Russia Roundup #51

On the Coalescence of Protest (Postsocialism)

I wasn’t going to write any more articles on the material collected as part of my Russian working-class project, but two things happened to change that this spring. First was an invitation by Irina Olimpieva to come to the jubilee conference of the Centre for Independent Social research. The second was the call for papers from the new-ish Journal of Working-Class Studies on ‘Popular Revolt and the Global Working Class‘. Both the Centre and the unrelated US-based journal are causes well worth supporting.

Манящие дороги (Igor Shpilenok)

Scholars, journalists discuss compromat in today’s setting (NYU Jordan Center)

On April 27, 2017, the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia at NYU and the Harriman Institute of Columbia University held a panel discussion entitled, “Kompromat: What it is, and what it means for U.S.-Russia relations” featuring panelists Keith Darden, an associate professor in the School of International Service at American University, Miriam Elder, BuzzFeed News’ World Editor, and Katy Pearce, assistant professor in the department of communication at the University of Washington. The event was co-chaired by Alexander Cooley, Claire Tow Professor of Political Science and director of the Harriman Institute and Joshua Tucker, professor of politics at NYU and director of the Jordan Center. The joint “New York City Russia Public Policy” initiative, supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, was the second installment in an ongoing series that works to establish a regular forum for academics and professionals in New York City to engage with pressing issues informing U.S.-Russia relations. This discussion detailed the history of kompromat in both the Soviet Union and post-Soviet successor states, the role it is currently playing in Russian politics, the ways in which in technological changes have impacted kompromat, and the potential effects of kompromat on U.S.-Russian relations.

Obama’s Secret Struggle to Punish Russia for Putin’s Election Assault (The Washington Post)

Ft. anonymous sources; evidence-free evidence

To Deal with the Russians, America Must Think Like the Russians (The National Interest)

This June, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Vladimir Putin angrily denounced the “hysteria” in Washington and in the U.S. media. Again, bitter accusations and scorn abound. Both U.S. and Russian experts now agree that once again there is a heightened risk of unintended nuclear war—much higher than in the early 1980s—but this danger is not as widely perceived as it was back then. There is less awareness, less alarm. Few people know as much about nuclear policy as William J. Perry, a former secretary of defense. He has been on a crusade this year, warning, “We are starting a new Cold War. We seem to be sleepwalking into this new nuclear arms race. . . . We and the Russians and others don’t understand what we are doing.”

Reconsidering Russia Podcast: An Interview with Vladimir Pozner (Reconsidering Russia)

In this wide-ranging interview, Mr. Pozner discusses his life and career. It encompasses discussions of Mr. Pozner’s parents’ activities in the French Resistance in World War II, the Pozner family’s emigration to the USSR, the Khrushchev Thaw, the reaction of Soviet society to the Cuban Missile Crisis, Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroikaspace bridges between American and Soviet societies, the Yeltsin years, the current state of US-Russian relations, and Russian society today.

CNN Journalists Resign: Latest Example of Media Recklessness on the Russia Threat (The Intercept)

Three prominent CNN journalists resigned Monday night after the network was forced to retract and apologize for a story linking Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci to a Russian investment fund under congressional investigation. That article — like so much Russia reporting from the U.S. media — was based on a single anonymous source, and now, the network cannot vouch for the accuracy of its central claims.

Russian Federation Sitrep 29 June 2017 (Patrick Armstrong)

PUTIN DIRECT LINE. EnglishRussian. Mostly domestic nuts and bolts, a lot of “Batyushka, my roof is leaking” and the usual declaration that Russia is open to cooperation with its “partners”. Memorable lines: “the history of Russia shows that we have usually lived under sanctions whenever Russia started to become independent and feel strong” and “‘What do you do in your spare time?’ I work.” The customary mastery of detail and directness; I doubt any Western leader could match it. Pre-cooked or not.

Russia Day Promotions (Russian Defense Policy)

As noted earlier, there were relatively few Russia Day promotions in the MOD, possibly because President Vladimir Putin handed out a lot of new brass to his personal National Guard.

But to review, there was a single three-star promotion, and five two-star promotions for MOD officers.

The Crimean Nexus (Sean’s Russia Blog)

Constantine Pleshakov teaches at the Five-College Consortium in Massachusetts. In 2012, The Princeton Review named him one of the 300 best college professors in the United States. He’s the author of many books, including There Is No Freedom Without Bread!: 1989 and the Civil War That Brought Down Communism, Stalin’s Folly: The Tragic First Ten Days of World War II on the Eastern Front and with Vladislav Zubok, Inside the Kremlin’s Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev. His newest book is The Crimean Nexus: Putin’s War and the Clash of Civilizations published by Yale University Press.

