Daily Archives: August 8, 2007

August 8, 2007 — Contents

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 8 CONTENTS


(1) EDITORIAL: Scum-sucking Greaseball Alexei Pankin Strikes Again

(2) Documenting the Horror of the Rise of the Neo-Soviet State

NOTE: Once again, Russia has launched a military incursion into Georgian territory. Check out La Russophobe’s latest installment on Publius Pundit reporting the atrocity, and feel free to leave your comments as to how the West can best respond to this most recent Russian outrage. Are Georgia and Russia on the brink of war? Google News now has over 350 stories.

NOTE: Today we’ve fused what really should be four posts into two, because we prefer to have them on the same web pages for posterity as they are inextricably intertwined. Don’t be afraid of the length, well worth perusing.

Editorial: Scum-Sucking Greaseball Alexei Pankin Strikes Again.

EDITORIAL

Scum-Sucking Greaseball Alexei Pankin Strikes Again

There are some “human beings” on this planet that La Russophobe despises more than scum-sucking Russophile greaseball Alexei Pankin, pseudo-journalist and columnist for the Moscow Times, but there are not many.

You never know how Pankin, an epically classic Russian loser, is going to be identified in his column. This week it’s “editor of Strategii i Praktika Izdatelskogo Biznesa, a magazine for publishing business professionals,” whatever the hell that means. Succinctly put, like most Russophile bagmen, he’s nobody. If you Google him under images, the only result you get is the one at left, his Moscow Times image (is that a crack pipe he’s smoking?) — an image which, interestingly, doesn’t even accompany his most recent column, where he’s allowed just 630 words to express his “ideas.” Happily, if you Google him under web, the sixth hit is La Russophobe‘s previous discussion of this loathsome little reptile, where we ripped him several new ones.

In his most recent opus , Pankin savagely attacks hero journalist Yevgenia Albats (a former Moscow Times columnist) in a fury of invective that instantly belies his personal hatred and jealousy of this great Russian patriot — to say nothing of his classic Russian misogyny (he also hates Yevgenia’s female editor). He’s incensed that Irena Lesnevskaya, publisher of The New Times, would dare to hire Yevgenia as her political editor, and then refuse to fire her when a bunch of narrow-minded Russian men, little evolved from apes, couldn’t get along with her.

Because Pankin doesn’t care to, let’s remind everyone just who Yevgenia Albats is. Here’s what we said about her when we profiled her along with four other heroic Russian patriots (who happen to be women) that are now all targets of possible assassination by the Kremlin just like Anna Politkovskaya. As you’re reading, ask yourself this: What has Alexei Pankin ever risked for his country? Who hates him enough to kill him? Indeed, who even knows his name?

We wrote this about Yevgenia back in November 2006:

Yevgenia Albats, host of a controversial radio talk show on the Ekho Moskvy station, one of the last bastions of independent journalism in Russia, is the heir apparent to Politkovskaya. As identified by the International Consortium of Journalists

She was the first Soviet journalist to investigate the Soviet political police, the KGB, when the communist regime was still in control. She is the author of KGB: The State within the State. In 1989, she received the Golden Pen Award, the highest journalism honor in the then-Soviet Union. She was an Alfred Friendly fellow in 1990 and a fellow of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University in 1993. Albats also free-lanced for several publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, and the CNN bureau in Moscow. She has a graduate degree from Harvard and has testified before the U.S. Congress on human rights abuses during the war in Chechnya, which she covered.

Albats’ book, a vigorous attack on the secret police organization of which President Putin was the former spymaster, makes her an automatic target of Kremlin ire, and her brilliant Moscow Times columns only escalated the level of confrontation. But the Moscow Times is published in English and reaches a very narrow audience; Albats move to Russian-language radio brings her to the forefront of Kremlin opposition. Recently, she launched a staunch defense of Politkovskaya on her radio program, one which caused Russophile Moscow Times columnist Alexei Pankin to label her as espousing “democratic sympathies that verge on Bolshevik intransigence.”

