Daily Archives: August 13, 2007

Another Original LR Translation: The Saga of Larisa Arap

The Triumph of Punitive Psychiatry in Murmansk

by Aleksandr Podrabinek

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

August 11, 2007

The forced hospitalization of Larisa Arap [pictured, left, pre– and post-“treatment”] continues. Medical bureaucrats and complaisant psychiatrists are consciously misleading people. To people who are unacquainted with the story, they are talk about mental illness, Larisa’s wild behavior at the time she being hospitalized, and the danger she poses to those around her. To her relatives and friends they promise a quick change in the regime under which she is being held, all sorts of indulgences, and the curtailment of her hospitalization.

Last Friday, the head doctor of the hospital promised her relatives that on Tuesday Larisa would be transferred to a so-called outpatient hospital. This hospital was even shown to her relatives and some French journalists who came with them. Larisa, not having been informed of these promises, announced a hunger strike. On Monday her friends urged her to stop her hunger strike in order to be transferred to an easier form of hospitalization. She stopped it. But they had tricked her – she wasn’t transferred anywhere.

The leader of the Murmansk United Civil Front (OGF; a human rights organization) Elena Vasilyeva said that the Regional Health Department ordered that Larisa Arap not be transferred anywhere and instead undergo another trial to confirm the necessity of holding her long-term in a mental hospital.

Larisa is not allowed to read newspapers, watch television or listen to the radio. The genuine mental patients are being turned against her. As Larisa herself confirmed, it was announced in the ward that if she did not stop her hunger strike the rest of the patients would not be allowed to smoke. If one can easily imagine what would happen in such a situation with normal people, what could be expected from genuinely sick people?

“The deputy director told us,” said Elena Vasilyeva, “that previously forced hospitalizations had proceeded on a smooth path, without any human rights issues, and this was their first instance otherwise.” A horrible tragedy has begun. In the Soviet Union such occurrences were in the thousands.

Now, in contrast with the Soviet era, there remains in the country a free press, legal human rights organizations and political associations. Thanks to these, the case of Larisa Arap has gained publicity. It is being written about and discussed in both Russia and abroad.

Only the authorities in Russia are silent, as if, in the words of Vladimir Nabokov, “they are holding blood in their mouths.” Sullen and unruffled. Not a word is uttered, not by the Prosecutor General, nor the law enforcement agencies, nor the Minister of Health, nor the Guarantor of the Constitution [TN: Putin] or his minor Guarantors. Only the Commissioner for Human Rights has reacted, and then not on his own initiative, but only after an appeal to him by the OGF and Independent Psychiatrists Association.

Initially, one could suppose that events in Murmansk were a strictly local initiative, without the approval of the federal authorities. But now, in the second month of Larisa Arap’s psychiatric hospitalization, it is becoming clear – the authorities have silently consented to the use of psychiatric hospitalization against the political opposition. She is testing the strength of a new method for dealing with inconvenient people, or more exactly – a poorly forgotten old method.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Note from the Translator:

In an article printed one week before the above (The Gang, Yezednevniy Zhurnal, 03 Aug 2007), commentator Aleksandr Ryklin pointed out that while the case of Larisa Arap strongly resembles Soviet-style punitive psychiatry, it is in some ways even worse. As Ryklin recounts the story, Arap’s forcible hospitalization was the result of an essentially personal grudge by a local psychiatrist, Dr. Olga Reshet, who recognized Arap as being the author of an investigative report about abuse of children at her psychiatric hospital. Ryklin goes on to note:

“Many human rights workers, including the Novaya Gazeta commentator (and sometimes author on YeZh) Aleksander Podrabinek, have begun to talk about ‘punitive psychiatry’, which was so widely practiced in the Soviet era. But I think this is not an altogether accurate comparison.

“I would have difficulty imagining a situation in which a lower-level Soviet psychiatrist could make the decision to forcibly hospitalize a normal person on some sort of personal motivation – and then it would still require the sanction of the responsible agencies and high-ranking officials.

“What happened in Severomorsk was altogether different. A regular doctor turned out to be able, on her own and without any sort of direction from above (if Larisa had not come in seeking a certificate of mental health, she would still be free today), to ruin the life of another person, hurl her into an abyss of monstrous suffering and humiliation. They have deprived Larisa Arap of her freedom, they are administering some sort of injections to her (Larisa’s husband, with whom she was allowed to meet, has confirmed that she can hardly walk and can speak only indistinctly), they are tying her to her bed, they are beating her.”

Interestingly, however, the authorities have not taken the opportunity to blame the entire affair on Dr Reshet and move on, apparently intending instead to send a signal to people like Arap… and, probably, people like Reshet as well.

Read more about Ms. Arap’s case here.

