Reading on Russia Roundup #4

This is the fourth installment in a series of weekly compilation of Russia articles that piqued my interest. I hope some of them will pique yours.

Mark Adomanis discusses Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings and suggests they may have peaked, and that the post-Crimea euphoria is over.

From Ilaria Parogni at the NYU Jordan Center, astute and amusing commentary on the recent appearance of “dissident” punk “performer” Nadya Tolokonnikova (of Pussy Riot) at Hemmerdinger Hall. 

Last week Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov paid a working visit to Tokyo as part of his diplomatic tour of Asia. According to Ruslan Kostyuk, there are a few areas where Russia and Japan could decide to cooperate in an effort to enhance both regional and international security. But first they need to work out a solution for the Kuril Islands.

This one doesn’t really count as “reading” on Russia, but I will include it anyway. The latest podcast on Sean’s Russia blog features a discussion with Professor of International Relations at San Francisco State University Andrei Tsygankov on possible Russian foreign policy trajectories.

Russia Direct’s Yury Barmin argues that Putin’s KGB background (oh brother) helps to explain why Russia continues to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Have you read the controversial Kommersant op-ed recently written by head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin? It’s…interesting, let me tell you. Dmitry Polikanov questions what Bastrykin was trying to accomplish by publicly calling for greater confrontation with the West.

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15 comments

  1. 1) Mark Adomanis since early 2014 came out as very anti-Putin and a mild Russophobe (like Mark Galeotti). He began “prdicting” the end of “post-Crimea’s euphoria” way back in 2014 and have done this every half a year since. The fact that this broken clock finally managed to present something closer to his “prediction” is hardly a sign of good analysis.

    2) There is no “solution” for Kurils. They are Russian. Japan surrendered unconditionally in 1945. Russia won’t reviews the results of the WW2.

    3) Bastrykin’s arguments were fairly poplar among larger segment of Russians.Singling out his words about the West’s “hybrid war against Russia” as some sortr of unjustified “call for greater confrontation with the West” is hypocritical, given what the West says about Russia and how it assess us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your input, Lyttenburgh.
      1) If what you say about Adomanis is true – and there are grounds to believe it is – that would put him in the same category as the “experts” who repeatedly predict Putin’s imminent demise (Alexander Motyl, The Economist, the New York Times, и т.д. и т.п.) Of course the day will come when Putin will retire/resign (Botox doesn’t prolong life, after all), and those people will be vindicated, but like you said, that fact alone does not justify their analyses. Mild anti-Russia bias would also explain why Adomanis can’t seem to relay any statistical data showing an increase in Russia’s birthrate or economic growth without adding “Now this doesn’t mean that Russia is awesome…” It’s a bit of shame if you ask me, as there was once a time when his relative objectivity made his sitreps a very useful resource. At least they’re still useful for challenging my own bias and assumptions. *shrugs*
      3) Among what segment of Russians were Bastrykin’s arguments popular? I don’t mean to challenge you here; I am just curious.
      I think my concern stems not from what the implications of the article are for the West (regardless, the majority of Westerners will continue to view Russia as Mordor), but rather from what the Russian constitutional system would look like if some of Bastrykin’s ideas are actually put into practice in the future. For example, Bastrykin mentions the introduction of a state ideology and enhanced censorship of the media (both now directly prohibited by the Russian constitution). He also offers to prosecute those who deny the results of the Crimean referendum.
      Of course, the ideas espoused by Bastrykin could be just his personal opinion, not to be adopted at the official level, and in that case my concerns are completely unwarranted. But his close proximity to Putin does make me wonder…

      On a completely different note, I was wondering if you’d read Sean Guillory’s recent ‘Letter to the Russian Elite’. I’m interested to hear your appraisal of it. Here’s the link:
      http://seansrussiablog.org/2016/04/23/a-letter-to-the-russian-elite/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+seansrussiablog%2FYytm+%28Sean%27s+Russia+Blog%29

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  2. Dear J.T.

    Thank you for allowing to post on you pages such boor and snarky commenter as myself.

    On Adomanis… I won’t say a thing. He started as a well balanced analyst on the True/Slant. Since then he went far away and become successful. He, and others like him, decided that they can make peace with their conscience and perception of the objective truth.

