Reading on Russia Roundup #5

This week was an eventful one as far as Russian affairs (and the articles produced about them) go. Read on for Chernobyl and Chatham House, Handelsblatt and human rights.

First up, we have Sean Guillory at Sean’s Russia Blog, who wrote a letter to the Russian elite, which, among other things, makes recommendations for how to rebuild institutions and start thinking about life after Putin. What do you think of his suggestions?

This Tuesday (April 26th) marked the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The New East Network (via Russia Direct) presents first-person accounts of one of the worst catastrophes in human history.

Paul Robinson of the University of Ottawa criticizes a recent Chatham House report, entitled ‘Agents of the Russian World: Proxy Groups in the Contested Neighbourhood’ on his blog IRRUSSIANALITY. He sounds uncharacteristically annoyed, but for very good reasons.

The recent appointment of new human rights ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova has provoked a mixed reaction within Russian society. Marina Obrazkova explains why.

Mark Adomanis delivers some semi-positive news on Russian demographics: they have not been affected by increasingly serious economic problems thus far.

Russia and NATO renewed their dialogue for the first time since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, but the talks failed to produce any results. However, as  Artem Kureev explains, the very fact that the summit took place means a lot and gives a reason to hope that the two sides can eventually find a compromise.

And last but not least, in an exclusive interview with Handelsblatt, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier talks about why rising global tensions and fears of terrorism indicate it may be time to end the standoff with Russia.




  1. 1) I already wrote my thoughts about Sean Guillory’s “letter to elites”. Nothing even close to concrete recommendations “how to rebuild institutions”. And “start thinking about life after Putin” could be wrote by anyone, who hates the current “Regime” in Russia and just wants it to magically disappear.

    2) “The recent appointment of new human rights ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova has provoked a mixed reaction within Russian society.”

    Oh, yeah! Liberoids are still part of the “Russian society”. It’s always hard to remember that, judging by their writings full of hatered to their own country, people and history, and the constant pining for the Ideal West, where Things Like That Are Impossible ™.

    Article opens with all tell-tale signs of high levele рукопожатность and неполживость of your tupical so-called “Independent Democratic Journalist”. E.g. phrases like “a conservative politician who supported a series of controversial laws.”. I get it that in the Western democratic journalistic and societal tradition “a conservative” is tantamount to the “fascist” or “nazi”. Which reminds me of a spoiled child, preferring to eat junk food, don’t do a homework, watch TV/play video games all day, and when the parents try to reign it such harmful behavior, our indignant child would cry out “FASCIST!” at such “unjust” treatment.

    Instead of feeling happy that in Russia woman can be a general in the Ministry of the Interior, then make a political career, and then become one of the top officials of the country (all thanks to the “Bloody Bolsheviks”, btw), the Liberal International instead whines and lies, by calling her “notorious conservative” (news flash – most Russians, including women, are more conservative than you, Westerners) and holding “pro-government views”. Because, apparently, supporting Crimea’s re-union with Russia, patriotism, rule of law and the current social policy is “pro-government”, ergo – bad. True “opposition”, therefore, to earn praises from the West must do the exact opposite – which they do, and then act surprised, why they have 2% rating.

    Finally, this term “controversial laws”, like ” the notorious law on foreign agents, which targets nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Russia.., she supported the ban on adoption of Russian orphans by foreign families…. Moskalkova also initiated the amendment to Russia’s Criminal Code, which imposed liability for the violation of public morality. “

    Controversial according to who? The West? Because Russians (the only who matters here) supposrts these governmental initiatives. And if you say – “No! Some liberals are against them! You, can’t speak for the whole of Russia!”, then lets classify every single law as controversial, because there won’t be exactly 100% for it within any country.

    “According to Leonid Gozman, democratic activist and a fellow of the National Endowment for Democracy, Moskalkova’s background does matter and has serious implications for Russia’s opposition and human rights campaigners.”

    I didn’t know that he was a “fellow of the National Endowment for Democracy” – so there is some use for this article, after all! For me Gozman was always a so-called “Russian liberal” piece of crap, who worked at RosNano for Chubais up until recently, and who infamously equates the Soviet Union and Stalin with Nazi Germany and Hitler, Gozman, whose ancestors (and he himself in the unlikely event that he’d be born) would have become pieces of soap for the Aryan Race.

