Reading on Russia Roundup #41 / summer series results

Благослови зверей и детей (Igor Shpilenok) [images]

Game On (Moscow-on-Thames)

If upwards of 80% of Russians support Putin, how do we explain all of these people who very clearly don’t?

Well, that’s easy. The other 20%.

Two short novels by Valery Zalotukha (Lizok’s Bookshelf)

What’s strangest about reading Zalotukha (this includes The Candle, too) is that I find myself wanting to read more even when his storytelling isn’t as sharp as it might be: I suspect that’s both because his writing is generally very energetic, which I appreciate, plus it almost always feels as if the Russia that fascinates Zalotukha is the same Russia that fascinates me.

Russia Direct stops updating its website (for interested parties)

Last weekend, unsanctioned opposition protests brought throngs of people into the streets in both Russia and Belarus, resulting in the arrest of dozens — or even hundreds of protestors (according to different estimates, about 1,000 people were detained in Moscow on Mar. 26).

In Belarus, protesters demanded the repeal of a controversial law that imposes taxes on the unemployed, while in Russia, crowds called for the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, who was accused of corruption by opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Mar. 2. Navalny (who was also taken into custody) backed the protests in Russia, which took place in cities across the country.

Under usual circumstances, Russia Direct would have closely followed these events and provided its readers both well-balanced analysis and a diverse range of opinions on them [highy debatable. – J.T.]. As of March 23, however, Russia Direct is no longer able to offer such coverage. Russia Direct has stopped updating its website following the failure of negotiations between an independent party to take over Russia Direct from its owner, Russian newspaper Rossisykaya Gazeta.

Not so rebellious youth (Irrussianality)

Russia’s problem, says a common meme, is the survival of Soviet modes of thought among the ‘Sovoks’ and ‘vatniki’ who make up the mass of the population, especially those born in the Soviet Union. Given time, a new generation will grow up with a different mentality – more liberal, more Western, more democratic. At that point, Russia will finally complete its transition into a truly European society.

With this in mind, pundits have leapt upon the observation that last Sunday’s protests in Russia contained a large number of young people.

News-Paper


And the ’17 summer series is…

*drumroll*

Russian post-apocalyptic/dystopia!

…which beat runner-up Torture the Translator by one vote.

Possible books include:

  • The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya
  • Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
  • Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin
  • The Blizzard by Vladimir Sorokin
  • Живая земля by Andrei Rubanov
  • Живые люди by Yana Vanger

Feel free to make suggestions.

If you voted for another summer series, don’t despair! I’ve added a few titles to the “floaters” section in the official review list, so they may still get a review. Or you could always review a book yourself


Side book #7

This week, I’m reading Red and Hot: The Fate of Jazz in the Soviet Union, 1917-1980 by S. Frederick Starr.

3674486
Reading for a research project.
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6 comments

  1. Here’s my comment, which mr Greene (the owner and propertitor of the Moscow-on-Thames durnalist blog) feels loath to allow on his personal ego-striking net-platform.

    “In an authoritarian system, elections aren’t about who wins or loses on election day. Modern dictators…”

    I see you are not even bother to prove that Russia is an “authoritarian system”, or that Putin is a “dictator”.

    “Some 60,000 people came out into the streets not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but in dozens of cities right across the country”

    1) I’d like to see your source for 60 000. In Moscow there was the biggest crowd – some 7500. 2-3000 in St Pete. Even with other big cities – where there were not thousands, but a few hundreds – it can’t possibly add up to 60K. 30K, 35 tops.

    2) Mocsow’s population is 12+ mlns.

    “In reality, however, they came for Putin, and they declared their votes.”

    Who? The children? They can’t vote till they are 18, you know. But you are right in one – this was organized as anti-Putin rally.

    “If the protesters pulled no punches, neither did the state. In Moscow alone, between 700 and 1,000 were arrested, including Navalny. The leader of the Moscow branch of Navalny’s Party of Progress, Nikolay Lyaskin, was left with a concussion. The police were somewhat less than picky, detaining minors and Western journalists, as well. But the clearest signal was sent by the decision to raid the office of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), and to arrest its entire staff, and to charge one of its leaders, Leonid Volkov, with inciting extremism.