Reviewing her book, the New York Times wrote: “That Ms. Albats could conduct her courageous research at all suggests at least a glimmer of change in the ancient Russian apparatus of secrecy. Still, for Americans rushing to feel good about the ‘new’ Russia, ‘The State Within a State” is a sobering reminder that whatever you believe about the influence of the secret police now, the world in which the Hydra-headed K.G.B. flourished is just three short years behind us.” Albats cagily said nothing to condemn Putin when he first rose to power, giving him all the rope he needed to hang himself. She told PBS’s Frontline just after he came to power: “Obviously, I don’t think that’s a good idea to judge Putin just by his KGB past. It’s not right, because that’s the way KGB used to judge us Soviet citizens–just because we are not party members or had the wrong last name or belonged to the wrong nationality or confessed to religion. I do believe that people are capable to change, and that ten years in the democratic circles did make a certain impact on Putin, as well.” But she also fretted: “The mentality of the KGB officer is that they were taught to be an extreme statist. . . . those who believe in the Russian imperialistic notion of being a great empire. That kind of mentality was taught and developed inside the KGB. And we clearly can see that Putin is that sort of extreme statist. For him, as for many of those who worked in the KGB, the state always comes first.” Thus, she now has a solid base from which to launch her assault on the Kremlin, which may see silencing her as its only alternative given that she cannot be discredited.

If you read Russian, you can also keep up with Albats on her blog.

The upshot: Yevgenia has published widely-read books in English and been written about by prestigious foreign papers. Pankin hasn’t. She directly confronts the power structure, risking her life for her country. Pankin doesn’t. She’s on the cutting edge of real journalism in Russia today, the last redoubt of courage left in a country that is rapidly starting to rival Zimbabwe. Pankin, to put it mildly, isn’t. And it’s eating him up inside that anybody else, much less a woman, is achieving something while he’s sitting on the sidelines gaping like a slack-jawed ape.

So what does this simpering little weasel have to say about one of the great journalists in Russia’s history? Hold your nose and have a look:

If you believe what is written in the news and conversations among journalists, then it would seem that Raf Shakirov — the well-known former editor of both Kommersant and Izvestia and the current editor of the New Times weekly magazine — is about to suffer again at the hands of the Kremlin. The last time this happened was in September 2004, during the hostage crisis in Beslan. The day after government troops stormed the school, Shakirov filled much of Izvestia’s pages with graphic photos showing heaps of dead children’s bodies. The Kremlin demanded his resignation soon after. Whether his editorial decision was appropriate is debatable, but there is no justification for the Kremlin’s interference in the affairs of a private newspaper.

In any case, the current growing conflict between the New Times and the Kremlin is not so much dramatic as it is bizarre. The intrigue began at the end of 2006, when television businesswoman Irena Lesnevskaya bought the New Times, which was popular during glasnost but later fell in standing. She named Shakirov as editor in chief, and a short time later, installed journalist Yevgenia Albats as political editor. The shock felt by the journalistic community at these appointments was so great that I still regret failing to play the role of bookmaker with my colleagues at work: Will Shakirov quit now or after a few months?

If one accepts the definition of a Russian “democrat” as someone who attributes all that is wrong in the world to government authorities and President Vladimir Putin, then it would be impossible to find any two more contrasting individuals to run a single publication. Shakirov’s views are far from radical. His interpretations of the authorities’ actions is based on a fundamental presumption of innocence. Albats, on the other hand, is the type of “democrat” who is inclined to blame Putin personally for the appearance of sun spots.

Shakirov is modest and speaks quietly. Albats’ hot temperament is more like that of Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Wherever she is, her voice is the only voice you hear. Shakirov loves facts, but Albats loves only her own “correct” opinion. I will never forget how, on her Ekho Moskvy radio program, Albats demanded that a young journalist repent for an article she wrote on the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya — simply because Albats did not like the article.

