardian doesn’t agree though.

  2. Of course two years in a penal colony is somewhat excessive for Pussy Riot, but surely outpourings of grief and disapproval at the verdict by the media and celebrities who had never heard of them before the group’s performance in Christ the Saviour Cathedral is equally excessive. After all, what did the group do? Running up to the front of the church wearing their trademark balaclavas, the three girls shouted “Mother of God, drive out Putin!” in front of the altar. Not a very clever thing to do in today’s Russia – not a very clever thing to do anywhere, some would say. As my new controversial novel, ‘The Oligarch: A Thriller’, demonstrates, you would have to live on Mars not to know that offending Putin in this public way would lead to reprisals, and choosing to do it in this Cathedral managed to upset a lot of people who might otherwise have been on their side. Quite frankly, they have only themselves to blame.

    • If that were truly all they did, the sentence probably would be excessive. That’s pretty much the mainstream view – that they are an actual musical act, that they performed a “punk prayer” which was a political protest against Putin, and that they dressed in a bizarre fashion. Judging by that, it would be difficult not to form an opinion that the church was a bunch of stuffy time-warp uberconservatives for getting upset over such a girlish prank.

      In fact, they shouted “The Lord’s shit!!” repeatedly, and advised the Virgin Mary she “better believe in God, bitch”. Their supporters who were filming the performance intercepted and blocked clerical staff who were trying to catch the girls and get them out of the church. Considering the Pope’s personal spokesman advised that Madonna should be excommunicated just because she descended on a glittery cross while wearing a fake crown of thorns in a recent musical performance near the Vatican, I think we can take it as a given that all Christian religions are a little touchy about mockery near religious sites. And Madonna was not even in the church, just nearby.

      Similarly, the notion they are going to jail because they “offended Putin” is a popular red herring. Putin appeared quite unconcerned about the whole matter, and appeared to recommend clemency, although the dominant meme is that he engineered the arrest as well as secretly directed the trial. I don’t know when he finds time to run the country, although of course that is secondary to getting even with three girls who said bad things about him. In fact, the girls were not even arrested until the church lodged a complaint, which is what triggered it. No doubt Pussy Riot and their supporters would like to believe they are so important that Putin cleared his calendar just so he could arrest them and send them down the river, and it’d make a great Hollywood movie, but in the real world Putin had nothing to do with it other than being the subject of these anarchists’ pique.

  3. Peter comment (first paragraph is below) is now a stock argument on Moscow Echo.

    “No, that would be too easy. In Russian, “религиозная ненависть” means hatred fuelled by the hater’s religious beliefs — hence the judge’s weird theorising about feminism:”

    I have a problem here: What does “in Russian” mean? In conventional Russian language? Then it’s difficult to make this argument, and an adjective here could be used in the same way an adjective ‘hate’ is used in ‘hate crime’. In other words, “религиозная ненависть” could also mean a hatred towards religion or adherents of a religion. As an exercise, try answering whether those people in 20es who were vandalizing churches and occasionally burying monks alive were driven by “религиозная ненависть”, “классовая ненависть”, or what kind of hatred? They were mostly atheists, so not driven by any religion themselves, apparently?

    I should also note that all reporting about Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin on Aug 8 in Russian used words “религиозная ненависть”. For whatever reason, no media outlet felt the need to add words regarding possible religious beliefs of the perpetrator.

    • In conventional Russian language?

      Yes. If, say, an orthodox nutjob hates ungodly gays, you call it “религиозная ненависть”, right? You don’t call it “гомосексуальная ненависть”, do you?

      • I probably wouldn’t – but then, I would note that adjective “гомосексуальный” has a rather short history in common Russian usage, while “религиозный” has been with us for a long, long time. Russian language has borrowed “гомофобия” from English, rather than using an awkwardly-sounding “гомосексуальная ненависть”.

        What is really an issue here is the meaning of the legal term that was intended by the legislator. The term is not defined in the СCriminal Code, and so we need to look at commentaries to it, or follow the legal practice, clarifications issued by the Supreme Court, etc. The current verdict is part of the legal practice, the way it’s commented upon bu the higher courts might actually lead to a legal definition being included into the iteration of the Code. Just using one person’s understanding of the common language usage isn’t enough.

