Daily Archives: October 6, 2006

More Evidence of Russian Racism Gone Amok

EnglishRussia carries the above photograph, which it says depicts campaign billboards displayed on a building in the major city of Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. The top banner reads “Russia for Russians” while the lower one reads “For Democracy! For Russian Power!”

A commenter notes: “‘russia for russians (russkiye)’ is both xenophobic and ultranationalistic, because RF defines itself as a multinational state. if it were ‘russia for russians (rossiya dlja rossiyan)’, it would be okay.”

La Russophobe has already discussed the issue raised by the commenter. In the “Russia for Russians” banner, the word Русский (“ROO-skee”) is used instead of the word Российский (“RAH-see-skee”) to express the idea of “Russian” and there is a big difference. The first means “Slavic Russian” and the second means “Russian by law.” So what the poster is really declaring is “Russia for Slavs Only.” Though the commenter is standing against racism to some extent, it’s hard to see how making the change he requests would resolve the matter. Then, “Russia for Slavs Only” would become “Russia for Russian Citizens Only,” formalizing Russian xenophobia and justifying attacks on all dark-skinned vistors to the country, including the killing of foreign students. Yet, the commenter is a clear liberal among Russians, quite a scary notion indeed.

And remember, this isn’t some grafitti spray-painted on a wall by a skinhead. This is a campaign poster for high office in a city that is nowhere near the troubles with Chechnya and has never had a significant terrorist incident. It’s the third largest city in Siberia, with a population of nearly 1 million. If the local political leaders are willing to be this blatantly racist in public, can you imagine how racist they’re capable of being in private? Is it any wonder that dark-skinned foreigners, including many college students, have been brutally murdered across the country, if this is the official line on race relations?

Russian Nationalism on the Rampage

Writing in the Moscow Times, Russian Boris Kagarlitsky gives a bravura performance demonstrating how bizarre and unhinged Russians can be when they really get going.

Kagarlitsky begins by noting: “On Sept. 26, the European Commission announced that Bulgaria and Romania would join the European Union even earlier than previously planned. The two former Soviet satellites will join the EU on Jan. 1, 2007, instead of 2008.”

Now, right of the bat we can see that this is an issue that could be deeply affected by Russian nationalism, indeed Neo-Soviet paranoia of being “encircled” by the evil forces of NATO and the European Union. But we get no acknowledgment of this from Russian Kagarlitsky, who purports to analyze the question as a dispassionate scientest. What folows is classic Russian gibberish.

Kagarlitsky claims to oppose the admission of Bulgaria and Romania not because of Russian nationalism but because of his deep commitment to democracy. He objects: “Both Bulgaria and Romania were accepted into the union essentially as second-rate members.”

Yet, in the entirety of his discussion he does not give one single specific limitation on the either one of the two countries that is being imposed by the EU. And he goes on to state: “The union of Western democracies with the corrupt regimes of the eastern part of the continent, where parliamentary institutions are no more than a facade for oligarchic rule, is evidence that a united Europe will cease being a community of free citizens.” So is he attacking the EU for admitting the two countries with allegedly limited rights, or is he attacking it for failing to reject them on grounds of corruption? In classically insane Russian manner, he doesn’t say.

Instead, he spouts even more confusing gibberish. He writes: “On paper, however, the expansion looked like a process that was almost democratic. Formally, at least, no one resolved to divide Europeans into first- and second-class citizens. Previously, all members of the European Union — at least on paper — enjoyed equal rights. In point of fact, of course, this was far from the case, and the accession of countries from Eastern Europe drastically changed the nature of the union.” So what is his objection? Is it that the EU doesn’t even have a pretext of equal treament any longer? Does he really think a pretext is important and meaningful?

Ultimately, his real concern becomes apparent, if you can bear the headache you have to sustain waiting for it amid all this gibberish. Here it is:

Formally Romania and Bulgaria have failed to meet a number of the conditions for membership, so they effectively are not full members. But other countries accepted earlier also did not meet all these conditions. Indeed, violations were flagrant and widely acknowledged, from the level of corruption in Poland to the absence of civil rights for the Russian-speaking populations of Estonia and Latvia. This did not stop them becoming full-fledged members. Even worse, ruling elites in the “new European states” have not shown the slightest interest in dealing with these problems. In some respects, the situation has gotten worse. Mass popular unrest in Poland and Hungary and the ongoing crisis with Russianschools in Latvia are stark examples.

Yup, Russian nationalism. Kagarlitsky couldn’t care less how Bulgaria or Romania are treated by the European Union; what he cares about is how they treat Russians. Well, not how they treat Russians, so much as how Latvia and Estonia treat Russians. Sure, he also mentions “corruption” in Poland, but corruption certainly hasn’t prevented Russia, the 9th-most corrupt economy in the world and far more corrupt than Poland, from seeking (no, demanding) admission to the G-8 and WTO.

No, all Russian nationalist Kagarlitsky, and others of his crazed ilk, care about is what is happening to poor, innocent Russians in Latvia and Estonia. And what is happening? What is the “ongoing crisis with Russian schools in Latvia,” the only specific example he mentions?

Well, the question is whether Latvia should offer instruction in their schools in a foreign langauge. And not just any foreign language, but the language of the country, Russia, that held them as a slave state for decades under the Soviet dictatorship. Or, to put it another way, should Latvia be allowed to begin the process of requiring young people who speak only Russian to become billingual in their national language? Guess how Russian nationalists answer this question.