    “And that’s all that I have to say about Adomanis” (c)

    On Bastrykin.

    Naturally, the so-called Russian liberals in their usual stomping grounds were up in arms after this article. Their ideological opponents of all stripes were, predictably, against them and their reaction and, therefore, majorly sympathetic to Bastrykin’s suggestions. Some, in fact, were saying and suggesting things like that for a long time. E.g., such union of various Russian patriotic forces (not necessary 100% pro-Kremlin) as Izborsky Club approved Bastrykin’s April Theses.

    People not belonging to the so-called Russian non-systemic opposition were suggesting similar things for ages – especially they lamented the lack of the official ideology of Russia. The collective West has one – it’s called “Western/Universal Values” and religious belief in the End of History, brought by the “perfection” of the Liberal Democracy and Market Capitalism. Islamic State and other radical jihadists/salafists also have their own official ideology. Needless to say – so have China. Only Russia still can’t decide what is our ideology. So far, we have come to the conclusion that:
    a) We don’t want to subscribe to the one already existing and
    b) We need one after all.

    Well, as they say, the first step in overcoming the problem lays in admitting it.

    And what does Bastrykin say about the ideological component? “…подрыв идеологического фундамента СССР, в основу которого был положен принцип братства народов, также был инициирован извне и строился на приёмах национальной розни” . And also this: “Крайне важно создание концепции идеологической политики государства. Базовым её элементом могла бы стать национальная идея, которая по-настоящему сплотила бы единый многонациональный российский народ… Именно сознательная устойчивость к радикальной религиозной и иной идеологии подобного рода могла бы выбить фундамент, на котором строятся современные экстремистские идеологии”

    “Rossiyskiy” – not just “Russkiy”. Hmm, not something that your typical strawman “Russian nationalist” ™ as portrayed in the Western media should be saying, won’t you say?

    Neither I, nor some other much wiser people (including some with whom I won’t agree on everything, like business newspaper Vzgliad) think that Bastrykin is suggesting something unconstitutional. Why you decided to list his suggestions as “anti-constitutional” anyway? Can I assume, that was because you read an article, where they were already called as such, and not because you read either the Russian Constitution (with its amendments) or the current Legal Code?

    In this or that form ideology is a must have of any country – and better when the state ideology is indeed shaped by and shared by its populace – and vice versa. But I already mentioned that. Ideology, in the end, acts as immune system of the people and its societies, not allowing bacilli of extremism and other destructive ideologies (like ethnic nationalism or racism) to take root, so that governmental security apparatus hadn’t to constantly employ its “medicine”.

    As for the supposed increase of censorship – where have you seen it? When any state takes measures so that their citizens won’t get quick and easy access to the extremist web-pages or information, to the how-to guides about making explosives at home, when said supposedly democratic states maintain 24/7 Big-brother style surveillance not only over their own citizens, but over foreigners as well – even from the supposedly “friendly” countries – no one is protesting or calls for the revolution (at least – not effectively).

    And what does Bastrykin suggests? His service deals with extremism in Russia. And to deal with it effectively, he needs a solid Legal foundation for that, with minimum of grey zones that allow true criminals to avoid justified punishment. Bastrykin says not a word about #New1937 and mass repressions against Russian opposition (both so-called and real). The vast majority of those, who opposes current governmental actions (especially – in the economic sphere) is among both fringe and mainstream communists, socialist and patriots, not among the Barbie-sized mayfly “democratic” parties with negligible rating or membership. And for the former its impossible o really “shut up”. Instead, what does the government suggest in the form of Bastrykin? Nothing radical, really. Not allowing access to the websites, recognized as extremist from the public access areas. With option for the “victims” to challenge the notion via the court. Also – more rigorously combat the recruitment into the terrorist organizations via Internet. Is this a “censorship” which I, as Russian, should decry?

    And as for persecution of anyone denying that Crimea is Russia – well, that should’ve been done long time ago. Only now, thanks to the real, patriotic civil society, Russian security forces are been notified about public figures, who were calling (often – using various official Media sources as their conduit) for the dismemberment of Russia, or for one-way “grants of independence”. By the already existing Russian Legal Code, calls for “liberation” of Crimea, or denial of its belonging to Russia ARE acts of extremism. Sadly, they are not recognized as that. An entire Russian political party that will participate in this year’s election – liberal “Yabloko” – denies that Crimea is Russian and calls for its immediate “abandonment”.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Dear J.T.