      • I would call it “ненависть/неприязнь к геям/гомосексуалам.” I would certainly NOT call it “религиозная ненависть.”

        I am coming to suspect that is a matter of inadvertently poor/ambiguous wording in the law code rather than a straightforward refutation of the sentence. Which of course doesn’t mean it can’t be challenged and appealed.

      • peter, it’ so sad to see that your command of the Russian language fails you. You should visit your home more often.

        “Религиозная ненависть как мотив совершения преступления — это внутреннее осознанное побуждение, выражающее сильную неприязнь к лицам, исповедующим иную религию, не исповедующим никакой религии или атеистам, вызывающее у лица желание совершить преступление, выступающее в качестве обязательного или факультативного признака субъективной стороны преступления и влияющее на дифференциацию и индивидуализацию уголовной ответственности и наказания.”

        Languages are not always about logic, you know. Neither are humans, sadly.

        • Exactly. But there are commentaries to the criminal code which don’t make their stand exactly clear. My guess is that the judge understood what “религиозная ненависть” means but wasn’t able to find a commentary to the Criminal Code saying exactly this (“you know pornography when you see it” kind of situation). Eventually, someone like the Supreme Court will clarify the definitions while discussing the case, and show that there was религиозная ненависть in the act, but it was incorrectly described in the lower court decision.

          As I said already, peter’s POV could be found on Moscow Echo verbatim. Many of the guys writing there and commenting there are in Moscow. They do understand Russian, apparently, and are just trying to use judge’s gaffe to continue their eternal fight against everyone in power. Would be very interesting to see if PR lawyers actually use this argument in appeal – so far, they were mostly providing public relations stunts rather than legal services.

          It’s also interesting that a large group of people actually got to read the law and think about what it means. The white revolution is doing good things in unexpected places – first Sobchak kicked off the TV, and now people paying attention to the law. As we all know, revolutions never led to intended outcomes.

        • Reading comprehension fail detected. I will explain, slowly.

          1. The words “к лицам, исповедующим иную религию, …” imply that the one who hates does him/herself profess some religion — plainly, the word “иную” would otherwise make no sense here.

          2. It is then explicitly stated that the one who is hated is not necessarily a religious person (“… не исповедующим никакой религии или атеистам”).

          So what’s your point again?

          • I will make it easy for you. Your favourite multiple-choice test!

            A. If an atheist hates the ROC for close ties with Putin or the immodest lifestyle of priests or etc, etc and commits an act of hooliganism, then, according to the above definition, does this constitute “religious hatred”?

            1) Clearly, yes
            2) Clearly, no
            3) Not a clue.

            B. If some member of religious cult (say the Old Believers) still considers himself Orthodox Christian, but hates the ROC for close ties with Putin or the immodest lifestyle of priests or etc, etc and commits an act of hooliganism, then, according to the above definition, does this constitute “religious hatred”?

            1) Clearly, yes
            2) Clearly, no
            3) Not a clue.

            I know you can do it, peter!

            • A. Clearly, no. Your definition provides three options (иная религия, никакой религии, атеизм), the ROC is obviously none of them.

              B. Undefined. It is unclear who is supposed to determine whether the Old Believers are part of Orthodox Christianity or a separate religion.

              • Oh, peter. I had such high hopes for you.

                So what you are saying is this:
                Some person walks into the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, takes a dump right before the altar and shouts “I fucking hate Orthodox Christians and the ROC”, and then adds “Oh, by the way, I’m an atheist”.

                According to you, there’s no religious hatred and his actions, he also didn’t use any weapon, but he clearly commited an act of hooliganism. Therefore, he should be tried for petty hooliganism (the Code Of Administrative Offences) and get his fine and up to 15 days of administrative arrest.

                But if he does absolutely the same, only adds “Oh, and I believe in Buddha just a little bit”, then there’s religious hatred, therefore he should be tried for hooliganism (the Criminal Code) and get up to 7 years in prison.

                Is this correct? Boy, I’m glad I’m an atheist.

