Daily Archives: November 5, 2006

The Sunday Photos: Remembering Anna

It is now nearly one month since the horrific, cowardly murder of Russian patriot Anna Politkovskaya. The Associated Press reports that she is gone but not forgotten, and that there remain some true heros left in Russia, struggling to breathe in the gathering gloom:

Colleagues of Anna Politkovskaya, supported by the independent Russian Union of Journalists and hundreds of domestic and foreign media outlets, published a newspaper Thursday devoted to the slain journalist who focused on uncovering torture, abductions and other abuses against civilians in Chechnya. The 16-page tabloid included tributes to the journalist and rights activist, a sampling of her work, a list of 211 journalists killed in Russia between 1992 and the present, and her mother’s recollections. Raisa Mazepa recalled begging her daughter to be more cautious in her work. “I remember she told me then: ‘I understand, of course, that the Sword of Damocles is always hanging over me. I understand that, but I don’t want to give up,'” her mother was quoted as saying by Politkovskaya’s newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Thursday’s newspaper also contained a rebuke to President Vladimir Putin, who on the day of Politkovskaya’s funeral played down her influence on political life as “very minor.” It reprinted government instructions to act to correct the problems raised in her stories. The paper said close to 40 criminal investigations had been opened on the basis of Politkovskaya’s work. Politkovskaya was gunned down in the entrance to her apartment building Oct. 7. Thursday’s newspaper said investigators were concentrating on three main scenarios for the killing, but it did not elaborate. In an unpublished essay or speech found on Politkovskaya’s computer, she described how journalists were made “outcasts” in Russia — never invited to official events, forced to meet with officials only clandestinely. Most journalists here, she said, were putting on a “jesters’ show,” whose only task was to report positively on Putin. “What have I … done? I only wrote about what I witnessed, and nothing more,” Politkovskaya wrote in the piece, which was published in the special paper Thursday. “I purposely have not written about all the other ‘charms’ of the path I have chosen — the poisonings, the detentions, the threats in letters and on the Internet, the promises to kill … I think that is all trivial. “The main thing is to have the chance to do the main thing: describe life, receive in the editorial offices visitors who have nowhere else to go with their troubles.”

La Russophobe remembers Anna too:





The Great Leader as news of Anna’s killing was burning up the wires.

Give him another few years, and the view in the background will be
actual rubble . . . or maybe just ashes blowing away into the wind.

After the Election, Cold War II

AFP reports that, quite naturally, members of the U.S. Congress on both sides of the aisle are spoiling for a fight with Russia over its litany of outrageous actions threatening U.S. national security, and the days of the Bush Doctrine on Russia will end with the next election, no matter who wins.

Policymakers and analysts predict the next US Congress, whether led by Republicans or Democrats, will be increasingly scathing of the Kremlin, ahead of US and Russian presidential polls in 2008. ”I believe the Congress will try to force the administration to change gears with regard to Russia,” said Elizabeth Stewart, foreign policy adviser to Republican Senator Gordon Smith.

Criticisms spring from a growing list of US-Russia disagreements, spanning Iran’s nuclear programme, geopolitical concerns like Georgia and post-Soviet states, through human rights and trade spats.

There is also disquiet over how the emerging energy superpower hands out oil and gas contracts, its arms sales to US foe Venezuela and the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Critics in both parties also grumble that President George W Bush’s vaunted friendship with President Vladimir Putin has failed to deliver.

Bush aides say some issues with Russia are best debated in private with Moscow _ like deals on securing nuclear materials left over from the Soviet Union and high-stakes diplomacy over Iran and North Korea.

But Ms Stewart said the administration would lose a ”free pass” on Russia issues whoever wins next Tuesday.

”I think the Hill has run out of patience with this so-called quiet diplomacy,” she said at an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) forum grouping US and Russian scholars in Washington.

A Democrat policy aide said privately that a ”tougher” congressional stance towards Russia was likely, noting frustrations of US investors in the country were filtering through to Congress.

Lawmakers might also break ranks as Mr Bush slips into the lame duck status that bedevils all second-term presidents.

