Daily Archives: July 16, 2007

Another Original LR Translation: Golts on Corrupt Russian Media

La Russophobe‘s original translator offers readers yet another glimpse into the Russian press, this time from Yezhedevny Zhurnal deputy editor and security policy expert Aleksandr Golts exposing fraud in the Russian media establishment.

So What is Their Profession Now?
Aleksandr Golts
Yezhednevniy Zhurnal
June 29, 2007

The newspaper Kommersant recently ran a story that shows with unusual richness both the situation that has developed in Russia, and the essential nature of the current authorities. It turns out that a few days ago, secretly, without any sort of publicity, the Kremlin awarded honors and medals to several dozen television workers. Afterward, the honorees along with their supervisors were hosted by the head of the government, who held an extended meeting with them. In other words, the best professionals of Russian TV (the worse would certainly never be decorated) listened for several hours to the thinking of the head of the government. And even had their photographs taken with Putin and his beloved Labrador retriever. But then made no mention whatsoever, neither of their awards nor of what the President said, on a single television station. Their photographs with the President and his dog also have not appeared anywhere.

One should note that members of every profession have their own way of dealing with government awards. Military service members wear them with pride. Decorations are for them visual proof of the bravery they showed on the field of battle. Intelligence officers hide their awards in their safes at work. Not out of any natural modesty, but just because that is the security practice of their profession. Decorations in the intelligence services are given out for successfully recruiting valuable agents. Heaven forbid that some foreigner might see the citation for such an award, and then compare it with the service record of the officer who served, for example, under diplomatic cover. The counterintelligence service might then find out with whom the humble embassy adviser met, where he liked to visit and eat. And voila, they might expose the recruited agent.

But journalism, as everyone knows, is a public profession, where secrecy is not at all expected.

According to one conception, assumed in countries with a democratic tradition, journalism is the fourth column of governance, called upon day and night to protect the interests of society against attempts by the first three columns to infringe upon them. Here any question about decorations would seem somewhat inappropriate – it would be quite odd for a person to receive an award from exactly the people he is by definition charged with criticizing. If a journalist does nonetheless receive an award, it is only for being one of the very most talented, and then on the occasion of their retirement.

There is another conception, one which yours truly had hammered into him by members of the Party cadre of publishers some 35 years ago, according to which journalism is the drive belt connecting the authorities to the people, and its job is to transmit the ideas and wishes of the leaders to the subordinate population. In this case the journalist is a government worker, whose labor, if successful, can and should be recognized by honors and medals – which in turn should be displayed with pride.

In the case of our home-grown television journalists we have something a bit unique. They are, of course, in no sense “watchdogs of freedom”, but people having the absolute trust of the authorities. They are glad for the good fortune of having the president address them exclusively. They feel no obligation whatsoever to inform their fellow citizens of what the exactly the president said. But, having been turned essentially into bureaucrats, they at the same time are embarrassed to wear their service (there can be no doubt that they earned them for something) marks of excellence. Hence, the model for their conduct is closer to that of secret agents, working under cover.

In the Soviet era close to half of all international journalists accredited overseas were actually employees of the KGB or GRU. Nowadays many journalists, although not wearing the sapphire-striped shoulder boards [TN: of the KGB], consider themselves secret agents in the service of the Kremlin. So I can imagine how a television worker might at the end of the workday pull out his box full of medals and fondly go through them. This medal was for the Yukos affair. This other one, for discrediting the “March of Those Who Disagree”.

Just one question remains. With the secret agent it is always clear: he conceals himself from those against whom he works. In the present case the fact of the awards has been hidden from you and me. So it would be interesting to know, in that case: Against whom is Russian television working?

Russia’s Public Enemy #1

EDITORIAL

Destroying Russia’s Enemies

It may come as a surprise to some to learn that we do not disagree with the proposition that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has the right to attack and destroy Russia’s enemies wherever he finds them, including in their toilets. We enthusiastically support that notion, as would any true Russian patriot. We could hardly do otherwise, since that’s exactly what we are doing right here on this blog.

We simply ask the question: If that is Putin’s charge and mission, and it should be, doesn’t he need to start by attacking and destroying himself? Isn’t Putin himself the greatest single threat to Russia’s future? Isn’t he Russia’s Public Enemy #1?