              • According to you…

                No, that’s according to your own definition. Looks like you’ve totally lost the thread of your own argument.

              • Nah, peter, you’re just seeing things. I softly tried to point out to you that “религиозная ненависть” is not necessarily hatred based on your own religious views. It’s hatred of a group people defined by their religious views or lack of thereof. And reasons for hatred are irrelevant – they can be anything from your mullah telling you to kill infidels or a childhood trauma of having to listen a liturgy for hours. And atheists can be both subject and object of such hatred. But you always to squirm your way out of your blunders.

              • I softly tried to point out to you that “религиозная ненависть” is not necessarily hatred based on your own religious views…

                … by posting a quote that says pretty much the opposite. Let’s see your answers to your own questions, shall we?

              • No, by posting the quote you interpreted in a completely asinine way. If you would prefer another quote: ” In this Part “religious hatred” means hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious
                belief.” This is from the UK’s Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. Which also depicts your attempts at jurisprudence and linguistics in a very unfavourable light.

                Let’s see your answers to your own questions, shall we?

                We shall not. They are extremely obvious and follow from the conventional definition (that is NOT YOURS) of religious hatred. Now, for the homework: provide correct answers for the test (which you failed: 0 correct answers) and grade your own statement made here.

              • We shall not.

                Surprise surprise.

  4. Someone mentioned the double jeopardy law in Russia in one of the comments. I believe a few years ago the UK either rescinded or changed this law so that you can be tried for the same offense if there is new evidence (though this has nothing to do with PR as far as I can see) such as DNA. I also seem to remember that the UK also allows in certain circumstances to allow the jury to be informed of the defendants previous convictions and allows the judge and jury to ‘take in to consideration’ this in the summing up and sentencing. Does this make Russia backwards compared to the UK???

    As for the ‘professionals’ such as the Guardian, I’ve long given up expecting any decent reporting on Russia. They’ve only got worse. Not so long ago, the BBC Russia correspondent did a piece on police reform, his report consisting of going outside, finding a policeman and commenting that his jacket now says Policia and not Militsia.

    Thank god for the ‘amateurs’ in the blogosphere. Where would we be without them???

    • The Criminal Justice Act 2003 dealing with ‘evidence of bad character’.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1475077/Juries-will-be-told-of-previous-convictions.html

      From the article in the Telegraph above:

      “…It will allow such evidence to be admissible in England and Wales if it is relevant to “an important matter in issue”.

      However, material in that category will not be put before a jury if the judge thinks it “would have such an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings that the court ought not to admit it”.

      One “important matter in issue” is whether the defendant “has a propensity to commit offences of the kind with which he is charged”. That likelihood can be established by showing he has been convicted of an offence “of the same description as the one with which he is charged”….”

      Though the law refers to ‘he’, women are equal before the law. I wonder how this would have turned out for PR under english law under these circumstances?

  5. Moscow Exile says:

    Dear gweccles,
    Go to the Rusian search engine and type in the words “Путин” and “педераст” and see how many pages you can find containing sites where these words appear.

    Do you really believe any of those sites or the people involved in running them or the people who have used the word “педераст” in describing Putin (the word “педераст” literally means “paederast” but approximates to “queer”, “faggot”, “homo” etc. in English) have suffered, are suffering or will suffer reprisals off the Russian state because of their insulting the President of Russia?

    Do you think anybody in the USA/UK would go unpunished if the following were written about Obama or, as the case may be, the British Prime Minister Cameron?

    “…Президент шел из Большого Кремлевского дворца в свою резиденцию через Соборную и Ивановскую площади. По дороге он решил
    остановиться, чтобы поговорить с туристами. Среди них был и мальчик четырех-пяти лет, который на вопрос Путина сказал, что его зовут Никита. Путин приподнял на мальчике футболку и поцеловал его в живот.Мировая общественность в шоке, никто не в состоянии объяснить, почему Путин перед первым встречным мальчишкой опустился на колени и поцеловал его в живот.Ответ на этот вопрос можно найти, если внимательно изучить так называемые «темные пятна» в истории жизни российского
    президента…”