”Congress is a closer barometer of people’s moods and changes, than particularly the president who does not have to run for re-election,” said AEI scholar Leon Aron.

No one predicts a new Cold War, but rhetoric on Russia is hardening.

Republican Senator John McCain said on the campaign trail last week: ”Every indication is that Putin has gone the way of autocracy and is nostalgic for the days of the Russian empire.”

Democrat Senator Bill Nelson and Republican Norm Coleman will try to force into law a bid to stop the United States striking deals on nuclear cooperation with Russia if it continues to assist Iran on nuclear issues.

In July, four Democratic senators including potential 2008 candidate Joseph Biden, warned Mr Bush not to mince words with Mr Putin.

”If Russia’s leaders want their country to assume its rightful place in the world, they must change course,” they wrote.

Democrat Senator Evan Bayh and Republican veteran Senator Orrin Hatch in May branded Russia an intellectual property ”pirate” unfit for the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

A deal currently being thrashed out between US and Russian negotiators on Russia’s WTO entry will need Senate approval _ a process that will be a lightning rod for anger against Moscow.

Congressional suspicion of Russia is perhaps most acute over Iran, stoked by Moscow’s construction of the Bushehr nuclear plant and stalling on nuclear sanctions on Teheran.

The ”colour” revolutions in ex-Soviet states, for example Ukraine, won strong support in Congress, and Russian anger was rejected.

Russia’s diplomatic showdown with Georgia also raised hackles in Washington, and administration critics were dismayed the United States signed on to a UN Security Council resolution on the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict _ seeing the move as a payoff for Russian support on the North Korean nuclear crisis.

Post-Soviet Russia’s decline led many in Congress to discount it as a global player. Now anxiety is growing over its rebound.

A Congressional Research Service report last month noted ”there now appears to be more discord than harmony in US-Russian relations”.

Though Congress can frustrate foreign policy towards Russia, it is up to Mr Bush to set its course, so few believe congressional tough-talk will change things in Moscow.

”Whether this will result in a change in Russian policy is to some extent less important to members than it is an expression of our values,” said Ms Stewart.

Russia: The Enemy

Military.com tells it like it is in the following hair-raising analysis:

Russia: The Enemy

Allan Topol November 03, 2006

There was a glorious time when the Berlin Wall came down and Russia seemed headed toward democracy. At long last, the Cold War was over. All things seemed possible.

Thanks first to Boris Yeltsin and now Vladimir Putin, those happy days are in the distant past. So far back we can barely remember our optimism. Democracy is as dead in Russia as the hundreds of thousands who perished at Stalingrad and elsewhere in the Second World War. In its place has come a new autocracy that — minus the communist rhetoric — slams the doors of freedom shut all the same.

Those who dare to challenge Putin end up being arrested and put on trial if they’re lucky. If not, they are summarily executed and their killing is dressed up as a robbery attempt. This isn’t to say that there isn’t serious street crime in Russia — there is. This crime provides a useful cover for those whom the Putin regime wishes to execute.

Notions of a free press or free elections have vanished in the cold Siberian wind of last winter. One difference is that the Russian military has not been restored to anything like its previous power. Putin is a clever man. He doesn’t want to run the risk of having a powerful military which could wrest control of the Kremlin from him.

While the new autocracy is assuming control, Russia as a nation is ailing. It seems absolutely inconceivable that the life expectancy for men in Russia today is only 59 years. Life is so wonderful in post-Soviet Russia that deaths from alcohol are sweeping the country. Those who study population trends love to draw graphs with straight lines through data. Doing that with the Russian male population would lead to the conclusion that within fifty years there won’t be any men left in Russia.

It would be bad enough if the Putin were simply destroying Russian society and its population. However, the damage is not merely domestic. A new threat has emerged to the United States.

I wondered long ago why it was that the bad people are the ones who end up having all the oil and natural gas. Well, here we go again. The Russians have huge reservoirs of both oil and gas. With the high price of energy, petro dollars have been flowing into Russia like water over Niagara Falls.

