Daily Archives: April 23, 2007

EDITORIAL: The Thug Who Rules Russia’s Parliament

EDITORIAL

The Thug Who Rules Russia’s “Parliament”

Last week, we reported on the fact that Boris Gryzlov, speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament (the Duma), had used the Virginia Tech killings to bash the United States in the manner of a classic Russian nationalist thug. Gryzlov’s exact words were: “The situation where a country dictates rules of behavior to other countries, but cannot keep its own people in order, does raise questions.”

Now, let’s leave aside the question of whether it’s wise for Russia to adopt such a provocative stance towards the world’s only superpower at any time, inciting a new cold war just like the one that destroyed the USSR, much less at a time of great national tragedy for America and while Russia remains mired in horrific poverty with a plunging population and no allies. After all, it could be argued, if Russia wants to commit suicide, surely that’s Russia’s own business.

But do you dare to imagine how Russians would react if, in the wake of the Beslan or Dubrovka mass killings (or Chikatilo for that matter), the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (Gryzlov’s counterpart in the U.S.) — or, say Yulia Tymoshenko — were to have proclaimed: “The situation where a country dictates rules of behavior to other countries [Ukraine, Georgia, Chechnya, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland — and the United States concerning Iraq for instance], but cannot keep its own people in order, does raise questions”? Seriously, do you dare? Those foreigners from the speaker’s country wouldn’t be safe on Russia’s streets after that (not that they are now).

Having said that, let’s leave aside even Gryzlov’s revolting, moronic hypocrisy. Let’s discuss this: The man hasn’t got the slightest clue what he’s talking about.


First of all, unlike Russia, the vast majority of America’s universities are private or controlled by local government. The U.S. government, unlike the Kremlin, controls none of them. U.S. policy has absolutely nothing to do with how universities are run in the United States. I
t can hardly be blamed for failing to exercise a power it doesn’t actually have, and the reason it doesn’t have that power is clear: To avoid the kind of dicatorship that is now destroying Russia.

Second, even if the U.S. government did run universities, the ability of Americans to have guns like the ones used in the Virgina Tech killings is guaranteed by the Constitution. Even if the U.S. government wanted to somehow “keep its own people in order” (in Gryzlov’s eerily Stalinesque turn of a phrase), it has no power to do so. Again, the U.S. government can hardly be blamed for failing to exercise a power it doesn’t actually have.

Third, while it’s certainly true that Americans have to live with fear of their fellow citizens, Russians do too. In fact, as we’ve previously documented, Russia’s murder rate is five times higher than America’s. American people are far more “in order” than Russians even with events like Virginia Tech in the mix. Gryzlov simply chooses to ignore that fact, just like he ignores Beslan and Dubrovka (to say nothing of Chikatilo).

America makes an intentional tradeoff in accepting huge personal freedom. It has decided, in a plebiscite, that it’s better for citizens to live in fear of each other than of their own government. Ther
efore, it’s enacted federalism, dividing power among states, and the right of citizens to own guns. In Russia, the opposite is supposed to be true. Russians are supposed to exchange safe streets, achieved through rigorous control over individuals, for the risk of being abused by their own government’s awesome, potentially arbitrary centralized power. Americans, unlike Russians, feel they’d rather take their chances with other individuals of equal power than with a huge government apparatus that has monopolized the use of force. Russians, for some reason, prefer to be oppressed by the Kremlin rather than their neighbors. But as is often the case in Russia, plans don’t match results. Ironically, Russians actually get the worst of both worlds, government abuse and raging crime. But even if Russian streets were safer than American streets, the Russian government’s abuse of power has killed far more Russians than individual Americans’ abusing their liberty via gun violence. In fact, the numbers aren’t even remotely comparable — and the guns in American citizens’ pockets never harm other countries, the way the Kremlin’s minions have done.

In short, this is why Russia is a failed society, with a declining population and an average wage of $2.50 per hour: Because it’s ruled over by crude thugs like Boris Gryzlov, who utterly fail to grasp basic facts and govern the country from within the constraints of a hallucination.

Who is Boris Gryzlov? He graduated from college in 1973, at the height of the Brezhenev era of Soviet communism. Wikipedia states: “He supported controversial Kremlin policies in Chechnya and won a reputation of trusted and loyal supporter of the Russian president.” In other words, he’s a Kremlin sycophant, not a check on executive power like Nancy Pelosi (or even Dennis Hastert) in the United States. By “controversial policies” is meant massive human rights violations for which Russia has been repeatedly convicted in the European Court of Human Rights. In 2005, Gryzlov famously uttered: “Parliament isn’t a place for political discussions.” Now, he rules that parliament, and he drives another nail into the coffin that represents Russia’s future.