Rewriting Russia’s History . . . and its Present

According to a poll last month by the Moscow-based Levada Center, 54 percent of Russians between 16 and 19 believe Stalin was “a wise leader,” and a similar number thought the collapse of the Soviet Union was “a tragedy.” (Two thirds also thought that America was a “rival and enemy” and 62 percent believed that the government should “deport most immigrants.”) “Many of my classmates believe that some kind of Soviet golden era existed before the West came in and destroyed everything,” says Fillip Kuznetsov, an international-relations student at Moscow University. “They also believe the state is justified in doing anything it likes to its citizens in the name of some great cause.”

Newsweek

The New York Times reports some extracts from the new Kremlin-authored history textbook which is attempting to rewrite the country’s history to suit the dictatorship. Apparently, Putin’s genius historians see no connection between Stalin’s atrocities and the collapse of the USSR. Interestingly, Stalin too rejected such criticism, and Putin rejects it concerning himself. Thus, Russia follows in the footsteps of the USSR on the road to oblivion.

Yes, a Lot of People Died, but …

Stalin has undergone a number of transformations of his historical image in Russia, interpretations that say as much about the country’s current leaders as about the dictator himself. In the West, Stalin is remembered for the numbers of his victims, about 20 million, largely his own citizens, executed or allowed to die in famines or the gulag. They included a generation of peasant farmers in Ukraine, former Bolsheviks and other political figures who were purged in the show trials of the 1930s, Polish officers executed at Katyn Forest, and Russians who died in the slave labor economy. Stalin’s crimes have been tied to his personality, cruelty and paranoia as well as to the circumstances of Russian and Soviet history. While not denying that Stalin committed the crimes, a new study guide in Russia for high school teachers views his cruelty through a particular, if familiar, lens. It portrays Stalin not as an extraordinary monster who came to power because of the unique evil of Communism, but as a strong ruler in a long line of autocrats going back to the czars. Russian history, in this view, at times demands tyranny to build a great nation.

The text reinforces this idea by comparing Stalin to Bismarck, who united Germany, and comparing Russia in the 1930s under the threat of Nazism to the United States after 9/11 in attitudes toward liberties.

The history guide — titled “A Modern History of Russia: 1945-2006” — was presented at a conference for high school teachers where President Vladimir V. Putin spoke; the author, Aleksandr Filippov, is a deputy director of a Kremlin-connected think tank. Excerpts from the guide follow. The text was translated by Nikolai Khalip and Michael Schwirtz in Moscow.

JUST LIKE BISMARCK AND PETER

As a result of the “Big Purge” of late 1930s, practically all members and candidates to become Politburo members elected after the 17th Party Congress suffered from reprisals to a certain degree….Postwar reprisals were quite similarly addressed… The number of victims of the Leningrad case reached about two thousand people. Many of them faced firing squads. Studies by Soviet and foreign historians confirmed that the ruling class was the priority victim of the repressions in 1930-1950.

…Stalin followed Peter the Great’s logic: demand the impossible from the people in order to get the maximum possible. …The result of Stalin’s purges was a new class of managers capable of solving the task of modernization in conditions of shortages of resources, loyal to the supreme power and immaculate from the point of view of executive discipline….

Thus, just like Chancellor Bismarck who united German lands into a single state by “iron and blood,” Stalin was reinforcing his state by cruelty and mercilessness. Strengthening the state, including its industrial and defensive might, he considered one of the main principles of his policy.

Indirect evidence of this can be found in the memoirs of his daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva. Every time he looked at her dress he always asked the same question, making a wry mouth: “Is this foreign-made?” and always cracked a smile when I answered, ‘No, it was made here, locally.”

A STRONG IF CRUEL LEADER

A chapter ends with a brief broadening of the interpretation that hints at ways to discuss Stalin’s personal flaws, and the fate of the millions of Soviet citizens who suffered and perished under his rule. But little detail is supplied on that last point, nor does the guide suggest how teachers might conduct more research on it.

…It is common knowledge that power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is well known from Russian history how corrupting a long term in power is. Biographies of such outstanding rulers as Peter the First and Catherine the Second prove it …

The leader’s closest associate, V. M. Molotov, admitted that at the beginning Stalin struggled with his cult, but later on he developed a liking for it: “He was very reserved in the first years, and then he put on airs.”

As to what people think of Stalin, we can judge by an opinion poll conducted in February 2006 by Public Opinion Fund:

If we speak as a whole of the role of Stalin in Russian history, was he positive or negative? Positive: 47 percent; negative: 29 percent; did not answer: 24 percent.

Thus, there are grounds for controversial assessments of Stalin’s role. On the one hand, he is considered one of the most successful leaders of the U.S.S.R. During his leadership the territory of the country was expanded and reached the boundaries of the former Russian Empire (in some areas even surpassed it). A victory in one of the greatest wars was won; industrialization of the economy and cultural revolution were carried out successfully, resulting not only in the great number of educated people but also in creating the best educational system in the world. The U.S.S.R. joined the leading countries in the field of science; unemployment was practically defeated.

