Daily Archives: October 2, 2006

Russia Reaps the Whirlwind

For months now, the Kremlin has been providing huge quanties of assault rifles and attack planes to Venezuela, and negotiating to provide even larger quantities, as if Russia could act with impunity, poking its finger in the eye of the United States, the world’s most powerful country, by giving direct military support to one of its most hated enemies without retribution. But now, the worm has turned. Suddenly, Russia finds itself locked in as dispute with Georgia, and, lo and behold, finds that weapons are flowing to Georgia against its wishes. Only now, when it is too late, do Russians see the consequences of their crazily provocative behavior. The Associated Press reports:

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov on Friday accused Eastern European members of NATO of illegally supplying Soviet-made arms to Georgia. “These NATO members are violating international practice,” Ivanov said after talks with NATO ministers. “This is a form of piracy.”
He declined to name specific nations, but said they were from the “younger generation of NATO members” — a reference to the 10 former communist nations that defied Russian opposition to join the Western alliance after the end of the Cold War.

Ivanov held tense talks with the NATO allies, who have irritated Moscow by agreeing to deepen ties with Georgia, a country Ivanov has denounced as a “bandit” state.He told reporters that Georgia’s arrest of Russian soldiers Wednesday was an attempt to force his country’s troops out of the country so the Georgian authorities could pursue a “military solution” to its conflicts with two pro-Russian breakaway provinces.NATO appealed to both countries to defuse the growing crisis over the arrested soldiers. “On my behalf, there was a call for moderation and de-escalation, and that goes for both parties,” NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said. He said NATO was contacting the Georgian government to pass on the message.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said allied ministers had urged calm in their meeting with Ivanov. “The thread of those discussions clearly was for there to be calm, and for those tensions to be eased down in a peaceful way,” he told reporters. Rumsfeld stressed, however, that Georgia was free to seek NATO membership regardless of Russian concerns. “NATO membership really is a decision for individual countries, not for countries other than the individual country.” Ivanov said Eastern European nations were providing arms to Georgia in violation of Soviet-era guarantees that they would not be sold on to other countries. New NATO members denied they had broken any rules.

“Bulgaria has been complying with European Union rules of conduct and, moreover, there are no sanctions in force against Georgia,” Bulgarian Defense Minister Veselin Bliznakov told national radio from Portoroz. “As to the programs for modernization of Georgia’s army and police force, we think they … contribute to the efforts for Georgia’s stabilization.”

Happy 6-Month Anniversary to LR

Today is La Russophobe‘s six-month anniversary! You go, girl!

In six months, La Russophobe has moved into the top 0.1% of all blogs in the world out of over 53 million tracked by Technorati (she’s now ranked in the top 67,000). She has published 710 posts, received over 13,000 visits and over 1,200 profile views (passing the total visits and profile views received by the crazed Russophile blog Accidental Russophile, which has existed 30% longer than she has) . She’s also registered over 20,000 Google hits.

And she’s received a very special present to honor the occasion from the crazed Russophile propaganda screed Konstantin’s “Russian Blog” — which has existed for 21 months now, since January 2005, nearly four times longer than La Russophobe.

Konstantin doesn’t have a counter on his blog. He seems to prefer secrecy to transparency, a pattern among the Neo-Soviet crowd.

La Russophobe does have a counter. It shows that this is the most heavily trafficked English-language Russia politics blog in the world, currently averaging more than 100 visits every day.

Konstantin also doesn’t post a profile with a counter on his blog. La Russophobe does, as noted above.

According to Technorati, in 21 months Konstantin’s blog has been linked to by other blogs 174 times. That works out to just over 8 links per month.

By contrast, Technorati says that La Russophobe has been linked to 247 times by other blogs. That works out to over 41 links per month, over five times more than Konstantin.

74 blogs in total have linked to Russian Blog, Technorati reveals. That’s 4 new blogs linking per month.

In La Russophobe‘s case, 42 blogs have linked to her so far, or 7 new blogs linking per month, a rate nearly double that Konstantin’s blog.

So, the data rather conclusively shows that LR is kicking wacko Russophile Konstantin’s ass (which is not suprising given the puny amount of content he puts out, the total lack of sourcing or links to outside material of interest). And that’s not the half of it, because LR has also repeatedly exposed Konstantin’s mendacious propaganda for what it is.