And don’t forget the big picture: This man is a Putin sycophant (that’s the two of them, pictured above). He channels the Kremlin when he speaks. So, for all intents and purposes, it wasn’t actually Gryzlov who used the Virginia Tech killings to attack and provoke America.

It was Vladimir Putin.

EDITORIAL: The Thug Who Rules Russia’s Parliament

EDITORIAL

The Thug Who Rules Russia’s “Parliament”

Last week, we reported on the fact that Boris Gryzlov, speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament (the Duma), had used the Virginia Tech killings to bash the United States in the manner of a classic Russian nationalist thug. Gryzlov’s exact words were: “The situation where a country dictates rules of behavior to other countries, but cannot keep its own people in order, does raise questions.”

Now, let’s leave aside the question of whether it’s wise for Russia to adopt such a provocative stance towards the world’s only superpower at any time, inciting a new cold war just like the one that destroyed the USSR, much less at a time of great national tragedy for America and while Russia remains mired in horrific poverty with a plunging population and no allies. After all, it could be argued, if Russia wants to commit suicide, surely that’s Russia’s own business.

But do you dare to imagine how Russians would react if, in the wake of the Beslan or Dubrovka mass killings (or Chikatilo for that matter), the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (Gryzlov’s counterpart in the U.S.) — or, say Yulia Tymoshenko — were to have proclaimed: “The situation where a country dictates rules of behavior to other countries [Ukraine, Georgia, Chechnya, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland — and the United States concerning Iraq for instance], but cannot keep its own people in order, does raise questions”? Seriously, do you dare? Those foreigners from the speaker’s country wouldn’t be safe on Russia’s streets after that (not that they are now).

Having said that, let’s leave aside even Gryzlov’s revolting, moronic hypocrisy. Let’s discuss this: The man hasn’t got the slightest clue what he’s talking about.


First of all, unlike Russia, the vast majority of America’s universities are private or controlled by local government. The U.S. government, unlike the Kremlin, controls none of them. U.S. policy has absolutely nothing to do with how universities are run in the United States. I
t can hardly be blamed for failing to exercise a power it doesn’t actually have, and the reason it doesn’t have that power is clear: To avoid the kind of dicatorship that is now destroying Russia.

Second, even if the U.S. government did run universities, the ability of Americans to have guns like the ones used in the Virgina Tech killings is guaranteed by the Constitution. Even if the U.S. government wanted to somehow “keep its own people in order” (in Gryzlov’s eerily Stalinesque turn of a phrase), it has no power to do so. Again, the U.S. government can hardly be blamed for failing to exercise a power it doesn’t actually have.

Third, while it’s certainly true that Americans have to live with fear of their fellow citizens, Russians do too. In fact, as we’ve previously documented, Russia’s murder rate is five times higher than America’s. American people are far more “in order” than Russians even with events like Virginia Tech in the mix. Gryzlov simply chooses to ignore that fact, just like he ignores Beslan and Dubrovka (to say nothing of Chikatilo).

America makes an intentional tradeoff in accepting huge personal freedom. It has decided, in a plebiscite, that it’s better for citizens to live in fear of each other than of their own government. Ther
efore, it’s enacted federalism, dividing power among states, and the right of citizens to own guns. In Russia, the opposite is supposed to be true. Russians are supposed to exchange safe streets, achieved through rigorous control over individuals, for the risk of being abused by their own government’s awesome, potentially arbitrary centralized power. Americans, unlike Russians, feel they’d rather take their chances with other individuals of equal power than with a huge government apparatus that has monopolized the use of force. Russians, for some reason, prefer to be oppressed by the Kremlin rather than their neighbors. But as is often the case in Russia, plans don’t match results. Ironically, Russians actually get the worst of both worlds, government abuse and raging crime. But even if Russian streets were safer than American streets, the Russian government’s abuse of power has killed far more Russians than individual Americans’ abusing their liberty via gun violence. In fact, the numbers aren’t even remotely comparable — and the guns in American citizens’ pockets never harm other countries, the way the Kremlin’s minions have done.

In short, this is why Russia is a failed society, with a declining population and an average wage of $2.50 per hour: Because it’s ruled over by crude thugs like Boris Gryzlov, who utterly fail to grasp basic facts and govern the country from within the constraints of a hallucination.

