Daily Archives: July 29, 2007

July 29, 2007 — Contents


(1) The Sunday Photos: Pre-Bolshevik Russia in Living Color

(2) Russia is a Fascist State

(3) The Sunday Persecution

(4) The Sunday Financial Page

(5) The Sunday Funnies: YouTube Edition

The Sunday Photos: Pre-Bolshevik Russia in Living Color

Here are some images from the Library of Congress’s Prokudin-Gorsky collection which, through the use of a cutting-edge photographic technique, show Russia from 100 years ago in true living color (click the image to see a larger one, click here to browse the collection, which contains over 2,500 images).

Neo-Soviet Russia is a Fascist State

The New Statesman reports that neo-Soviet Russia is a fascist state, neatly summarizing the evidence of dictatorship and failure that we have seen in neo-Soviet Russia to date. Click through the comments and check out that frenzied Russophile reaction to see just how close to the bone this brilliant article cuts:

One key concern arising from the recent spat with Russia is this awakening superpower is drifting into the foothills of fascism domestically. The simple defence Russians have offered in recent weeks is that Russians are by nature fiercely patriotic. I knew a Russian who, when the train stopped on the Russian border, picked up handfuls of Russian soil and started to sob.

The loss of their empire – the USSR – is keenly felt. Vladimir Putin, for example, described the end of the USSR as the greatest tragedy of the 20th century. It would have been more appropriate if he had given this title to the Ukrainian terror-famine of 1929-33 where the Russian occupier diverted all food from the collectivized peasants to the rest of the USSR. This terror-famine resulted in more deaths than all countries in the First World War. Russians refuse to apologise for the famine and still talk of Ukrainians in the same derogatory terms that some English used to use about the Welsh and Irish.

Putin is keen to maintain influence in the former Soviet satellite states and this is increasingly causing conflict. The key turning point was the Orange revolution in 2004 which discarded the Kremlin’s favoured candidate in Ukraine to bring in a pro-Western President with dreams of EU and NATO membership. The idea of losing “Little Russia”, the dearest of the CIS satellite states, to NATO shocked many Russians including Putin and ushered in more authoritarian tactics. The most worrying of these tactics was the politicised use of energy supplies. Ukraine had its gas cut-off shortly after its drift westward in 2004, and more recently Estonia has had oil supplies to its port disrupted by Russia during the statue crisis.

Putin is concerned that the loss of influence in the satellite states will threaten Russia’s power along its borders by its old adversary NATO. He blamed the Orange Revolution in part on the unchecked rise of a democratic youth movement in Ukraine called PORA, who opposed the authoritarian government.

To prevent a similar group being established in Russia, Putin created his own youth movement “Nashi”. The official line was that this group were supposed to counter the rise of fascism, in the National Boshevik party. However, it soon became apparent that Nashi’s true function was as a personality cult for Putin whose job was intimidate, bully and harass his opponents.

In the recent Estonia crisis, thugs from Nashi terrorized the Estonian Embassy forcing the ambassador into hiding. In the protests one person was killed and 99 injured. Similarly, the UK ambassador in Moscow was intimidated by Nashi thugs merely for attending an opposition conference. The 120,000 Nashi members must show total devotion to the president. Their young leaders meet Putin himself in training camps and have an audience with his potential successor, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergie Ivanov. Nashi actions are well-organised, they wear distinct red uniforms, have their own buses, power supply and well-financed phone-in campaigns. The comparison with Hitler Youth is beginning to be made more and more often.

The most sinister aspect of Nashi is the revival of Soviet-style propaganda. In the official manifesto, Nashi recruits are subjected to Soviet-style prejudices of xenophobia and anti-Americanism that existed in the Cold War. The domain name for the Nashi website is http://www.nashi.su, opting for the “.su” of the non-existant Soviet Union, rather than “.ru” for Russia. The manifesto calls on Nashi members to stamp out any colour revolution as this would represent “a loss of sovereignty to external influences”. A flashing banner on the Estonia crisis declares: “It’s our history, it’s our war, it’s our soldier!” A poster at a recent rally criticised the number of adoptions of Russian children to the US. The members of Nashi, aged 17-25, who could essentially hold progressive views, are being indoctrinated with anti-European and anti-American sentiment.

The opposition groups in Russia are denied the right to hold protest and not allowed access to any of the state-controlled media. Nashi, however, are allowed to hold marches, which are covered favourably on state television. Financing for Nashi comes from Gazprom, the Kremlin-controlled gas giant. Similar to Hitler Youth, the group undergoes paramilitary training and have been implicated in the attacks on opposition groups like the banned National Bolshevik Party, led by Limonov and the Estonian ambassador. Their actions mirror more widespread of violent intimidation towards opposition groups, human rights activists and the free press.