    [The President walked out of the Great Kremlin Palace towards his residence on the other side of Cathedral and Ivanovsky Squares. Along the way he decided to stop and talk to some tourists. Amongst them was a boy of about four or five years of age, who, in answer to a question from Putin, said that his name was Nikita. Putin lifted up the boy’s T-shirt a little, knelt down, and kissed him on his stomach. The whole world was in shock. Nobody was able to explain why, on his first meeting with the boy, Putin had knelt down and kissed his stomach. The answer to this question may be found if one carefully studies the so-called “black spot” in the history of the Russian president’s life…]

    See: http://censor.net.ua/forum/401360/putin_pederast

    As far as I am aware, the author/authors of this article linked above, together with the authors of many other libelous articles similar to it, are alive and well, are not incarcerated in a “gulag” or have not suffered assassination caused by their ingestion of Polonium administerd to them by members of the FSB.

  6. IMO the PR “free speech got busted” story has no legs either in Russia or America or anywhere else. The real story is about western media reflexive bitching…ROC is a dark agent of influence in Putins gangland Russia…Putin will be the sole decider…and all the rest of it.

    14 months of deprivation will suit those girls well. I recommend foodloaf and water…vegetarian…as per request of a PR supporter. Good luck to PR…they will learn first hand about violent confrontational behavior and how to pick fights carefully. Putin wins…PR and their radical support base lose. The semitic influence shoots themselves in the foot…skinheads might be reveling.

    Russian FSB will no doubt be looking to establish a non-profit legal entity such as the SPLC to attack financial support bases of those advocating or commiting radical extremism or hate crimes.

    http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/08/15/alicia_silverstone_writes_to_putin_demands_vegan_meals_for_pussy_riot_defendant

    http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_08_18/In-synagogue-Pussy-Riot-could-have-been-shot-for-punk-prayer/

  7. This is a superb article Anatoly, which covers this whole bizarre affair fully from every possible angle. It is also by the way extremely well written. This is the final and definitive article on this case and sets the standard by which all other articles about it should be measured.

    I have tried to make the same point on Al Jazeera but my comment seems to have vanished into the ether (though I am going to try again now).

    By the way as to Peter’s point, I am going to try to deal with it in a discussion of the judgment I am writing for my own blog. I was fully tied up on other matters yesterday and today but I hope it will be up tomorrow.

    • Thanks Alex, much appreciated.

      As I told Mark, AJ unfortunately isn’t all that good about rescuing comments from the spam folder. It’s not that they’re censorious so much as that (I think) they don’t pay anyone to do it.

      In particular, anything with hyperlinks will get spammed.

      As such, I recommend you save your comment, and if you still can’t post it on AJ, you can post it here.

  8. I suspect mine was flagged because it used “shit” and “bitches” a lot. It says something that language everyone is just supposed to tolerate from PR – wherever they choose to use it – as an example of them expressing themselves is too much for al Jazeera.

  9. Miriam Elder wants to create a moral outrage about views on Feminism. Eggert suggests that postgraduates cannot give opinions as far as I understand it. This is excellent read…

    • The funny thing is I’m not even a postgrad but an undergraduate with one more semester left. But don’t tell Eggy or he might just have an apoplectic attack.

  10. “Undemocratic opinion” – that’s what cracked me up. Man, those people are sick in the heads beyond salvation. What the hell that supposed to mean?

  11. Just a suggestion but maybe you should make it clear on your feminism pieces that you support equity feminism, otherwise you leave yourself open to character assasination attempts a’ la Elder.

    • There is no such thing as equity feminism, because equality in all major areas has been achieved. Dividing feminism into equity/good/nice/sex-positive and supremacist/nasty/radical/prudish is a method feminists use to derail criticism. It says that “Not All Feminists Are Like That” (this even has its own acronym NAFALT). My answer to this is very simple: “If you are not like that, that’s nice, I talk about those who are like that, so move along.” http://youtu.be/3o-OcTSeVcs

      • If I’m for equal rights for women what am I suppose to call myself then?

        • And where exactly don’t women have those equal rights? Can’t they vote, be politicians, work, own property? What are those equal rights you speak of?

