Core Article: What We Believe

In the first 5 days of its existence, this blog has been priveleged to receive more than more than 200 page views from more than 100 visitors from 18 different countries. We have also been linked to by the Winthrop88 blog and Marginalia (probably the leading English-language blog about Latvia) – of those that we’re aware of, anyway.

We have also also been receiving mail. While most of it is constructive, some is of a negative character, along the lines of us being ‘unreconstructed Stalinists’, a Nashi-sponsored ‘Kremlin mouthpiece’ and ‘shameless apologists for Putins dictorship (sic)’.

To clear this up, we will compile a list of our opinions on various topics, Russia-related and not. This will make up a Core Article. This is so that you, dear reader, don’t have to waste your time on deconstructing our articles.

Soviet Union

Our country has not been lucky. Indeed, it was decided to carry out this Marxist experiment on us – fate pushed us in precisely this direction…In the end we proved that there is no place for this idea – it has simply pushed us off the path taken by the world’s civilized societies.” – Boris Yeltsin (1991).

For once, we agree. Russia at the dawn of the First World War had the fastest industrial growth of any country in the world. Ambitious plans for economic development and military modernization were being laid. 41% of the population was literate (as was the vast majority of the youngest cohorts) – though this lagged well behind the developed countries, the overall picture was nowhere near as catastrophic as later Soviet historians would paint it (in fact, school enrollments only recovered to 1914 levels by the late 1920’s).

While the planned economy was moderately successful in building up an elementary industrial base of coal and steel, it could not build up the consumer economy that is the backbone of Western prosperity today – incentives were weak and allocating prices to the millions of goods an advanced economy produces was exorbitantly difficult. Hence the Soviet Union failed to catch up with the West, and started to stagnate by the mid-1970’s. As the Economist tartly observed in 1985, “Imperial Russia had a real product per man-hour 3.5 times greater than Japan’s [but it] has spent its nigh 70 socialist years slipping relatively backwards, to maybe a quarter of Japan’s rate now”.

The promise of prosperity on which the ideology was based was never fulfilled; meanwhile, political repression robbed individuals of their dignity. We consider the Soviet Union to have been an empire of lies; as such, when it belatedly tried to reform itself in the late 1980’s, the whole superstructure dissolved as revelations of oppression, mismanagement and the growing corruption in the nomenklatura came out into the light of day.

If the Soviet Union had not existed, Russia by the 1950’s would have probably become a developed liberal democracy. Its population would also be considerably higher, because there’d have been no Civil War, Stalinist repressions or Ukrainian Famine. The Second World War probably wouldn’t have happened either (one of the main reasons Hitler won power in Germany was because of middle-class fear of the spectre of Communism). It would also likely still have control over the territories of the Russian Empire, perhaps in an EU-like structure.


We are no fans of Stalin. We condemn him unequivocally for his mass repressions, cult of personality and the gross incompetence in monitoring German military intentions prior to the start of the Great Patriotic War.

However, we affirm that history must be viewed dispassionately and in a balanced manner. It is undeniable, for instance, that Stalin was an ‘effective manager’. (A Russian school book, A New History of Russia 1945-2007 by Aleksandr Fillipov, was criticized in the Western press for making this assessment). Consider his wartime record – he worked exceptional long hours and placed ‘weapons, supplies and transport’ on the ‘same level as the military campaigning’ – which he tended to leave to his generals after the disasters of 1941, unlike Hitler (who continued to interfere throughout, with deletrious consequences for Germany’s war effort). According to Russia’s War (Richard Overy), ‘he worked for a more modern state before 1941, and its achievement made possible Soviet victory’.

We also do not believe in the principle that nations are answerable for the crimes or mistakes of their leaders, and as such we are against the current Russian government admitting and apologising, let alone offering reparations, to countries that have come under Soviet occupation. (Furthermore, it ignores the fact that Russia wasn’t the only republic and Russians weren’t the only ethnicity in the USSR – for instance, the two most notorius characters, Stalin and Beria, were Georgians). If the Germans want to indulge themselves in national guilt, that’s fine by us (we’re not, after all, Da Deutschephile) – but there is no way that Russia is going to be making apologies to the Baltic countries (which stage SS veterans rallies and continue to deny equality to their Russophone minorities to the present day), Poland (which instigated the 1919-21 Soviet-Polish War when Russia was weak), Romania or Hungary (which participated in Nazi aggression against the USSR) any time soon.

