Reading on Russia Roundup #23

Russia’s Pokemon Gulag (Global Voices Online/RuNet Echo)

If you’re interested in the Russian Internet enough to have made it to RuNet Echo, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard of Ruslan Sokolovsky, the young video-blogger from Yekaterinburg who’s been jailed for at least the next two months, while police investigate him for committing extremism and offending religious people. Sokolovksy’s alleged crime—the stunt that has people comparing him to Pussy Riot—was playing Pokemon Go inside a Russian Orthodox cathedral. If convicted of the charges, he could go to prison for up to five years.

And cynical J.T. says: I can’t wait to see this fellow flee to the U.S. and begin preaching that Russia is turning into an evil theocracy (no pun intended).

Russia’s Foothold in Iran: Why Tehran Changed Its Mind (Carnegie Moscow Center)

Perhaps Iran’s leaders would have suppressed popular indignation and Russian bombers would still be taking off from the Shahid Nojeh airfield now had it not been for Russian media playing up the prospect of establishing a military base in Iran, no matter how limited its resources and capabilities. The idea of handing over any part of its territory to foreigners is unacceptable to the Iranians

Major A.H. Polosen was not smiling. The stern Border Guard officer – a member of the notorious Russian Federal Security Bureau  (FSB) – boarded our bus in the remote Russian Bering Sea village of Lavrentiya demanding our “documents.” That’s when our 16-hour detention, hearing and sentencing began.

In February 1946, George Kennan sent back from Moscow the “Long Telegram,” an analysis of the sources of Soviet foreign policy, which came to serve as the intellectual foundation of the containment policy the United States pursued during the Cold War. The telegram landed in the midst of a reassessment of American Soviet policy as the hopes born of the grand alliance against Hitler’s Germany that the allies would continue to cooperate in peacetime crashed against the harsh reality of Soviet suspicion and hostility. As John Gaddis notes in his biography of Kennan, his telegram did not bring about a shift in U.S. policy but it crystallized the thinking of senior administration officials. “It was,” Gaddis writes, “the geopolitical equivalent of a medical X-ray, penetrating beneath alarming symptoms to yield at first clarity, then comprehension, and finally by implication a course of treatment.”

Today, we need a similar analysis, for we find ourselves at a similar juncture.

Also… the Levada Center was labeled a “foreign agent” this week.

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12 comments

  1. “Russia’s Pokemon Gulag (Global Voices Online/RuNet Echo)”

    Yes! Yes! Oh, yesss! I was hoping some of them, “living-not-by-a-lie” professional propag Russia Watchers will notice this (or school №57 scandal…)! This time it was Kevin Rothrock, of the former “A Good Treaty” fame. One of those Medvedev’s fanboys, who hoped beyond all hope that now Russia will become “a normal country”, that the dark era of Sauron-Putin is gone for good, vanquished by jolly hobbit Dima. And in 2012 he experienced a tear-down of his mental pattern (rus. “разрыв шаблона”) after which he (like Adomanis and Galeotti) chose to sell his soul for the right to be handshakable and respectable. Ergo – “RuEkho” project, funded by one of George Soros funds. And we all know what a big friend of Russia is Soros – he said it himself numerous times in press!

    So – “Russia’s Pokemon Gulag”. Surely, an article with such a headline can not be full of lies and omissions, right? Right?!

    […]

    “In an overt effort to discredit him, Kolyasnikov also claims (without any proof) that Sokolovsky was detained after a late night of heavy drinking and taking ecstasy. Kolyasnikov also says he shared the drugs with a girl—a minor—who was found in his bed, when police raided his apartment to seize his blogging equipment. (Sokolovsky allegedly slept with many of his underage fans.) Kolyasnikov also contradicted widely reported information that Sokolovsky lives with his disabled mother, saying she actually lives in the city of Kurgan—almost 300 miles southeast of Yekaterinburg.”

    Our “living-not-by-a-lie” droog Rossiji Kevin passes all these “allegations” as not true, libelous and ultimately false. Only they are not. All of these are actually true. One point is confirmed by the author himself in the very next paragraph – that Sokolovsky’s mother, indeed, lives in another town.

    As for blatant comparison to the mega-popular punk-group “Pussy Riot” (I wager, that you, J.T., and all your fellow students in the US have all their albums, know by heart most of their lyrics, and even have “Chaika” for a ringtone!) well, that’s only natural. Because it was “Pussies” themselves, who began forcing this meme in the first place:

    Such inconvenient thing like the actual age of the “kid” (22) is of no concern. I mean, look at Tolokno! She’s in late 20s, already a mother of a child, (still) married – but her mental age is clearly of someone shy of 18. And I’m not liking here to a handful of “wunderkinds” like Mozart here.