Those petro dollars are being recycled into arms. In 2005 Russia surpassed the United States as the leader in weapons deals with the developing world. Russia’s weapons deals totaled seven billion dollars in 2005, surpassing the United States for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Even more troublesome, Russia sold $700,000 in surface-to-air missiles to Iran and eight new aerial refueling tankers to China, according to a new congressional study.

The arms sales to Iran deeply concern those in the Bush administration trying to negotiate with Tehran over its nuclear weapons. What they do is diminish the threat to Iran of an American military strike. Emboldened with their new arms, the ruling mullahs can take much more of a hard line with the Bush administration. Should we resort to a military strike against Iranian nuclear installations, we would risk substantial losses. Thanks a lot Mr. Putin.

The sales to China likewise have a serious impact for Pentagon planners. Taiwan is still an open issue that could flare into a military confrontation with Beijing at any time. The impact of the refueling tankers is to permit the Chinese attack planes and bombers to fly further from Chinese soil, thereby requiring the United States military to operate farther out to sea in dealing with a crisis in the Taiwan Strait.

Given this confrontational attitude in the Kremlin, it is unrealistic to think that Russia will be helpful in negotiations with North Korea or Iran. In fact, given the huge volume of business which the Russians are doing with Tehran, they will have every incentive to continue to curry favor with the Iranians by impeding the U.S. efforts to block Iran’s development of nuclear weapons. This makes resort to the United Nations a hopeless endeavor. Likewise, international pressure is doomed to fail. The Iranians can be confident that Russia will block any United States effort.

A new era has in fact dawned in American-Russian relations. This one promises to be no better than the Cold War.

Defining "russophobe" and "russophile"

Who makes an alcoholic happy?

(a) The enabler who tells him how wonderful he is, and gives him a drink, or
(b) The intervener who tells him how screwed up he is, and gives him the number for AA.

Who makes a Russian happy?

(a) The russophile who tells him how wonderful he is, and attacks his “enemies,” or
(b) The russophobe who tells him how screwed up he is, and gives him the number for USA.

The difference between a “russophobe” and a “russophile” is that while both “love” Russia, they define “love” differently: the “russophile” does everything he can to destroy the country, while the “russophobe” does everything he can to save it from destruction.

More on What’s Driving Russia to Bankruptcy

Always responsive to readers, La Russophobe is happy to respond to a question from avid reader “Ugly Racoons” regarding the significance for the idea of Russian poverty that “more than 3 million cars are currently registered in Moscow, 12 times more than just 15 years ago, and Konstantin Korolevsky, a senior Moscow city official, said this week that the number of cars on Moscow roads was growing by 102,000 every year.”

This is more proof, if any were needed, of the dire economic circumstances Russia faces.

Moscow is where all of Russia’s wealth is concentrated; its residents are by far better off than in any other area of Russia, because the Kremlin sucks the blood of the nation to make it so, as all Russian people know. Yet, in this center of concentrated wealth, there are only 3 million automobiles for 11.2 million people, and the local government is totally unable to manage infrastructure issues even for that relatively small number, leading to massive traffic jams on a 24 hour basis, as previously documented by La Russophobe (in the post from which the Ugly’s quote was drawn) even to the extent that a professional soccer team had to leave their cars and ride the subway in order to get to a match.

The United States as a nation has 0.481 automobiles per capita. France has 0.463. Germany has 0.511. Sweden has 0.436. Moscow, holding Russia’s greatest concentration of wealth, has just 0.268 — America as a nation has 60% more automobiles per person than Moscow as a city (Germany has nearly twice as many, even though it includes the impoverished former Soviet slave state of East Germany). America as a nation has roughly the same number of automobiles that Russia, as a nation, has people. The disparity that would result if you compared America’s areas of concentrated wealth to Moscow, or Russia as a country to America as a country, would be even more vast.

And if Moscow actually did match the West in this area, the results would be disastrous. Russia has simply not proved capable of creating the necessary infrastructure to support that many automobiles, so there would be gridlock and massive highway fatalities. As La Russophobe has previously reported, Russian highways are horrifically lethal even with the small number of cars Russia already has, nearly matching rivaling America in total highway fatalities even though America has twice Russia’s population and a vastly greater number of cars on the road.