EDIT: although my opinion of Stalin has risen quite a bit following my WW2 discussion with Fedia Kriukov at the Russia in the Media blog.

Human Rights

The fledgling Russian democracy is still, of course, far from perfect, but its existence and its successes cannot be denied.” – Alvaro Gil-Robles, then Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe.

Da Russophile is a stalwart supporter of human rights. What we do not support is a) misrepresenting the real, comprehensive human rights situation and b) selective use of the ‘human rights’ card to push political agendas.

We are well aware of the allegations against Russia in regards to judicial independence, police brutality, prison conditions, press freedom, freedom of assembly, NGO’s, discrimination against minorities and suspicious killings. We understand that many of these have some real basis in Russian reality (just like the US has issues with Guantánamo and extraordinary rendition, Japan with its forced confessions and 99%+ conviction rates and Estonia with its anti-Russophone discrimination).

According to Hegel’s dialectic, progress can be described by a triad – thesis, antithesis and synthesis. The negative side of Russian human rights are given such extensive coverage by the Western media, to the point where the average layperson is given the impression the country has returned to Soviet-style repression, that this could be constituted as a thesis (summarized in Amnesty International’s page on Russia’s human rights). We are going to take a quick glance at Russia from the other side of the looking glass and attempt to write an antithesis. It is up to you, dear reader, to reach your own synthesis.

According to the 2006 OpenDemocracy Russia through the looking-glass (Nicolai N Petro) article,

  • A troubling rift has developed between western and Russian perceptions of Russian reality. While the West believes Putin is intent on destroying democracy, Russians give him approval ratings of 70%+ and three times as many of them think the country is more democratic under him than under Yeltsin or Gorbachev.
  • The media has mushroomed in diversity and has become much more economically independent.
  • Under a new 2002 criminal code, a ‘judge must approve arrest warrants’, and ‘the accused must be charged with a crime within two weeks, or released’. Nationwide jury trials, which Putin resurrected from their Tsarist graves, today acquit 20% of cases.
  • ‘71% of plaintiffs win the cases they bring against government authorities’.
  • Amendments on NGO’s passed by the Duma in December 2005, far from being an extension of government power, were instead meant to stipulate clear guidelines (for instance, registration can no longer be denied on the whim of local officials) and, without one of four specific reasons, must be granted within 30 days.
  • Chechnya has become a much safer environment, and this has encouraged more than 250,000 refugees to return…both Alvaro Gil-Robles, human-rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, and Marc Franco, the headof the European Commission’s delegation to Russia, went out of their way this fall to praise Chechnya’s progress.
  • The conclusion is one of misunderstanding: Russian politicians struggle in good faith to achieve human rights objectives, while Western critics are honestly ignorant of the real situation for Russians on the ground and ascribe dark motives to any government measures. The author recommends that a) the destruction of state institutions should not be equated with greater freedom, b) Russian NGOs should be encouraged to wean themselves off foreign subsidies and c) the tone of public discourse in the west about Russia must improve.
  • I am convinced that Russian institutions have now developed far enough to make the gradual expansion of democracy a foregone conclusion“.

Some criticisms of the article are then made by Mischa Gabowitsch (for instance, the fact that the most important news medium by far is state-TV in Russia). Petro regards it as a ‘welcome opportunity further to dispel frequently-aired but misleading views about Russia’ (though most Russians watch state-owned TV, they have the choice of viewing multiple channels (including foreign ones like Euronews), easy access to print media and the Internet).

Whatever your opinion on Russia’s human rights (whether they have improved or declined under Putin), I hope you would agree that discussion on this should be dignified and impartial. Unfortunately, that is something the Western media is rarely able to convey.