      Thank you for allowing to post on you pages such boor and snarky commenter as myself.”
      It really is no problem at all. There is much I can learn from you.

      “Neither I, nor some other much wiser people (including some with whom I won’t agree on everything, like business newspaper Vzgliad) think that Bastrykin is suggesting something unconstitutional. Why you decided to list his suggestions as “anti-constitutional” anyway? Can I assume, that was because you read an article, where they were already called as such, and not because you read either the Russian Constitution (with its amendments) or the current Legal Code?”
      This is likely the case. I attempted to read the op-ed in the original Russian, but also read other articles that may have planted the seeds of “unconstitutionality” into my mind. Other information from Bastrykin’s writing may have been lost in my (mediocre) translation. It’s an error on my part; please forgive me.

      You’ve spoken of the realization of a need for an official ideology to combat extremism. What, in your opinion, would this ideology need to consist of?

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      • Dear J.T.

        You have nothing to apologize before me.

        As for the need for the state ideology for Russia – I’ve been saying that for a long time.

        I’m by no means some sort of “official ideologue”, or a person close to the powers that be. But the mere fact, that Bastrykin’s article mentions a lot of points, which I (and other ordinary Russians like me) were making for a long time already, surely shows that the thought process of at least part of the Russian elite, finally, truly coincides with what their own people want and desire in this particular sphere.

        As I said before – the West also has its own ideology, even without writing it down into some official documents (like it was the case with the USSR). But it doesn’t make the Western ideology less real. Salafists and Jihadists also don’t need to write everything down – they only “interpret” Koran in the “one true way”. So, there won’t be anything “inconceivable” for Russia both to have a state ideology without violating the constitution by writing it down. The best place to “keep” it still remains human mind.

        As for the question “what it should consist of?” – once again, I’m not an official ideologue. I understand perfectly well, that I’m but a lowly individual, and that not all of my views and ideas are shared (or could be shared) by everyone. Still, I have a couple of suggestions:

        1) Russian state and society must stop waging war against its past and history. Look at France – currently, you can find there statues and monuments to Louis XVI, Robespierre and Napoleon Bonaparte – often not so far away from each other. No one is fighting against them. There is Cromwell statue in London – a well as for Charles I. Hell, there is still a monument to queen Victoria in Ireland – and no one is blowing it up.

        Thus, baseless fanboyism of this or that time period must go. There is no need to base your ideology in a jolly jig danced on the coffins of your predecessors (like Khruschev did in 1956). This is ultimately a proverbial “atomic bomb” placed under the foundation

        We need to start accepting history as it is – a giant intricate tapestry, where particular threads can link grey past with modernity, full of mind blowing pictures and plot twists; the best comic book ever written, which would still be running even after your death 🙂 How can we talk about tolerance and acceptance, if we can’t accept the simple fact that the people of the past were different from us, modern humans, that they had different worldviews and had to live through different situations? But it was only thanks to them that we are those who we are.

        2) And because it’s the state ideology we are talking about – state must make its ideology Patriotic. It means – we finally must stop “mythbusting” our past and present, and instead put the accent on the positive things were and are. Don’t make them up – in the modern age its more harmful than useful. In fact, that’s what ultimately lead to the ideological defeat of all Russophobes and anti-Sovietists within Russian. They were so blatant in their lies, while striving to “unveil the crimes of the Bloody Regime” that their lies simply went out of the hand.

        The state is interested in producing patriotic citizens, who will be proud of their country and from its past. (This simple thing is actually, opposed most vigorously by the so-called Russian liberals) The state has already all legal means to do just that. Schools and higher education institutions (and most them in Russia are state-run) should be the first place to implement said measures. Russian Ministry of Culture is still the biggest sponsor of various films and theatre productions. Maybe its time for them to get their stuff together, and instead of paying money for some shitty rom-com, or “Leviathan” (which had pretty little with reality) or, heaven forbid, with anything by Nikita Mikhalkov, instead to give money on what could be beneficial for both the state and its citizens? Could you imagine, J.T., G.W. Bush administration channeling (taxpayers) money into Michael Moor’s studio? Up until recently that was the norm for Russia.

