Reading on Russia Roundup #39

I’m just waiting for this Tom Clancy fever dream to finally end…

In the meantime, I found more articles worth reading.

Feeling Happily Sentimental About Postmodernism: Sergey Kuznetsov’s Kaleidoscope (Lizok’s Bookshelf)

Sergey Kuznetsov’s Калейдоскоп (Kaleidoscope) is yet another novel that’s nearly impossible to describe: it’s 850 pages divided into more than 30 loosely-but-closely linked chapters that cover 1885-2013 and involve several dozen characters in many countries. Summarizing by saying that Kaleidoscope is about everything doesn’t say much at all. Irina Prokhorova, founder of the NOSE Award, focused more by calling the novel “новейший сентиментализм,” which might be as good a description as any: in a sense, Kaleidoscope is, to translate Prokhorova’s words literally, “the newest/latest sentimentalism,” what with its accounts of various sorts of political, social, economic, and personal upheaval that involve huge shares of pain and joy. A kaleidoscope, after all, involves reflectors and light to create its patterns.

Angels and Demons in the Cold War and Today (New York Times) (!)

George Kennan knew how to bring down the house. His lecture audiences started off skeptical about whether Russia really wanted to be remade on the American model. Then he told them about the Russian political prisoners who spent the weeks before the Fourth of July scrounging bits of cloth in red, white and blue. When the holiday came, they met their jailers by waving a sea of tiny hand-sewn stars and stripes through the bars.

It sounds like the perfect Cold War propaganda tale. But the Fourth of July that Kennan was referring to wasn’t during the 1950s — it was in 1876. And the George Kennan telling the story wasn’t the famous Cold War-era diplomat, but his distant relative and namesake, a journalist who had spent time in Russia before going on the lecture circuit in the 1880s.

Weaponizing comedy (Irrussianality)

As Monty Python pointed out, jokes can be the deadliest weapon of war. In the current atmosphere of Russophic hysteria, therefore, we should not be surprised that NATO this week has accused the Kremlin of weaponizing comedy. At first, given the topic, I thought that this must a Pythonesque spoof, but it appears that the accusation is deadly serious.

Жизнь сквозь фон (Kommersant)

С момента аварии на Чернобыльской АЭС и заражения почвы радиоактивными выбросами и осадками прошло 30 лет. По науке — это период полураспада цезия-137 и стронция-90, основных радиоактивных веществ, осевших в почве после взрыва на станции. И хотя оставшиеся изотопы будут разлагаться еще пару веков, администрации тех районов России, где есть загрязненные земли, настроены решительно: ограничения по землепользованию пора снимать. Дальше всех идет губернатор Брянской области: административным решением пересматривается статус бывших запретных территорий. А в массы внедряется инициатива: если в почву вносить пять лет калийные удобрения, то на ней можно выращивать экологически чистую продукцию. За подробностями “Огонек” отправился в Брянскую область

What “Shooter” Gets Wrong about Russian Conspiracies (NYU Jokin’ Center)

Read for a good laugh (or a good cry. Really, it depends on your stance on modern Russian Studies).


All around me are familiar faces

Worn-out places

Worn-out faces

Meet ol’ Proto’s wildly inconsistent cousins! They’re visiting from the alternate dimension where learning to draw Putin is a sign of *branching out*, and not a sign that you’re going off the deep end!

#5 is based on a reference image; all others were freehanded without reference.

But seriously – unless you’re bored, considering work as an editorial cartoonist, or planning a crazy graphic novel, don’t learn how to draw Putin. It’s a lot harder than you think. And it’s definitely not worth the obligatory 3 decades of familial shaming.



  1. Re: Klyukva in the Shooter TV Series.

    The Shooter – either the book series, the film or the TV adaptation – is a logic-free mess of MURIKA!!! patritotism, high-octane EXPLOSIONS!!! and other stuff, that would make Michael Bay shed a singly MANLY!!! tear of repect. They are absolutely stupid, but popular.

    In the TV series – over 9000 examples of klyukva:

    A) A letter from the Chechen terrorist with the typical Chechen last name Solotov saying, they want to kill POTUS.