    “Gozman believes that Moskalkova will support the Kremlin’s repressive tendencies and, in so doing, contribute to tightening the screws in the country in general. To quote him, “there is no ground to believe” that Moskalkova will be rigorous in defending human rights and freedoms in Russia, given the fact that she is a police officer at heart, with the penchant for oppressive measures ingrained in her professional DNA.”

    I could say a thing or two about Gozman, based on who he os “at heart”, and to what exactly he has “penchant” due to something ingrained into his “professional DNA”… but that would be “anti-Semitism”.

    Article promised me to explain why this appointment creates a “controversy within Russian society”. Well, it failed to show it.

    3) Russian Direct has very obvious liberal, even liberast slant in reporting and re-posting things.

    “Artem Kureev explains, the very fact that the summit took place means a lot and gives a reason to hope that the two sides can eventually find a compromise.”

    No, he says that from now on Russia and US must talk directly, while at the same time he confessed, that there is not much the sides can do to change their absolutely opposite positions. Wishful thinking and naive hope that Russia (and not the USA) would finallt budge.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As usual, thank you for your feedback, Lyttenburgh.
    “Russian Direct has very obvious liberal, even liberast slant in reporting and reposting things.”
    Pardon me for not being up to date on the lingo, but what does ‘liberast’ mean?


    • The term “Liberast” (rus. “либераст”) was coined by the Soviet era dissident and underground Samizdat publicist Ilya Smirnov. Yes, dissident dissing fellow dissidents – shocking! 😉

      I’ve wrote about it previously, so – “take a deeeeeeeeeep breath”, here I go again.


      There is no such a thing as “Russian liberal”. They are “liberasts” = liberal fascists (or something else…), “Europe’s eternal lackeys” (c), an eternal Russian archetype of self-loving, Russia-hating West-worshipping toady, an ethno-cultural bastard, who hates “This Country”, but is still viewed as only an amusing “aboriginal” by the Culturally Superior Westerners.

      The representative of the “liberal”-oriented political class of “This Country” sorta-kinda is “fighting for freedom, equality, fraternity” ™ and is standing in opposition to the current government – but in fact they are fighting against anyone who dares to have an opinion different from theirs rather limited pre-fab set of the “Holy Truths”.

      Liberalism originally had nothing to do with freedom of the individual. One might argue, that in the West the liberalism began with Adam Smith and his idea of the free market – «laissez faire, laissez passer», so to speak. The ideas of the personal rights and liberties came later after the French Revolution, but even then they were not paramount. Naturally, Russia lacked these “primordial” liberals – here the political rights and freedoms had been viewed as the Ultimate Values by the Russian liberals, who’d always were more comfortable in salons and intellectual circles than anywhere else.

      In Soviet Russia ™ there were no liberals either – only the so-called “dissidents”, a bunch of shy and modest “intelligentsia” representatives, who, despite they often lowly origins, behaved themselves (and surely – though spt about themselves) like the spiritual successors of the Russian nobility, surrounded by the morlok-like proletariat. Instead of having a normal program or the theoretical base for their views, the “old-school” of the USSR dissident movement spent time wishing for the SU to break up (Solzhenitsyn famously called for a nuclear strikes against “This Country” during his Harvard speech), worshipping everything Western and spreading anti-communist propaganda. Sounds familiar, right?

      Well – yes and no. It is worth noting that if we’re gonna to compare the vast majority of today’s liberasts to the then Soviet dissidents, the comparison won’t be in liberasts favor. Despite all their similarities, Soviet dissidents were not into this “business” just for a chance to receive a hefty Western grant or become a media “celebrity”, or even to get a chance to emigrate. A lot of them did it for the Idea (some even never traveled abroad – even after the 1991) To become a dissident in that time one had to be capable to think for themselves, to be brave and independent to express one’s opinion, because there was no Internet, relevant literature had been banned, and they had a very good prospect to learn A LOT about the Soviet Psychiatry system in case they’d become too annoying. Today Russian liberasts are not even “fedora-tipping” or “champagne” liberals. They are armchair generals and theoreticians, disgraced politicians, bloggers or kitchen theorists plus an intergalactic parade of various grant-suckers who are simulating “democratic” activities while lining up their pockets.

