Reading on Russia Roundup #43

Selection and maitenance of the aim (Irrussianality)

Strategy, Clausewitz said, is about applying means to achieve ends. It follows that good strategy requires one first to select sensible and achievable ends, and second to ensure that one actually apply one’s resources in such a way as to advance towards those ends. This is what one might call ‘instrumental rationality’. Selecting objectives which don’t benefit you, or deliberately acting in a way which undermines your own objectives, is not instrumentally rational.

For good reason, therefore, the first ‘principle of war’ as taught to British and Canadian military officers is ‘selection and maintenance of the aim’. Pick a bad aim, or fail to maintain a good aim and instead get sidetracked into pursuing something else, and failure will almost certainly ensue.

This is pretty obvious stuff, but what is remarkable is how bad Western leaders are at putting it into practice.

В. Б. Степаницкий: Почему я покинул Минприроды России (Igor Shpilenok)

Не все так просто и радужно в заповедном деле…
С одной стороны, заповедники и нацпарки – это великолепная дикая природа. Это замечательные и успешные природоохранные проекты (вспомните спасение почти из небытия соболя и европейского бобра при зарождении заповедного дела или восстановление дикой популяции европейского зубра в наши дни). Это удивительные проявления природоохранного энтузиазма как сто лет назад, так и в наши дни. А с другой стороны наши заповедные достижения часто являются результатом сверхэксплуатации этого энтузиазма, а не правильно поставленной организации дела.

Contradictions of “Gray Zone” Conflict (Rethinking Russia)

The Art of Empathy: An Interview with Russian Graphic Artist Victoria Lomasko (NYU Jordan Center)

Victoria Lomasko is a fixture at Moscow’s trials and protests, documenting the tumultuous processes that shape today’s Russia. Not content to limit herself to the political life of the country’s capital, Lomasko travels around the country and through the former Soviet republics, exploring the domestic, psychological, and spiritual condition of its diverse marginalized groups. Sex workers in Nizhny Novgorod, women in underground lesbian clubs, teachers in a remote village school, and children at the juvenile prison colonies, where Lomasko volunteers as an art teacher, have been some of the subjects of her sensitive, incisive portraits. With empathy at the heart of her approach, Lomasko is drawn to people who challenge her, whose stories do not necessarily illustrate her own political views. In her graphic reportages, we find a panorama of modern Russian society. Her new book, Other Russias, translated from Russian by Tom Campbell, recently came out of n+1’s publishing house. The following interview, conducted by Nigâr Hacızade and Rossen Djagalov, is published in cooperation with LeftEast, and

Syria and the Call of the Quagmire (The National Interest)

В ожидании светлого праздника Пасхи! (VTsIOM)

Ограничений в еде во время Великого Поста придерживаются около четверти россиян, при этом традиции, связанные с празднованием Пасхи, соблюдает большинство граждан, показывают данные ежедневного опроса «ВЦИОМ-Спутник».

Valdai Paper #64- Into the Unknown: US-Russian Relations Unhinged

First as Tragedy, then as Kitsch: A Bitter Harvest Review (NYU Jordan Center)

While many of the plot points are historically accurate, they are told with so little nuance and so little subtlety they seem to bear no resemblance to the true (and truly tragic) events of the early 1930s in Soviet Ukraine.


In other news


Monday was marked by an unprecedented number of views. A handful of users, primarily from the USA, viewed almost every Russia Reviewed post in existence.

Side book #8

This week, I began The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for Russia by Angus Roxburgh.




  1. Lyt, against better judgment, decides to read NJU interview piece

    Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh, why I did this?

    Nothing coherent. Really. An interview with a thoroughly handshakable (and, thus, a priori good and talented) artist – about whom such bydlo and vatnik as I have never heard. Honestly – I fund her “pictures” ugly and off-putting. I have absolutely no idea how she can possible make a living out of that in This Country ™.

    Sever things. Here sudden surprise over Russian truck-drivers (rus. “дальнобойщики”) protest and their “resilience”, couple with inane talk about “appealing to broader classes”. She obviously has no idea what the “class” means. “Dalnoboys” are petite-bourgeoisie – they are owners of the means of production, who are self employed and work by said self-owned means of production. This class is always the first to suffer (greatly) during any economic trouble and upheaval. Once upon a time the US had their own very dominant, very numerous class of petite-bourgeoisie – farmers. The Great Depression and the Dustbowl put an end of that even more mercilessly and effective than USSR and de-kulakization. After all – why spend money on deportation, expropriation and, when needed, execution of the people, when you can trust the Invisible Hand of the Market do just that? I also see no (inter)national wailing and gnashing of teeth over that events in the Free West, as well as the demands to Condemn All Responsible (c).