Take the Litvinenko case as a case study. The vast majority of Western news outlets took an editorial line which reached one of two conclusions: elements of the KGB services assassinated this British subject (and staunch, brave upholder of human rights forced to flee evil Putin’s Russia) a) with implicit backing from Putin or b) without. In both cases, Putin is condemned – he is either a murderer or has lost control of his own security services.

In a comment piece in the British Guardian, Tom Parfitt tells us not to rush to point the finger at the Kremlin (you know, ‘innocent until proven guilty’, all that nonsense). Cui bono? Litvinenko had already leaked his most damaging allegations (that the FSB blew up apartment buildings as a pretext to seize back Chechnya) in 2003. Killing him would only publicize the work, and whatever else they are, the FSB are rational. (Indeed, Blowing Up Russia and Death of a Dissident are both bestsellers now).

Firstly, the idea that he is any kind of dissident is risible – he was an employee of Berezovsky (who has a few skeletons in his closet, too) who freely admitted to working in a privatized FSB unit involved in extrajudicial killings in the 1990’s. Secondly, again, cui bono?

In the film Cliffhanger, the main baddie Eric Qualen is faced with a dilemma. He’s one of two helicopter pilots (the other is his girlfriend/admirer Kristel), who can get the band of thieves away from justice; however, turncoat former FBI agent Travers is the only one who knows the codes to open the boxes with the money. However, Travers fears (quite rightly) that he’d be killed immediately after he divulges the correct codes, and threatens Qualen with a pistol. Qualen draws behind Kristel, embraces her and whispers – “Do you know what is the highest form of love? Self-sacrifice!” – and shoots her in the back. Qualen and Travers are again the best of buddies.

This is not to say that Berezovsky expressed the highest form of love for Litvinenko. Nonetheless, the possibility should not be dismissed. He has an obssessive hatred of Putin for booting him and his looting thugs out of Russia, to the extent that he admits to plotting a revolution in Russia (jeopardising his British asylum status). As a once very influential person in Russia who boasted that he could make a President out of a monkey, he must still retain influence in elements of the FSB – and hence the means for acquiring polonium-210 and seeping a radioactive trail all over Europe’s airports so as to implicate Lugovoi (and which was also found in his office). Finally, there’s Litvinenko’s absurd deathbed statement – beautiful, tear-jerking prose – but wait. How exactly is a man with a limited grasp of the English language and in his death throes supposed to compose this work of art?

As Putin said, “It is a pity that tragic events like death have been used for political provocations. Those who did it [concocted the note] are not God, and Mr. Litvinenko is unfortunately not Lazarus”. We agree. We’ve never really thought of Messrs. Goldfarb and Berezovsky as God, to be honest.

The point of this rant? To prove that there really as much evidence to link Berezovsky and Co. with Litvinenko’s death as Putin. Which is to say, none at all (that which can be presented as evidence in a court of law, in any case). But no matter. The Annals of Western Hypocrisy go on. Just ask Cheney the Pot with his gushing praise for Kazakhstani President Nazarbayev (who is, as we are sure you all know, a real authoritarian).

Of course, he comes from a country which knows all there is to know about human rights, as attested to by Guantánamo, extraordinary renditions, Abu Ghraib, police torture, its continued practice of the death penalty (on which Russia has had a moratorium since 1996), voting irregularities in Florida (2000) and Ohio (2004) and its achievements in prison population per capita (686 / 100,000 people).


Whenever people ask us about what we think of Putin, we simply say – “What a silly question! We’ve never met him. What are we supposed to think of him?” So we’ve got to admit that we are just a bit puzzled when Western commentators start to spew off their standard spiels about authoritarianism, corruption, etc and how Putin is behind all that like some kind of malevolent gnome.

As should be clear from our other posts, we consider that developments in Russia over the past decade – political, social, and above all economic – have been positive, and it is likely that Putin made a fair, if small contribution to that. (We don’t subscribe to Carlyle’s Great Man view of history).