      Liberasts, unlike the Liberals, are not capable of any real creative activity, or to any meaningful participation in anything. All activities in which the liberasts are involved are reduced to denouncing the “authoritarian and totalitarian regimes” and… that’s it! At the same time in the narrow circles of theirs reigns even more rabid totalitarianism. A striking example – Petersburg’s branch of late Nemtsov’s “Solidarity”, in particular the general meeting of May 15, 2011, at which a whole bunch of liberasts numbering 300 people terribly quarreled among themselves on the topic – who is more liberal among them, and during the next six (6) hours engaged in a voting, to expel each other from the organization.

      Liberast is not a political choice, but a way of thinking. For liberasts matter not the ideas themselves (any ideologically “charged” people work 24/7 on the implementation of their ideas), but the opportunity to use their own ideas for a psychological relief. Liberasts cover with their imaginary ideological “credo” their all too common passionate hatred for everything, which is not a correct point of view according to them. Many liberasts preach hypertrophied, sometimes manic form of political correctness just simply because of the fact that it is “fashionable” in the West. They themselves, naturally, has no interested in it whatsoever.

      Liberasts are beholden to a peculiar set of double standards, such as – they might justify the colonization of the Third World, while branding the “Soviet Occupation of the Baltic states”; also they might be desperate to justify the bombing of Dresden and Hiroshima, while wildly blaming the Soviet bombardment of Finland; they are all too often express extremely Russophobic statements, while blaming others of “nationalism” (and “anti-Semitism”, of course).

      Strictly speaking, the term “liberal” is outdated. Historic liberal was a supporter of the classical liberalism, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” and «laissez faire, laissez passer». These liberals fulfilled their goals along with the bourgeois revolutions of 19th century, when the power had been redistributed among the top level of the 3rd Estate (mainly…) and the propaganda of the idea of equality stopped to favor the new owners of this Brave New World. The sad but true fact is that the classical liberalism is incompatible with the democracy. Yeah, liberalism does not exclude democracy per se (on the contrary, it proudly proclaims it!), but in fact in the situation of the complete economic freedom, the real power passes to the large corporations that makes any elections some sort of simulation of a real process and dismiss the “demos” (the people) from the ”cratos” (the power). Death of the classical liberalism can be 100% dated to as early as the interwar period, when the class of rich businessmen, land and property owners openly supported fascists and the Nazis, who, naturally, denied the very idea of the parliamentary democracy. Since then, the “liberals” became rather a rare breed, but, instead, the period saw the appearance of many “over the edge” demagogues who in reality just defended someone’s interests under the name of freedom ™. Gorgeous example of how such “liberalism” destroys all democratic institutions in the bud – the “Rough 90th” in Russia, where as soon as the “Liberals” took control of the property, everyone was told to shut the fuck up, and people not willing to commence a democratic shutting the f-up process were shot with tanks in 1993. Or we can recall the US in the 1920s-1940s period, where every politician was someone’s puppet, and only Roosevelt began (timidly!) to carry out some attempts to liberate the US government from the influence of the mafia and local oligarchs.

      In, say, the US local liberals tend to gravitate towards the Democratic Party, whose liberalism extends to the social policy, but in terms of the economy, they are de-facto social democrats – i.e. they are proponents of the unemployment benefits, easily-accessible housing, education and medicine for the masses, in short – the social, if not a welfare state. Curiously, they also condemn the war in Iraq, Guantanamo, intervention in Third World countries, the propping up of the puppet regimes – all the things that our own liberasts consider to be good.

      If you look behind the mask of this quasi-liberal rhetoric, it becomes abundantly clear that in fact they are not against the military intervention, the manipulation of elections, or of banning parties, establishing of the puppet governments and other things done daily by the much scolded by them “imperialism”… but on condition, that it is done by the US, EU and their satellites (whom they consider one state). They deride Russian “vatniks”, “zaputintsi” and “putzriots” – while their own jingoistic patriotism targets as an object of worship the all-conquering American army. They are incapable to read anything but the Truth of the Faithful Liberal media and Blogs ™. Serious theoretical work on the liberalism they, of course, have never read, and due to this they are incapable of truly understanding that freedom of speech and parliamentary immunity have a specific function.