    B) Typical agent of АЫИ Dmitriy with the typical Russian last name “Voidyano”

    C) Typical Ukrainian newspapers with the title of… “Newspaper”:

    ^I understand that the current government in Kiev likes the West and America so much, but to acively use Latynized scrip in their headlines? This is a new level of nizalezhnost!

    D) AS you know, or Bobby Lee mages to escape from the prison (because “You know what they do in the prison!” (c)). Thanks to

    ^an Ukrainian vor v zakone Alexander with the typical Russian/Ukrainian last name Prosovich. He’s from the Donbass town of Gorlovka, where he has “many Russian friends”. Obligatory chest tattoo of the Mother of God is obligatory.

    E) Typical vor v zakone in the typical Amerian prison:

    Well – he like his babushka! Oh, and kolbaska. Both are commendable.

    F) His secret stash though came right out from the 90s:

    Seriosuly? “Baltica” beer? Only Michael McFaul found it something drinkable – and only Baltika#3, not #2! Is it even produced anymore?!

    G) Seeing as the TV series are discontinued anyway – FSB are the literally SATANIC EVIL EVILNESS ON THE FACE OF EARTH – tell us its creators. Because “The Shooter” (2007) it too unpatriotic for today’s American’s, the Russian embassy in the Washigton is stormed instead by him.



    • I haven’t actually watched Shooter, but I’m beyond disappointed that someone actually wrote such an article for a “respected academic institution”. Have any comments on the piece’s conclusion?

      But for an American audience who only vaguely knows about the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and has been thoroughly confused by the media’s handling of it, this won’t matter. Yet the most laughable misunderstanding comes when Swagger’s daughter is kidnapped and brought to Russia. Well, it is actually the Russian embassy, but the cliffhanger at the end of the penultimate episode has Memphis stating, “She’s in Russia.”

      In the sloppy and fanciful scenario offered by “Shooter”, the evil Russian diplomat is working alone, the young, handsome Russian ambassador is ignorant to the conspiracy, and the impact of any Russian manipulation on American politics is minimal. “Shooter” is unimaginative about what kind of conspiracies might be going on behind closed doors in Washington and Moscow. But the scary thing is, these invented conspiracies of only one year ago far underestimate the real ones.

      As a side note – there must be a “Thermonuclear Klyukva Squad” blog. Somewhere. Just as I have devoted a significant portion of my time to tackling stereotypes about Russia in books, so must someone take on these lazy movies and TV shows. I know Pavel Perets is doing something similar on YouTube, but surely someone’s blogging about it too.

      RE: your final picture



      Someone beat me to it?! Is there not an original idea left in this world? XD

      (Well, at least the J.T. version is freehand, abstracted, and emotive [other drawings], not like ol’ traced-face you have there)

      What is that comic? Looks manga-influenced.


  2. “As a side note – there must be a “Thermonuclear Klyukva Squad” blog. Somewhere.”


    What is that comic? Looks manga-influenced

    The answer to both of these questions could be found here – on ru-klyukva LJ. It’s in Russian.

    As for the Manga-Style Putin – it’s not a manga! This is all a Russian conspiracy to smear the godly Japanease art of Putin worship! The Truth is:

    “Have any comments on the piece’s conclusion?”

    Since they banned my last year I’ve stopped reading them. Good for my mental state and freeds some time. The same way I I found myself truly liberated after deciding once and for all to stop reading InoSMI. I hope to celebrate a year without them soon.

    As for the Jordan Center – they did everything in their power except of saying it out loud, that they are, in fact, WaPo cahpterhouse aimed to conduct a particular brand of propaganda. They even star their article with:

    “As yet another associate of Trump and/or the Kremlin mysteriously met his untimely death in recent weeks, the conspiracies surrounding Russia keep getting deeper and revelations seem imminent.

    Hey,JU! How’s with revelations? No good? Just as I thought.

    In the end I now will be producing (probably!) 3 separate articles, each tackling separate issue, including the popularity of the conspiracy theories among the masses.