        With that – we must understand, that Patriotism must be based on something real and not antagonize people by becoming some sort of the meaningless rite. We don’t need “Allegiance to the Flag” like stuff at school. We don’t need to cover every inch of free (or not so free) surface on our streets with Russian tricolor – that’s Ukrainian жовто-блакiтний method of “patriotism”. But at the same time – look at St. George’s ribbon. 10 years ago when it all began no one was really hopeful of it as a status item or as a symbol (so-called liberals most of all). But now it has proved to be a true symbol of patriotism that unites people. And not, it wasn’t thanks to the “ceaseless brainwashing state propaganda”.

        3) Russian elites first of all, and the rest of society after them, must finally find a way to express our civilizational status. Hardest of all would be to admit the obvious – Russia is European country. But (there is always “but” in such things) we are Eastern European country. The greatest ideological crime of the West, in my opinion, was when it successfully sold the idea of “Europa” as being equal to the Western Europe, and then, after some time, as being equal to the North-Western Europe.

        This is wrong. Despite their delusions, Europe is not accommodating to the “one size fits all” ideology developed by the Western Europeans. Eastern Roman Empire, aka Byzantium Empire, was European – probably even more European than a bunch of Mad Max-style squabbling barbarian kingdoms of the “West”.

        Russia represents in itself an Alternative Europe, with its own values, which are/were European in their origins. Russia will never become Western Europe. So, instead of striving for impossible, better to admit the reality and behave like a center of power (and values) on your own terms.

        For that, Russia must not take everything coming from the West for granted, i.e. don’t assume it as being “progressive” or even “superior” by default. They must be weighted and discussed, analyzed as to whether they might be beneficial, first of all for the Russian people (and not for other people or even to some abstract ideals).

        4) No multi-culturalism, tokenism and political correctness but good ol’ Soviet Union-style “friendship of the people”. No attempts to build some “super-nationality” – we are not USA, because we are not the nations of immigrants. This won’t work for us. Nevertheless, Russia is multiethnic country, and multiple ethnicity must be viewed as such – separate, different but equal.

        With that – ruthless suppression of all kinds of ethnic nationalism.

        _____________
        That’s 4 Core Points that I think must be at the foundation of any future Russian ideology.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you, Lyttenburgh. This is precisely why I look forward to reading your comments here – your viewpoint on modern Russia is one which is not commonly heard or easily found in the real-world Russia-watching circles I know. I originally created this blog as a home for my reviews, but I also secretly hoped this would also be home to an exchange of ideas. It doesn’t matter that you are a “lowly individual” – to a person still consolidating her opinion on Russia, your words are tremendously insightful. 🙂

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        • East Rome was Eurasian, not just European.
          It tried to be merely European and neglected its Asian parts which doomed it.

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          • The term “Eurasian” in the early Middle Ages context is meaningless. Byzantium Empire represented one shard of the once common Mediterranean Classic Civilization. Bishop of Antiochia was no “lesser” than bishops of Carthage, Capua or Lyon. It was even before the time of “Europe” as modern concept.

            Are you implying that the same applies to Russia 100% and trying to make some sort of prediction based on that? What is particularly “Asian” in Russia for it to be called “Eurasian” not simply in geographical sense but in some sort “civilizational” one? What, simple fact that Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk or my native Yekaterinburg are situated in “Asia” makes the people here (who are visually and culturally same Russians as everywhere) makes them, nevertheless “Asian”?

            What is “Asian”, btw? Is there some “super-Asian civilization” that encompasses all the different people of this part of the largest continent on Earth? Are there no deep differences between the people of the Middle East, Indian sub-continent pr Japanese islands?

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            • After the East Romans were doomed by the loss of their Anatolian territories, the bishops of Antiochia were lesser as they was no longer part of the Catholic church (except during the crusader/latin-interlude).

              What makes Russia not purely European and partially Asian is its sheer size, plenty of non-European indigenous and non-recent migrant nations within Russia and close ties to post-Soviet non-European regions (Caucasus and Central Asia). It is quite telling that Russia wants to retain its Far East, while Europeans are ditching theirs.
              Russia’s position in Europe is comparable to what (the Empire of) Austria used to be in Germany.
              And just like Austria was excluded from Germany by the creation of the German nation state, Russia is increasingly excluded from Europe by the EU.