It’s also worth mentioning, as La Russophobe has previously reported, that Russia is barbarically sexist when it comes to driving, denying the roadways to female drivers just as it oppresses them in every other walk of life (though they have, of course, an equal opportunity to be killed as passengers or pedestrians).

So, thanks to Ugly Racoons for pointing out yet another fact emphasizing the extremity of Russian poverty and the gross mismanagement of the post-Yeltsin government in addressing the problems presented by it. The Kremlin goes on building nuclear weapons, funding universal conscription into the army and providing military aid to rogue nations like Iran and Venezuela, but it doesn’t make Russia’s highways safe or create an economy where ordinary Russians can afford cars (in fact, there’s really no such thing as credit in Russia where ordinary people are concerned, Russia is simply too corrupt and poor to support it). Yet, the lemming-like Russian population goes on favoring the Kremlin with stratosopheric approval ratings for its pathetically bad work, and the cycle of failure is never broken.

More on What’s Driving Russia to Bankruptcy

Always responsive to readers, La Russophobe is happy to respond to a question from avid reader “Ugly Racoons” regarding the significance for the idea of Russian poverty that “more than 3 million cars are currently registered in Moscow, 12 times more than just 15 years ago, and Konstantin Korolevsky, a senior Moscow city official, said this week that the number of cars on Moscow roads was growing by 102,000 every year.”

This is more proof, if any were needed, of the dire economic circumstances Russia faces.

Moscow is where all of Russia’s wealth is concentrated; its residents are by far better off than in any other area of Russia, because the Kremlin sucks the blood of the nation to make it so, as all Russian people know. Yet, in this center of concentrated wealth, there are only 3 million automobiles for 11.2 million people, and the local government is totally unable to manage infrastructure issues even for that relatively small number, leading to massive traffic jams on a 24 hour basis, as previously documented by La Russophobe (in the post from which the Ugly’s quote was drawn) even to the extent that a professional soccer team had to leave their cars and ride the subway in order to get to a match.

The United States as a nation has 0.481 automobiles per capita. France has 0.463. Germany has 0.511. Sweden has 0.436. Moscow, holding Russia’s greatest concentration of wealth, has just 0.268 — America as a nation has 60% more automobiles per person than Moscow as a city (Germany has nearly twice as many, even though it includes the impoverished former Soviet slave state of East Germany). America as a nation has roughly the same number of automobiles that Russia, as a nation, has people. The disparity that would result if you compared America’s areas of concentrated wealth to Moscow, or Russia as a country to America as a country, would be even more vast.

And if Moscow actually did match the West in this area, the results would be disastrous. Russia has simply not proved capable of creating the necessary infrastructure to support that many automobiles, so there would be gridlock and massive highway fatalities. As La Russophobe has previously reported, Russian highways are horrifically lethal even with the small number of cars Russia already has, nearly matching rivaling America in total highway fatalities even though America has twice Russia’s population and a vastly greater number of cars on the road.

It’s also worth mentioning, as La Russophobe has previously reported, that Russia is barbarically sexist when it comes to driving, denying the roadways to female drivers just as it oppresses them in every other walk of life (though they have, of course, an equal opportunity to be killed as passengers or pedestrians).

So, thanks to Ugly Racoons for pointing out yet another fact emphasizing the extremity of Russian poverty and the gross mismanagement of the post-Yeltsin government in addressing the problems presented by it. The Kremlin goes on building nuclear weapons, funding universal conscription into the army and providing military aid to rogue nations like Iran and Venezuela, but it doesn’t make Russia’s highways safe or create an economy where ordinary Russians can afford cars (in fact, there’s really no such thing as credit in Russia where ordinary people are concerned, Russia is simply too corrupt and poor to support it). Yet, the lemming-like Russian population goes on favoring the Kremlin with stratosopheric approval ratings for its pathetically bad work, and the cycle of failure is never broken.

More on What’s Driving Russia to Bankruptcy

Always responsive to readers, La Russophobe is happy to respond to a question from avid reader “Ugly Racoons” regarding the significance for the idea of Russian poverty that “more than 3 million cars are currently registered in Moscow, 12 times more than just 15 years ago, and Konstantin Korolevsky, a senior Moscow city official, said this week that the number of cars on Moscow roads was growing by 102,000 every year.”