Konstantin’s response? The classic neo-Soviet one. Not once but twice now, Konstantin has accused LR of being mentally ill (note that the first time Konstantin couldn’t even get her name right, calling her Kim F. instead of Kim Z). Just a Stalin used to send off his critics to mental institutions, Konstantin wants to do the same to poor La Russophobe. It’s the only way Neo-Soviet slugs like him can deal with their critics, because their position is so otherwise untenable, and as the post below shows its becoming standard operating procedure in Russia today.

There is no greater gift La Russophobe could receive on her 6-month anniversary than to have a rabid, slobbering Russophile maniac like Konstantin diagnose her as insane (without of course ever having had so much as a single conversation with her). It’s conclusive proof that this blog is a necessary antidote to the bacteria of Neo-Soviet propaganda now seeking to spread throughout the world.

So thanks for the present, Konstantin!

Neo-Soviet Russia Re-Weaponizes Psychiatry

The Washington Post reports further developments to indicate that Neo-Soviet Russia is re-weaponizing psychiatry as a means of dealing with opposition to rising autocracy (La Russophobe has already reported significant developments on this story). What more horrifying proof could anyone ask for that Russia has morphed back into the USSR? It is run by a proud KGB spy, it is seeking to reassert control over the Soviet empire (even being accused of recently backing a coup d’etat in Georgia), the Soviet anthem played at the last Olympics, it sent Mikhail Khodorkovsky to Siberia, it arrested a blogger who a called Putin a “phallic symbol” and now dissidents are once against being branded “insane.”

On March 23, police and emergency medical personnel stormed Marina Trutko’s home, breaking down her apartment door and quickly subduing her with an injection of haloperidol, a powerful tranquilizer. One policeman put her 78-year-old mother, Valentina, in a storage closet while Trutko, 42, was carried out to a waiting ambulance. It took her to the nearby Psychiatric Hospital No. 14.

The former nuclear scientist, a vocal activist and public defender for several years in this city 70 miles north of Moscow, spent the next six weeks undergoing a daily regimen of injections and drugs to treat what was diagnosed as a “paranoid personality disorder.”

“She is also very rude,” psychiatrists noted in her case file.

In person, Trutko presents a different profile, reserved and formal as she recounts her legal and psychiatric ordeal and invokes the minutiae of Russian law without having to refer to texts. An independent evaluation found that although she did not have an “ordinary personality,” she was “very gifted and creative” and displayed no psychiatric symptoms.

Trutko is new evidence that Soviet-style forced psychiatry has reemerged in Russia as a weapon to intimidate or discredit citizens who tangle with the authorities, according to human rights activists and some mental health professionals. Despite major reforms in the early 1990s, some officials are again employing this form of repression.

“Abuse has begun to creep back in, and we’re seeing more cases,” said Lyubov Vinogradova, executive director of the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia, an advocacy group. “It’s not on a mass scale like in Soviet times, but it’s worrying.”

In those years, tens of thousands of dissidents were wrongfully subjected to forced hospitalization, sometimes for years, based on trumped-up diagnoses of “schizophrenia.” Dissidents were said to exhibit inflexibility of convictions and nervous exhaustion brought on by anti-government activities. “Reformist delusions,” the Soviets called it. If you were against communism, in other words, you were insane.

Some of the new cases have been abetted by institutions or doctors involved in it in the Soviet period. Trutko, who is originally from Uzbekistan, was diagnosed at the Serbsky Institute for Social and Forensic Psychiatry in Moscow, one of the most infamous of the Soviet institutions that imprisoned dissidents. It remains a secretive institution that has never faced up to its repressive past, according to human rights groups.

As recently as 2001, the institute’s director, Tatyana Dmitriyeva, denied that the Soviet Union engaged in any more psychiatric abuse than Western countries, according to the report “Human Rights and Psychiatry in the Russian Federation” by the Moscow Helsinki Group.

One of signatures on Trutko’s official evaluation, which declared she had paranoid personality disorder, is that of Yakob Landau, a longtime Serbsky psychiatrist who headed the institute’s notorious Unit No. 4 during Soviet days.

Officials at the institute, a walled and forbidding complex in central Moscow, said no one was available to comment for this article. Investigators in Trutko’s case declined to comment.