              Asia is Eurasia without Europe. There is no pan-Asian civilisation, but the same applies to Eurasia, Africa and the Americas.

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              • “After the East Romans were doomed by the loss of their Anatolian territories, the bishops of Antiochia were lesser as they was no longer part of the Catholic church (except during the crusader/latin-interlude).”

                The “drift” between the Middle Eastern clergy and official Constantinopol began under Justinian, and was only accentuated during the Iconoclasm. Also – what “Catholoc church” you are talking about here? Too early for that.

                “What makes Russia not purely European and partially Asian is its sheer size, plenty of non-European indigenous and non-recent migrant nations within Russia and close ties to post-Soviet non-European regions (Caucasus and Central Asia). It is quite telling that Russia wants to retain its Far East, while Europeans are ditching theirs.”

                – Again – georgraphy does not determine who the people are. It doesnt matter even if its true that most of Russia is situated in the imaginary geographical construct known as “Asia”. People here are as Russian as everywhere. Europeans settling North America didn’t become “Native Americans” culturally just because of the geography.

                – Russian Far East is, well, Russian. It wasn’t a colony with a “white minority”, ruling over “native Asians”. That’s why it wasn’t ditched.

                – Speaking of Caucasus – is it Asian or European? At least “Eurovision” thinks its European :).

                – Contribution of Non-European, i.e. Central Asian and native Siberian, population in the way how Russians perceive themselves, how they govern their country etc. is minimal. Denmark, you know, is Eurpean country. Still, Greenland with its indigenous population is still theirs. Does it make Denmark “[Native] American”?

                “Russia’s position in Europe is comparable to what (the Empire of) Austria used to be in Germany.

                By a big stretch.

                “And just like Austria was excluded from Germany by the creation of the German nation state, Russia is increasingly excluded from Europe by the EU.”

                Yes, only the end result is even more monstrous, convoluted, heterogenous and unsustainable.

                Still, you didn’t answer me – what is this common “Asianess” that somehow defines supposedly “un-European” countryis? So far, it looks like a politically correct swear word.

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                • >and was only accentuated during the Iconoclasm.

                  Another sign of the non-European element of East Rome.
                  Iconoclasm was mainly supported by the Asian part of the empire.

                  >georgraphy does not determine who the people are.

                  Actually, it does to some extent. You are even providing an example.
                  >Europeans settling North America didn’t become “Native Americans” culturally just because of the geography.
                  The Europeans who settled in the Americas stopped being Europeans and developed different new cultures.
                  They became Americans.

                  >It wasn’t a colony with a “white minority”, ruling over “native Asians”. That’s why it wasn’t ditched.

                  The fate of White Australia suggest that it was not the only reason.

                  Eurovision’s definition is irrelevant.

                  >Contribution of Non-European, i.e. Central Asian and native Siberian, population in the way how Russians perceive themselves, how they govern their country etc. is minimal.

                  Tartars, Bashkirs, Kalmyks, Ossetians, etc. do not matter?

                  Greenland is not part of Denmark.

                  >By a big stretch.

                  You are not saying why you disagree. Similar factors are at work in both cases.

                  Just because you dislike the EU, it does not mean it does not work.

                  >what is this common “Asianess” that somehow defines supposedly “un-European” countryis?

                  You might as well ask why Europe is not treated as subcontinent of Asia like India.

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                  • “Another sign of the non-European element of East Rome.
                    Iconoclasm was mainly supported by the Asian part of the empire.”

                    Actually, the opposite was true. A lot of old icons, mosaics etc. didn’t suffer from the Iconoclasts (supported by the Isavrian Emperors, who long before Henry VIII of England became the embodiment of Caesaropapism) because they were in the eastern parts of the Empire, recently conquered by Arabs (what an irony!). In fact a lot icon-painters and monks (yes, ordinary monks and monasteries were also targeted by the Iconoclasm) emigrated to Syria, Palestine and Black sea regions at that time.

                    Iconoclasm took place also in the Western Europe at the same time (so much for its “Asianess”).

                    Plus – I suppose you don’t think such “Iconoclasts” as the Protestants are also “Asian”?