This is more proof, if any were needed, of the dire economic circumstances Russia faces.

Moscow is where all of Russia’s wealth is concentrated; its residents are by far better off than in any other area of Russia, because the Kremlin sucks the blood of the nation to make it so, as all Russian people know. Yet, in this center of concentrated wealth, there are only 3 million automobiles for 11.2 million people, and the local government is totally unable to manage infrastructure issues even for that relatively small number, leading to massive traffic jams on a 24 hour basis, as previously documented by La Russophobe (in the post from which the Ugly’s quote was drawn) even to the extent that a professional soccer team had to leave their cars and ride the subway in order to get to a match.

The United States as a nation has 0.481 automobiles per capita. France has 0.463. Germany has 0.511. Sweden has 0.436. Moscow, holding Russia’s greatest concentration of wealth, has just 0.268 — America as a nation has 60% more automobiles per person than Moscow as a city (Germany has nearly twice as many, even though it includes the impoverished former Soviet slave state of East Germany). America as a nation has roughly the same number of automobiles that Russia, as a nation, has people. The disparity that would result if you compared America’s areas of concentrated wealth to Moscow, or Russia as a country to America as a country, would be even more vast.

And if Moscow actually did match the West in this area, the results would be disastrous. Russia has simply not proved capable of creating the necessary infrastructure to support that many automobiles, so there would be gridlock and massive highway fatalities. As La Russophobe has previously reported, Russian highways are horrifically lethal even with the small number of cars Russia already has, nearly matching rivaling America in total highway fatalities even though America has twice Russia’s population and a vastly greater number of cars on the road.

It’s also worth mentioning, as La Russophobe has previously reported, that Russia is barbarically sexist when it comes to driving, denying the roadways to female drivers just as it oppresses them in every other walk of life (though they have, of course, an equal opportunity to be killed as passengers or pedestrians).

So, thanks to Ugly Racoons for pointing out yet another fact emphasizing the extremity of Russian poverty and the gross mismanagement of the post-Yeltsin government in addressing the problems presented by it. The Kremlin goes on building nuclear weapons, funding universal conscription into the army and providing military aid to rogue nations like Iran and Venezuela, but it doesn’t make Russia’s highways safe or create an economy where ordinary Russians can afford cars (in fact, there’s really no such thing as credit in Russia where ordinary people are concerned, Russia is simply too corrupt and poor to support it). Yet, the lemming-like Russian population goes on favoring the Kremlin with stratosopheric approval ratings for its pathetically bad work, and the cycle of failure is never broken.

More on What’s Driving Russia to Bankruptcy

Always responsive to readers, La Russophobe is happy to respond to a question from avid reader “Ugly Racoons” regarding the significance for the idea of Russian poverty that “more than 3 million cars are currently registered in Moscow, 12 times more than just 15 years ago, and Konstantin Korolevsky, a senior Moscow city official, said this week that the number of cars on Moscow roads was growing by 102,000 every year.”

This is more proof, if any were needed, of the dire economic circumstances Russia faces.

Moscow is where all of Russia’s wealth is concentrated; its residents are by far better off than in any other area of Russia, because the Kremlin sucks the blood of the nation to make it so, as all Russian people know. Yet, in this center of concentrated wealth, there are only 3 million automobiles for 11.2 million people, and the local government is totally unable to manage infrastructure issues even for that relatively small number, leading to massive traffic jams on a 24 hour basis, as previously documented by La Russophobe (in the post from which the Ugly’s quote was drawn) even to the extent that a professional soccer team had to leave their cars and ride the subway in order to get to a match.

The United States as a nation has 0.481 automobiles per capita. France has 0.463. Germany has 0.511. Sweden has 0.436. Moscow, holding Russia’s greatest concentration of wealth, has just 0.268 — America as a nation has 60% more automobiles per person than Moscow as a city (Germany has nearly twice as many, even though it includes the impoverished former Soviet slave state of East Germany). America as a nation has roughly the same number of automobiles that Russia, as a nation, has people. The disparity that would result if you compared America’s areas of concentrated wealth to Moscow, or Russia as a country to America as a country, would be even more vast.