We would say one thing, however. Generally speaking politicians’ speeches are mostly fluff with very real substance. (And its not as if they they write their own speeches, either). However, in our opinion the substance-divided-by-fluff ratio is relatively high in Putin’s case. Also, in responding to media questions, he has generally answered the question at hand (albeit with long un-related digressions on the evils of international terrorism and multilateralism in foreign affairs); this is in constrast to G.W. Bush, who tends to rephrase the question in slightly different wording before launching off into a completely un-related monolog (about the evils of international terrorism, the virtues of democracy as opposed to terrorism, etc).

In short, we think he is an effective President and a good representative of Russia in the world.


The first time Chechnya was given functional independence (“Take as much sovereignty as you can swallow!” – Yeltsin, 1990), it turned into a criminal, bandit-filled state which practised ethnic cleansing against Russians and launched several armed raids against Russia. In 1989, there were 250,000 Russians living in what was to become Chechnya, along with many other non-Chechens, mostly in the two regions north of the Terek (which have always been Russian, having been settled by Cossacks centuries ago – in fact Grozny itself was founded as a Cossack military outpost). The vast majority of them fled Chechnya in 1991-94 to escape being killed or enslaved.

In 1996, after a two-year war waged by Yeltsin to bring back Chechnya under the fold (executed with criminal incompetence and corruption) failed, Russia gave Chechnya autonomous status (although it remained within the Russian Federation). The second time it turned into a criminal, bandit-filled Wahhabian state which periodically launched attacks against Russian border regions (see No.9 item – Gangs create terror zones at Russia-Chechnya border). Not content with trying to recreate the Caliphate within their own borders, in 1999 local warlord Shamil Basayev launched two attacks, on 2nd August and 5th September, against the neighboring republic of Daghestan, in which hundreds of people were murdered and 32,000 displaced. However, this met resistance from Daghestani militias, later supported by federal troops. On 29th September, Putin offered to negotiate with Maskhadov on the exact same 3 terms Bush in 2001 gave Mohammad Omar – disavow terrorism, close (al-Qaeda/al-Qaeda supported) terrorist training camps and extradite the leaders (bin Laden/Basayev). Maskhadov refused to negotiate, declared jihad and called on for the world community to support Chechnya. Within months, a revitalized Russian military brought back authority to Chechnya.

The mainstream Western media practically never covers this side of the story. How many Westerners know that during 1991-94, 230,000 out of 250,000 ethnic Russians in Chechnya were ethnically cleansed? How many know that during its periods of de facto independence, Chechnya was a seething cauldron of lawlessness, slavery and radical Islam?

Our opinion is that Chechnyan independence is a threat to international security. In any case, the whole issue is fairly moot now, as our local warlord Kadyrov has consolidated power over Chechnya’s warring clans and things are rapidly getting back to normal. If we could could go back in time, however, we would play this out differently. Chechnya is a PR disaster for Russia and contributes nothing economically. We would have given them full independence and erected a border fence around it. Then, we’d have supported any warlord who would pledge allegiance to us with weapons and air support. This would have been a much cheaper option, in terms of Russian military casualties, rubles and reputation.

General Values

Da Russophile is economically centrist, extremely liberal socially and supportive of liberal democracy, albeit with an authoritarian streak. We are Economic Left/Right: -1.25, Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.59 on the Political Compass test.

We are atheists and have a secular worldview. We do not think religion is useful for anything other than some of its aesthetic aspects (like choral music and icons). We do not approve of recent pro-religious trends in Russia, such as the new school course in the tenets of Orthodoxy and church censorship of artistic work. Nonetheless, this phenomenom should not be exaggerated – only 2% of Russians attend church more than twice a week and the majority remain either atheist or areligious.

Our position on the death penalty is that it is wrong out of a) humanitarian concerns (that is, death row syndrome) and b) the impossibility of making 100% sure that innocents are never executed. Nonetheless, we recognize that there is a (one) valid justification for the death penalty – deterrance. This applies particularly to those countries where violent crime is at very high levels (South Africa, Columbia, etc). We also accept its use as a deterrant against corruption, as is the case in China and Vietnam – this is because corruption also kills people, if indirectly. Since our goal is deterrance (rather than ‘moral’ reasons of ‘eye for an eye’ retribution), we see this as merely being consistent.