    And now – to the “meat of the problem”. What our shy and conscientious democratic journalists, kreakls, human rights activists and other liberasts are stubbornly refusing to admit is that man (either Sokolovsky or Saibabatulov) had not been “arrested for catching pokemons in the church”. For claiming such a thing you must provide us with an official statement or an excerpt from the IC report. But even the article itself admits that there is no such a thing there, which, however, do not prevent all-knowing Rothrock from claiming “but we KNOW the truth!”. No, you don’t. And claiming what is not proven to be true is an allegation – against which you, Kevin, argue so hardly in your own article.

    No. He was detained (not arrested – there is a fine difference here) due to accusations of conducting extremist activity, via producing and distributing extremist literature (printed magazine) and net-content. In Russia (as in other countries) this is forbidden (Criminal code’s articles 282 and 148). But who bothers to study Russian law, when you are a concerned foreigner or a liberast – you can just scream “Putin!” start posting #New1937 and then relax in knowledge, that ever vigilant Friends of Russia From Abroad ™ will help you.

    Next – I do not understand Mr. Rothrock’s anger at his fellow civil rights activist, a man with active civilian position and a pro-active citizen (and member of Yekateringburg’ City Civil Chamber), contributing so much for the development of the civil society (the West is constantly concerned that we lack it and that our people are “too passive”) Kolyasnikov aka LJ “zergulio”. Dear author either distorts facts or don’t even bother to mention them, pig-headedly claiming that all of zergulio’s accusations are just “allegations”, which have nothing to do with reality. Well, of course! Because should you link to some of Kolyasnikov’s blogpots, you’d see a plethora of photos from the arrest and search of the hired flat of our “kid” (my-my, do he likes energetic drinks!), as well as links to the official statements by the Investigative Committee. Imagine people receiving information not in a filtered and slightly mistranslated (most handshakably) way, but raw – and having to think for themselves? What a catastrophe it would be!

    Investigative Committee (“jackbooted fascists!” says any honest liberast) did indeed visit citizen Sokolovsky in his den. And, yes, he was at the moment in the state of the general dishabille

    Not one, but at least two different Media sources were provided with the official commentary by the IC.

    “Кроме того, следователи пояснили, почему Соколовского не оставили под подпиской о невыезде, а взяли под стражу: видеоблогер не имеет постоянного места жительства, является уроженцем другого города, нигде не трудоустроен и фактически не учится, не имел регистрации, проживал в съемной квартире и периодически менял место жительства. Также следователи установили, что Соколовский употреблял наркотики — их нашли в его квартире при обыске. Правда, вес вещества был слишком мал, чтобы инициировать процедуру уголовного преследования.”

    Tsk! And Mr. Rothrock was just recently claiming that zergulio is “discrediting” Sokolovsky “without any proof”!

    Okay, and now the Investigative Committee speaks directly:

    “Пресс-служба СУ СКР по Свердловской области:
    — Немаловажным обстоятельством, повлиявшим на принятое судом решение об удовлетворении ходатайства следствия, также стали основания полагать, что при избрании в отношении молодого человека иной, более мягкой, меры пресечения он может продолжить совершать преступления: молодой человек, зная о том, что относительно созданных им видеофайлов уже проводится проверка на предмет возможного проявления экстремизма, тем не менее продолжил создание видеофайлов с подобной тематикой.”

    So, he was already under investigation – i.e. he knew that he might do something illegal, but instead of ceasing his activity he not only continued but also chose to behave in the most extravagant way, probably secretly desiring to become “a hero”.

    Natural shyness of Mr. Rothrock is, probably, to blame, why he failed to mention what did the “jackbooted” IC goons (he calls them “police”) found in the course of the search of adult and responsible citizen Sokolovsky’s apartment. I have no such limitation, so here you go! Turns out that Ruslan “The Kid” (oh, he would havehard time in prison with nickname like that!) had lots of expensive stuf. Among the items, that would 100% land his ass behind the bars were:

    – a “spy-pen” (not of “Zootopia’s” carrot variety, I hope), which, according to Russian law is considered to be a “special technical equipment, created with the aim of secret collection of information” and is forbidden for the civilians (art. 138.1, up to 4 years in prison).
    Unregistered typography (i.e. – illegal one) where he produced his “Charlie Hebdo’s” knock off which was apparently so profitable (he didn’t pay taxes because, why bother?) that he could finance 4 artists, web-designers and designers ot T-shirts and other merchandise (still available on his VK-page).