I know a few good journalists who reconsidered joining Shakirov at the New Times once Albats started working there. The web site Gazeta.ru published a woeful list of people who could not tolerate working with the political editor. They ultimately left the magazine and Shakirov endured all of this patiently .

And there is a twist that adds some spark to this affair: According to Kommersant, Gazeta.ru and independent sources, the Kremlin expressed its dissatisfaction with the magazine’s owner about the degree to which it expresses its opposition views. Lesnevskaya has never been one to buckle under pressure from anybody. She responded by closing ranks around Albats, declaring that anyone who doesn’t like it can go take a hike. That “anyone” might very well turn out to be Shakirov, notwithstanding his public comments to the contrary. If that happens, he will become the sacrificial lamb for both the authorities and the opposition.

What is most disheartening in this matter is that the Kremlin leadership does not consider it below its dignity to meddle in the affairs of a small-circulation publication. At the same time, Lesnevskaya showed foolish courage by investing money in a respected brand and then destroying it with her own hands, appointing editors who were, from the start, fundamentally incompatible.

In the end, common sense and professionalism suffer most in these types of cases, and in Russia, these are in short enough supply as it is.

Let’s review this column in detail. If we read between the lines, we can actually learn a few things about how the Kremlin is persecuting journalists, and justifying that persecution in the eyes of the world. It’s a sad commentary on how under-prepared we are to deal with the rising neo-Soviet menace that news of the latest Kremlin attack on Russia’s vestigial free press comes from a source of Pankin’s ilk. His comments are in bold:

She named Shakirov as editor in chief, and a short time later, installed journalist Yevgenia Albats as political editor. The shock felt by the journalistic community at these appointments was so great that I still regret failing to play the role of bookmaker with my colleagues at work: Will Shakirov quit now or after a few months?

Would it be too much to ask for Pankin to actually interview Shakirov and ask him what he thinks about Albats? Could it be that what prevents this is that Sharkirov has no idea who Pankin is and won’t take his calls?

“I know a few good journalists who reconsidered joining Shakirov at the New Times once Albats started working there.”

He knows them, but won’t name them? Did they ask for anonymity? Why? Or is he simply lying, afraid that if he named them it would be obvious they were hacks (or did he simply make up this statement entirely)? Would it be too much to ask for Pankin to quote just one named professional journalist of standing making derogatory comments about Albats.

“According to Kommersant, Gazeta.ru and independent sources, the Kremlin expressed its dissatisfaction with the magazine’s owner about the degree to which it expresses its opposition views.

Do you notice how deeply buried this statement is in the text, and how it appears only after Pankin has trashed Albats? Do you notice how mild his commentary on this outrageous fact is, merely finding it “disheartening . . . that the Kremlin leadership does not consider it below its dignity to meddle in the affairs of a small-circulation publication.” Why is his language so strong in regard to Albats and so mild in regard to the Kremlin? How, dear reader, would this piece have been any different if it had been written by a KGB spy seeking to justify the Kremlin’s actions by shifting the blame to the newspaper itself? He adds: “In any case, the current growing conflict between the New Times and the Kremlin is not so much dramatic as it is bizarre.” In other words, don’t worry, be happy. So much for Pankin’s defense of his colleagues.

Whether his editorial decision was appropriate is debatable, but there is no justification for the Kremlin’s interference in the affairs of a private newspaper.

Notice exactly the same thing happens here, when he discusses a prior attack on the paper by the Kremlin. Before mentioning what the Kremlin did, he first declares that the journalist himself might have been wrong.

If one accepts the definition of a Russian “democrat” as someone who attributes all that is wrong in the world to government authorities and President Vladimir Putin, then it would be impossible to find any two more contrasting individuals to run a single publication.

This sentence is totally devoid of meaning. The first part of it has nothing to do with the second, and neither one is explained or even vaguely comprehensible. This is what passes for “writing” and “journalism” in neo-Soviet Russia. When one considers that the MT probably interviewed other Russophile idiots to fill this spot in their roster and Pankin was the best of the lot, one’s skin begins to crawl.