And if Moscow actually did match the West in this area, the results would be disastrous. Russia has simply not proved capable of creating the necessary infrastructure to support that many automobiles, so there would be gridlock and massive highway fatalities. As La Russophobe has previously reported, Russian highways are horrifically lethal even with the small number of cars Russia already has, nearly matching rivaling America in total highway fatalities even though America has twice Russia’s population and a vastly greater number of cars on the road.

It’s also worth mentioning, as La Russophobe has previously reported, that Russia is barbarically sexist when it comes to driving, denying the roadways to female drivers just as it oppresses them in every other walk of life (though they have, of course, an equal opportunity to be killed as passengers or pedestrians).

So, thanks to Ugly Racoons for pointing out yet another fact emphasizing the extremity of Russian poverty and the gross mismanagement of the post-Yeltsin government in addressing the problems presented by it. The Kremlin goes on building nuclear weapons, funding universal conscription into the army and providing military aid to rogue nations like Iran and Venezuela, but it doesn’t make Russia’s highways safe or create an economy where ordinary Russians can afford cars (in fact, there’s really no such thing as credit in Russia where ordinary people are concerned, Russia is simply too corrupt and poor to support it). Yet, the lemming-like Russian population goes on favoring the Kremlin with stratosopheric approval ratings for its pathetically bad work, and the cycle of failure is never broken.

More on What’s Driving Russia to Bankruptcy

Always responsive to readers, La Russophobe is happy to respond to a question from avid reader “Ugly Racoons” regarding the significance for the idea of Russian poverty that “more than 3 million cars are currently registered in Moscow, 12 times more than just 15 years ago, and Konstantin Korolevsky, a senior Moscow city official, said this week that the number of cars on Moscow roads was growing by 102,000 every year.”

This is more proof, if any were needed, of the dire economic circumstances Russia faces.

Moscow is where all of Russia’s wealth is concentrated; its residents are by far better off than in any other area of Russia, because the Kremlin sucks the blood of the nation to make it so, as all Russian people know. Yet, in this center of concentrated wealth, there are only 3 million automobiles for 11.2 million people, and the local government is totally unable to manage infrastructure issues even for that relatively small number, leading to massive traffic jams on a 24 hour basis, as previously documented by La Russophobe (in the post from which the Ugly’s quote was drawn) even to the extent that a professional soccer team had to leave their cars and ride the subway in order to get to a match.

The United States as a nation has 0.481 automobiles per capita. France has 0.463. Germany has 0.511. Sweden has 0.436. Moscow, holding Russia’s greatest concentration of wealth, has just 0.268 — America as a nation has 60% more automobiles per person than Moscow as a city (Germany has nearly twice as many, even though it includes the impoverished former Soviet slave state of East Germany). America as a nation has roughly the same number of automobiles that Russia, as a nation, has people. The disparity that would result if you compared America’s areas of concentrated wealth to Moscow, or Russia as a country to America as a country, would be even more vast.

And if Moscow actually did match the West in this area, the results would be disastrous. Russia has simply not proved capable of creating the necessary infrastructure to support that many automobiles, so there would be gridlock and massive highway fatalities. As La Russophobe has previously reported, Russian highways are horrifically lethal even with the small number of cars Russia already has, nearly matching rivaling America in total highway fatalities even though America has twice Russia’s population and a vastly greater number of cars on the road.

It’s also worth mentioning, as La Russophobe has previously reported, that Russia is barbarically sexist when it comes to driving, denying the roadways to female drivers just as it oppresses them in every other walk of life (though they have, of course, an equal opportunity to be killed as passengers or pedestrians).