          Do you represent a feminist organisation that calls itself “equity feminists”, or is it a nice label you have given yourself to feel good? No offence. but there are feminists out there, who teach in universities, influence policy, write articles for magazines, newspapers, internet websites. Their work is not beyond critique, and nobody has the obligation to mention every time that he is for some unspecified thing called “equity feminism”…

          • a) There are countries where women don’t have equal rights
            b) You’re not obliged to do anything… I merely gave a suggestion on how things might look better from PR perspective since Anatoly chose to write about controversial topics like gender feminism/race realism which people will drag out when he’s commenting on Russia to discredit him … free to ignore my suggestion

            • Where do you live? I personally live very far from Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia. You want to take you gender equality campaigning there, or to their embassies at least?

              If you write about topics like gender feminism, or race realism, you will inevitably draw the wrath of ideologues bent on defending their turf. Why even bother kowtowing to them?

              • So when I’m campaigning for women’s rights in Saudi/or against female genital mutilation then I’m allowed to call myself a feminist or not? 🙂

                Ideologues aside people tends to make impressions very quickly, some might just be put off by wrong first impression, like Hirst with his “Pretty disgraceful”, he’s otherwise an OK Russia commentator… not ideologue like Elder imo

              • You call yourself whatever you want…

      • I appreciate your insights but I’m petty sure majority of people (including the ones that Elder would have twitted to) think that being anti-feminism is being anti equal rights for women/supportive of discrimination. Imo if that’s not what you mean you’ve to make yourself clear.

        • If you did not explicitly say that you for discrimination of women, then how can one make of it that you are? That would be fundamentally dishonest.

          • Because when you say you’re anti feminism people assume you want women out of the workforce/government and in the kitchen. Whether this is right/wrong/intellectually dishonest … that’s a different story

            • In that case, those people are ignorants, and should get a grip. Who cares what they think?

              • By the way, acc. to Oxford dictionary feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes” , so being anti-feminism for would logically be anti these things,… no?

            • That is correct. The gender feminists present it as a Jezebel vs. Taliban kind of dichotomy. If you’re not one then you’re the other.

              Thanks for the suggestion, it’s appreciated. But I really can’t be bothered always prefacing anything I write caveats… It’s time-consuming, realistic, hardly anyone does that, etc. Besides if anyone wants to do a hit piece on me via selective quoting they will be easily able to do so anyway.

              Anyhow,Leos and AM, let’s try to get back on topic please.

  12. “Most of this commentary seems to be about praising NATO and smearing Assange.” Not to wander too far off topic but isn’t that what the entire @ReginaldQuill twitter feed is about (well that and how Ron Paul is the devil and Russia is the global seat of anti-Semitism)? At least @LibertyLynx hurls obscenities at the occasional Occupy kid or Democrat now and then.

    • He hates Occupy too.

      I mean I can understand skepticism or indifference but the hatred thing is really weird especially coming from a Russian with no particular connection to the US.

  13. European Ninja says:

    Your analysis completely misses the point, I would say. There are two main reasons:

    1.The majority of Russians, like the majority of Americans, are people who believe Russia has a special, grand destiny among humanity. They want Russia to be bigger and more influential than most, to be on par with the United States, or even more influential. They want to lead the world with their value system. Putin, who is supported by the majority of Russians, said that one of the biggest tragedies of the 20th century was the disintegration of the Soviet Empire. Russian national mythology, like American, is profoundly exceptionalism-based.

    Russia is the largest country in the world by area size. Russia has the second largest nuclear arsenal in the world. It is one of the biggest arms sellers in the world. It is one of the 5 permanent UN Security Council members, and probably the 2nd most influential one in that council.

    I’m not saying this is either a good thing or a bad thing. But Russians do think big, dream big, and expect to be seen as big by others. So naturally, Russia is big in the news. If 20 thousand people protest against the Russian government, this is going to get a lot more attention than if 20 thousand protest against the Dutch, Portuguese, Czech, Chilean or Angolan government. If a person draws a dick opposite to a Russian security service, this is going to get more attention than if a person draws it in front of a Dutch, Portuguese, Czech, Chilean or Angolan one. If a group of girls pull a stunt in a Russian church…Yeah, you get what I’m saying.