I will never forget how, on her Ekho Moskvy radio program, Albats demanded that a young journalist repent for an article she wrote on the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya — simply because Albats did not like the article.

Gosh, Mr. Pankin, thanks for the fair, factual description of the contents of the article, and thanks for naming the journalist so we can check out your claims for ourselves. This man clearly learned his “journalism” under Brezhnev.

Shakirov’s views are far from radical. His interpretations of the authorities’ actions is based on a fundamental presumption of innocence. Albats, on the other hand, is the type of “democrat” who is inclined to blame Putin personally for the appearance of sun spots. Shakirov is modest and speaks quietly.

In other words, Shakirov is a “good boy” who knows how to behave himself according to the edicts of Alexei Pankin, whilst Albats dares to go her own way. And a woman, too! But still, Shakirov has been fired from a major paper, and all Pankin’s brilliance has not been enough to save him, now has it? Maybe Albats is onto something after all . . .

Albats, on the other hand, is the type of “democrat” who is inclined to blame Putin personally for the appearance of sun spots.

OK, maybe Albats blames Putin for too many ills. We don’t think so, but Pankin is entitled to his opinion. Does he ever ask, however, whether Shakirov, or he himself, or anyone at all, blames Putin insufficiently for things that are actually his fault? Of course not. Impressive, isn’t it, how Pankin documents his claim with facts, showing specific examples of how Albats accused Putin of acts which he was later proved not to have taken? This style of “journalism” is exactly what occurred in Soviet times, when Pankin learned his “craft.” What, pray tell Mr. Pankin, has Mr. Shakirov actually achieved by way of advancing his own brand of “democracy” in Russia? Can you name a single practical achievement? You certainly don’t actually do so, that’s for sure. What maniacs like Pankin always choose to overlook is that if the Russian people had been more like Albats when Stalin was consolidating his power, then millions of Russian lives might have been saved. That they were more like Pankin explains why Russia was obliterated by Stalin and continues to this day along its pathway to self-destruction.

* * *

It seems the Moscow Times has stopped publishing letters to the editor, and that’s a pity. Moreover, unlike in past times, there are apparently no e-mail addresses for the editors available on its “contacts” page. However, you can still visit the page and fill out a letter-to-the-editors form. La Russophobe asks that you do so, and call for the MT to fire this stinking little pustule of a “man” and replace him with a Russophile who at least has some remote semblance of intelligence and character about him. Frankly, this maggot is giving Russia a bad name. We’ve never called for someone to be fired before, and we don’t do it lightly. But if the Moscow Times fired Pavel Felgenhaur, one of its greatest columnists, then Pankin is simply a no-brainer. It’s simply amazing that the MT could allow one of its columnists to launch a personal attack on Albats, a former columnist of the MT itself, and a gross error in judgment on the part of a paper we here at La Russophobe have boundless affection for.

That error should now be redressed.

Documenting the Horror of the Rise of the Neo-Soviet State

The mighty Moscow Times delivers a fearsome one-two punch at the solar plexus of the neo-Soviet Union, a perfect compliment addressing neo-Sovietism at the most mundane level of bureaucracy and the most abstract level of philosophy. We’ve reproduced it below in a special two-part post.

First, MT documents how the Soviet bureaucracy has been fully revived:

From inside the Kremlin’s walls to everyday lives with endless paperwork, bureaucracy rules. Like the nation’s economy, bureaucracy seems to be booming. Determining its exact size is difficult, much like navigating the mire of it. But by all accounts, the number of public servants today likely exceeds Soviet levels. And they are making substantially more money than their average compatriots. Sociologists have detected a growing inclination among young people toward jobs like customs officers or tax inspectors, despite widespread allegations of corruption and inefficiency.

While attempts to remedy the sprawling and sluggish state sector have yet to bear fruit, experts are baffled by how much bureaucracy Russians are prepared to tolerate. The official figure has grown by almost 40 percent in the last five years. While in 2001 there were 1.14 million employees in federal and local government, the figure for 2006 is 1.57 million, according to the State Statistics Service. In the last years of the Soviet Union, those numbers declined from almost 2 million in 1987 to 1.57 million in 1989, and the country then was much more populous than today.