    I agree that I failed to find any reliable proof that citizen Sokolovsky indeed was in bed with a minor at the moment of the detainment, or that before that he and she consumed a lot of various substances, as zergulio claims and Rothrock vehemently denies (but as the examples of V. Bukovsky and Rustem Adagamov show us, for so-called Russia liberal society this is nothing new in pedophilia and generous consumption of both drugs and/or alcohol).

    Still the fact remains – there is already enough material to put a man in prison, whining from the West notwithstanding. This reminds me this little story, from the excellent book by Jaroslav Hašek “The Good Soldier Švejk” (extremely popular and very quotable in Russia still):

    “’We’re all of us in a nasty jam.’ he began his words of comfort. ‘You’re not right when you say that nothing can happen to you or any of us… And how many innocent people used to be condemned! And not only in the army but in the civil courts too. I remember once a woman was sentenced for strangling her newly-born twins. Although she swore on oath the she couldn’t strangled have twins, when she’d given birth to only one little girl, which she had succeeded in strangling quite painlessly, she was sentenced for double murder all the same…’”

    “The Kid” had drugs, spy-equipment, dodged taxes, spread extremist literature and net-content with explicit aim of inciting hatred among the people, didn’t work or study, admitted that such pranker like him (not like these unhandshakable ones, whom Mr. Rothrok despises –i.e. Lexus and Vovan ) did all of this deliberately and regrets nothing.

    P.S. One important detail – the place of the “pokemon hunt”. It’s a cathedral built on the place of the execution of the former czar Nicholas II and his entire family. It is not only a church, but also a memorial for those killed there in 1918. I heard some quasi Russophilic westerners, crying most loudly about “Russia That We Have Lost” venerate the memory of the last czar of Russia and most actively badmouth the “godless Bolsheviks” who did that. I wonder – which side would they take here?

    P.P. S. Oh, and our potential “a hero” already refused ROC offer to repent. Probably thinks that the “West will help us”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ‘As for blatant comparison to the mega-popular punk-group “Pussy Riot” (I wager, that you, J.T., and all your fellow students in the US have all their albums, know by heart most of their lyrics, and even have “Chaika” for a ringtone!) well, that’s only natural. Because it was “Pussies” themselves, who began forcing this meme in the first place:’
      Was that sarcasm?
      H-how many American students have you actually met? You may find students of that type in the Liberal Studies department, and even then only when the coursework (or their interest) directly intersects with Russia. So what you have is 0.5% of the 7% of us that actually give a rat’s behind about Russian affairs.
      When I was writing about “cynical J.T.”, I pulled that right out of my arse. I didn’t realize that P.R. had actually commented on Sokolovsky. Heck, I didn’t even know they had a Twitter account. I consider them irrelevant and dislike them/their “music” as much as the next guy (gal).

      Like

      • “Was that sarcasm?”

        Yes. Remember this blogpost on Irrusianality, when the Professor was conducting his experiments (and promoting “Pussies” pro bono). I’m also reminded how the Free Media were all over themselves, how Madonna and other “stars” were expressing their solidarity with “Pussies” and their activity. Surely, 3 years since some of it did rub into the general enlightened Western public?!

        […]

        And, yes – I’m sarcastic yet again. I know, that students everywhere, actually, prefer “homegrown” music, unless we are talking about some huge international hit, taking over the entire world hostage. In 2012 it was Michel Teló… soon to be dethroned by the PSY… Russian music world will never be the same again

        Also, despite claims and evidence of the contrary, the vast majority of students worldvide are not brain-dead single-[really obscure]-issue fanatics – just ordinary people, albeit, young ones.

        As for your comment below – no need for apology, for no offense was taken. And I’m serious here – I didn’t even register any hostility or improper wording or what not in your response, J.T. So, don’t worry! It’s still my job to be obnoxious and offensive while communicating with the people 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As for other articles:

    1) The National Interest one is dumb, full of historical simplifications, inaccuracies and blatant lies plus obligatory American patriotic (never “nationalistic”, oh no!) chest –pumping and finger-pointing. Author is also too high on Brziezinsky’s nonsense, and phrases like that make me doubt his mental capabilities:

    “And, in the face of Western sanctions, they have turned to import substitution as the path to a competitive economy. But this has not, and will not, foster the innovation and creativity that are critical to modernization in the twenty-first century.”

    Skip right to the last 2 pages and we have the author admitting that “declining Russia” (because, clearly, Russia declined so much since 1991 and the blessed 90s) is a “major power”, who can affect a territory from Europe to Asian Far East. That containment policy (much touted by the very same NI outlet – especially in 2014) is not useful today – admitting, that rhetoric about “isolating Russia” remained empty words. And the most mind-blowing at all – this:

    “The mentors we need are the great European statesmen of the nineteenth century, who understood the need for balance and limits combined with a sense of purpose and of the possible—as long as we reject their all-too-easy resort to force, which would be devastating given the destructive power of modern weaponry.”