Putin, of course, will tell you he’s not. But criminals rarely admit their crimes, so that means nothing. Putin’s allies will tell you he’s not, and they are many (he has 70%+ approval in public opinion polls). But throughout Russia’s history, and nobody in her right mind can dispute this, the country has had dire problems telling the difference between its friends and its enemies. For instance, although (as we previously reported) Putin signed an official decree naming author Alexander Solzhenitsyn a hero of Russia on June 5th of this year, things were quite different for Solzhenitsyn earlier in his life. You can see Putin below, shaking the hand of the proud hero.


But Solzhenitsyn hasn’t always been viewed as being a hero in Russia. Far from it; he’s been designated most of his life as the worst kind of traitor by his homeland, and suffered the most severe punishment it could mete out. In February of 1945, while risking his life fighting for his country to save it from Nazi invaders, Solzhenitsyn was arrested by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and sentenced to eight years at hard labor in Siberia on account of a letter Solzhenitsyn had written to a friend criticizing Stalin’s policies. That’s his prison mugshot at the left. Released from prison in 1953, Solzhenitsyn was then sentenced to indefinite exile away from Russia’s major cities and finally, in February 1974, after three decades of tortuous persecution in which he never wavered in his willingness to risk his life speaking the truth in the hopes of saving it from the collapse that ultimately did occur, he was deported from the country for writing the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich documenting his experiences in Stalin’s prison camps, the only book he was ever allowed to publish in the USSR and for which in 1974 he had won a Nobel Prize for literature that the Kremlin would not let him accept.

So while the Soviet Union existed, Russia identified Solzhenitsyn as its enemy — just as Putin today identifies Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko as Russia’s enemies (as well as a host of others, and just as some so identify this blog). Putin himself, in an official act, has admitted the the USSR was wrong about Solzhenitsyn, yet he won’t acknowledge the possibility that future generations could decide he’s wrong about Anna and Alexander — and more importantly, that he’s wrong about himself. That is the position of a neo-Soviet madman, exactly the kind of position that Solzhenitsyn wrote to his friend to complain about in Josef Stalin.

And how long will it be, we must ask, before people start getting arrested for writing letters about Putin like Solzhenitsyn wrote about Stalin? How long will it be, indeed, before Russia collapses just as the USSR did, and before some future Russian leader is posthumously designated Anna and Alexander as heroes for opposing Putin, saying that Russia’s downfall might have been averted if they had been heeded?

In short, we have no doubt that, decades from now, historians will look back on Vladimir Putin in exactly the way they now view Josef Stalin. In fact, while Putin may turn out to have murdered fewer Russians, he may well be judged to have done more actual damage to Russia’s future for the very reason that his policies seemed more reasonable and therefore became more widely and deeply accepted by the benighted Russian populace.

And we have no doubt that, in the hindsight of history, it will be opponents of Putin who will be viewed as Russia’s true patriots of the early 21st Century, just as Solzhenitsyn has been rehabilitated from his prior criminal status.

The only question is: Will any Russians be left alive after Putin is through ruining the country to celebrate and remember Politkovskaya — and if so, will there still be a place called Russia to remember her in (after all, there isn’t a USSR).

Russia’s Public Enemy #1

EDITORIAL

Destroying Russia’s Enemies

It may come as a surprise to some to learn that we do not disagree with the proposition that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has the right to attack and destroy Russia’s enemies wherever he finds them, including in their toilets. We enthusiastically support that notion, as would any true Russian patriot. We could hardly do otherwise, since that’s exactly what we are doing right here on this blog.

We simply ask the question: If that is Putin’s charge and mission, and it should be, doesn’t he need to start by attacking and destroying himself? Isn’t Putin himself the greatest single threat to Russia’s future? Isn’t he Russia’s Public Enemy #1?

Putin, of course, will tell you he’s not. But criminals rarely admit their crimes, so that means nothing. Putin’s allies will tell you he’s not, and they are many (he has 70%+ approval in public opinion polls). But throughout Russia’s history, and nobody in her right mind can dispute this, the country has had dire problems telling the difference between its friends and its enemies. For instance, although (as we previously reported) Putin signed an official decree naming author Alexander Solzhenitsyn a hero of Russia on June 5th of this year, things were quite different for Solzhenitsyn earlier in his life. You can see Putin below, shaking the hand of the proud hero.