Experts warn that Soviet and contemporary statistics are not necessarily comparable, for instance because functions today performed by the public service were in the past provided by functionaries in the then-sprawling Communist Party organization. Many are convinced that bureaucracy has ballooned, however. “The number of public servants has increased dramatically,” said Yelena Panfilova, head of the Russian branch of Transparency International, a global corruption watchdog. The official figures, she added, probably understate the problem because they did not include employees at the municipal level. “I think that there are up to 3.5 million public servants in Russia today,” she said.

The main reason for the expansion, Panfilova said, is the creation of seven federal districts in 2000, with which President Vladimir Putin brought in a “huge army of bureaucrats” working in a new middle tier of administration, sandwiched between the federal and regional level. Also the creation of new federal agencies boosted numbers, such as the Federal Drug Control Service, the Federal Agency for Registering Real Estate, the Federal Financial Monitoring Service and Federal Service for Financial Markets, Panfilova said.

Vladimir Rimsky of the Indem Foundation, a Russian nongovernmental organization devoted to fighting corruption, said many more salaries depended directly or indirectly on the state. “If you include staff at companies owned or controlled by the government, you get a figure around 10 million,” Rimsky said. And pay is on the rise, too. On average, federal bureaucrats earned 21,300 rubles ($824) per month in the first quarter of 2007, well above the national average of roughly 12,000 rubles ($460) per month. In Moscow, federal employees are even making a monthly average of 27,700 rubles ($1,070), according to official statistics. With this in mind, it might not come as a total surprise that a survey of the Sociology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences released in May found that the prestige of government jobs is climbing. Seventeen percent of 1,796 men and women between the ages of 17 and 26 said they rated a position in state service as prestigious — much more than the 10 percent rating in a similar survey in 1997.

The state sector won much of the esteem lost by the legal and financial professions — whose ratings dropped from overall 89 percent in 1997 to 60 percent 10 years later. “Prestige is no longer associated exclusively with high salary potential, but more and more with notions of professionalism and power,” the survey’s authors said. Rimsky, who has conducted a nationwide survey, said careers in customs, tax and financial authorities came up most frequently when he questioned students about their future plans. “There are big regional differences, but most young people seem to be driven by economic insecurity,” Rimsky said.

On the other hand, many Russians still associate their public servants with the hallmarks of inefficiency — corruption, inertia and negligence. In another poll by the Sociology Institute in 2005, 38 percent voted that bureaucracy in the present epoch is stronger than in any other in history. Twenty-two percent thought it was stronger under Yeltsin, 17 percent under Breshnev, 12 percent during perestroika, 6 percent under Stalin and 2 percent during tsarist times. The rest could not decide. And 57 percent of those 1,800 polled said the bureaucracy exerted a negative influence on politics.

A recent World Bank research paper on government effectiveness bolsters the claim of poor administration. The survey, released in July, showed that Russia’s performance in key areas like rule of law and control of corruption was in the lowest quartile of the 212 countries and territories surveyed. It also recorded significant setbacks in voice and accountability — a measure of citizens’ ability to participate in government — and political stability. And in a recent Levada Center poll, 29 percent blamed bureaucrats for economic stagnation, 28 percent said poor law enforcement was to blame, while 25 percent said the government was too weak.

The growth of bureaucracy has worried political analysts and independent experts both inside and outside the country. In November, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that the trend of expanding the state into the private sector was slowing down the economy. Increasing state control over sectors like oil and aviation was “disturbing” and made the economy more prone to corruption, the OECD said in its sixth biennial report.