Since Putin came to power, 15 journalists have been murdered by contract killers. Marina Litvinovich, the chief political adviser to opposition leader Garry Kasparov, was beaten up so badly she lost two front teeth. Lidia Yuspova, a human rights campaigner based in Chechnya, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, only to receive and anonymous call warning her she would not live to receive it. Groups of black-shirted skinheads have been responsible for assaults and murders directed at immigrants from the Caucasus.

Putin’s popularity ratings run at 80 per cent, showing that his grip on the state-media has effectively kept Russians in an information vacuum. He has exploited the fierce national pride of his people and reinforced prejudices by accusing the US of hegemony and speaking of the NATO presence along the borders.

Social instability and health problems run rampant throughout the country. A 20-year-old Russian has less than a 50 per cent chance of reaching the age 65 (compared to 80 per cent for an American). Russia has three million drug users, with as many as two million may be HIV-infected. Its prisons are rife with tuberculosis and hold 1.3m people many of them young homeless boys. By effectively integrating an immigrant population Russia could help to swell its workforce but current immigration stands at zero. Russia is more than just the Nashi movement, state-controlled media and murdered journalists, but Putin’s legacy will be determined by how legitimately he can justify his people’s patriotism by improving the quality of living.

The Sunday Persecution

Alexei II, dictator of the Russian Orthodox Church, embraces
Vladimir Putin,
dictator of the Russian People. Their relationship
is a close one, with echoes of
the Holy Roman Empire or Nazi Germany
as depicted in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”

The blog Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion reports on the rise of religious manipulation and persecution in Russia

From (as ever) Interfax:

Most heavy metal songs are about murder and suicide, the Serbsky State Research Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry professor Fyodor Kondratyev opines.

‘Having researched 700 most popular heavy metal songs revealed that half of them is about murder, 7 percent is positive about suicide, and 35 percent preaches a variety of Satanist ideologies,’ Kondratyev said in his interview published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily on Monday. He shared with the journalists that according to the American National Education Association every year near 6,000 young Americans kill themselves under the influence of music like that.

Kondratyev tells of “1,000” Satanists in Moscow and “100 Satanist groups” in Russia. He also claims to have been told by a patient of “20 ritual murders”, but that “Good defenders and threatening of witnesses” have prevented successful prosecutions. Kondratyev’s warning comes just days after Deacon Andrey Kurayev of Moscow Theological Academy warned that Friday the 13th would see “more intense” Satanic activity. Kondratyev has previously railed against foreign “sects” in Russia. In 2004 the Russian Courier reported that:

Overseas-based religious cults are making huge expenditures to get established in Russia, says Fedor Kondratyev, analytical board chief of the Serbsky State Centre of Social and Forensic Medicine. “There is documentary proof of exorbitant sums spent to help such cults as they are penetrating Russia, and promote whatever home-grown cults who aim to undermine Eastern Christianity as spiritual pillar of the Russian nation,” Dr. Kondratyev said to a news conference. It gathered in Moscow today to discuss rehabilitating exotic cult victims.

This orthodox-nationalist perspective is also noted in an essay on “The Place of Xenophobia in Government Policies”, from the Moscow Helsinki Group:

Public figures, actively involved in the campaign against “totalitarian sects,” serve as intermediaries of a sort between the Russian Orthodox Church and government officials. They are organized around the Center of Jeriney of Lion, headed by Alexander Dvorykin…Dvorykin’s associates in the anti-cult struggle also include public officials, like the head of expert department of the V.P Serbsky State Research Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry, Fedor Kondratyev. The professional arguments (we shall not attempt here to make any judgments of their quality) of the latter are constantly combined with ideological passages of the following kind: “Each of the parishioners [Jehovah Witnesses] has a supervisor. The word of the supervisor is the word of God. As a result, fifty-thousand Russian passport holders are Russian citizens by law, but in fact are getting their orders from Americans, with the strings pulled from New-York, from Brooklyn.”

(We’ve blogged Dvorkin previously)

Also significant is Kondratyev’s place of employment, the Serbsky Institute. A 2004 report by Paul Goble explains:

Moscow’s Serbsky Institute, notorious in Soviet times for its criminal use of psychiatry and drugs against dissidents, is now playing an important role in the Russian government’s efforts to combat the spread of religious sects. Earlier this month, the institute helped to organize a conference in Tula entitled “The Influence of Destructive Sects on the Health of Society,” “Tul’skiye izvestiya” reported on November 2. … The main address to the meeting, which was hosted by the local health department and the St. John Society of Orthodox Doctors, was given by the Serbsky Institute’s Professor Fedor Kondratyev… Kondratyev said that the influx of sectarian activists into Russia from abroad increased dramatically in the 1990s, but he argued that the purposes of this influx had not changed:

“This is one of the most effective measurs of the struggle of the West against the powerful Russian state. Hitler already wrote that there ought to be a sect in every Siberian village in order that Slavs not have any spiritual unity.”

Some of the sects in Russia today are “camouflaged” as Christian while others are openly “satanist,” he added. But both, he suggested “are directed against the state, society, the family, and the personality.”