So, thanks to Ugly Racoons for pointing out yet another fact emphasizing the extremity of Russian poverty and the gross mismanagement of the post-Yeltsin government in addressing the problems presented by it. The Kremlin goes on building nuclear weapons, funding universal conscription into the army and providing military aid to rogue nations like Iran and Venezuela, but it doesn’t make Russia’s highways safe or create an economy where ordinary Russians can afford cars (in fact, there’s really no such thing as credit in Russia where ordinary people are concerned, Russia is simply too corrupt and poor to support it). Yet, the lemming-like Russian population goes on favoring the Kremlin with stratosopheric approval ratings for its pathetically bad work, and the cycle of failure is never broken.

The Only Thing that "Unifies" Russians is Abject Failure

The BBC reports that yesterday Russians celebrated “Unity Day.” The Beeb explains: “The Day of People’s Unity was created last year after the parliament scrapped the 7 November public holiday marking the 1917 Bolshevik uprising. The new 4 November holiday marks the end of Polish occupation in 1612. Moscow’s liberation from Polish invaders was achieved in 1612 by a volunteer army raised by a prince and a merchant from the city of Nizhny Novgorod.” According to the Beeb, not only do “polls show only 8% could name the new holiday, while more than 60% opposed dropping Revolution Day” but the new holiday was seized upon last year by racist fanatics to launch public demonstrations against foreigners in Russia.

The BBC further reports that this year, an a classic manifestation of utter, fundamental failure, Moscow ‘s mayor banned all public demonstrations on Unity Day by the fascist groups (the classic, neo-Soviet way of achieving “unity” — and when that doesn’t work, you just shoot them) , and they marched anyway! And not only that but, led by crazed ultranationlist Alexander Belov, they drew four times as many people as supported the anti-fascist counterprotest led by liberal champion Svetlana Gannushkina.

The equally classically idiotic Russian blogger Russian Dilettante ignores all this, and castigates the Beeb for mischaracterizing the Russian holiday. He writes:

I was referring to this in the previous entry. Now, an aside. The BBC reports that “the new holiday [Nov. 4] marks the end of Polish occupation in 1612.” I suppose some Russians think so along with the BBC. Yet “the end of Polish occupation” is too vague and inclusive to be acceptable.What ended on or about that day in 1612 was the occupation of Moscow (though not its Kremlin, yet) by a joint force of Polish irregulars and unruly Russian Cossacks. The force that recaptured Moscow was the so-called Second Militia led by prince Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin, a merchant from Nizhny Novgorod, together with Cossacks commanded by prince Trubetskoy. The Second Militia was not a regular army, non-existent in pre-Petrine Russia: it had been formed and financed by Russians desperately hoping to end the civil war and foreign invasion known as the Time of Troubles (1607-1613). Kuzma Minin had led the fundraising drive, donating all his possessions to the militia. That grassroot movement aimed to restore order and peace to Russian lands above all. A military victory over Poland and Sweden would only possible after that. (Indeed, the regular Polish army captured Smolensk in 1612 and held to it until 1654.) As the Moscow throne was vacant, the Russian mind put installing a legitimate tsar on the top of its priority list, and indeed, a new tsar (Mikhail, the first of the Romanovs) was elected in 1613.

Often, Russian incompetence, particularly when fueled by anything having to do with nationalism, is so extreme that its almost impossible to decide whether it is mere incompetence or actual malevolence and propaganda. The link given by RD is to the second BBC story mentioned above, not the first. Not only does the first include the November 4 date which RD puts in brackets and thus implies was omitted, but it also includes an explanation of the holiday as the result of volunteer action, which RD claims it omitted out of apparent igorance.

But that’s only the beginning. The prior post to which RD was referring is a one-sentence wonder in which he states cryptically: “Let us pray that no blood be spilt tomorrow in and under the streets of Moscow.” He then apparently realized that nobody had the slightest idea what he was talking about (including Russians, 92% of whom have no idea what the holiday is for), resulting in the post quoted above. So although he’s praying for the absence of blood one minute, the next he’s fueling the nationalism issue by ignoring the total lack of support for the anti-fascists reported by the BBC and focussing on some anal-retentive concept of Russian history that he needs to lecture us about, and ending up praising the celebration of something that happened 400 years ago and nobody cares about. Meanwhile, there is no national holiday for the victims of Soviet repression.

And so it goes in Russia.