But Solzhenitsyn hasn’t always been viewed as being a hero in Russia. Far from it; he’s been designated most of his life as the worst kind of traitor by his homeland, and suffered the most severe punishment it could mete out. In February of 1945, while risking his life fighting for his country to save it from Nazi invaders, Solzhenitsyn was arrested by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and sentenced to eight years at hard labor in Siberia on account of a letter Solzhenitsyn had written to a friend criticizing Stalin’s policies. That’s his prison mugshot at the left. Released from prison in 1953, Solzhenitsyn was then sentenced to indefinite exile away from Russia’s major cities and finally, in February 1974, after three decades of tortuous persecution in which he never wavered in his willingness to risk his life speaking the truth in the hopes of saving it from the collapse that ultimately did occur, he was deported from the country for writing the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich documenting his experiences in Stalin’s prison camps, the only book he was ever allowed to publish in the USSR and for which in 1974 he had won a Nobel Prize for literature that the Kremlin would not let him accept.

So while the Soviet Union existed, Russia identified Solzhenitsyn as its enemy — just as Putin today identifies Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko as Russia’s enemies (as well as a host of others, and just as some so identify this blog). Putin himself, in an official act, has admitted the the USSR was wrong about Solzhenitsyn, yet he won’t acknowledge the possibility that future generations could decide he’s wrong about Anna and Alexander — and more importantly, that he’s wrong about himself. That is the position of a neo-Soviet madman, exactly the kind of position that Solzhenitsyn wrote to his friend to complain about in Josef Stalin.

And how long will it be, we must ask, before people start getting arrested for writing letters about Putin like Solzhenitsyn wrote about Stalin? How long will it be, indeed, before Russia collapses just as the USSR did, and before some future Russian leader is posthumously designated Anna and Alexander as heroes for opposing Putin, saying that Russia’s downfall might have been averted if they had been heeded?

In short, we have no doubt that, decades from now, historians will look back on Vladimir Putin in exactly the way they now view Josef Stalin. In fact, while Putin may turn out to have murdered fewer Russians, he may well be judged to have done more actual damage to Russia’s future for the very reason that his policies seemed more reasonable and therefore became more widely and deeply accepted by the benighted Russian populace.

And we have no doubt that, in the hindsight of history, it will be opponents of Putin who will be viewed as Russia’s true patriots of the early 21st Century, just as Solzhenitsyn has been rehabilitated from his prior criminal status.

The only question is: Will any Russians be left alive after Putin is through ruining the country to celebrate and remember Politkovskaya — and if so, will there still be a place called Russia to remember her in (after all, there isn’t a USSR).

Russia’s Public Enemy #1

EDITORIAL

Destroying Russia’s Enemies

It may come as a surprise to some to learn that we do not disagree with the proposition that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has the right to attack and destroy Russia’s enemies wherever he finds them, including in their toilets. We enthusiastically support that notion, as would any true Russian patriot. We could hardly do otherwise, since that’s exactly what we are doing right here on this blog.

We simply ask the question: If that is Putin’s charge and mission, and it should be, doesn’t he need to start by attacking and destroying himself? Isn’t Putin himself the greatest single threat to Russia’s future? Isn’t he Russia’s Public Enemy #1?

Putin, of course, will tell you he’s not. But criminals rarely admit their crimes, so that means nothing. Putin’s allies will tell you he’s not, and they are many (he has 70%+ approval in public opinion polls). But throughout Russia’s history, and nobody in her right mind can dispute this, the country has had dire problems telling the difference between its friends and its enemies. For instance, although (as we previously reported) Putin signed an official decree naming author Alexander Solzhenitsyn a hero of Russia on June 5th of this year, things were quite different for Solzhenitsyn earlier in his life. You can see Putin below, shaking the hand of the proud hero.


But Solzhenitsyn hasn’t always been viewed as being a hero in Russia. Far from it; he’s been designated most of his life as the worst kind of traitor by his homeland, and suffered the most severe punishment it could mete out. In February of 1945, while risking his life fighting for his country to save it from Nazi invaders, Solzhenitsyn was arrested by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and sentenced to eight years at hard labor in Siberia on account of a letter Solzhenitsyn had written to a friend criticizing Stalin’s policies. That’s his prison mugshot at the left. Released from prison in 1953, Solzhenitsyn was then sentenced to indefinite exile away from Russia’s major cities and finally, in February 1974, after three decades of tortuous persecution in which he never wavered in his willingness to risk his life speaking the truth in the hopes of saving it from the collapse that ultimately did occur, he was deported from the country for writing the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich documenting his experiences in Stalin’s prison camps, the only book he was ever allowed to publish in the USSR and for which in 1974 he had won a Nobel Prize for literature that the Kremlin would not let him accept.