Who is Boris Gryzlov? He graduated from college in 1973, at the height of the Brezhenev era of Soviet communism. Wikipedia states: “He supported controversial Kremlin policies in Chechnya and won a reputation of trusted and loyal supporter of the Russian president.” In other words, he’s a Kremlin sycophant, not a check on executive power like Nancy Pelosi (or even Dennis Hastert) in the United States. By “controversial policies” is meant massive human rights violations for which Russia has been repeatedly convicted in the European Court of Human Rights. In 2005, Gryzlov famously uttered: “Parliament isn’t a place for political discussions.” Now, he rules that parliament, and he drives another nail into the coffin that represents Russia’s future.

And don’t forget the big picture: This man is a Putin sycophant (that’s the two of them, pictured above). He channels the Kremlin when he speaks. So, for all intents and purposes, it wasn’t actually Gryzlov who used the Virginia Tech killings to attack and provoke America.

It was Vladimir Putin.

EDITORIAL: The Thug Who Rules Russia’s Parliament

EDITORIAL

The Thug Who Rules Russia’s “Parliament”

Last week, we reported on the fact that Boris Gryzlov, speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament (the Duma), had used the Virginia Tech killings to bash the United States in the manner of a classic Russian nationalist thug. Gryzlov’s exact words were: “The situation where a country dictates rules of behavior to other countries, but cannot keep its own people in order, does raise questions.”

Now, let’s leave aside the question of whether it’s wise for Russia to adopt such a provocative stance towards the world’s only superpower at any time, inciting a new cold war just like the one that destroyed the USSR, much less at a time of great national tragedy for America and while Russia remains mired in horrific poverty with a plunging population and no allies. After all, it could be argued, if Russia wants to commit suicide, surely that’s Russia’s own business.

But do you dare to imagine how Russians would react if, in the wake of the Beslan or Dubrovka mass killings (or Chikatilo for that matter), the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (Gryzlov’s counterpart in the U.S.) — or, say Yulia Tymoshenko — were to have proclaimed: “The situation where a country dictates rules of behavior to other countries [Ukraine, Georgia, Chechnya, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland — and the United States concerning Iraq for instance], but cannot keep its own people in order, does raise questions”? Seriously, do you dare? Those foreigners from the speaker’s country wouldn’t be safe on Russia’s streets after that (not that they are now).

Having said that, let’s leave aside even Gryzlov’s revolting, moronic hypocrisy. Let’s discuss this: The man hasn’t got the slightest clue what he’s talking about.


First of all, unlike Russia, the vast majority of America’s universities are private or controlled by local government. The U.S. government, unlike the Kremlin, controls none of them. U.S. policy has absolutely nothing to do with how universities are run in the United States. I
t can hardly be blamed for failing to exercise a power it doesn’t actually have, and the reason it doesn’t have that power is clear: To avoid the kind of dicatorship that is now destroying Russia.

Second, even if the U.S. government did run universities, the ability of Americans to have guns like the ones used in the Virgina Tech killings is guaranteed by the Constitution. Even if the U.S. government wanted to somehow “keep its own people in order” (in Gryzlov’s eerily Stalinesque turn of a phrase), it has no power to do so. Again, the U.S. government can hardly be blamed for failing to exercise a power it doesn’t actually have.

Third, while it’s certainly true that Americans have to live with fear of their fellow citizens, Russians do too. In fact, as we’ve previously documented, Russia’s murder rate is five times higher than America’s. American people are far more “in order” than Russians even with events like Virginia Tech in the mix. Gryzlov simply chooses to ignore that fact, just like he ignores Beslan and Dubrovka (to say nothing of Chikatilo).

America makes an intentional tradeoff in accepting huge personal freedom. It has decided, in a plebiscite, that it’s better for citizens to live in fear of each other than of their own government. Ther
efore, it’s enacted federalism, dividing power among states, and the right of citizens to own guns. In Russia, the opposite is supposed to be true. Russians are supposed to exchange safe streets, achieved through rigorous control over individuals, for the risk of being abused by their own government’s awesome, potentially arbitrary centralized power. Americans, unlike Russians, feel they’d rather take their chances with other individuals of equal power than with a huge government apparatus that has monopolized the use of force. Russians, for some reason, prefer to be oppressed by the Kremlin rather than their neighbors. But as is often the case in Russia, plans don’t match results. Ironically, Russians actually get the worst of both worlds, government abuse and raging crime. But even if Russian streets were safer than American streets, the Russian government’s abuse of power has killed far more Russians than individual Americans’ abusing their liberty via gun violence. In fact, the numbers aren’t even remotely comparable — and the guns in American citizens’ pockets never harm other countries, the way the Kremlin’s minions have done.

