Reading on Russia Roundup #16

VCIOM press releases. Неравенство перед судом и как с ним бороться?

Всероссийский центр изучения общественного мнения (ВЦИОМ) представляет данные опроса о том, кому, по мнению россиян, чаще всего удается избегать правосудия в нашей стране и какие меры следует предпринять для борьбы со сложившейся практикой.

После недавнего случая с опасными гонками по улицам Москвы, которые устроил сын одного из крупных менеджеров «Лукойла», около половины россиян (48%) считают, что уклонение некоторых граждан от ответственности за нарушение закона – это массовое явление в нашей стране. По мнению 45%, такое случается, но редко. И только 1% опрошенных убежден, что ничего подобного в России не происходит.

Общественно-политическая ситуация в Крыму

Всероссийский центр изучения общественного мнения (ВЦИОМ) представляет данные опроса о том, как жители Крыма и Севастополя оценивают работу федеральных и региональных властей.

Как и два года назад, сегодня абсолютное большинство жителей Крыма и Севастополя проголосовали бы на референдуме за вхождение в состав России. В Крыму так ответили 95% опрошенных, в Севастополе – 94%. По 2% высказались против, затруднились с ответом 3% и 4% соответственно.

NATO’s theater of the absurd. An article from the National Interest.

It is not the upcoming rotational stationing of four battalions—less than four thousand soldiers total, one battalion in each of the Baltic States and Poland that the Summit heralds that frightens off Putin. Rather, it is any half- reasonable assessment of the military balance that provides the deterrent. The four battalions are cheap reassurance for the people in NATO countries bordering Russia who may have been worried by recent NATO scare mongering about Russian rearmament and its use of “little green men” in the Ukraine, likely Russian Special Operations soldiers fighting as volunteers and without insignia.

Defense against the little green men in the Baltics is the strength of local political systems, and especially their fair treatment and effective integration of Russian speaking minorities, not the deployment of combat units, no matter how big or small, from NATO lands to the West. For all its white papers and study groups, NATO never quite gets around to discussing the tolerance of minorities in Middle East or Eastern Europe where NATO trains locals to deal with insurgents.

More from the NYU Jordan Center. This time, it’s on “Traditional Values” and Church-State Relations in Russia. And of course, sexuality/LGBT issues. Apparently, they’re now letting students write for the All the Russias blog. Neat.

On Friday, July 8, Russia marked the ninth annual Day of Family, Love and Fidelity, a hybrid Church-State holiday with origins in the ancient city of Murom. It is celebrated on the Saints’ Day of Peter and Fevronia, that city’s mythical medieval rulers and the historical protectors of marriage and family in Russian Orthodoxy. The holiday is a yearly showcase of a Russian familial ideal that both the Orthodox Church and the State zealously promote: one of young marriage, lifelong togetherness, and frequent reproduction. It also offers a telling glimpse into the contemporary Church-State relationship in Russia, showing both its closeness and the frequent dominance of government powers over the Church.

More NATO stuff. Gorbachev says NATO is escalating the new Cold War with Russia into a “hot” one. Should I trust him? After all, he recently wrote a book about how Putin’s Russia has no future (The New Russia, pub, 2015).

Levada Center Poll. Мотивация участвовать в выборах.

Even more NATO stuff. President Obama and NATO leaders signed on to the false narrative of a minding-its-own-business West getting sucker-punched by a bunch of Russian meanies, a storyline that suggests insanity or lies, reports Robert Parry. (It’s nice to see the CCI site is active again.)


Some housekeeping stuff. The “Contact” page has been fixed and should be fully functional again.



  1. Tried to leave a commentary yesterday on their Jordan NYU site concerning this article. Still in pre-mod state.

    But judging by the language alone it’s obvious, that the good people there disapprove of “family values”, Russian Orthodox Church, Russian government etc. In the article they add obligatory “Russia has to deal with demographic crisis”. Yes – Russia deals with demographic crisis, and fertility rate as results improves. Other states don’t deal with it – but we won’t read about Ukraine or Latvia in the throes of the “death-spiral”. That would be unhandshakable. While dem “Dark Ages” Orthodox (from Leonid Bershidsky’s article in the Bloomberg) are against abortions and divorce! Inconceivable!