Some scholars have accepted big bureaucracy as a basic part of life. “It is not just a post-Soviet phenomenon but has been typical of the Soviet and tsarist eras as well,” said Marvin Kalb, a lecturer of public policy at Harvard University. He said big government administration would help offset insecurity in a country stretching from Europe to the Pacific, while at the same time there had always been “enormous amounts of corruption” in Russian bureaucracy. Kalb also said staff numbers in public administration had risen substantially under George W. Bush’s presidency in the United States, too. “Both presidents are increasing the number of government servants to increase their own power base,” he said.

Yet experts on administrative reform said some things in Russia have been moving in the right direction. “The bureaucracy is not very service-oriented, but it is undoubtedly more efficient than in Soviet times,” said David Fawkes, a British economist who leads an European Union-funded project aimed at reforming public service in Russia. “I think there is a strong understanding of the need to improve efficiency and to improve the quality of services to the public,” he said. Among the biggest obstacles is not so much bureaucrats’ complacency but the people’s apathy, he said. “It is difficult to convince the public to demand better service,” Fawkes said. “It is actually difficult to get people to complain.” Fawkes also said Russia had a comparative disadvantage versus other East European states with regard to administrative reforms. “They were forced to adapt in order to qualify for EU membership — Russia never had to do that,” he said.

Real changes will not be achieved quickly, Fawkes said. “What you need is a mentality change and that is very difficult and takes a very long time,” he said. The impetus, he stressed, had to come from the citizens and civil society.

Then, columnist Lilia Shevtsova (pictured), a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center, exposing the “new” Russian national idea, seething hatred of all things Western. That’s about as new an idea in Russia as fur hats.

The Russian political elite has long dreamed of finding a national idea capable of rallying the people. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev tried to consolidate the country with his idea of socialism “with a human face.” Former President Boris Yeltsin roused the people around anti-communism.

And President Vladimir Putin came to power under the unofficial slogan: “Let’s put an end to the Yeltsin-era chaos.” Now the elite is pushing a new national idea to rally the nation. It can be stated as follows: “We will protect the country from external enemies and establish a new global order to replace the one that so humiliated Russia in the 1990s.” To put it more simply, Putin’s motto is: “Russia is back!”

The closer we come to the end of Putin’s second term, the more the Kremlin needs to find an idea that would preserve everything it has achieved during the past eight years. Searching for enemies and casting the West in the role of the principal foe has turned out to be the most successful method for rallying the people. Russia has adopted an aggressive foreign policy rhetoric; Putin’s fiery Munich speech is a classic example. Anti-Western sentiment has become the new national idea, and national revival has taken the form of revisionism.

The arguments supporting the new national idea are plain and simple: “The West is interfering in our domestic affairs and attempting to weaken Russia. By promoting democracy, the West is really advancing its own interests.”

It seems that even pro-Western analysts are trying to convince themselves and the world that Russia should play by its own rules, and that the responsibility for the crisis in Russian-Western relations lies with Western capitals. Some of them even believe that NATO expansion, U.S. President George W. Bush’s export of democracy and Washington’s plan to install elements of anti-missile batteries in Europe is the main — and perhaps even only — reason for the failure of Russian democracy. Yesterday’s moderates and pragmatists today have joined with professional anti-Western political analysts — such as Vyacheslav Nikonov and Alexei Pushkov, the host of a popular analytical television program — in singing the same song. Being pro-Western in Russia today is not only unpopular, but also dangerous because it necessarily means being anti-Russian.

What is behind the new national idea? Anti-Western ideology has become an important factor that legitimizes the highly centralized state. The Kremlin has to offer some kind of explanation for the concentration of authority in so few hands, the elimination of political pluralism, the expansion of the state’s role in the economy and the redistribution of property. The search for enemies and the cultivation of a “siege mentality” have always been used to justify “iron-hand” regimes in Russia. To be sure, the Kremlin also has created smaller enemies, such as Georgia, Ukraine, and the Baltic states. In addition, liberals and certain unpopular oligarchs serve as convenient adversaries. But a great power should not be shooting at sparrows with a cannon or focusing so much attention on “small fries,” as one Russian analyst said. The West, and especially the United States, has proven to be the most convincing enemy.