So while the Soviet Union existed, Russia identified Solzhenitsyn as its enemy — just as Putin today identifies Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko as Russia’s enemies (as well as a host of others, and just as some so identify this blog). Putin himself, in an official act, has admitted the the USSR was wrong about Solzhenitsyn, yet he won’t acknowledge the possibility that future generations could decide he’s wrong about Anna and Alexander — and more importantly, that he’s wrong about himself. That is the position of a neo-Soviet madman, exactly the kind of position that Solzhenitsyn wrote to his friend to complain about in Josef Stalin.

And how long will it be, we must ask, before people start getting arrested for writing letters about Putin like Solzhenitsyn wrote about Stalin? How long will it be, indeed, before Russia collapses just as the USSR did, and before some future Russian leader is posthumously designated Anna and Alexander as heroes for opposing Putin, saying that Russia’s downfall might have been averted if they had been heeded?

In short, we have no doubt that, decades from now, historians will look back on Vladimir Putin in exactly the way they now view Josef Stalin. In fact, while Putin may turn out to have murdered fewer Russians, he may well be judged to have done more actual damage to Russia’s future for the very reason that his policies seemed more reasonable and therefore became more widely and deeply accepted by the benighted Russian populace.

And we have no doubt that, in the hindsight of history, it will be opponents of Putin who will be viewed as Russia’s true patriots of the early 21st Century, just as Solzhenitsyn has been rehabilitated from his prior criminal status.

The only question is: Will any Russians be left alive after Putin is through ruining the country to celebrate and remember Politkovskaya — and if so, will there still be a place called Russia to remember her in (after all, there isn’t a USSR).

Russia’s Public Enemy #1

EDITORIAL

Destroying Russia’s Enemies

It may come as a surprise to some to learn that we do not disagree with the proposition that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has the right to attack and destroy Russia’s enemies wherever he finds them, including in their toilets. We enthusiastically support that notion, as would any true Russian patriot. We could hardly do otherwise, since that’s exactly what we are doing right here on this blog.

We simply ask the question: If that is Putin’s charge and mission, and it should be, doesn’t he need to start by attacking and destroying himself? Isn’t Putin himself the greatest single threat to Russia’s future? Isn’t he Russia’s Public Enemy #1?

Putin, of course, will tell you he’s not. But criminals rarely admit their crimes, so that means nothing. Putin’s allies will tell you he’s not, and they are many (he has 70%+ approval in public opinion polls). But throughout Russia’s history, and nobody in her right mind can dispute this, the country has had dire problems telling the difference between its friends and its enemies. For instance, although (as we previously reported) Putin signed an official decree naming author Alexander Solzhenitsyn a hero of Russia on June 5th of this year, things were quite different for Solzhenitsyn earlier in his life. You can see Putin below, shaking the hand of the proud hero.


But Solzhenitsyn hasn’t always been viewed as being a hero in Russia. Far from it; he’s been designated most of his life as the worst kind of traitor by his homeland, and suffered the most severe punishment it could mete out. In February of 1945, while risking his life fighting for his country to save it from Nazi invaders, Solzhenitsyn was arrested by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and sentenced to eight years at hard labor in Siberia on account of a letter Solzhenitsyn had written to a friend criticizing Stalin’s policies. That’s his prison mugshot at the left. Released from prison in 1953, Solzhenitsyn was then sentenced to indefinite exile away from Russia’s major cities and finally, in February 1974, after three decades of tortuous persecution in which he never wavered in his willingness to risk his life speaking the truth in the hopes of saving it from the collapse that ultimately did occur, he was deported from the country for writing the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich documenting his experiences in Stalin’s prison camps, the only book he was ever allowed to publish in the USSR and for which in 1974 he had won a Nobel Prize for literature that the Kremlin would not let him accept.

So while the Soviet Union existed, Russia identified Solzhenitsyn as its enemy — just as Putin today identifies Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko as Russia’s enemies (as well as a host of others, and just as some so identify this blog). Putin himself, in an official act, has admitted the the USSR was wrong about Solzhenitsyn, yet he won’t acknowledge the possibility that future generations could decide he’s wrong about Anna and Alexander — and more importantly, that he’s wrong about himself. That is the position of a neo-Soviet madman, exactly the kind of position that Solzhenitsyn wrote to his friend to complain about in Josef Stalin.