    It’s obvious that now, especially after Yarovaya package (which has 3 out of 21 articles devoted to religion) the West will attack ROC and its relations with Russian state and society. A friend of mine, who is both a communist and Orthodox Christian (but who is not Russian, or Russian citizen) wrote:

    “It’s Laïcité on paper, but it won’t look like Laïcité in practice, because Russian society is much more religious than French society, so “you can’t convert others” effectively means “everyone is Orthodox by default”. The law is designed to support Orthodoxy de facto while treating all religions equally de jure. It’s a very clever move.

    The law is absolutely non-discriminatory, but has effects that strongly favour one specific religion because of the nature of Russian society. I bet Putin came up with the idea himself. Using liberal principles against the liberals – using the force of the enemy against him. Like political judo. Excellent.”

    American protestant groups (and Mormons) are outraged, because now they can’t operate as they used to. At the same time, they mostly failed to integrate themselves effectively into Russian society, so that their followers would be seen as Russians first, and members of their denominations second. Naturally, they, enjoying foreign funding and support from abroad, are retaliating in all possible ways. I still remember videos of interviews of Mormon missionaries returning from Russia in 2011-12, who claimed that a) Russia is about to become a second Brazil in regards of new converts to LDS b) Mitt Romney is 100% right in his policy regarding Russia and that they’d vote for him. So don’t tell me that these primarily US based religious organizations are “beyond the politics”.

    I have to ask – what good to Russia and Russian people ever did these foreign preachers, who treat my country as some sort huge trackless territory populated by heathens and clearly lacking their own distinct civilization with long-long history? ROC together with the state sponsors the Day of the Family. How is this bad? Besides, the article claims that St. Valentine’s day in Russia became “dangerously popular” and so the Church and the state had to “suppress it”. Like that:

    I’d really like to see some statistic from dear Diana that’d confirm her claim. But she is not supposed to do that. After all, this one of the numerous “Everyone-Knows-That” ™ facts about Russia. I, armed only with, well, my arms and Google, found several polls about Russian’s attitude towards St. Valentine’s day. According to this one from this year, only 20% of Russians consider it a case for celebration, while 70% consider it an ordinary work day. And this trend to ignore it began years ago. While in 2007 nearly 50% were celebrating it, but every consequent year the number of people “honoring” it was smaller and smaller.

    So, yeah – accuse bloody Regime in brainwashing Russians into disrespecting completely alien to them concept of the St. Valentine’s day (forcefully promoted among the Russians by the brainwashing power of the Forces of Light).


    • A word on the Jordan Center comment:
      1) They’re not very prompt with approving comments, so be patient; and
      2) If your criticism isn’t mild or respectful, the comment prolly won’t show up.

      ‘ROC together with the state sponsors the Day of the Family. How is this bad?’
      Let me play devil’s advocate here.
      One could argue that religion is a private matter and need not be reflected in what the government does. It’s also fair to question whether many or even most Russians consider themselves Russian Orthodox but treat it as a cultural identification rather than a spiritual one. (ex. not expecting to go to church, but useful for the soul to take the fast seriously.) One can’t assume that there is a connection between the Church and the 144 million Russians – who are diverse with diverse opinions.
      Lastly, the actual views that the church is seeking to impose on the people – or at least it declares its position with seeming Kremlin complicity – include strong disapproval of gay people, strong disapproval of “western moral standards”, and a belief that Russia must take its own spiritual path. Which sounds a lot like proud isolationism.

      Again, this isn’t necessarily my POV on the matter, but possible counter-arguments.


      • I think this is very important, and often neglect to various reasons topic, J.T. And it must be discussed. Well, talked about as the bare minimum.

        “One could argue that religion is a private matter and need not be reflected in what the government does.”

        This is perfectly legit, widespread WESTERN point of view. But it doesn’t apply in Russia’s case. There is a difference between the ideal world of “what ought to be” and “how it is really”. If you are interested to learn about the dynamics between Russian state, society and Orthodox Church – here’s the most recent article by deceptively named “Christianity Today” (they don’t represent the whole of Christianity – only, according to their own words, “Evangelical Church”). Said article is far from perfect, author’s disapproval creeps out every second paragraph, but it’s okay read, if keep the bias in mind. At the very beginning, the author says:

        “In contrast to the cherished ideals of religious liberty and the separation of church and state held in the United States, a major contributing factor to the recent events in Russia is the concept of symphonia, or institutionalized “harmonious relations,” between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian state.