But the crisis in Russian-Western relations is not purely based on a fundamental lack of shared values and principles. After all, communist China has much less in common with the West than Russia does, but U.S.-Chinese relations are quite friendly, and, in the economic sphere, they resemble a strong mutually beneficial partnership (notwithstanding the numerous difficulties). China, in seeking out its own prosperity, has chosen to pursue a policy of rapprochement, successfully making use of the West for its own modernization. Russia’s ruling elite has taken a different path, trying to establish its global role by distancing itself from the West.

Russia’s elite uses the anti-Western national idea because it believes it is giving the people an attractive ideology. But, at the same time, Moscow wants to pursue a partnership with the West for the sake of its own development and global integration.

The attitude toward the West has become a litmus test of loyalty to the authorities and the system. Verbal attacks have become synonymous with patriotism. As a result, the numerous so-called “liberal Westernizers” of the 1990s dwindled down to a tiny group. Only the most desperate, such as Garry Kasparov, still attempt to voice their liberal sympathies. Everyone else understands that it is not advisable to show too much reverence for the West. That would be considered as unpatriotic behavior.

Let’s consider the most popular cliches of the new national idea:

• “Russia has recovered from the humiliation of the 1990s.”

But why must this be achieved by spoiling relations with the West? Germany and Japan overcame their postwar humiliation by transforming themselves into great economic powers and by integrating into the global economy and adopting liberal-democratic values.

• “Russia has the right to pursue an independent policy.”

If Russia takes this desire to its extreme, it would have to withdraw its membership in and application for all Western clubs and international organizations that place limits on its sovereignty, such as the Group of Eight, the Council of Europe and the World Trade Organization.

• “Russia is an energy superpower and Europe’s dependence on its energy will increase.”

This dependence cuts both ways. One of the most humiliating forms of dependence is an exporter’s dependence on the importer, and the Kremlin has yet to fully understand this.

• “Russia wants to be integrated into the West on its own terms.”

This is music to the patriots’ ears, but they don’t explain how they can be equal partners when Russia is building its society on anti-Western principles.

It must be admitted that the proponents of the anti-Western ideology succeeded at their goal of preserving the interests of the ruling class. This is a case when the West, which does not entirely understand events in Russia and does not have a strategy for dealing with a “revisionist” Kremlin, has allowed itself to be used as a “negative” factor in Moscow’s drive to mobilize the people behind an aggressive national ideology.

The anti-Western ideologues are joined by the pragmatists — the pundits who until recently had independent political positions but today support the new national idea. They advise the West by saying: “Accept Russia as it is and base your policy on mutual interests, not on values.” Perhaps they sincerely believe that realpolitik will lead to future rapprochement between Russia and the West and will help build Russian democracy.

But then why has Western realpolitik resulted only in a crisis in its relations with Russia? Don’t these “realists” understand that they are encouraging the West to build relations with Russia according to the same model that the West pursues with China?! If this is indeed the case, then Russia must leave the G-8 and the Council of Europe, whose membership is conditioned upon adherence to democratic principles and institutions.

Russia’s ruling elite has let the genie out of the bottle and it will be very difficult to put it back again, especially because there is no resistance to anti-Westernism even in intellectual circles.

Fortunately, the majority of people have managed to avoid getting caught up in the anti-Western hysteria. Polls show that 70 percent of Russians still consider Europe to be a partner. But there are definite consequences to the Kremlin’s heavy anti-Western propaganda. The elite, which has built a political and foreign policy program based on anti-Western ideas, cannot easily switch back to the opposite position. That is the legacy Putin leaves behind — a legacy built by everyone who today shouts with such enthusiasm, “Russia is back!”

It’s true — Russia is back. But it has only returned to the past.

August 7, 2007 — Contents

TUESDAY AUGUST 7 CONTENTS


(1) Annals of the Sochi Olympics Insanity

(2) Top 10 Reasons Why Russia Wants the Arctic

(3) Times of London Fires Back at Russian State TV

(4) Senile Solzhenitsyn Speaks