However, to serve as a deterrant the punishment for a set list of offences must be meted out quickly and uniformly (as is the case in Singapore). We do not approve of the US system, where appeals drag on for decades and its final application is extremely arbitrary. In Steven Leavitt’s Freakonomics, we found an interesting fact – the average life expectancy of a drug dealer is several times higher on death row than on the streets. So exactly what kind of a deterrant effect does this give in the US, where the vast majority of murders are gang-related? Very low, we guess.

While both violent crime (17.7 murders / 100,000 people in 2007) and corruption are high in Russia, we do not think they are critical enough to warrant the death penalty and as such support the current moratorium.

We are in favor of full abortion rights, since it is our opinion that a) women should have full sovereignty over their own bodies and b) that a clump of human cells with no self-awareness should not be considered a person with rights. We view restrictions on abortion as violations of human rights. We disagree with Russia’s restrictions on women’s access to abortion after 12 weeks in 2003. Nonetheless, this is standard throughout Europe and better than in Poland or Ireland, where it is illegal in almost all circumstances.

Da Russophile supports a gradual decriminalization of all drugs. We consider ‘wars on drugs’, like ‘wars on terrors’, to be a cover for infringements on human rights and state corruption. Licensing them will take money away from criminal organizations and bolster government funds, which can be directed towards healthcare (including treating drug addicts). Marijuana, LSD and ecstasy are fun things and as such little different in essence from alcohol and tobacco, which are legal out of the force of tradition. We would also tax the fat, salts and sugar content in foods so as to cut heart disease and cancer rates and create incentives to move to healthier diets. We are in profound disagreement with Russia’s current tough stance against drugs.

We would best be described as economic centrists, though in general we like to steer clear of labels, preferring to judge policies on their own merits. We support liberal ‘ease of doing business’ laws (e.g. on unemployment, starting up companies, etc) and private participation in the social sphere, e.g. healthcare, education, etc. In general, we oppose government subsidies to failing industries, preferring instead that they invest money into retraining workers. However, we support an extensive welfare state that would shield everyone and anyone in case of crisis – our role model is mostly Scandinavian. As such, we are against current Russian economic policies such as the regressive 13% flat tax, inadequate social safety net and a lackadaisical attitude to improving the business climate (in which Russia is 106th in the world).

We support free trade so as to achieve the optimal division of labor and hence prosperity in the world.

We support the goals of the feminist movement and consider that gender equality has not yet been achieved anywhere. Men are still more valued as bread-winners and women-more as home-makers, and changing these social perceptions is one of our goals. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2007, Russia comes 45th out of 128 countries – it scores very well on female economic participation, but must make bigger efforts in political empowerment.

Unfortunately, LGBT rights are weak in Russia – as in the rest of Visegrad/eastern Europe.

It is obvious that global warming is both real and anthropic. Furthermore, the latest research implies that it is catastrophic, threatning to go out of control once it passes certain tipping points – which may well have been passed already. Hence, man-made emissions, by raising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and thus causing global warming, can trigger other mechanisms that will release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – frozen methane clathrates under the world’s seas, methane in the Siberian permafrost and Indonesian peat bogs, and the vast amount of carbon locked into the world’s tropical forests.

This will likely have significant geopolitical consequences later this century, as we’ve already written in Towards a New Russian Century? We find ourselves locked in a dilemma. Our liberal instincts desire to undertake international market-based measures to cut back on emissions; our patriotic instincts guide us to the opposite conclusion. They cancel each other out, so we end up doing absolutely nothing.

We support testing on animals.

We are against censorship.

We are against gun control, since we think than an armed citizenry tends to reduce the crime rate. However, we insist on licensing and would stop short of allowing full-automatics to be sold.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Since your writing about Puting here is an interesting article:

  2. Thank you for your article, djp.It is a bit too too socialist and ‘conspiratorial’ for our liking, but it no double makes a lot of good points – illustrating Putin’s massive degree of domestic support (which has increased even as his approval ratings fell in the West), the positive direction in which Russia is heading under him and the ignorance or malevolence of Western foreign policy and media elites.True, it makes a lot of unsourced claims and assigns dark motives to whole categories of people and institutions (e.g. US NGOs), but that is no different from what the Western media does repeatedly to Russia’s government.In other words it qualifies as being part of Our Antithesis, i.e. of Da Russophile.