Russosphere, oh Russosphere. We’ve had our ups and downs. But now you’re heading in a direction that truly has me concerned.

#1: I overheard a conversation at the kvu in which fellow students placed bets on how Putin would die. Poisoning? Revolution? Palace coup?

#2: My entire immediate family seems convinced Trump is a Kremlin agent.

#3: Sensational books like Putin: His Downfall and Russia’s Coming Crash and Orders to Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murder are the norm, not the exception.

#4: It’s now okay to make xenophobic comments about Russians or downplay Russian victims of terrorist attacks purely on the grounds that “they deserve it for invading Ukraine, bombing Syria, killing opposition journalists and hacking our democracy”.


#5: Ladies and gentlemen, our Enlightened™ mass media.

I like to think I’m decent at reading the writing on the wall. Right now, it’s telling me to flee while there’s still a wall.


Side book #12

This week, I began Two Lines 25, a book of translated short stories from around the world.


Hey, what happened to the Blue Crystal/’Apostrophe’ grid theme?

I swapped it for ‘Expound’. I was looking for something more subtle and sophisticated. All posts – save for admin updates and outbound articles – are indexed under the ‘Original Posts’ tab.

6 thoughts on “Russia Roundup #51

  1. Re: On the Coalescence of Protest (Postsocialism)


    “In her writing Clément notes that many ordinary people who participate in local and less ‘organised’ protests ‘have no previous activist experience, and may even have held negative attitudes towards activism and collective action before becoming involved’ (Clément 2015: 212). The same is true of labour protests such as the long distance truckers’ dispute in 2015 and its ’round two’ this year.”

    Sigh. The author – a well known person to us by this time – seems to be still ignorant at what constitutes the “working class”. Lumping together protests of the truckers (who work for themselves) and factory workers (who work for the factory owners) into one artificial category (“labour protest”) could only a person of the “white collar” background, for whom all “blue collars” are the same.

    Articles like that serve nothing but to satisfy the American desire of the “Crussionality”, especially now, when there is a wide held urge both among the chattering masses and the Western elite they serve, to “punish” Russia.

    The idea that a coalition of UralVagonZavod workers, Dagestani truck drivers and two-capitol’s hipsteriat gonna unite and topple “the Regime” is, surely, a tempting one for the anti-Russian Westerners and, thus, propagated more and more. E.g.:

    “This also gives cause to think that convergence and coalescence between disparate groups – say political protesters of the Navalnyi ilk, and, say, people protesting the destruction of Soviet-era housing in Moscow (motivated by corruption and private profit), could make common cause.”

    The rally against demolition of khruschevki gathered 2-3 times more people than Navalny’s “anti-corruption” illegal rallies this year. The organizers of anti-demolition protests went to great pains to avoid being associated with liberastia. If you are betting on them – you are betting on a wrong horse, especially given the fact that the legislation about the demolition is already signed into the law.


    1. I thought the “working class” referred to those who do not own/control the means of production and cannot live without selling their labor power.


      1. “I thought the “working class” referred to those who do not own/control the means of production and cannot live without selling their labor power.”

        I (and one fellow by the name Marx) though as well. Apparenty, now the form (people working with their hands) trumps the essence (realations in the labour market).


  2. I love that Igor Shpilenok made it in the roundup this month 🙂 🙂 I was just looking at that particular post a few days ago!

    One little idea, J.T.- do you ever use Netgalley to find books? They sometimes have interesting books available. (Not claiming they’re great, but just that they’re RU-related!) This week I downloaded Killing Rasputin: The Murder That Ended The Russian Empire by Margarita Nelipa and Russia’s Dead End: An Insider’s Testimony from Gorbachev to Putin by Andrei A. Kovalev. I’ve also gotten books by Jennifer Eremeeva and Orest Stelmach from the site. Not sure if Netgalley is already one of your go-to sources or not.


  3. “Scholars, journalists discuss compromat in today’s setting (NYU Jordan Center)”

    Given the participants involved (and Miriam Elder defending the undefendable) – not interested. OTOH, there was recently this discussion featuring at least one coherent participant (Stephen Cohen, who, btw is from NYU):

    When I watched it just a few hours ago comments were still enabled, but now… 🙂


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