In short, this is why Russia is a failed society, with a declining population and an average wage of $2.50 per hour: Because it’s ruled over by crude thugs like Boris Gryzlov, who utterly fail to grasp basic facts and govern the country from within the constraints of a hallucination.

Who is Boris Gryzlov? He graduated from college in 1973, at the height of the Brezhenev era of Soviet communism. Wikipedia states: “He supported controversial Kremlin policies in Chechnya and won a reputation of trusted and loyal supporter of the Russian president.” In other words, he’s a Kremlin sycophant, not a check on executive power like Nancy Pelosi (or even Dennis Hastert) in the United States. By “controversial policies” is meant massive human rights violations for which Russia has been repeatedly convicted in the European Court of Human Rights. In 2005, Gryzlov famously uttered: “Parliament isn’t a place for political discussions.” Now, he rules that parliament, and he drives another nail into the coffin that represents Russia’s future.

And don’t forget the big picture: This man is a Putin sycophant (that’s the two of them, pictured above). He channels the Kremlin when he speaks. So, for all intents and purposes, it wasn’t actually Gryzlov who used the Virginia Tech killings to attack and provoke America.

It was Vladimir Putin.

EDITORIAL: The Thug Who Rules Russia’s Parliament

EDITORIAL

The Thug Who Rules Russia’s “Parliament”

Last week, we reported on the fact that Boris Gryzlov, speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament (the Duma), had used the Virginia Tech killings to bash the United States in the manner of a classic Russian nationalist thug. Gryzlov’s exact words were: “The situation where a country dictates rules of behavior to other countries, but cannot keep its own people in order, does raise questions.”

Now, let’s leave aside the question of whether it’s wise for Russia to adopt such a provocative stance towards the world’s only superpower at any time, inciting a new cold war just like the one that destroyed the USSR, much less at a time of great national tragedy for America and while Russia remains mired in horrific poverty with a plunging population and no allies. After all, it could be argued, if Russia wants to commit suicide, surely that’s Russia’s own business.

But do you dare to imagine how Russians would react if, in the wake of the Beslan or Dubrovka mass killings (or Chikatilo for that matter), the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (Gryzlov’s counterpart in the U.S.) — or, say Yulia Tymoshenko — were to have proclaimed: “The situation where a country dictates rules of behavior to other countries [Ukraine, Georgia, Chechnya, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland — and the United States concerning Iraq for instance], but cannot keep its own people in order, does raise questions”? Seriously, do you dare? Those foreigners from the speaker’s country wouldn’t be safe on Russia’s streets after that (not that they are now).

Having said that, let’s leave aside even Gryzlov’s revolting, moronic hypocrisy. Let’s discuss this: The man hasn’t got the slightest clue what he’s talking about.


First of all, unlike Russia, the vast majority of America’s universities are private or controlled by local government. The U.S. government, unlike the Kremlin, controls none of them. U.S. policy has absolutely nothing to do with how universities are run in the United States. I
t can hardly be blamed for failing to exercise a power it doesn’t actually have, and the reason it doesn’t have that power is clear: To avoid the kind of dicatorship that is now destroying Russia.

Second, even if the U.S. government did run universities, the ability of Americans to have guns like the ones used in the Virgina Tech killings is guaranteed by the Constitution. Even if the U.S. government wanted to somehow “keep its own people in order” (in Gryzlov’s eerily Stalinesque turn of a phrase), it has no power to do so. Again, the U.S. government can hardly be blamed for failing to exercise a power it doesn’t actually have.

Third, while it’s certainly true that Americans have to live with fear of their fellow citizens, Russians do too. In fact, as we’ve previously documented, Russia’s murder rate is five times higher than America’s. American people are far more “in order” than Russians even with events like Virginia Tech in the mix. Gryzlov simply chooses to ignore that fact, just like he ignores Beslan and Dubrovka (to say nothing of Chikatilo).

America makes an intentional tradeoff in accepting huge personal freedom. It has decided, in a plebiscite, that it’s better for citizens to live in fear of each other than of their own government. Ther
efore, it’s enacted federalism, dividing power among states, and the right of citizens to own guns. In Russia, the opposite is supposed to be true. Russians are supposed to exchange safe streets, achieved through rigorous control over individuals, for the risk of being abused by their own government’s awesome, potentially arbitrary centralized power. Americans, unlike Russians, feel they’d rather take their chances with other individuals of equal power than with a huge government apparatus that has monopolized the use of force. Russians, for some reason, prefer to be oppressed by the Kremlin rather than their neighbors. But as is often the case in Russia, plans don’t match results. Ironically, Russians actually get the worst of both worlds, government abuse and raging crime. But even if Russian streets were safer than American streets, the Russian government’s abuse of power has killed far more Russians than individual Americans’ abusing their liberty via gun violence. In fact, the numbers aren’t even remotely comparable — and the guns in American citizens’ pockets never harm other countries, the way the Kremlin’s minions have done.

