The politics of exhibition. According to Viktor Katona, the cultural response to Russia’s current political scene is littered with exhibitionists rather than thoughtful critics.
Actionists like Pavlensky are often labelled holy fools, or “yurodivy,” righteous men who feigned madness to, as is stated in the 1843 article, “deliver the higher truth.”
This interpretation, however, disregards almost every reason the philosophical category of “yurodivy” is still held in high esteem in Russia. The “yurodivy” is a highly pious figure, rebuking the hypocrisy, falsehood and crookery in people’s lives and pointing, by the means of their deeds, to the futility of worldly pleasures and the all-encompassing redemption to be found in Christ.
Compare this to the actionist zeal, which never really leaves the sphere of nihilistic relativism.
I know it’s hard to imagine, but it gets worse than the headline. Russia, the author wrote a few paragraphs in, is like an “oiled, aged, but still buff, body builder” who hides his “geriatric walker” off-stage — and “Boozy Yeltsin” was a “fitting representative” for the country. Funny, huh?
Let’s be perfectly clear: It would be a mistake to believe this piece was an attempt to inform the reader of the realities of modern Russia. Because the purpose of this piece was not to inform. Its single, glaringly obvious intent was to paint the worst possible picture of a country — for no other reason, it would appear, than sheer malice.
To do this, facts were cherry-picked, statistics were delivered out of context without regard for overall long-term trends — and yes, some parts were just entirely untrue. Like the dubious claim that Russia’s life expectancy rate has been “declining”, when in fact, it has been rising. But why let pesky facts get in the way of a good narrative? As one Twitter user wrote to me: “punditry is the most fact-checking-free segment of media today and also the most popular means of disseminating info (sic)”.
Electoral legitimacy. One of the Levada Center’s latest press releases is on perceptions of the legitimacy of the upcoming Duma elections.
Убежденность значительной части населения в том, что предстоящие выборы будут скорее “нечестными”, фиксируемая в период избирательного цикла 2011-2012 гг., в настоящее время ослабла. Практически каждый второй респондент поддерживает мнение о том, что предстоящие выборы в Госдуму будут скорее легитимными. Однако треть населения настроена более пессимистично. 54% опрошенных считают, что злоупотреблений на предстоящих выборах не избежать. 56% россиян уверены, что необходимое присутствие наблюдателей на выборах со стороны политический партий и журналистов «значительно уменьшит возможные нарушения при их подготовке и проведении».
On the sacking of Nikita Belykh. It was only a matter of time before an article such as this appeared.
The timing of the very public arrest of Kirov region governor Nikita Belykh for corruption is opportune: the Duma election campaign is about to start, and the fight against corruption will be useful. Belykh—a liberal in government—is a convenient target: he held a prominent position and yet he was extraneous to the overall political system.
A quick opinion piece on the Brexit. From Maxim Trudolyubov of the Kennan Institute at Princeton.
Brexit will have some good consequences and some bad consequences, Russian president Vladimir Putin said in the immediate aftermath of the British vote. The president sounded restrained and impartial, leaving to lesser players the chance to cheer in public.[…]Brexit, being a welcome surprise for Russia’s political leadership, also reminds the Kremlin of a hidden challenge. If national politics trump supranational agendas everywhere, Russia is in trouble. For the past decade, the Kremlin has been making sure the Russian population subsists on news about Russia’s engagement with its international enemies, the likes of Britain and the U.S. Just like Britain, Russia has a national healthcare system and numerous depressed small towns. In fact, there are more of them in Russia than in Great Britain. If the Russian public wakes up and decides to prioritize the national agenda over the international one, the consequences for the Kremlin would be much tougher than the consequences of Brexit are for Whitehall.
And now, I’ll wrap up this edition of the RoRR with an important note.
- cancel all plans for “opinion” posts and stick to writing reviews only,
- keep opinion posts written by me, but refrain from sharing outside articles except in Reading on Russia Roundups,
- keep sharing outside articles, but filter them for objectivity; with fewer comments and less commentary from me,
- decrease the frequency of outside articles and commentary, once again making reviews the focus of the blog,
- Or keep everything the same, and just take a hiatus.
And I’d like to hear from you, readers, which course of action is the best to take.
See you next week.