The charge that psychiatry is again being abused is not universally accepted within the profession. “The problem of forced treatment or psychiatric persecution existed more than 20 years ago, but it was solved. And since then I haven’t heard of any case of forced psychiatric examination or treatment,” said Vladimir Rotstein, president of Public Initiative on Psychiatry, an advocacy group.

The Independent Psychiatric Association, however, says that the number of activists being wrongfully hospitalized in mental facilities totals dozens of cases in recent years and is increasing. Doctors and the courts are complicit with investigators who insist on a forced psychiatric evaluation or treatment, it says. Activists have also documented an increase of family or business disputes in which wrongful hospitalization provides an opening to seize a person’s property, Vinogradova said.

Most of the targeted activists are not affiliated with major human rights groups. Rather, like Trutko, they are stubborn gadflies who are involved in long-running feuds with local authorities. Their sometimes intemperate complaints against authorities are used to open criminal investigations for slander. This allows authorities to seek hospitalization. Unlike Soviet dissidents, these activists are put away for relatively short periods of a week to several months,

Roman Lukin, a businessman in the Volga River city of Cheboksary, was hospitalized last year for “unexplainable behavior” after he held up a sign on a public square calling three judges “creeps.” Seeking redress for a bad debt that ruined him, Lukin felt he had not received justice from the courts. He spent two weeks in the local psychiatric hospital, which recommended that he undergo further examination at a specialized clinic in Moscow for possible “paranoid personality disorder.” Independent Psychiatric Association specialists evaluated Lukin and found no sign of mental illness.

Nikolai Skachkov, who protested police brutality and official corruption in the Omsk region of Siberia, was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation last year because investigators said they suspected he was suffering from “an acute sense of justice.” He spent six months in a closed psychiatric facility where he was diagnosed as paranoid. The association, which conducted a separate evaluation earlier this year, found that he was healthy.

“Psychiatry in this country has always been a tool of the authorities, a tool for managing people and pressuring people. And it still is,” said Boris Panteleyev, head of the St. Petersburg Committee for Human Rights.

In an interview in her apartment, Trutko recounted her own long run-in. “Now I have this stamp on my forehead that I am a psychiatric patient,” she said. “I will always have this medical record now. That means I cannot go to court because judges say I’m a psycho and call for an ambulance.”

Trutko is well known in the courts in this town, having argued dozens of court cases against the local authorities and police. She is studying to be a lawyer, and for several years has acted as a public defender, as advocates without law degrees are called here.

Her troubles with mental health authorities began four years ago in a courtroom in Dmitrov, about 35 miles from Dubna.

Trutko asserted that the judge displayed bias against her client in a property dispute, and she moved to have the judge withdrawn. She also complained that the judge was not wearing her robe as required and that the Russian flag was improperly displayed. The judge, who later left the bench and could not be reached for comment, alleged that Trutko said, “Look at that fat pig sitting up there,” according to legal papers.

Prosecutors opened a criminal case against Trutko on charges of contempt of court. In July 2003, the court ordered Trutko to undergo an involuntary psychiatric evaluation. Psychiatrists at the hospital said she was uncooperative, illogical and displayed emotional reactions that were “not adequate” — a common phrase here for mental illness.

The Independent Psychiatric Association questioned these conclusions. Its own evaluation of her, conducted by four psychiatrists, found that “she is not an ordinary personality, but a very gifted and creative person. . . . No psychiatric symptoms were observed. She shows high intellectual ability and good memory. She does not need any treatment.”

Trutko continued to battle the criminal complaint in court. Before a hearing at the higher Moscow regional court, she filed a motion seeking the removal of a panel of judges from her case, again asserting bias. In this case there was no claim of verbal abuse, but prosecutors said her motion amounted to slander and contempt.

In April 2004, after leaving a hearing on her case in Moscow, Trutko was detained by investigators and taken to the Serbsky Institute. It was a Friday evening when she was admitted and there was no expert commission available to evaluate her, Trutko said. Human rights groups protested her detention and threatened legal action. Trutko said she was released the following Tuesday morning without having undergone any formal examination by psychiatrists.