    • “The answer to both of these questions could be found here – on ru-klyukva LJ. It’s in Russian. “

      Added it to my blogroll.

      “As for the Manga-Style Putin – it’s not a manga! This is all a Russian conspiracy to smear the godly Japanease art of Putin worship! The Truth is: “

      …I thought Putin Worship was purely endemic to Russian bydlo… /sarc

      Not sure how to react to the Twitter embed. Should I be…
      Glad – because the comic was “fake”
      Disappointed – because I won’t get additional reference material for my research
      Or worried – because I’ve visited the dark corners of the internet and now find the idea of a Putin comic okay…

      “In the end I now will be producing (probably!) 3 separate articles, each tackling separate issue, including the popularity of the conspiracy theories among the masses.”

      I await your articles.


  3. And now for something completely different.

    A true Blast Form the past – or, to be precise here, from RR#35.

    Recall the perennial kvetcher Levkovich, about whom I learned only thanks to the link to his February Revolution piece? Well, apparently, our “living not by a lie dissident” ™ in Putin’s Russia went to Crimea in the February with one explicit purpose – to document how Everything Is Horrible Under Russian Occupation ™.

    He went directly – from Russia. For some “unfathomable” reason, he, Moskal, didn’t travel first to his so much beloved post-Maidan Ukraine, in order to go to the improv border checkpoint at Kherson oblast, in order to attempt the crossing from the “legitimate” (i.e. the Ukrainian) side of the border. Or don’t cross – with the “blokuvadniki” formed from the ranks of the militant Radical Crimean Tatars (in exile) and the radical nationalists from the Right Sektor no one’s crossing into the “temporarily occupied Crimea” ™ is guaranteed. Or they’d have to pay hefty bribes. So, shy and conscientious intelligent Levkovich, a star of Bolotnaya and EuroMaidan, had to travel from the Northern Mordor.

    What he found out was offensive not only to his kreaklian sensibilities, but to the wide Russophobic masses as well. Turns out, that:

    was his “hardest trip”. He confesses, that the much talked about “Russkiy Mir” does exist – especially in Sevastopol. He was triggered out of his wits! But most of all – it’s not something crumbling, half-collapsed and calling for the Ukraine to come and “liberate” them! Genuine feelings – steel reverberating 96% of those who 3 years ago voted “Yes” for the re-Union with Russia.

    Levkovich was depressed at the state of affairs.

    But this was nothing compared to the things to come. Levkovich had been added to Mirotvoretc hitlist of the “enemies of the Ukraine” – a site owned and maintained by the deputy Minister of the Interior of the Ukraine Geraschenko.

    The same site, that offers $ prizes for the head of the “separ” and “vatnik”. The same site, that was instrumental in the murder of the Ukrainian journalist (critical of Maidan, but, post factum, proclaimed as “pro-Russian”!) Oles Buzina. And, after his name, address and all contact date appeared here, Levkovich noticed that too. Before that he didn’t criticize “Mirotvorec” (literally – a “Peacekeeper”), or the propensity to “liberal lustrations” among the Ukrainian populace.

    But now – Levkovich became a Levon, a lion! He said that “you Ukrainians, are indeed a brethren people to the Russians”, ‘cause both of them are the people of “sovoks, narks, informers” (c). That he is now “very proud to be an enemy of This Ukraine” and that he will valiantly await his fate… in the safety of the totalitarian Moscow. Also – some profanity and demand to the Ukrainians from now on to address him using “вы” and Name + Patronym, instead of “ты” and just the first name.

    As I said previously – no, “Operation: Showcase” with the Ukraine as some kind of “Anti-Russia” where the dissidents and emigrants will feel themselves like at home, won’t happen. It have been failing repeatedly since 1920s, when the same sentiments were expressed by the White Emigres who naiely thought that newly “independent” Poland and Baltic limitrophe states will serve their purpose. Every time these hopes are crushed by the inevitably rising and getting out of control wild nationalism. And for the local nationalism the only good Moskal is the one hanging on gilyaka


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