    Excuse me, but didn’t Secretary Kerry said that Russia is wrong-wrong-wrong in it’s delusional application of 19th c. international mores for the present day? What a zrada! Hopefully, no one will notice this faux pas and instead will pretend that all is going as planned. Or that “getting the mix right” is a pinnacle of political analysis, or “fixing the multiple political and socioeconomic ills that now plague Europe” – using a copious amount of the US taxpayers money – is ever possible.

    2) “Ice curtain” one. Yes, you are right, dear author ! Russian official harass law-breaking foreigners just fur the evulz. How can these puny humans enforce the law to racially and culturally superior beings?! And, clearly, they never harass Russians. Like, at all. The piece itself is yet another “how everything is terrible in Russia” article, waxing nostalgically about the happy times of Gorby.

    3) Concerning Levada CENTer finally getting official designation as a “foreign agent” – honestly, the evening I read about it I felt “happy as an elephant”. As very rare, striped elephant:

    The general attitude from the vast majority of Russians varies from “Finally!” and “Why so long and only them!?”. Shy and conscientious intelligentsia, democratic journalists and foreign friends of Russia (including, naturally, State Department of the US) are gravely offended by that.

    I wrote at length about Levada and what it might soon face way back in late July. The official appeal to the Investigative Committee by the “Antimaidan” movement had been lodged in July 11. That’s about 2 months ago. Not, as some alternatively developed journos claim, a “sudden decision” by any means. And reasons for that were abundant. Just because you personally like “Levada” and their activity, doesn’t make you right in claiming that the decision is baseless – go and study Russian laws, instead of appealing to emotions and Russophobic bias. Russian legislation defines “political activity” as, also, “conduction social polls, aimed to form socio-political views” and organization of political rallies. It’s an open secret that Levada polls are biased, that their people are attending various handshakable stomping grounds and expressing clear support for the “unsystemic opposition”, while trying to vilify the established parties. Law №121 “On foreign agents” makes it harder to engage in such activity, while receiving ANY foreign funds.

    Levada has 3 options for them. Either with much wailing and gnashing of teeth close down, citing “state persecution” and become a full blown “Russia’s expert” on foerieng payroll. Or they can cut all foreign funding and function as truly “non-profit” and “non-commercial” NGO. Finally, they may chose conduct polls strictly on non-political topics, like “What’s your attitude to this or that movie?”.

    Within Levada reigns supreme firm decision to both eat the cake and have it – by incredibly smart move of ordering 2 cakes at once! Levada’s leadership freely admits of taking foreign money – $6 millions for the last 3 years – but sees nothing bad here. According Lev Gudkov “that’s not much”.

    I remind you that similar “foreign agent law”(FARA) exists in the USA since1938. All organizations recognized as such by the US aithorities and their employees *must* state clear and loud from the very beginning of, say, conducted poll that “I’m a foreign agent, Ministry of Justice number of registry [xxx]”. No exceptions.

    Just recently Israel’s Knesset voted for adoption of the similar law. PM Benjamin Netanyahu called the law as a measure “helping to support the democracy… no matter what the Left claims” (where is the indignation of the Free World, hm?).

    But as for Levada CENTer all those who are already crying about its fate – you see that coming. Respect the law, and the number of your problems will surely go down. To quote from the immortal classic of “Beware the automobile”:

    Liked by 1 person

          • “Johnson’s Russia List.”

            > Clicks the link
            > Reads “Any Vote Is A Vote For Putinism” by Garry Kasparov, via RFE/RL
            > Remembers, why long-long time ago I ceased to go here
            > Regrets remembering it
            > Closes the tab

            I like the variant with Julia Roberts Laugh better now.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Noticed you’ve started commenting on The Elicitor articles (including 9/10 weekly roundup). Have you read any of the pieces? I’m thinking about reading How to write a Russia ‘realist’ article and Russia builds on G20 success, however, something is stopping me. Perhaps it’s my BS detector.

              Like

              • Only very rarely – one or two. I’m commenting with one goal – to elicit some sort of response from them.

                As for Jimbo Kovpak’s new clothes article – eh, I decided long time ago that I won’t read him anymore (whether on his blog, or Russia! or Ukraine! magazine). I also noticed that by not reading some bad articles (like… 90% of what is translated on InoSMI) I save time and nerves to do more useful things with my life.

                Like

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