But the institute issued a six-page evaluation that said she suffered from a “paranoid personality disorder.” The condition manifested itself in her “subjectivity,” her “tendencies to verbal aggression,” her “suspicious” personality and her “inability to understand the peculiarities of interpersonal relations and communication,” medical records show.

The report recommended that she undergo forced hospitalization and treatment.

In September 2004, a Moscow court approved that approach. But the authorities, for reasons that remain unclear, did not act on the order until they stormed Trutko’s apartment earlier this year.

Despite her subsequent release, Trutko said, the court order remains in effect and she could be institutionalized again at any time. “My career is ruined,” she said. “I just stay at home.”

The Glorious Russian Tradition in Sport Continues

Who cares if Russia can’t even get an entry place in the FIFA proceedings, or as much as lowly bronze medal in world championship ice hockey even if the event is staged in St. Petersburg? What do those defeats mean next to Russia’s newfound ability to brag, as we learned over the weekend, that its homeless people are second-to-none when it comes to football. Coming on the heels of Russia’s dominating performance at the Pig Olympics, as previously reported by La Russophobe, this is convincing evidence that true athletic glory will never be a stranger in Russia.

And there was also confirmation that Russia maintains its traditional dominance in the national pastime athletics: cheating. Scandal broke out in Elista when Russian chess champion Vladimir Kramnik was accused by his Bulgarian challenger of abusing his bathroom privileges during a match so that the could receive illegal advice. Kramnik used the accusations as an excuse to bail out of the tournament.

Classically Crazed Russian Gibberish

Here’s the opening paragraph from a recent New York Times op-ed piece by quasi Russian Serge Schememann (his name isn’t one Slavic Russians would accept as “Russian” and his parents fled to Estonia to escape Bolshevism):

Where in frozen Siberia did Russians learn how to swing a racket? Svetlana Kznetsova took the China Open. Dmitry Tursunov beat the best American player, Andy Roddick, to knock the United States out of the Davis Cup. The glamorously teenage Maria Sharapova swept past Belgium’s best, Justine Henin-Hardenne, to win the United States Open

Here’s the third paragraph:

Two decades ago, there were no Russian names among the top 100 players, much less among the glitterati of the sport. Today, Maria Sharapova is a trademark, and behind her is a cascade of top-ranked Russians with jaw-challenging names. And these are not shy newcomers. They seem to have emerged as complete, prepackaged, beautifully turned out stars, complete with obsessed parent. Tursunov, like Sharapova, was exported by a relentless father to the United States at a precocious age, and it’s hard to tell whether they are more Russian or American. So what spawned these stars?

In other words, two out of the three players mentioned by the author didn’t learn to play tennis in Russia, they learned to play in the United States, where they spend most of their time and own real estate. Sharapova has never once played for the Russian national team. Schememann’s reconciliation? How did Russia influence them? It’s this: “I’ve always had a soft spot for the swaddling theory, wherein the practice of binding babies like mummies between feedings formed a nation given to lurching between passivity and anarchy. Isn’t tennis all about lurching between passivity and furious activity?”

Meanwhile, the author ignores the fact that apart from the victories he mentions all three of these players have had abysmal seasons this year and all draw nothing but enormous yawns from fans. The only one who creates any interest is Sharapova, and she does so off the court by marketing her looks just like Anna Kournikova, who never won a singles tournament in her whole career. The author writes of AK: “After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the game got a further lift from Boris Yeltsin, who was often photographed wrestling with a racket. That was when most of the current stars got their first rackets. Anna Kournikova gave further inspiration when she became the first Russian tennis player to become a marketing star.” Classic Russian gibberish. Russians hate Yeltsin and accuse him of genocide, but they get motivated to play tennis because he says so just like they voted like lemmings for his chosen successor Vladimir Putin.

The author asks: “Are these young stars a post-Soviet reaction to the collective ethic? Are they another version of the trillionaire oligarchs, people who frantically grasp for all the riches and glory denied them for 70 years?” In classic Russian style, he gets quite close to landing the Trout of Truth before he lets its wriggle free. Russian tennis players are just like Russian oligarchs: they use illusion and fakery to create the pretension of success, while beneath the surface their lack of substance eats away until the inevitable collapse. And the Kremlin is no different. Celeste Hollander’s Football Fabel, below, brilliantly exposes this truth that the Russian author, even so far removed from Russia, simply cannot manage to see.