    So, if you want to be big, expect to be big in the news. This is what you want. Deal with it.

    2.To focus on whether 2 years prison for PR is too many misses the point. As does whether this would happen in another country, yadda yadda yadda.

    The thing is what the girls actually did and how this fits into the Russian context. Namely, they went against the Russian Orthodox Church with a criticism. The ROC is, as is well-known a supporter of Putin and his policies. What the real point here is actually this criticism, the criticism of both Putin and their biggest supporters, and this is what we should be focusing on. Putin is in a sensitive position right now. If you haven’t noticed, he has lately been getting clumsier and clumsier in dealing with the liberal minority. This is a clear sign he is actually afraid and not as self-confident as he used to be. Among other things, this is especially evident in the fact that his establishment recently drastically increased punishment fees for protests. If he were not afraid, would he really do this?. And the liberal minority is getting braver and braver, with satires of all sorts becoming more frequent.

    You might say: Hey, 63% of Russians still support him, so it can’t be that bad. Well, the thing about majorities and minorities is that most changes happen as a result of a minority that eventually gains the sympathies of the majority. When majority will start to see what the minority has been saying all along, that the Russian system is sterile, that Putin will never modernize society and economy, that despite decent economic growth, the road Russia is currently on will not be a healthy one on the long-term, and increasingly and in the mid- and short-term, that Putin really has no original ideas about how to actually improve things to achieve long-term stability, then Putin is politically dead.

    Do you know how quick public opinion about a political figure can change? Look at some examples throughout history. It doesn’t take much. All it takes is a certain long-term trend that meets a certain sudden event, perhaps an unexpected economic crisis, bringing to light the fallacies of existing policies.

    My prediction is that by 2013, such an event will occur, and the errors of Putins non-modernizing ways will be exposed.. Then, the minority will turn into the majority.

    • Not sure about your first hypothesis. You appear to say that if Russia wants to be in the “big nations” club she should be prepared to be scrutinised as other big serious nations but… 20 people protesting or gettingc loked up in China, India or Brasil doesn’t ekcho in international media as much. Similar with America or Canada…

  14. Moscow Exile says:

    Putin did not say that “one of the biggest tragedies of the 20th century was the disintegration of the Soviet Empire”. That is a Western meme that frequently appears in comments made by Westerners.

    What Putin said on April 5th 2001 to the Russian Federal Assembly (the upper house of the bicameral Russian legislature) during a televised speech is almost always quoted out of context by Western commentators, their intention, no doubt, being to suggest that Putin regrets the fall of the USSR and yearns for its resurrection.

    A translation into English of what Putin actually said at that time as regards the collapse of the Soviet Union would be that said collapse was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century”.

    Putin then continued, expressing his opinion that that which befell former Soviet citizens after the collapse of the Soviet Union was a “tragedy”.

    The “tragedy” that Putin spoke of was, therefore, not that of the collapse of the USSR, though most Westerners believe this to be the case because of the juxtapositioning of Putin’s words by Western hacks. Furthermore, seldom, if ever, do Western journalists report what Putin went on to say following his statement that the collapse of the USSR was a geopolitical catastrophe.

    Here is what Putin actually said on April 5th 2001:

    Прежде всего следует признать, что крушение Советского Союза было крупнейшей геополитической катастрофой века. Для российского же народа оно стало настоящей
    драмой. Десятки миллионов наших сограждан и соотечественников оказались за пределами российской территории. Эпидемия распада к тому же перекинулась на саму Россию.

    [Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the largest scale geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine tragedy: tens of millions of our co-citizens and compatriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration spread to Russia itself.]

    He then went on to say:

    Накопления граждан были обесценены, старые идеалы разрушены, многие учреждения распущены или реформировались на скорую руку. Целостность страны оказалась нарушена террористической интервенцией и последовавшей хасавюртовской капитуляцией. Олигархические группировки, обладая неограниченным контролем над информационными потоками, обслуживали исключительно собственные корпоративные интересы. Массовая бедность стала восприниматься как норма. И все это происходило на фоне тяжелейшего экономического спада, нестабильных финансов, паралича социальной сферы.