In 2002, the Serbsky Institute was involved in the psychiatric evaluation of Col. Yuri Budanov, who had drunkenly raped and killed an 18-year-old Chechen woman in 2000. The evaluators overturned previous reports to declare that Budanov had been temporarily insane, and therefore non-culpable. The Chechen Times has further details:

Stuck on the matter of Budanov’s guilt, the state has turned to a familiar partner from Soviet times, a psychiatric profession that for decades followed orders to camouflage political problems behind the opaque curtain of mental illness. In doing so, however, officials have resurrected questions about psychiatry’s shameful past in the Soviet Union — and its highly politicized present. That controversial finding has opened a broad evaluation of the Serbsky Institute’s fitness as an independent judge of mental competence…. When the military court first ordered Serbsky to test Budanov, the panel conducting the inquiry was led by Tamara Pechernikova, the doctor who condemned poet Natalya Gorbanevskaya for protesting the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. When that evaluation of Budanov was criticized, the court next appointed a commission that included Georgi Morozov, the former Serbsky director who had sat on many of the committees that declared prominent dissidents insane in the 1970s and 1980s. “Practically nothing has changed. They have no shame at the institute about their role with the Communists,” said Yuri Savenko, head of the Independent Psychiatric Association of Russia. “They are the same people, and they do not want to apologize for all their actions in the past.”

Another report notes that:

Earlier in 2001, the head of the Serbsky Institute—Tatyana Dmitrieva—revealed that the Institute was subjecting “members of 20 non- traditional religious organizations” to psychiatric examinations, searching for signs of “psychological influencing” and “hypnosis.”

Just like the old days:

Raisa Ivanovna was arrested in 1973 (according to another source, 1972) among a group of eleven True Orthodox women from Vladimir. She was a teacher, the mother of two children. She was sent to the camp for political prisoners in Mordovia (385/3) for seven years. In 1974 she was subjected to a psychiatric examination in the Serbsky Institute in Moscow. Then she was returned to the camp, where the administration tried by all means possible to find witnesses who would certify that she was mentally ill. … The “crimes” of the True Orthodox consisted in having put leaflets in the sergianist churches calling on the clergy to renounce their collaboration with Soviet power. These leaflets contained verses such as: “Satan lies under the mausoleum, his flesh has been rotting for a long time”. Some of them had photos and caricatures.

The Sunday Financial Page: Annals of the Russian Stock Market

Between last Tuesday and Friday, as shown in the graph above, the Russian stock market lost 150 points on the RTS index or 7% of its value – it was down 1.5% on Friday alone. It’s now given up almost all the growth it achieved between July 2nd and July 24th.

Now we know what you’re going to say, Mr. Russophile K. Scumbag. You’re going to say, so what, as shown below the U.S. market is down 500 points from July 19th, seeming to enter freefall after briefly cresting above a historic high of 14,000 on the Dow Jones average.

But you’re overlooking three points, Gospodin Scumbag.

First, the 500-point loss on the Dow is only 3.5% of the American market, half the loss Russia has taken, and it took longer to arise.

Second, the slide in the American market caused the slide in Russia — just as it has caused a massive slide in the Asian markets more recently. Russia’s pathetic market is more vulnerable and responded more quickly to the American slide (China’s has been hardly affected at all). So if there were Russians (and, oh my, there were) dancing in the streets about problems in the American market, they were classic Russian idiots. The world depends on the American market. Anything that happens to it harms the world as well, perhaps more than it does American itself. When Russia takes aggressive action to undermine America, what it in fact is doing is stabbing itself in the throat.

And finally, you’re overlooking the announcement on Friday of booming economic growth numbers in the United States. The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy was strong during the second quarter as the drag from the housing sector lessened. GDP during the quarter was up at a 3.4 percent annual rate April through June, compared to a prediction of 3.3 percent by economists.

Now let’s put that 3.4% growth in perspective. The U.S. economy is worth over $12 trillion. That means 3.4% growth is worth $408 billion in total or $1,300 per American. If Russia posted twice as much growth, 6.8%, it would only be worth $68 billion in total and just $450 per Russian person. In other words, half the growth rate produces three times the value for America. And remember, America’s growth has nothing to do with the rising price of oil; America doesn’t sell oil, it just consumes it. America’s growth is real, job-producing, economy expanding, society-building. Russia’s is merely illusion, like winning money in a casino.

The Sunday Funnies: YouTube Edition — "A Town Called Scrotum"

Russian speakers may find this amusing, it’s about towns in Russia with funny names, like “Scrotum.” If so inclined, Russian speakers may wish to add comments explaining the names to non-speakers.

But that’s not why it’s here. It’s a TV broadcast from NTV channel which went out on April 1, 2006 — just over year ago. It’s a brilliant slice of Russian life, showing how people really live outside Moscow, and it hasn’t changed one iota since then or since Putin came to power. No five minutes could better dispel the notion that Putin’s Russia is somehow rich and prosperous now than spending them viewing this footage, no Russian language required.