And how long will it be, we must ask, before people start getting arrested for writing letters about Putin like Solzhenitsyn wrote about Stalin? How long will it be, indeed, before Russia collapses just as the USSR did, and before some future Russian leader is posthumously designated Anna and Alexander as heroes for opposing Putin, saying that Russia’s downfall might have been averted if they had been heeded?

In short, we have no doubt that, decades from now, historians will look back on Vladimir Putin in exactly the way they now view Josef Stalin. In fact, while Putin may turn out to have murdered fewer Russians, he may well be judged to have done more actual damage to Russia’s future for the very reason that his policies seemed more reasonable and therefore became more widely and deeply accepted by the benighted Russian populace.

And we have no doubt that, in the hindsight of history, it will be opponents of Putin who will be viewed as Russia’s true patriots of the early 21st Century, just as Solzhenitsyn has been rehabilitated from his prior criminal status.

The only question is: Will any Russians be left alive after Putin is through ruining the country to celebrate and remember Politkovskaya — and if so, will there still be a place called Russia to remember her in (after all, there isn’t a USSR).

Russia’s Public Enemy #1

EDITORIAL

Destroying Russia’s Enemies

It may come as a surprise to some to learn that we do not disagree with the proposition that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has the right to attack and destroy Russia’s enemies wherever he finds them, including in their toilets. We enthusiastically support that notion, as would any true Russian patriot. We could hardly do otherwise, since that’s exactly what we are doing right here on this blog.

We simply ask the question: If that is Putin’s charge and mission, and it should be, doesn’t he need to start by attacking and destroying himself? Isn’t Putin himself the greatest single threat to Russia’s future? Isn’t he Russia’s Public Enemy #1?

Putin, of course, will tell you he’s not. But criminals rarely admit their crimes, so that means nothing. Putin’s allies will tell you he’s not, and they are many (he has 70%+ approval in public opinion polls). But throughout Russia’s history, and nobody in her right mind can dispute this, the country has had dire problems telling the difference between its friends and its enemies. For instance, although (as we previously reported) Putin signed an official decree naming author Alexander Solzhenitsyn a hero of Russia on June 5th of this year, things were quite different for Solzhenitsyn earlier in his life. You can see Putin below, shaking the hand of the proud hero.


But Solzhenitsyn hasn’t always been viewed as being a hero in Russia. Far from it; he’s been designated most of his life as the worst kind of traitor by his homeland, and suffered the most severe punishment it could mete out. In February of 1945, while risking his life fighting for his country to save it from Nazi invaders, Solzhenitsyn was arrested by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and sentenced to eight years at hard labor in Siberia on account of a letter Solzhenitsyn had written to a friend criticizing Stalin’s policies. That’s his prison mugshot at the left. Released from prison in 1953, Solzhenitsyn was then sentenced to indefinite exile away from Russia’s major cities and finally, in February 1974, after three decades of tortuous persecution in which he never wavered in his willingness to risk his life speaking the truth in the hopes of saving it from the collapse that ultimately did occur, he was deported from the country for writing the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich documenting his experiences in Stalin’s prison camps, the only book he was ever allowed to publish in the USSR and for which in 1974 he had won a Nobel Prize for literature that the Kremlin would not let him accept.

So while the Soviet Union existed, Russia identified Solzhenitsyn as its enemy — just as Putin today identifies Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko as Russia’s enemies (as well as a host of others, and just as some so identify this blog). Putin himself, in an official act, has admitted the the USSR was wrong about Solzhenitsyn, yet he won’t acknowledge the possibility that future generations could decide he’s wrong about Anna and Alexander — and more importantly, that he’s wrong about himself. That is the position of a neo-Soviet madman, exactly the kind of position that Solzhenitsyn wrote to his friend to complain about in Josef Stalin.

And how long will it be, we must ask, before people start getting arrested for writing letters about Putin like Solzhenitsyn wrote about Stalin? How long will it be, indeed, before Russia collapses just as the USSR did, and before some future Russian leader is posthumously designated Anna and Alexander as heroes for opposing Putin, saying that Russia’s downfall might have been averted if they had been heeded?

In short, we have no doubt that, decades from now, historians will look back on Vladimir Putin in exactly the way they now view Josef Stalin. In fact, while Putin may turn out to have murdered fewer Russians, he may well be judged to have done more actual damage to Russia’s future for the very reason that his policies seemed more reasonable and therefore became more widely and deeply accepted by the benighted Russian populace.