    On the surface, none of this seems to make sense…”

    It makes perfect sense to anyone who knows Russian legislation and the criminal code. Calling the people to attend prohibited political rally in the defiance of the administrative ruling which banned it is a call to stage mass riots – which is covered by art. 282 “On Extremism”.

    Next – all people participating in such illegal rallies were to be treated as law-breakers by the police – which they did. The law applies to everyone – yes, to the foreigners (they are not sacred cows) and stupid kids as well.

    Are you against Russian law? Should I start posting the photos of how the Free and Democratic West handles its protesters legal or not? Oh, like that one photo of a man in Germany who last his eye to the water cannon. But this photo won’t cost mutti Merkel her vaunted position.

    “On the surface, none of this seems to make sense. Why go so hard against Navalny and his supporters, when they pose no electoral threat?”

    They broke the law with their calls to take part in the unsanctioned political rally. Are you against the idea of the law applied to everyone?

    “More vexingly, if upwards of 80% of Russians support Putin, how do we explain all of these people who very clearly don’t?”

    Other 20%.

    The answer to the last question holds the key to the other two. Upwards of 80% of Russians tell pollsters on a regular basis that they support Putin not because they’re lying or they’re afraid, but because, at the time they were asked the question, they didn’t believe that what happened today was possible. A Russia in which a group of volunteers can put together an investigation of a leading politician that brings tens of thousands of people into the streets all across the country – and in so doing lends credence to a possible presidential campaign – is not the country in which 80% of Russians thought they were living. They thought they were living in a country where there were no alternatives, and thus no choices to be made, a country in which society could not be pushed to act on its own behalf, in which solidarity extends no further than rhetoric.

    Okay, I see what you are claiming here – that Russians now will “wake up”, that “legitimacy” of Putin somehow will evaporate.

    Mr. Greene! Will you publicly eat a bucketload of shit and post the video, if this won’t happened and Putin’s “reiting” won’t suffer from this one minor “porridge revolution”?

    “In going so hard against today’s protests – and in pressing the case against Navalny and his comrades in the days, weeks and months to come – the Kremlin sends the message that victory next March is not, in fact, in hand. In admitting to its own sense of vulnerability, the Kremlin does more than embolden its detractors: it dismays its allies. In pushing so mightily against a future that seems so hard to imagine, the Kremlin makes the task of imagination easier”

    [Yawn] Pathetic rubbish.

    Same things were written about Bolotnaya (which was more numerous). Same things were written about montly “Strategy 31” protests culminating in April 2007 (which were handled more roughly). Nothing came out of it.

    Admit it, Mr. Greene – you are just voicing wishful thinking on your part – you want “something” to happen in Russia. You readers want the same. But you are blind to the fact, that this “something” won’t happen. There is no Revolutionary situation in Russia. You fail to mention the average age of these protesters. You fail to admit, that Navalny promised them 10K Euro from the ECHR. You fail to admit that the legitimacy of Putin stems not from the kvetching masses of two capitols kreakls and hipsteriat, but from the Rest of Russia.

    You are like one of those feel-good preachers, fleecing his flock.

    Like

    • All this talk of ‘modern dictators’ and legitimacy reminds me of the article ‘Dictatorship 2.0’ in Russia! Magazine, in which a certain a-hole Atlanticist expat tried to change the definition of dictatorship to justify his labeling the present Russian government a ‘ruthless dictatorship’. I’m not leaving a link, because frankly this writer’s work doesn’t deserve patronage from this blog, and because I’ve survived thus far without him finding Russia Reviewed and would like to keep things that way.

      “Admit it, Mr. Greene – you are just voicing wishful thinking on your part – you want “something” to happen in Russia. You readers want the same.”

      Can an exception be made for me? I’m reading Moscow-on-Thames to get a feel for Greene’s book Moscow in Movement.