        The worldview of Russian Orthodoxy is holistic and organic. It does not have sharp divisions between various spheres of human society or branches of power. While it does grant considerable importance to human personality, atomistic individualism is alien to it.”

        I also would like to remind, that such event like “Day of Family” is by no means a purely religious one. All 4 World Religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism) are represented among Russia’s population. Which one of them disapproves of martial fidelity and stable marriage, resulting in big and happy family? How can one say that this kind of message is purely a Russian Orthodox one? Or, what, all atheists and agnostics are deliberately promiscuous and rallying against the concept of family and marriage? Even the communists are not against the concept of a family – they are against the concept of marriage as a vehicle for property and privileges transfer.

        “It’s also fair to question whether many or even most Russians consider themselves Russian Orthodox but treat it as a cultural identification rather than a spiritual one. (ex. not expecting to go to church, but useful for the soul to take the fast seriously.)”

        Sad but true ™. Unfortunately, for many Russians being a Christian is still reduced to getting baptized, celebrating some big holidays, following the Lent and… that’s it! I guess their Western analogs are so-called “lapsed/holiday Catholics”. I met lots of people of these type – whom we in Russia call “chandeliers”, i.e. people only good enough to hold a candle (in the church) and cross themselves at irregular intervals. The behavior of the ex-Politburo and KPSS high-rollers, who became now movers and shakers during Yeltsin’s presidency and who all so sudden became visibly very religious didn’t help the matter. The only person close to Kremlin about who’s faith I have no doubts is Dmitry Medvedev’s wife Svetlana. It is no coincidence that it was she who sponsored and helped the introduction of the Day of the Family.

        Situation with “baptized, but not religious” folks, who still consider themselves “Christian” is disgusting in Russia. So when you read any statistic suggesting that Russia ha “Orthodox Christian” majority, and that we all soon live in the Orthodox Iran (d’uh, of course!) take it with a gpud of salt. A was serving with a guy from Mtsentsk (a memetic place for Russians), Oryol oblast. He was 19, baptized as a baby, considered himself, naturally, Orthodox Christian, and before the army he was studying to become a programmer. And here it happened to him. Our company was shown at our base’s cinema Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (2012). After that he became a convert to the “Ancient Alien Astronauts” nonsense. Yeah – he was converted by a movie.

        And there are more facepalming cases, besides my numerous personal anecdotes. Say, in 2011 there was a Russia-wide poll, asking various people, whether they believe in the Resurrection. Results were depressing. Only 26% said that they believe in it, while 54% said that they don’t. This is the average answer of all the pollster. Among those who described themselves Russian Orthodox only 31% believed in this central tenet of, you know, the whole Christian belief, while 46% answered negatively.

        “One can’t assume that there is a connection between the Church and the 144 million Russians – who are diverse with diverse opinions.”

        Yes. But who is saying that such holidays serve as a way to spread ROC’s influence and belief among the population and not, you know, what is literally “written on the tin”? Strangely enough to read rather dismissive, and in parts antagonistic article about such “hybrid” (like…gasp… hybrid warfare!!!1111!!11!11!!) holiday, as if it had no precedent in Russian history. Since 2005 we celebrate Day of People’s Unity on November 4, which coincides both with the day of surrender of the Polish garrison occupying the Kremlin in 1612 during the Time of Troubles, and which is the feast day of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan.

        It won’t take a genius to deduce, that this holiday appeared to replace the 7th of November official celebration of the October Revolution (which our current state is reluctant to do). In the end, people just shrugged and agreed that, yeah, having a day-off in November is not a bad idea. Those who are ideologically motivated might participate in various rallies and marches. The western media, btw, toned down their denouncement of this “nationalist celebration”, when it turned out that Alexei Navalny (yet another “lead of the Opposition” and “Chief Enemy of Putin”) frequent such marches, especially Russki Marsh of monarchists and various-degree brain-dead nationalists.

        As for the official part, not attended by the fringe freaks and oppos, it often looks like that:

        Kinda runs against the narrative of creeping Russification and ROC’s primate over other religions, right?

        J.T., no one is talking about imposing Russian Orthodox Church’s believes over Russian citizens – it was never the case, even in Czarist time (and the West have reached the consensus that we are rebuilding USSR/Russian Empire, right?). But it would be a sheer folly to deny that the Orthodox Christian faith did not influence and shaped the mentality and world view of ethnic Russians, (Russkie) and many others, who are the majority of the entire population. The matters of faith are not matters of economics, when you can employ gunship diplomacy to demand the representatives of your denomination to get the preferential treatment at expense of historical tradition, established precedents and wishes of the population.