And we have no doubt that, in the hindsight of history, it will be opponents of Putin who will be viewed as Russia’s true patriots of the early 21st Century, just as Solzhenitsyn has been rehabilitated from his prior criminal status.

The only question is: Will any Russians be left alive after Putin is through ruining the country to celebrate and remember Politkovskaya — and if so, will there still be a place called Russia to remember her in (after all, there isn’t a USSR).

Russia Unilaterally Pulls out of Major Arms Control Treaty

Russia has once again totally humiliated those who tried to defend its aggressive, provocatory statements about the Conventional Arms in Europe Treaty by claiming that Russia would never actually void the treaty but was only flexing its muscles (just as the same idiots said Russia could “never go back” to dictatorship). In fact, Russia has now voided the treaty, showing that it simply is incapable of keeping its word even where a signed contract is concerned, and that it actually wants to fight Cold War II with the world’s most powerful country. When we reported Vladimir Putin’s threats to take this outrageous action weeks ago, the Russophile idiots claimed Putin wasn’t serious, that he was only “flexing his muscles,” that he wouldn’t really undermine European security by actually doing this crazy thing. Well, now he’s done it, and once again they have egg on their faces. Remember: If Russia can do this to a treaty, then so can the West. The precedent has now been established, and Russia is the much weaker party to the treaties, so it’s Russia who needs voluntary compliance, not the West. In other words, once again, it’s classic Russian self-destruction.

It’s wonderful to see defense expert and brilliant Russia commentator Pavel Felgenhaur making it into the mainstream press. The Washington Post reports:

Russia on Saturday suspended its participation in a key European arms control treaty that governs deployment of troops on the continent, the Kremlin said. NATO called Moscow’s decision “a step in the wrong direction.”

President Vladimir Putin signed a decree suspending Russia’s participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty due to “extraordinary circumstances … which affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

Putin has in the past threatened to freeze his country’s compliance with the treaty, accusing the United States and its NATO partners of undermining regional stability with U.S. plans for a missile defense system in former Soviet bloc countries in Eastern Europe.

The treaty, between Russian and NATO members, was signed in 1990 and amended in 1999 to reflect changes since the breakup of the Soviet Union, adding the requirement that Moscow withdraw troops from the former Soviet republics of Moldova and Georgia.

Russia has ratified the amended version, but the United States and other NATO members have refused to do so until Russia completely withdraws.

NATO expressed regret Saturday over Russia’s decision.

“The allies consider this treaty to be an important cornerstone of Euro stability and they would like to see it ratified as soon as possible,” NATO spokesman James Appathurai said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia could no longer tolerate a situation where it was complying with the treaty but its partners were not, and he expressed hope that Russia’s move would induce Western nations to commit to the updated treaty.

“Such a situation contradicts Russia’s interests,” Peskov told The Associated Press. “Russia continues to expect that other nations that have signed the CFE will fulfill their obligations.”

The treaty is seen as a key element in maintaining stability in Europe. It establishes limitations on countries’ deployment of tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery, attack helicopters and combat aircraft.

Withdrawal from the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty would allow Moscow to build up forces near its borders.

But Russian military analysts have said the possibility of suspending participation in the treaty was a symbolic rising of ante in the missile shield showdown more than a sign of impending military escalation.

Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based defense analyst, said the moratorium probably won’t result in any major buildup of heavy weaponry in European Russia. Russia has no actual interest in the highly costly build up of forces because it faces no real military threat and has no plans to launch an attack of its won, he said.

But, he said, it could mean an end to onsite inspections and verifications by NATO countries, which many European nations rely on to keep track of Russian deployments.

For the United States, the moratorium will mostly be a symbolic gesture, he said, since the U.S. has an extensive intelligence network that keeps close track of Russian forces. But it will still be seen as another unfriendly move in Washington, Felgenhauer predicted.

“This will be a major irritant,” he said. “It will seriously spoil relations. The kind of soothing effect from the last summit with Putin and (President) Bush will evaporate swiftly,” he said referring a summit between the leaders earlier this month at the Bush family home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Felgenhauer also said that there is no provision under the treaty for a moratorium, suggesting Russia was acting illegally. “This is basically non-compliance, and this is an illegal move,” he said.