  3. Pēteris Cedriņš says

    To pluck a small stewed cherry from your incarnadine whipped cream and compote –“Unfortunately, LGBT rights are weak in Russia – as in the rest of Visegrad/eastern Europe.”And — comparatively? Indeed, there are a lot of problems on this score in Latvia, as I’ve observed here and here.The gay pride parade did take place here last summer, though — the courts worked, and freedom of assembly prevailed. People like Šmits look to Russia for their brand of intolerance. Much of the venom towards LGBT rights in Latvia is Russian and/or pro-Russian.

  4. Interesting culinary comparison, peteris. Anyway, thanks for enriching my vocabulary with ‘incardine’.You quote the same article twice, btw.I will address it on your site. Suffice to say, it takes a Russophobic slant (something you seem to instinctively), ignoring the fact that according to your own sources ( the Russophonic New Generation party consists of less than 1% of the Russian-Latvian population (assuming all its members are Russians) and that there is plenty of native Latvian involvement in gay-baiting too – in the form of Latvia’s First Party, which is mentioned in your article.Some interesting conclusions can be made.Firstly, a homophobic, ‘pro-family’ party, one of whose members insinuated gays should be killed, got 9.5% of the vote in Latvia.(There is no Russian equivalent of a religious/evangelical based party. While Rodina included some fundie elements, they constituted a tiny fraction even of Rodina’s c.10-15% support. Oh and before you start whining about Russian democracy, consider that the situation was the same in the “free” 1990’s.)Secondly, you absolutely NEED to throw in something Russophobic.You can look at it in another way. Russians are so despised and denigrated in Latvia that the only section of Latvian society willing to embrace them are the religious nutjobs.But back to your point about comparative LGBT attitudes in eastern Europe. Yes, in Latvia gay pride march went ahead and was banned in Moscow in 2007.But, they weren’t allowed in 2006 ( violently attacked. It was allowed in 2005 and 2007, but was the exception rather than the rule, as I understand it, since these last 15 years – like in Russia.Latvia was the last country in the European Union to introduce anti-discrimination laws dealing with sexual orientation (2006). Ironically, Russia beat it to that milestone by a year (2005). Galling?According to Wikipedia, support amongst Russians for gay marriage is 14%, compared with Latvia’s 12%.The Poles are also homophobic. Warsaw bans its gay marches and participants are pelted with objects. Same goes for Rumania.You are not going to convince me with this that the situation with regards to LGBT rights is qualitatively any different in Latvia or Poland than in Russia.On the other hand, it is an interesting viewpoint on the Russophobic mind which seeks to heap all the world’s ills onto Russia and Russians. In your particular case here, it is the pot calling the other pot black.

  5. Pēteris Cedriņš says

    2007 wasn’t an “exception” — it followed a court decision on the city council’s ban. The chair of the LGBT group Mozaika: “The court ruling on April 12, 2007 shows that Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly do exist in Latvia and that the right of the LGBT community to organize a march has been evaluated as having more importance than the desire of some other people to push a certain community out of the public arena by means of threats and violence.”Sorry about the mistake with the second link — here is the correct link.My point wasn’t to try to measure whether Russians or Latvians are more homophobic (or to deny that there are plenty of indigenous homophobes — there are, and New Generation isn’t entirely Russian, either), but was with regard to what Mozaika says above — the pride parade was permitted last summer, and there was no serious violence. The parade in Moscow was not permitted, and there was serious violence. Šmits, quoted at the link above, explicitly praised Russia and its anti-Western stance in his tirades about “values.” Regarding LPP, now LPP/LC (it merged with Latvia’s Way, which used to be a liberal party) — its support isn’t wholly or even mostly evangelical or religious, either. It’s a populist party, and like 2 of the other parties in the governing coalition — it’s an oligarch’s party. LPP’s attempt to make “family values” a central issue in the American style didn’t meet with much success, as the results of last fall’s elections showed.By the way, pride events do take place legally in Romania, despite violence, and that country has made considerable progress with regard to LGBT rights.