      Like

      • “…in which a certain a-hole Atlanticist expat…”

        And pro-Ukrainian born-again svidomite to boot. I had a most… lively… conversation with him in Professor’s blog’s comment section 🙂

        I do remember this article. Well, as the saying goes – “when a gentleman can’t win in a game, a gentleman must change the rules”.

        btw – “Russia!” (as well as its spin-off “Ukraine!”) is now deader than a dodo. Turns out, that whoever was their sponsors, decided to abandon their mouthpiece of handshakability.

        “Can an exception be made for me? I’m reading Moscow-on-Thames to get a feel for Greene’s book Moscow in Movement.”

        When I talk about his “readers”, I’m actually meaning his “flock” – stale propaganda chewing, clichés bleating herd-mentality possessing “flock”, aka the target audience, that’s more than likely to accept his narrative “as it is”, not even trying to critically analyze it.

        Not you. You don’t strike me as his intended audience.

        Like

        • “btw – “Russia!” (as well as its spin-off “Ukraine!”) is now deader than a dodo. Turns out, that whoever was their sponsors, decided to abandon their mouthpiece of handshakability. “

          Dead? Already? Russia! seemed so young… I didn’t read it often, and its articles were for the most part slightly more intelligent-sounding versions of your typical boilerplate Russia analysis, but there were a few gems, and I’d read the magazine for them.

          I wonder who those “sponsors” were? And is it just me, or are Russia-related think tanks/outlets (at least ones not heavily funded) dropping like flies in 2017?

          Like

          • “Dead? Already? Russia! seemed so young… I didn’t read it often, and its articles were for the most part slightly more intelligent-sounding versions of your typical boilerplate Russia analysis, but there were a few gems, and I’d read the magazine for them.”

            Well, the only readable ones were by Adomanis and (not yet completely going bonkers) Galeotti. IIRC, this thing began shortly before the EuroMaidan and, for a time being, was just your average tongue’n’cheek Russia bashing. Then it became “relevant” as the mouthpiece of voicing indignation at “”Aggressive Russia, and even branched out to provide, ha-ha, optimistic narrative about “Newly Independent [AGAIN!] Ukraine”.

            I did an expose on the owner and chief locomotive of this particular zombifying outlet a while ago in the comment section of the KS. It’s buried somewhere. No idea how to find it, neither do I have any burning desire to search for it. Long story short, this handshakable person was behind both Russia! and Ukraine! magazines, which he also used for self promotion of his Londongrad TV series. BTW, the same person wrote the “Pussy Riot” episode for the House Of Cards 3rd season. In my expose, I uncovered several very informative interviews with him, one from the Bolotnaya protests time taken with the participation of local kreakls in the notoriously hipster-heavy Jean Jaques café on Arbat street in central Moscow. He is an honest fan of “Pussy Riot” and said, in one of his interviews, that Russians are too “backwards” to truly understand the “honest pathos of the punk protest song” (c).

            And his associations with Russian version of GQ, the “Snob” magazine and NY Magazine just round up the picture.

            ^This is just sad. And pathetic. But typical of his kind. Despite all his kvetching – works for (obligatory – Kremlin controlled) channel Rossiya 1, for which he wrote a scenario for the “Optimists” TV series. Because you “need to live not by a lie” (c)

            As for dem Russophobic rags going belly up – well, what did you expect, J.T.? This is all Invisible Hands of the Market ™. These Retranslators of the Burning Truth ™ just failed to fit into the market. Apparently, those, who funded them, rated their performance as abysmal. (and the quality of the content – as abyssal in the depth of failure). The Elicitor I disliked from the Day One of its existence and called it “The Islamic Jamaat el-Situr”, and that it’s two owners/editors need to finally resolve their tension by committing nikah to each other, ma sha Allah! Overall, it was in particular sloppy and low quality college students level of hack-job. Russia Direct descended into something so offensive and anatomically improbable, that only its clique of cultists and hopeless pundits took any respect of them.

            This gives me some tiny sliver of hope. This shows, that using your mouthpiece just for retranslating feel-good, truly “opium for the masses” message, which explains nothing, gives failed interpretation and can’t predict the future, is a dead end. Big, mainstream media is indeed, “too big to fall” and despite some damage to its credibility will survive. These small outlets are less protected in this regard and are the first candidates to go for a chop.

            Like

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