They start talking about “equal taxes, equal rights” and demand that they be allowed to continue wallowing in ignorance of their country’s language, history and culture, waiting for the day when Russia will seize it once again and finally obliterate it, as was originally planned. Russian citizens like Alexander Kazakov, an aide to Russian Duma Vice-Speaker Dmitri Rogozin, enter the country and begin efforts to undermine Latvian sovereignty even as Russia decries similar efforts by foreigners in Russia. Can you imagine how Russia would react if a Georgian started agitating in Russia about “equal treatment” for the Georgian langauge in areas of Russia with large Georgian populations? How would Russians define the “crisis” then?

More to the point, is there, in fact, a “crisis” in Latvia? If you search “Latvia crisis Russian school” in Google you get exactly zero hits. So maybe “brouhaha” or “tempest in a teacup” would have been a better choice of words.

What does Kagarlitsky want? Does he want the EU to step in and protect the “rights” of Russians? Or does he want the EU to reject countries with Russians in them so that Russia can continue to dominate those countries, just as the USSR once did? Does he want Eastern Europe itself to reject the EU, or does he simply want all the Russians living in Eastern Europe to leave and return to Mother Russia, panicked by the idea of persecution?

As is typical with a Russian, the reader has no idea whatsoever.

More Evidence of Fundamental Corruption in Russia

Transparancy International has come out with a new study of corruption, surveying thirty major countries concernign the prevalence of bribery in commerical transactions. Russia is ranked 28th out of 30 countries; only India and China rely more heavily on bribes to facilitiate commerce. According to the data, Russia accounts for only 2.4% of global exports despite being one of the top two oil producers in the world. Tiny Netherlands, with no oil, accounts for 3.4% of global exports. Turkey, Mexico and Malaysia all have significantly higher scores for avoiding bribery corruption than Russia. Remember the inane drivel of Professor Malawer, claiming that corruption in Russia is no different than that of many other nations?

Russia vs. USA before the Nobel Committee

On Wednesday, it was announced that American Roger D. Kornberg won this year’s Nobel Chemistry Prize for describing how information in the genes is copied and transferred to cells that produce proteins. Two other Americans, John C. Mather and George F. Smoot, won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work that shed further light on the beginning of the universe. Two more Americans, Andrew Z. Fire of the MIT and Craig C. Mello, took the Nobel Prize for Medicine, for their discovery of ‘RNA interference’, a catalytic process proposed to occur in plants, animals and humans.

So much for the idea that Russians are better than Americans in math and science. But maybe you think this is just an aberration? Far from it. Russia (including the USSR) has only won 21 Nobel Prizes in its whole history, while the U.S. has 175 (not counting the most recent awards), eight times more than Russia.

Russians can go on believing the absurdly ignorant, xenophobic propaganda spewed out by their government, which tells them they are cleverer than the whole wide world and that American success is only due to luck, but the day of reckoning for Russians is fast approaching. They can go on trying to convince themselves that Sweden is full of “russophobes” or that America bribed its judges right up until the time that the very last Russian on the face of the earth breathes his last. Or they can wake up and smell the reality.


Note that Russia has won five Nobel prizes for literature and three of the five (Bunin, Brodsky and Solzhenitsin) either spurned Russia or were exiled. The U.S. has won twelve Nobels in literature, more than twice as many as Russia and second only to France in the world, including the novelists Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and William Faulkner. Yet, Russians haughtily belittle America’s literary tradition. America also has two female novelists (Pearl Buck and Toni Morrison) who won a Nobel, while Russia has none.

Neo-Soviet Doublespeak

“I think that until all diplomatic possibilities have been exhausted, sanctions would be extreme. I think we need to do all we can to push Iran toward starting negotiations. We are continuing activities, we are continuing our diplomatic efforts. Some members of the six nations already want to impose sanctions. We however, think first we must continue multilateral actions.”

Above, that was Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussing how to get Iran to do what America wants. Compare and contrast with the below:

An anti-Georgian campaign built up steam in Russia yesterday as the authorities followed up sweeping sanctions on neighboring Georgia with measures targeting the large diaspora in Moscow. Russian lawmakers also tabled a motion expected to fiercely condemn Georgia’s pro-Western leadership with the dispute set to persist after Russia rejected Western calls to end its blockade of its small, impoverished Caucasus neighbor. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said a transport and postal blockade slapped on Tbilisi on Tuesday would still stand despite the release by Georgia, on Monday, of four Russian officers whose arrest last week angered the Kremlin. Lavrov said on Tuesday the measures were aimed at cutting off criminal flows of money he claimed was being used by the Georgian leadership to increase its military might in preparation for the “forceful seizure” of two pro-Russian breakaway regions

So, when the subject is getting Georgia to do what Russia wants, suddenly Minister Lavrov changes his tune. La Russophobe dares to wonder why.

The whole world wants sanctions on Iran, but Russia won’t support them. Nobody but Russia wants sanctions on Georgia, yet Russia won’t retract them. Welcome back to the USSR!

LR on PP

Check out La Russophobe‘s latest piece on Publius Pundit, where she explores the relative levels of democratic development in Russia and Georgia as documented by the leading authority in this area, Freedom House. Comments are welcome on this important topic; Russians regularly claim that they cannot be criticized for taking action to unseat the Georgian government because that regime is “not democratic,” but in fact Georgia’s scores for democracy as judged by an impartial body of scholars are far higher than those of Russia.