  6. “My point wasn’t to try to measure whether Russians or Latvians are more homophobic”Sorry, but this is what it came across as. People like Šmits look to Russia for their brand of intolerance. Much of the venom towards LGBT rights in Latvia is Russian and/or pro-Russian.While indeed Gay Pride parades were permitted in 2005 and 2007, they were not in 2006 and marchers were beaten by police and religious nutjobs/nationalists. How can you be sure that next year a conservative mayor will not ban the march out of a ‘desire not to offend some groups’ and will NOT be overturned by the judiciary?But OK, I admit that Latvia’s First Party, with support at 8.6% in 2007, was a lot lower than in 2002 when it was at 9.5% in 2002, despite merging with the Latvian Way that had c.5% support. I also admit I was mistaken about Romania – its not in the same league as Russia (or Latvia or Poland). I must have been thinking of some news item or another where ultra-Orthodox nutjobs pelted the Bucharest march with eggs.

  7. Sinotibetan says

    Wow….regarding your ‘core beliefs’, I am totally against most of your beliefs! It’s surprising that I agree with you on many things regarding Russia and international politics!

    “We are atheists” vs I am a theist.

    “secular worldview” vs religious worldview(however, Government should be secular and there should be separation of state from religion).

    “We support the goals of the feminist movement” – while the feminist movement was right in exposing abuse of the female gender by the male gender in the past, I oppose their almost militant methods of ’emasculating’ the male gender while ‘masculinizing’ the female gender. Human beings, biologically-speaking, are sexually dichotomous. Male and female are complementary and although they are equal in many areas, they are non-equal but complementary in others. Inequality is not inferiority but complementary.

    With regards to “female economic participation” – I think employers are not keen to take in females because they think about , perhaps presumed ‘lack of productivity’ in pregnant female workforce and covering their maternity expenses(including sick leave). It’s more of minimal costs with maximal profits consideration rather than thinking females are inferior intellectually – at least in our modern world. It’s a problem of this perception that leads to the ‘gender discrimination’.

    “LGBT rights” – they already have rights to be who they want to be. I construe such relations , excluding my religious beliefs, as biological dead-ends and hence not acceptable. They have the freedom to choose that lifestyle but I disagree that they should be militant about it(“Gay Pride”) nor should they insist that others who oppose or disagree with them ‘accept’ them via legal ramifications. I don’t agree with anti-LGBT who are violent towards them but I oppose same-sex marriage because it legalizes such unions. My view: their choice to carry on with the relationship but NO legal recognition.
    (Some biologists have supposedly ‘proved’ that homosexuality is ‘biological’ – my refutation is : 1.)cancer, ischaemic heart disease, essential hypertension are ‘biological’ yet we try to reverse them; 2.)nature does have errors – and I view homosexuality observed in nature as biochemical/physiological errors 3.)Extrapolating animal ethology into human behaviour is inaccurate because humans have the ability to make choices which are combinations of rational/emotional/physiological/etc. The outcome of the choice depends on which conflicting ‘impulses’ triumph. 😉

    “It is obvious that global warming is both real and anthropic.”
    There is no obvious proof. Being a person who loves science – especially ‘hard science’, I consider climate science to be ‘soft science’ with too many wildly differing models which end up with wildly different conclusions of ‘earth’s future climate’. Global warming is unproven to be anthropic and though it may be real, there is no proof that its worsening will be a sustained one.

    “We are against censorship.” You feed the mind rubbish, you’ll have rubbish thoughts. Humans are by nature evil. But you can teach humans to learn how to do evil things(‘method of evil’). I am not for strict censorship but mild forms of censorship are necessary at times.