In short, this is why Russia is a failed society, with a declining population and an average wage of $2.50 per hour: Because it’s ruled over by crude thugs like Boris Gryzlov, who utterly fail to grasp basic facts and govern the country from within the constraints of a hallucination.

Who is Boris Gryzlov? He graduated from college in 1973, at the height of the Brezhenev era of Soviet communism. Wikipedia states: “He supported controversial Kremlin policies in Chechnya and won a reputation of trusted and loyal supporter of the Russian president.” In other words, he’s a Kremlin sycophant, not a check on executive power like Nancy Pelosi (or even Dennis Hastert) in the United States. By “controversial policies” is meant massive human rights violations for which Russia has been repeatedly convicted in the European Court of Human Rights. In 2005, Gryzlov famously uttered: “Parliament isn’t a place for political discussions.” Now, he rules that parliament, and he drives another nail into the coffin that represents Russia’s future.

And don’t forget the big picture: This man is a Putin sycophant (that’s the two of them, pictured above). He channels the Kremlin when he speaks. So, for all intents and purposes, it wasn’t actually Gryzlov who used the Virginia Tech killings to attack and provoke America.

It was Vladimir Putin.

EDITORIAL: The Thug Who Rules Russia’s Parliament

EDITORIAL

The Thug Who Rules Russia’s “Parliament”

Last week, we reported on the fact that Boris Gryzlov, speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament (the Duma), had used the Virginia Tech killings to bash the United States in the manner of a classic Russian nationalist thug. Gryzlov’s exact words were: “The situation where a country dictates rules of behavior to other countries, but cannot keep its own people in order, does raise questions.”

Now, let’s leave aside the question of whether it’s wise for Russia to adopt such a provocative stance towards the world’s only superpower at any time, inciting a new cold war just like the one that destroyed the USSR, much less at a time of great national tragedy for America and while Russia remains mired in horrific poverty with a plunging population and no allies. After all, it could be argued, if Russia wants to commit suicide, surely that’s Russia’s own business.

But do you dare to imagine how Russians would react if, in the wake of the Beslan or Dubrovka mass killings (or Chikatilo for that matter), the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (Gryzlov’s counterpart in the U.S.) — or, say Yulia Tymoshenko — were to have proclaimed: “The situation where a country dictates rules of behavior to other countries [Ukraine, Georgia, Chechnya, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland — and the United States concerning Iraq for instance], but cannot keep its own people in order, does raise questions”? Seriously, do you dare? Those foreigners from the speaker’s country wouldn’t be safe on Russia’s streets after that (not that they are now).

Having said that, let’s leave aside even Gryzlov’s revolting, moronic hypocrisy. Let’s discuss this: The man hasn’t got the slightest clue what he’s talking about.


First of all, unlike Russia, the vast majority of America’s universities are private or controlled by local government. The U.S. government, unlike the Kremlin, controls none of them. U.S. policy has absolutely nothing to do with how universities are run in the United States. I
t can hardly be blamed for failing to exercise a power it doesn’t actually have, and the reason it doesn’t have that power is clear: To avoid the kind of dicatorship that is now destroying Russia.

Second, even if the U.S. government did run universities, the ability of Americans to have guns like the ones used in the Virgina Tech killings is guaranteed by the Constitution. Even if the U.S. government wanted to somehow “keep its own people in order” (in Gryzlov’s eerily Stalinesque turn of a phrase), it has no power to do so. Again, the U.S. government can hardly be blamed for failing to exercise a power it doesn’t actually have.

Third, while it’s certainly true that Americans have to live with fear of their fellow citizens, Russians do too. In fact, as we’ve previously documented, Russia’s murder rate is five times higher than America’s. American people are far more “in order” than Russians even with events like Virginia Tech in the mix. Gryzlov simply chooses to ignore that fact, just like he ignores Beslan and Dubrovka (to say nothing of Chikatilo).