                    “The Europeans who settled in the Americas stopped being Europeans and developed different new cultures.
                    They became Americans.

                    You missed my points.

                    a) Simply by living in this particular georgraphical region they didn’t become “natives”, i.e. they didn’t adopt what had been thought of as the defining characteristics of this region’s natives,
                    b) No region of Russia has developed new and different culture thanks to the “colonization”. Entire of Russia (sans Moscow ;)) is pretty much homogenous in its “Russianess”. No one stopped being Russian after settling in Kamchatka.

                    ”Tartars, Bashkirs, Kalmyks, Ossetians, etc. do not matter?”

                    As individuals – they matter. As nationalities, capable of influencing the outlook, cultural mores, form of the government, etc. – no. The opposite in fact is true. They no longer live in tribes, teips, hordes, migratory clans etc.

                    “Greenland is not part of Denmark.”

                    It is – since 1536. Just because it’s an autonomy doesn’t mean that they are independent, and, therefore, not part of the Danish state.

                    “You are not saying why you disagree. Similar factors are at work in both cases.”

                    Because you trying to pull an ages old trick “If it resembles in a lot of ways something from the past, than it is the SAME THING. And history will repeat itself 100%”.

                    That’s a trick. And it doesn’t work. There are like a ton of differences between the current status of Russia vis-a-vis and post German unification Austro-Hungary. Russia, for one, never pretended to be a sole and undisputed “unifier” and hegemon of Europe. Russia is not a Soviet Union, and Soviet Union was not Russia. There is no international project at work in Russia, despite all these screeching and hysterics from the west about the “horrible Eurasian Project”.

                    You’re once again confirming my old suspicion of the effectiveness of the Western ideological propaganda. By saying “Russia is increasingly excluded from Europe by the EU” you are equating Europe with EU. But that’s not true.

                    And just because the EU is “functioning” (for now) it doesn’t mean that it “works”. I take it you come from the EU country, with the vested interests in keeping it running. Can I wager a guess and say – Mittel Europa?

                    “You might as well ask why Europe is not treated as subcontinent of Asia like India.”

                    Mainly, because arrogant and much more proficient in the organized application of violence Europeans were/are the ones writing history and classifying all other nations and lands.

                    But you didn’t answer my question.

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  3. On Sean’s Guillory article .

    I kinda liked Sean’s writing way back 5 years ago, when he was much more active and energetic in the “Russia watchers” sphere. Obviously, many things changes with time – people themselves most of all.

    Admittedly, it’s been a while since I read anything by Sean (maybe a year, or a bit more). Still, I had high hopes on the virtues of WHO is writing this piece.

    Throughout the article my eyebrows were keeping their ascendancy with the alarming speed. By the p.8, I couldn’t help but to shout “Oh, c’mon, now!”. Maybe I simply forgot, but I can’t remember since when did Mr. Guillory became a “Marxist”. For me he doesn’t sound like one.

    There are many things that could be said about Russian Elite ™ and very few of them would be nice. But, just to be clear, I should probably mention 2 most important things that Mr. Guillory fails to list in his article.

    1) Russia nowadays, indeed, has a truly national elite. A feat once thought to be almost ubiquitous, even “normal” nowadays is far and between. A lot of countries throughout the world lack national elite whatsoever, instead ruled by a thin layer of plutocrats with complete lack of loyalty to both their country and people, not to mention to such things as “ideas”, “values” or “principles”. Other countries instead have international elite, supposedly, sharing common, “universal” values and interests, and working for the betterment not of their own countries, but of Something Bigger.

    2) As the old saying goes – “Kremlin has many towers”. Russian elite is not a monolith. There are indeed many different factions, “clans”, local interests, ideological approaches and personal rivalries. Like, you know, in every other national elite. The difference runs deeper than just his very popular (but perfunctory) division into “siloviks” vs “civiloviks”, “hawks” vs “doves”, etc. There are, for example, Foreign Minister Lavrov and Defense Minister Shoigu. Both are the most popular ministers of the Russian government. Shoigu was always popular, even when he was the Minister of Emergency Situations, because, let’s face it, shit keeps happening and the people needs help. The fact that they are popular and much talked about points out that they represent what could be defined as “patriotic” wing of the Russian elite. On the other hand, the “economic block” consisting of such charming people as Ulyukayev, Siluanov, Nabibulina and, yes, even P.M. Medvedev are despised, if not outright hated by the Russians. The mere suggestion of “partial privatization” was met with universal disagreement from both the people and virtually all political forces in Russia – including the “United Russia” party. Still, these so different people are part of the same Russian elite.