    Многие тогда думали, многим тогда казалось, что наша молодая демократия является не продолжением российской государственности, а ее окончательным крахом, является затянувшейся агонией советской системы.

    Те, кто так думал – ошиблись. Именно в этот период в России происходили крайне значимые события. В нашем обществе вырабатывалась не только энергия самосохранения, но и воля к новой свободной жизни.

    [Individual savings depreciated; old ideals were destroyed; many institutions were disbanded or reformed in a slapdash fashion. Terrorist intervention and the Khasavyurt capitulation that followed damaged the country’s integrity. Oligarchic groups — possessing absolute control over information channels — served exclusively their own corporate interests. Mass poverty began to be seen as the norm. And all this was happening against the backdrop of a dramatic economic downturn, unstable finances, and the paralysis of the social sphere.

    Many thought, or seemed to think at the time, that our young democracy was not a continuation of Russian statehood, but its ultimate collapse, the prolonged agony of the Soviet system.

    But those who thought that were mistaken, for that was precisely the period when significant developments were taking place in Russia. Our society was generating not only the energy of self-preservation, but also the will for a new and free life.]

    The part of Putin’s speech that is almost invariably wrongly translated and quoted out of context are lines 13 and 14 of the full text of Putin’s speech, which is linked below:

    http://archive.kremlin.ru/appears/2005/04/25/1223_type63372type63374type82634_87049.shtml

  15. American Imperial Nationalist or AIN says:

    What is the point of proving?
    America wants to destabilize and break up Russia.
    America wants to create unipolar world….Anglo-Saxon third Reich.

  16. American Imperial Nationalist or AIN says:

    Anatoly
    Americans are forcing on Russian people to be occupied by this crap called Pussy Riot
    You had better to write an article about this:
    .
    http://alfin2100.blogspot.com/2012/06/what-would-king-hubbert-think-of.html
    .
    What Would King Hubbert Think of the Hundred Trillion Barrels of Oil Equivalent In the Bazhenov Formation?

  17. Dear Anatoly,

    I have been very busy with a host of matters these last few days so I missed your addendum when it came out.

    My first and immediate comment is, congratulations! What the comments show is that you have hit a raw nerve with these people. It is striking that not one of them is prepared to take you on intellectually or to argue with a single point you have made. Instead and with the notable and significant exception of Kovalev they are furious that you have been allowed to express yourself at all. This is of course a total betrayal of the liberalism they are supposed to believe in. The people they claim as the founding fathers of modern liberalism, Voltaire, Montesquieu, J.S. Mill and the rest, would have been horrified. As for your article being “undemocratic”, it is nothing of the sort. In many ways it is actually sympathetic to the Pussy Riot defendants. The people who are behaving undemocratically are those who want to suppress you. Given that they are pretending to support Pussy Riot on grounds of free speech their response is richly ironic.

    In a sense they are right to be angry. Being in the eye of the storm so to speak I can say for a fact that the effect of the publication by Al Jazeera of your article amongst elite opinion here in London has been like the explosion of a hydrogen bomb. I was already getting lots of enquiries about the case following the post I put up about the case on my blog (which I have by the way been trying to circulate). After your article appeared I got swamped. In fact there have been asked so many questions that a short postscript I had intended to write about the judgment I have been obliged to expand to a full article.

    No one is going to take back what they have already said and despite the Simon Jenkins article the Guardian and the Independent are a lost cause but I sense that elsewhere elite opinion on the case here in Britain is shifting. It is striking for example that the Economist, which generally misses no opportunity to have a bash at Russia and Putin, has not commented on the case. I don’t think the Economist has even published an article about it. Just possibly this may mean that the case will be more fairly reported when it goes to the ECHR than the Khodorkovsky case was.

    PS: I deal with Peter’s point in my new post.

  18. FYI, even the leader of the Ukrainian ultranationalist party condemns Pussy Riot:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/content/politics/ukraine-nationalist-leader-chides-pussy-riots-blasphemy-311978.html