America makes an intentional tradeoff in accepting huge personal freedom. It has decided, in a plebiscite, that it’s better for citizens to live in fear of each other than of their own government. Ther
efore, it’s enacted federalism, dividing power among states, and the right of citizens to own guns. In Russia, the opposite is supposed to be true. Russians are supposed to exchange safe streets, achieved through rigorous control over individuals, for the risk of being abused by their own government’s awesome, potentially arbitrary centralized power. Americans, unlike Russians, feel they’d rather take their chances with other individuals of equal power than with a huge government apparatus that has monopolized the use of force. Russians, for some reason, prefer to be oppressed by the Kremlin rather than their neighbors. But as is often the case in Russia, plans don’t match results. Ironically, Russians actually get the worst of both worlds, government abuse and raging crime. But even if Russian streets were safer than American streets, the Russian government’s abuse of power has killed far more Russians than individual Americans’ abusing their liberty via gun violence. In fact, the numbers aren’t even remotely comparable — and the guns in American citizens’ pockets never harm other countries, the way the Kremlin’s minions have done.

In short, this is why Russia is a failed society, with a declining population and an average wage of $2.50 per hour: Because it’s ruled over by crude thugs like Boris Gryzlov, who utterly fail to grasp basic facts and govern the country from within the constraints of a hallucination.

Who is Boris Gryzlov? He graduated from college in 1973, at the height of the Brezhenev era of Soviet communism. Wikipedia states: “He supported controversial Kremlin policies in Chechnya and won a reputation of trusted and loyal supporter of the Russian president.” In other words, he’s a Kremlin sycophant, not a check on executive power like Nancy Pelosi (or even Dennis Hastert) in the United States. By “controversial policies” is meant massive human rights violations for which Russia has been repeatedly convicted in the European Court of Human Rights. In 2005, Gryzlov famously uttered: “Parliament isn’t a place for political discussions.” Now, he rules that parliament, and he drives another nail into the coffin that represents Russia’s future.

And don’t forget the big picture: This man is a Putin sycophant (that’s the two of them, pictured above). He channels the Kremlin when he speaks. So, for all intents and purposes, it wasn’t actually Gryzlov who used the Virginia Tech killings to attack and provoke America.

It was Vladimir Putin.

Another Original LR Translation: Vladimir "Michael Moore" Putin

Translator Vova Khavkin offers a second column from Gazeta.ru’s Natalia Gevorkan:

Hey, Cop, Get busy—Go and Catch Robbers

Natalia Gevorkan

Gazeta.ru

April 19, 2007

The Michael Moore-style next documentary about Russian President Putin is being spliced literally in front of our eyes. The past weekend will become one of its most vivid, ridiculous, and obscene scenes. Kremlin’s PR hacks should get circumcised—you know where to cut—simply for the scheduling conflict of their boss’ itinerary with that of the OMON [TN: the Kremlin’s stormtroopers]. And also for the obvious disconnect between the event marked as the key on the president’s 14 April schedule on his Website—the “no-rules fight” in the company of Messrs Putin, Berlusconi, and Van Damme—and the reality in the country which [Mr.] Putin still presides over—a show of force, worthy of better application, against the peaceful public in the streets of Moscow and Piter. In one episode of the “March” [of the Dissenters] in Moscow posted on the Web an old man, a veteran, is speaking with a stormtrooper who is trying to push him back or pull him to the side: “What are you doing? Whom are you raising your hand against, boy? Get busy, go and catch robbers.” It couldn’t be better said.

You can do it yourself easily, and it doesn’t require Michael Moore’s skills—to splice end-to-end the pictures of happy [Mr.] Putin enjoying the show in the rink, and the stormtroopers beating people over the head with sticks. You can do what in a professional sense should be done for you by the TV people, unless of course they farted away their professionalism under the watchful guidance from the Kremlin. You can see for yourself on the Web all that was taking place at the same time that the president was having an adrenalin rush in the company of a less-than-honorable prime minister and a B-movie actor. And you will understand what it means to have superior force and still lose. On April 14 of this year Putin actually lost the country at the exact moment what he was under the impression that he just defeated America.

[Mr.] Putin said “screw it” to what was happening behind the walls, the generals said “screw” everything and everybody. The Western [TV] channels showed the violence in the streets of Moscow and Piter. Not everybody, thank God, had his head smashed like the Japanese reporter. This footage was shocking. It would have been shocking even had the captions at the bottom of the screen said “Minsk” rather than Moscow” or “Piter.” But this was video footage from Moscow and Piter, not from a rogue country but from the main cities of a G8 member-country. The question of why they were doing this, about the relatively disproportionate response of the law enforcement bodies, is what all my foreign colleagues asked when they called me: “Why are they letting foreign reporters record all this lawlessness, what do you think?”