        “Lastly, the actual views that the church is seeking to impose on the people – or at least it declares its position with seeming Kremlin complicity – include strong disapproval of gay people, strong disapproval of “western moral standards”, and a belief that Russia must take its own spiritual path. Which sounds a lot like proud isolationism.”

        And what of this runs against the wishes, opinions and desires or Russian people themselves? There is this constant narrative in the West – “Oh, if only Russians were freed from their Propaganda – then they’d surely See the Light!”. That’s not true. Russians (and other ethnicities) have always been against accepting gays as a norm. Now it’s forgotten, but jolly maize-loving bumbling fool Nikita “We-Will-Bury-You” Khruschev ran in 1950-60s new anti-religious campaign, which, in fact, rolled back a lot of things that comrade Stalin (unofficially) allowed regarding the religion. People raised in that time (in only have to look at older generation of my family, their friends and relatives, etc.) turned up staunch atheists – and some of them are still communists. But did it make them more accepting to the gays, martial infidelity, quick and easy marriages/divorces and, you know, “western moral standards”? Nope. So, maybe we should not blame ROC for “spreading propaganda” and admit that there is some sort of “pattern”, “matrix”, “mold”, which, more or less, defines what is acceptable to Russians throughout the ages?

        You call this path “proud isolationism”. I see not pride here – only either faith (if the person is religious) or conviction (if the person is not). You also call it “islolationism”. Okay. Suppose we for a brief moment believe in the official Western propaganda and assume, that we, indeed, live in the multi-cultured world of tolerance, acceptance and understanding. Here, people from different ethnic and religious and cultural backgrounds come together it’s been proven that it enriches learning and creativity. Again – okay. What did the collective West adapt from us? What part of Russian/Soviet legacy it had deemed as worthy of addition to the common humanity’s melting pot of cultures, that all other’s must share and partake of?

        Can’t think of anything. Instead I remember talks about the “End of History” (now, thankfully, disproven) and how the Whole World must become a sort of Hive-Mind (or the Borg, as the SST folks keep calling it) with the Western Values becoming Universal Values. I don’t remember about anything about true understanding, respecting and appreciation of various cultures and faiths. I remember and millennia-old chant of “convert or die”.

        I, for one, can’t see how improved birth rat (whether by the government by a maternal capital, or by the Church) harms my country. What the matter? The West is decrying the “catastrophic” demographic situation in Russia for the last, well, 20 years. When the government and parts of society are trying to improve it the Forces of Light in the West are throwing a hissy fit. What’s the matter?

        Finally, on the matter of “isolation”. Faith (and the Church) is not about the compromise – it’s about the Truth. Shocking, right? Russian Orthodox Church enjoyed a true revival and rise in membership (now compromising more than 1/3 of all Orthodox Christians worldwide) not because it was pandering to the current trends and moods of the laymen. That’s the Western modus operandi. Very free market! Apparently, it has become an alien concept to the Western mentality, that there are some unchangeable constants. Well, in Russia this is not a case. Your’s (broadly speaking) demand to break our, as you put it, “proud isolation”, could be as well spelled as demand to stop being Russians.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Very thoughtful…I learned a lot. But just a side note – when I play devil’s advocate, I play devil’s advocate. None of the arguments in my aforementioned comment are mine, but they do belong to a good number of Westerners and western journalists. It was a ploy by me to learn more about Church-State relations AND test whether the Western argument held any water (SURPRISE! It didn’t much). I’m not one of those people who hides behind the “devil’s advocate” label to express my own opinion. Just clarifying as it seemed some parts of your argument were directed at me – or at the opinions you thought I held.
          I suppose I could’ve just asked you directly, though.


          • Sorry, for being carried away (and lots of typos, arrrghЪ!). It was only by the very end when I decided to tone down the whole thing. As I said previously – I had to deal with BS on a regular basis and this stuff starts to, you know, “affect me”. So after a few “brainstroms” and “lively discussions”, my basic reacions to some things is the following:

            P.S. Read the CT article, anyway. Some things might be completely off the wall, but it is, mostly correct.

            Liked by 1 person

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