    Nothing from Sean’s writing points out that he understands this. Sadly.

    A lot of what Sean’s says is simply not true. Take this for example:

    “Elections are supposed to be legitimizing rituals but as Putin’s tenure has dragged on, they’ve increasingly become periods of potential instability.”

    I don’t know about the West, but in Russia its still not some “legitimizing ritual” but a form of people’s political expression, in accordance to which Governors, Mayors and various Dumas (from city to state’s) are elected. Just because a huge crowd of Moscowite liberasts managed to completely captivate the Western imagination, it doesn’t mean that all Russians (you know – other, normal Russians) will use elections as a staging ground for Maidan. Neither state, nor the people think that.

    Then begins a hodgepodge of wild suggestions, a lot of which simply doesn’t make sense. According to Sean, current Russian Duma is worse than the last Czarist one because not enough (“real”!) parties are represented in it. Well – did this representation in Duma of so many “different” parties really saved the Russian Empire in 1917?

    Also, apparently mister Guillory has no idea who Navalny is, from whom he takes money and with what kind of scum he spends most of his time. He is also, apparently, unaware of rather showcase whipping of the RPR-PARNAS during 2015 Kostroma elections. Finally, Mr. Guillory is apparently unaware of 2 essential facts of life. First – Navalny as a convicted criminal CAN’T be a candidate in the upcoming Duma Elections. Second – his jolly nest of sin and inequity (literally – I mean, Kasyanov and Pelevina!) are allowed to run in the elections. In fact, even “Yabloko”, after its calls to “give back Crimea to Ukraine” is still allowed to run.

    As it became de rigeur in all good Western articles about Terrible Russia, Sean also suggests for the Powers That Be to cut the “civil society” some slack. While its still very debatable, what is indeed a “civil society” (I know – I’ve asked and will keep asking people about it till I get some adequate answer), Russian state, as a matter of fact, has done little to harm Russian civil society.

    Points 4, 7 and 8 are very important. In them Sean basically tells the liberal, more or less “pro-western” wing of the Russian elite to “get its shit together” (not my words – his) and deal with Putin. The sooner the better. What is more important – the Elite must tell Putin to retire, not Putin himself decide it. Or, you know, the actual Russian Legislation be enforced. And the fact that he not so subtly suggested Alexey FUCKIN’ Kudrin as a potential replacement for Putin – well… “Exit stage left, chased by a bear” (it’s Shakespeare’s day, dammit!)

    Mr. Guillory, apparently, fails to understand some simple truths about Russia. For example, that liberals – both currently sitting in the government and those sitting in Jean Jacques café, plotting to grab the power from the “Regime” – are extremely despised by the Russian population due to their policy. The fact that these liberals of all stripes are hailed by the West and its “Free and Independent Media” ™ doesn’t help the matter one bit. Alexey Kudrin would be one of the WORST possible choices to lead Russia in the future, for whom there won’t be enough people to vote (democratic elections are still Western value, right?) for him to become a President.

    Next – Russian Elites (and even non-systemic liberasts) must pray daily, on their knees, bowing deep down to earth, so that they foreheads will be bleeding from the effort for Putin’s continued presence as the head of Russian state. Because it’s HIM who the Russians like and approve of – them they are just tolerating for a time being. Because, should that happen – and shameless gang of “privatizators” invite themselves into the Kremlin, the Day Of Reckoning will come to them. It won’t be civilized. Seeing the Russian people as some voiceless, dumb “bydlo”, ready to put up with all kinds of shit is what both Russian commenters and self-described elites (especially – liberal ones) must abandon once and for all.

    In conclusion – the article is extremely sub-par and lacks in both quality and substance. Author demonstrates glaring lack of knowledge of the present day Russia and strong ideological bias.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve been reading and listening to Sean’s work for about a year now. A leftist tinge to his writing was evident from the get-go, but he didn’t seem clearly Marxist to me either.

      Like

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