    “supports a gradual decriminalization of all drugs”.
    I cannot agree with you on this.
    “Drugs” should be licensed and administered by medical professionals only. “Recreational” use of these drugs should not be allowed. Alcohol and tobacco are bad for health and should be campaigned against. These both should be characterized as ‘drugs’ and comparing them with marijuana, LSD and esctasy is logical. More teneous is comparing these substances to ‘fat, sugar and salts’ – these substances are physiologically needed for health : excessive amounts is the problem, not the substance itself. Campaign against bad, unhealthy diet rather than putting these substances on the same pedestal as ‘recreational drugs’. Marijuana, LSD, esctacy and many ‘recreational drugs’ are not physiologically needed in healthy human beings. Substances not physiologically needed but with potentially adverse ‘side effects’ should be under the care of health professionals only(who know the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of these substances). Apart from the ‘positive’effects of ‘fun’, these ‘drugs’ are associated with serious adverse effects on the user and ultimately on society(the psycho-social negative effects and healthcare costs). Adverse effects of cannabinoids(long term use) : pulmonary tree abnormalities, laryngitis, rhinitis, chronic obstructive airway disease(ie emphysema, chronic bronchitis), ECG abnormalities, low sperm count, ovulation failure and cognitive impairments among others. LSD – acute episodes can lead to erratic behaviour that may lead to injury/death. Esctacy – sympathomimetic effects in moderate use; if intoxicated: sweating, tachycardia(fast heart rate), high BP. mydriasis(pupils enlarged), hyperactivity and acute brain syndrome(confusion/disorientation). Long term use of esctacy can lead to ‘tolerance’ which include – paranoia, stereotypism, tactile hallucination(eg of insect infestation), psychosis with persecutory hallucination which can lead to aggression. Withdrawal symptoms – depression(with suicide ideation), hyperphagia(abnormally eating a lot) and hypersomnia(excessive sleeping). And of course these ‘recreational’ drugs have the problem of dependency. The use of these ‘drugs’ should be regulated only in pathophysiology(ie in illness state) and not to be used as ‘recreation’ in otherwise ‘healthy’ individuals.

    Some of my disagrements with your views. Thanks.


  8. The Soviet Union’s deep and extensive losses in 1941-1943 weren’t only the fault of Stalin’s “gross incompetence in monitoring German military intentions prior to the start of the Great Patriotic War”, though that’s certainly a valid criticism. Not least, they were in part a consequence of how the Soviet military had been functionally beheaded when most of its experienced leadership was removed, with many of them ending up in prisons and camps, during the hysteria of the Stalinist purges directly preceding the war. And this was done for no other reason than Stalin’s delusional paranoia and his habit of using ruthless, short-term “divide and rule” tactics to wrongfoot any potential (imaginary) rivals.

    In addition, these losses were in part the result of a series of disastrous military decisions (see Anna Reid’s book on the siege of Leningrad for copious examples of how tens of thousands of recruits were marched straight to their death as cannon fodder in senseless, primitively executed manoeuvres), which might themselves have been caused by the sudden rise of incompetent and inexperienced men during the purges. And of course, the military effort suffered from the continuing, destructive purges in which a great many able soldiers and commanders kept disappearing into prisons and camps even during the war.

    In the end, the Soviet Union overcame all these deficits and defeated the Nazis, with great heroism and at enormous human cost. This was thanks in part to some strategic genius of men like Zhukov, and thanks in part simply to the country’s near-endless reserves of men and territory, as the Germans spread out too thinly. But it seems generally agreed that the size of human losses on the Soviet side was needlessly high, which brings me to this question about what you write here: Can a leader who practically destroyed his own army on the eve of a world war, out of paranoid hysteria, really be called an “effective manager”? Specifically when it comes to his “wartime record”, which you single out as a reason to call him so?

    Sure, he worked exceptional long hours – and, as the story famously went, the whole Moscow governmental elite stayed in their offices as long as the light in his office was burning, regardless of whether that was efficient or not. That was just an anecdotal (perhaps apocryphal) example of a very real, broader problem: namely, that Stalinist state terror had instilled a spirit of such fearful obsequiousness in all layers of the government, military and society that even the most incompetent orders were obeyed unquestioningly, often with disastrous results in those first two years. Is that really “effective management”?