    Yeah – suck to be a petite-bourgeoisie, and there is little hope for inter-class solidarity with them from other people, as kreakls, who are allergic to all physical labour, hope. Your ordinary factory worker from Nizhny Tagil doesn’t care abut “Platon” system, which the truck drivers are protesting. Neither are caring the owners of this factory, nor really care about that de-classified element that frequents Jean Jaques in Moscow. Journalists, who are either state employed or employed by this or that big business concern are also not really disturbed by this event. Only 3.5 eternally disagreeing with everything dissidents and various freaks with active social position are disturbed by that honestly – but can they generate enough income for Victoria Lomasko, who says:

    “I feel that right now what’s shaping cultural production more than anything else are not censorship or repression, but economic problems. Truly, many artists find themselves in situations in which they do not have the opportunity to do quality work on social issues. There are no resources. As for perspectives? One option, of course is to focus on working abroad, which is what the “What is to be done” group (Chto delat’?) did. I am afraid that’s an option I am facing myself. In Russia, critics and audiences don’t see my work, don’t react to it, don’t publish or exhibit it.”

    Goo to see, that Russian states learns – now, who will pin the blame on them, when the Invisible Hand does all the “purging”?

    Next – this.

    “So imagine, in our metro, where everything is black, grey and brown, there are almost no signs, no slogans, and suddenly, there is this girl carrying a big poster, on which there is a question about the war in Ukraine, or repressions against the LGBT community, family violence, political trials, new laws. And people enter into a dialogue, a discussion develops in the whole car. But the only people who write about her are journalists”

    1) “Black, grey and brown” Moscow metro:

    2) “There are almost no signs, no slogans”

    Commercial advertisements in the Metro is forbidden. The chief aim of the Metro is to serve as the mean of the transport communication for enormous masses of people. Only signs allowed here are purely informative and has to do with the work of the Metro.

    3) “…and suddenly, there is this girl carrying a big poster… And people enter into a dialogue, a discussion develops in the whole car”

    Your typical Metro station during the rush hour most of the time:

    Yeah, sure – go ahead – try to wave some stupid placard here! People will surely appreciate that!

    As for “entering into a dialogue” in the moving metro train car:

    Go ahead – try to talk with someone sitting right here besides you!

    But what do I know about Moscow Metro and reality? I mean, I’m a bloody vatnik, who uses (daily – often several times per day) Moscow Metro system, while she is a member of the self-described Creative Class.

    P.S. Any movement, be it political or artistic can’t honestly and consciously call itself “Left” if it is not done for the Masses, and not far (any) minorities.


    • Re: House of Free Russia (Odessa Blog)

      “The NFP is funded by the European Endowment for Democracy, Nemtov’s Foundation for Freedom, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the collective efforts of the Russian diaspora (primarily in the US).

      I knew! I knew that Lev Nathanovich Sharansky (and other Elders from the cafe “Matryoshka” on Brighton Beach, NY) were up to something! And now there’s this new initiative for providing $100 mln grants for “endovement of the democracy and combating Russian propaganda” raised in the Senate of the US. Perepetually jobless loosers of This Country are saved once again!

      “Naturally the opening of such an initiative is unlikely to receive the warmest of welcomes in some Ukrainian nationalist quarters.”

      Ha-ha! Not, really.

      Meanwhile the Ukrainian politically active individuals are, eh, “sending rays of love and adoration” (actually – not) into the general direction of this “HoFR”.

      ^Crimean Tatar peprpetually offended activist and grant-sucker Mudzhabayev denounced it, ’cause Khodorkovsky did express the “imperialist attitude to the Ukraine” (and in twitter Khodor writes “на Украину” instead of “в Украину” . Plus Khodor agrees with “Crimea’s annexation”. Argues for the closure of the “House”

      ^Maydan activist demands points out, that the logo of the “House” does not confirm their claim that “Crimea is Ukrainian”. Paradoxically, but she posts this in the language of the aggressor-country.

      ^More of various net-active Ukrainians are expressing their… pointed disappointment with the fact of “House” opening in Kiev, offer their valuable opinion on the lack of racial integrity of the ethnic Russians, most of them offer the “House” to take a “short erotic business trip”, and only one express her apparent conviction that “House” is a good thing – it means it’s inhabitants would be easier to burn down en-masse (like in Odessa).

      So, I make a prediction – not far away is the day when the masses of pissed-off veterans of the ATO and radical Ukrainan nationalists will pogrom the place. ’cause dem Moskals are still enemies, even if they are liberasts.



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