Because I think they don’t give a damn, because they are tired of the fear of “orange revolutions” and they decided to show that nothing of the kind was even possible in their sovereign democracy. Because the West must finally realize that the people who occupy the seat of power today will stop for nothing in the name of maintaining their positions, whether you like it or not. Because the West must see with its own eyes that Russia is no Ukraine or Georgia, not to mention Kyrgyzstan. Because this is the last historical opportunity for the G-men who got the country all to themselves by default through fool’s luck, and they know for sure that they won’t be given another chance ever again. The KGB will end the day this government ends—it will go out with a bang, not a whimper, and therein is the problem. And lest there be any doubt—they do have what to defend. You can put a price tag on this power in dollars with relative accuracy. They will never surrender anything to any one. And the stormtroopers’ disproportionate zeal is a preview of the future, plain and simple, something that both the dissenters inside the country and democracy’s advocates in the West must keep in mind. There will be no repeat of 1991, when these guys were shaking in their boots behind the [KGB HQ] Lubyanka walls, having been given an order to fire for effect should any one try to storm the building, and watched full of anxiety, fear and loathing how the kids, young as they are today, were pulling down the Iron Felix TN: Felix Dzerzhinskiy, the KGB’s first chairman] from the pedestal. They have no intention to tremble, they are in no mood to yield to any one, they do not intend to go anywhere. Whatever the price. The line has been drawn! During the last weekend the Russian authorities stopped following the etiquette that is the norm in the civilized world.

Whether this was the result of desperate shamelessness or brought about by another foolish act by the PR hacks, but on Monday, of all days, The Guardian ran a story by Dmitriy Peskov, President Putin’s deputy press secretary. Who wrote that Russia had finally become an effective constitutional state [governed by rule of law]—different from what she was under Yeltsin—and that we had excellent economic growth and stability, and that our middle class was expanding and civic society growing stronger. At this point the bewildered western reader who had it explained to him so well by Mr. Peskov looks back at the front pages, and he is perplexed because there is a real dissonance in his western mentality. Because the front pages of all western papers of note without exception show—perfect timing with [Mr.] Peshkov—how the constitutional state is beating the civic society, together with a segment of the middle class, over the head with the nightstick in Moscow and Piter. Against this backdrop Mr. Peshkov’s narration about the bad Russian oligarch Berezovskiy who is fond of talking about the use of force in politics loses any sense at all because Mr. Peshkov represents that very government which—literally as we speak—has just applied selfsame force without uttering a word, or engaging in any live on-air debates for the sake of the same West. On the other hand, had the PR hacks servicing the Kremlin been smarter and had they published Mr. Peshkov’s article, e.g., today, it would have had to “compete” with information about the search on the InerNews NGO office in Moscow. And had they published this fabulous text, e.g., yesterday, it could have been run side by side with a story about how the achievements of Putin’s Russia were being strengthened by introducing censorship on the radio. I think that Mr. Peshkov would do better by not writing stories for western media outlets for the time being because selecting a right moment for their publication is becoming well-nigh impossible.

And what’s your word?

Why We March

Writing in the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” section (hat tip: Robert Amsterdam), Oksana Chelysheva, a journalist at the Russian Chechen Information Agency, which specialises in reporting on Chechnya, and a leading member of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, a human rights organisation that co-publishes the newspaper Pravo-zashchita (“Rights Protection”) and was recently banned by the Kremlin, explains why she defies Vladimir Putin’s neo-Gestapo and marches in protest:

Russia’s great leap backwards

Recent dissenters’ marches in Russia organised by the Other Russia coalition have prompted a violent response. So why do people keep marching?

The Russian authorities seem to think that they can break down the opposition coalition, the Other Russia, by beating-up students and women and detaining the group’s leaders. The last two dissenters’ marches, held in Moscow on April 14 and in St Petersburg on April 15, have shown that those taking the decision to use violence against the demonstrators are making a crucial tactical mistake. They are generating more protest in response. The connection between the two is direct: the more extreme the reaction of the authorities, the stronger the dissenters become.

Why are people joining the dissenters’ marches? I can’t generalise, since there are as many opinions as there are people. But perhaps I can provide some background to the current situation.

On May 1 1989, many of my friends, including Stas Dmitrievsky, held a protest rally, instead of celebrating Spring and Labour day. My friends were carrying a homemade tricoloured Russian flag, a serious note of dissent, since the country was still under the red flag of the USSR at the time. The demonstrators were dispersed. Many were detained and held in custody for several days. They were released after the intervention of the academic Andrei Sakharov and others including two US congressmen.