      Finally – about the “voters pool” of these so-called “Russian liberals”. They, indeed have a much more prominent presence in major cities, than in the countryside. In fact, I know quite a number of them both IRL and on the Net. They share one particular common trait though – they lack everything that can possibly mark a human being as a “citizen” of his/her country. They desire above all other things a higher level of (already rather higher than average) comfort for themselves. They want the original Spanish jamon and Dutch maasdam back on the shelves of the elite stores for them to buy, they want the newest “Apple” gadget pronto and without delays, they want to express their own views on everything without hearing any contrarian views from the “lessers”, they want to behave whatever they like with impunity – and it’s “This Country” ™ government’s job to satisfy them. If it fails in that – well, than its “pora valit’” time.

      In short – this “Highly Spiritual” “eloi” want to dress, eat, dance, sing and fuck better then they can at the moment – oh, and they want those filthy “morloks” to be not seen, not heard and not making any decisions. They are, basically, fine looking, trendy beasts – or to use the Russian word for them, “Скотина”.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks.
    ‘The term “Liberast” (rus. “либераст”) was coined by the Soviet era dissident and underground Samizdat publicist Ilya Smirnov. Yes, dissident dissing fellow dissidents – shocking!’
    Actually this reminds me of the famous collection ‘Vekhi’ from 1909, in which several prominent leftist thinkers suddenly denounced their colleagues in the intelligentsia for their weakly developed legal consciousness, ‘political frivolity’, and ‘alienation from and hostility to the state’. I guess some things are slow to change.
    You’ve basically given all the reasons why someone needs to write a satire of the liberal Russian non-systemic opposition.


    • You read Vekhi? Lenin called “Vekhi” an “Encyclopedia of liberal renegadism“. Its authors were not “leftists” – they were more or less classic liberals in the pre-Revolutionary tradition of that. Its editor, the literary historian Mikhail Gershenzohn, wrote that “so far from dreaming of union with the people we ought to fear the people and bless this government which, with its prisons and bayonets, still protects us from the people’s fury..

      And that’s it – the core belief of the Russian liberalism, which became even more apparent after the February Revolution when they, liberals, finally got the political power.

      The leader of the most prominent Russian liberal party of the Constitutional Democrats (KaDets) Pavel Milyukov became a Foreign Affairs Minister of the Interim government. He repeated ceaseless “War till victory” and “We must fulfill our allied duty”. After the October Revolution he ran away to the German-held Kiev, where he began agitating both the puppet government of the Hetman Skoropadsky and the German occupational administration to break Brest-Litovsk treaty and march on Moscow.

      As a party KaDets proved themselves hypocrites. Their political program had lots and lots of fine, liberal, democratic things, like freedom of speech, press, assembly and the abolishment of the capital punishment. Mere days after they got into the government, and one of the most prominent “humanists” within their ranks V. Nabokov was actually arguing for keeping the death punishment and vigorously employing it in the army.

      KaDets lost all support of the people within just 2 months. For that they blamed… the people themselves! By May and June 1917 they were saying, openly, that Russia needs dictatorship. That “Russia is unworthy of all those freedoms, which the Revolution gave to it”. By mid August they were supportive of Lavr Kornilov and held much expectations of his putsch… but, being liberals, actually did nothing to help him, thus accomplishing nothing and becoming actually hated by the people.

      KaDets were unsupportive of the elections to the future Constitutional Assembly, saying that “Small Russian cultural minority would be swamped by the mass of the dim-witted people” . Funny thing – Bolsheviks did nothing to hinder KaDets election campaign. They were allowed to see for themselves how pathetic they have become.

      In the years of the Civil War they, naturally, threw they full support (not much, really) behind the White Movement. A. Tyrkova, a high-ranking KaDet party member worked with Denikin’s “Army of the Russian South”. She wrote that: “The universality of the western democracy is a lie. We must have a courage to look right into the eyes of the wild beast, which name is “the People””.

      In emigration Russian liberals created “Party of the People’s Freedom” (rus. Партия Народной Свободы… aka ParNaS… rings a bell?) which in 19121 in Prague published their own manifest – “Smena vekh” (i.e. “Change of Milestones”, a direct call back to the 1909 Vekhi)

      As you can see, liberals (and now – liberasts) in Russia were always cursed: on the one hand, they hate strong government and constantly whine about “muh freedooms”, on the other – they despise the People, and want the government for safeguard their precious liberal selves from the rabble.

      Liked by 2 people

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