Caught in the Neo-Soviet Draft

The DraftResistance.org blog offers the following story about conscription in neo-Soviet Russia (by the way, you Russians — America’s military is 100% volunteer, while Russia has to literally force its young men into the military at gunpoint, where they face brutal torture, slave wages and apalling living conditions; which army would YOU bet on if it comes to a fight? which civilization is more civilized? more patriotic? why does Vladimir Putin fear an all volunteer force like American has? because nobody would sign up? why does Russia need conscription if NATO doesn’t have it?):

A spectre is haunting Russia – the spectre of military service. All men between the ages of 18 and 27 should complete up to three years in the armed forces, and my English language lessons have become therapy sessions for the traumatised Russians it creates.

For me, it’s that holy grail of EFL teaching, a conversation topic on which even the most apathetic students have an opinion. In the wake of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder you couldn’t get a word out of them on their country’s imprisoned media. Nor after opposition leader Garry Kaparov’s arrest were they interested in the renewal of its authoritarian instincts. Those issues, it seems, are too abstract and remote for the students in my class. Every one of them has got something to say about military service, though, albeit in differing qualities of English.

The most obviously affected are Andrey and Evgeny, both of whom went to fairly extreme lengths to avoid the draft. Knowing you’re exempted if you’ve got two kids, Andrey and his wife had three by the time he was 24, just to be on the safe side. When asked how it feels to be such a young dad he replies: ‘Better than being in the army.’ I compliment his use of comparatives; he would have said ‘gooder’ two months ago.

Evgeny went a different route and kept extending his studies knowing that students are also exempted. He is now a doctor of law almost by accident. I wonder what he would be if he hadn’t reached the cut-off age of 27 – a Nobel Prize winner perhaps.

The net is closing around such exemptions, however. Demographic trends mean that even the Nobel Prize won’t save those in a new generation whose depleted numbers require them all to serve if the army is to fill its quotas. Marina is already saving money for bribery, fearing her son may fail one of his university exams. ‘If his professors won’t take the money, the recruiting officer will,’ she says, practising the first conditional.

Konstantin’s Lada, in which I am given a lift home after lessons, is another tale of life affected by the issue. Library books lie beneath a military hat on the back seat, and polished boots are under my seat. ‘They let me stay in Moscow as long as I study and work,’ he says. He completes his hours on a part-time basis, which makes his every day a juggling act of work, army and study. ‘Only one 160 days to go,’ he says cheerfully.

Not in my class, though, is Dimitri, whom I met at a party. He is Russia’s version of a conscientious objector. Being philosophically opposed to indoctrination, he chose to dodge the draft. He now lives a clandestine life; his parents claim not to know where he is so he can argue he hasn’t received his call-up papers. He can’t travel abroad and his quasi-legal status means it’s difficult for him to find work, but he doesn’t seem too bitter.

Though told with the guilty smirks of schoolboys, the stories of evasion and swindling hide deeper psychoses. In December 2005, 19-year-old Andrei Sychov went off to his military service and came back with neither his legs nor his genitals. But rather than sustaining his injuries at the hands of an enemy, it was his own superiors who maimed him – as part of an initiation ceremony.

There are fears that bullying and torture are part of a conscript’s daily life, meaning that even those lucky enough to return physically complete stand to lose something mentally. When my students’ faces start to betray these deeper worries, I turn to some ‘doctor doctor’ jokes to lighten things up.

But no amount of bad jokes will ease this nation’s worries. Its president, who has been employing more hawkish language of late, may soon be replaced by the even more hawkish former-general Sergei Ivanov. And with the country’s growing paranoia over its border with China, as well as American missiles in Poland, the Kremlin won’t allow soldiers to join up by choice.

The bitterness of these class conversations, however, suggests it would be a fruitful issue for a would-be opposition to exploit.

July 15, 2007 — Contents

SUNDAY JULY 15 CONTENTS


(1) The Sunday Photos

(2) The Sunday Slam: Lucas Lets Putin Have it

(3) The Sunday Song

(4) The Sunday Funnies

(5) Annals of Neo-Soviet Russia: Being Poor is a Crime

NOTE: It may come as a surprise to some crazed Russophile maniacs to learn that when asked, Yahoo! users said the female celebrity with the most interesting private sex life was Venus Williams (her sister Serena was #2) whilst Russian Maria Sharapova was only #20 and no other Russian made the top 20. A Yahoo! search for “Venus Williams boyfriend” yields over 500,000 hits whilst the same search for Sharapova yields only 300,000. Another stupid Russophile bubble burst!