I was not shocked at their detention. That, I felt, was unavoidable. I was shocked with the authorities’ subsequent revenge on a building where we used to meet. It was a beautiful mansion built in the 19th century and was listed as a site of architectural heritage in Nizhny Novgorod. The building had been abandoned for some time. We had occupied it, repaired it and protected it from demolition. While the trial on our friends was being held, bulldozers razed it to the ground, declaring it a “place where anti-soviet propaganda ideas were disseminated”. This barbarous act was pointless: how could a house influence the spread of democratic ideas?

Two years later, the tricolour flag become an emblem of the new Russian state. It so happened that the judges had kept that same homemade banner seized by KGB agents in 1989. Trying to prove their loyalty to the new power, the authorities raised it on their building …

So what is the connection between the situation in Russia in 1989 and 2007? Well, the people’s voice is becoming ever louder. At the same time, the panic of the authorities is becoming more evident. The measures that they are applying to suppress the opposition are becoming more heavy-handed. In Nizhny Novgorod on March 24, they sent in 20,000 heavily armed Omon (special militia unit) servicemen to subdue around 1,000 prospective protesters. By this act, the authorities only revealed their own paranoia.

What are the local authorities of Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod and St Petersburg actually proving by their persistent, unwarranted banning of non-violent rallies initiated by Other Russia? Clearly, they are fearful of the growing dissent. They are trying to persuade themselves and the population that notorious oligarchs sponsor these events. They prefer to blame people’s readiness to take to the streets on plots orchestrated by CIA and MI5 agents, not the people’s own will. Perhaps their mentality, which is that of former and current FSB agents, doesn’t provide the necessary scope for their imagination.

And why have I joined the marches? Because I am furious with the arrogance of the Kremlin, who consider themselves masters of our flesh and fate. I don’t want to feel the eyes of the police following me all the time. I want to be able to move around my city and country freely. I don’t want my telephone to be tapped. I don’t want my friends to be killed. I don’t want to receive any more death threats that remain uninvestigated.

I want my daughter to live in the Russia that I love and admire. That’s the Russia of great culture and beautiful nature. It is not Putin’s Russia that has alienated the countries of the free world, while cherishing allies from Hamas, Syria and North Korea. I feel furious with the Kremlin’s arrogant certainty that we are just a herd who need to have a shepherd. I have participated in the marches to feel and become free.

In Nizhny Novgorod on March 24 the authorities demonstrated their readiness to apply force against peaceful protesters. Police helicopters barraged the city. Armoured personnel carriers drove into the yard of a kindergarten. Some 20,000 heavily-armed soldiers and Omon servicemen from 10 regions of Russia set against possibly 1,000 protesters. There was no march but they stirred up people’s anger.

In Moscow on April 14 the number of soldiers and Omon was less: some 9,000. But the level of the authorities’ fear seemed far greater. They missed our marching column because they drew all their forces into Pushkinskaya Square and Tverskaya Street. They were so paranoid about another “orange” revolution that they focused all their attentions on blocking the way to Manezhnaya Square and the Kremlin … And cleared our way towards Turgenev Square, the site of the authorised rally.

But when an animal is wounded, it becomes 10 times more dangerous. The Omon began to chase people and beat them up. Many were injured. I went to hospital after being injured by an Omon serviceman’s kick to be told that I was the 54th protester to arrive there that day.

St Petersburg the following day was even more horrific. The authorities overrode an order restricting the Omon to threatening people with batons. A number of demonstrators were subsequently hospitalised.

What was President Putin doing that spring weekend? He left Moscow for St Petersburg while his “valorous” Omon were beating people in Moscow. He spent the day in the company of Jean-Claude Van Damme. The white marble of Van Damme’s teeth looked even brighter against Putin’s black shirt and pale face. It seems that Putin is really trying to cope with the deep psychological injury caused by the victory of the “orange” movement in Ukraine by demonstrating an absolute neglect of the basic norms of democracy.

What will happen next? New marches and bans on them, such as happened in Nizhny Novgorod on Wednesday. The city authorities prohibited a rally organised by Other Russia against the demolition of the historic centre of the city, founded in 1221. The United Russia party had allegedly notified them a few minutes before. People are planning to protest all the same.

New dispersions by the authorities are inevitable, as they seem to believe the ravings that their own agitated minds have created. Whether they will be more or less violent depends on the reaction from Putin’s free world “allies” from the EU and G8. So far, the world prefers to keep their eyes closed to the growing danger. It is the people of Russia who have begun to call the Omon “fascists” and soldiers “skinheads”, while European politicians still don’t see a clear and startling resemblance between Germany in the 1930s and Russia now. In neglecting Russians in their movement against a state that is based on violence and repression, the world betrays its own democratic values.