But there was a different side to Stalin’s rule. The successes — many Stalin opponents point it out — were achieved through cruel exploitation of the population. The country lived through several waves of major repressions during his rule. Stalin himself was the initiator and theoretician of such “aggravation of class struggle.” Entire social groups were eliminated: well-off peasantry, urban middle class, clergy and old intelligentsia. In addition, masses of people quite loyal to the authorities suffered from the severe laws.

ECHOES OF 9/11

The study guide pointedly refers to what it says are recent restrictions on American liberties undertaken to fight terrorism.

Political and historical studies show that when they come under similarly serious threats, even “soft” and “flexible” political systems, as a rule, turn more rigid and limit individual rights, as happened in the United States after September 11, 2001

Meanwhile, the Putin regime continues to ignore reality even when it is thrust up in the Kremlin’s face by true Russian patriots. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

A giant cross now commands the field where the first shots of Joseph Stalin’s Great Terror sounded 70 years ago. It was erected on Wednesday with religious pomp, as relatives of the victims shed tears, laid flowers and recalled how their loved ones had perished. The 12-metre-high Siberian cedar cross was ferried about 1300 kilometres by boat from a former Soviet prison camp on the White Sea through the Belomor Canal to Moscow. The procession and the ceremony were a rare attempt to address Soviet brutality during Stalin’s reign, an issue human rights groups say, is often eclipsed by the mythologised interpretation of Soviet glory promoted by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

There was little recognition from the Russian Government, which is prone to whitewashing one of the country’s darkest eras.

Millions died from wars, famine, and government cruelty in the nearly 30 years of Stalin’s rule. The systematic killing of “enemies of the people” reached its apogee during the period from August 1937 to October 1938.

During that time the Soviet secret police, or NKVD, executed more than 700,000 people [LR: Vladimir Putin is a proud member of the NKVD’s successor organization, the KGB and FSB] About 20,000 of those who died were killed on the former Butovo shooting range in southern Russia, where the cross now stands, and buried in mass graves. Many of the dead were priests.

During the lengthy Russian Orthodox service on Wednesday, relatives wept and told of their search for information about parents and grandparents. “I came here today to pay my last respects to my grandfather,” said Nina, a middle-aged woman holding a photograph of her grandfather. “Andrei Sergeyevich was a good character, he wasn’t a bad man, but they detained him because he was the best in his village,” she said.

Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, aged 87 and blind, came to the ceremony to honour his father, who was murdered at Butovo. A historian and director of a gulag museum, he discovered details about the slaughter in secret police archives that were partially opened up after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The 12-metre-high cross began its journey with the blessing of the Russian Orthodox Church on July 25, from the Solovetsky monastery, once a brutal prison camp described by the Soviet writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as the first link in the gulag archipelago. The procession ended on Tuesday in Moscow, where the cross was driven around the capital’s outer ring road. The next morning, it was taken to the Butovo range for a small ceremony attended by a few thousand people, including journalists from state-run television. But the absence of political officials generated criticism.

The Government’s response to the anniversary “was absolutely inadequate in terms of scale and historical importance”, said Grigory Yavlinsky, the leader of the opposition Yabloko Party.

In rare comments on the Stalin era at a teachers’ conference in June, Mr Putin acknowledged the “awful pages” in Russia’s history: “Let us not forget the year 1937,” he said. “But,” he add “in other countries it was more awful.”

Rewriting Russia’s History . . . and its Present

According to a poll last month by the Moscow-based Levada Center, 54 percent of Russians between 16 and 19 believe Stalin was “a wise leader,” and a similar number thought the collapse of the Soviet Union was “a tragedy.” (Two thirds also thought that America was a “rival and enemy” and 62 percent believed that the government should “deport most immigrants.”) “Many of my classmates believe that some kind of Soviet golden era existed before the West came in and destroyed everything,” says Fillip Kuznetsov, an international-relations student at Moscow University. “They also believe the state is justified in doing anything it likes to its citizens in the name of some great cause.”

Newsweek

The New York Times reports some extracts from the new Kremlin-authored history textbook which is attempting to rewrite the country’s history to suit the dictatorship. Apparently, Putin’s genius historians see no connection between Stalin’s atrocities and the collapse of the USSR. Interestingly, Stalin too rejected such criticism, and Putin rejects it concerning himself. Thus, Russia follows in the footsteps of the USSR on the road to oblivion.

Yes, a Lot of People Died, but …

Stalin has undergone a number of transformations of his historical image in Russia, interpretations that say as much about the country’s current leaders as about the dictator himself. In the West, Stalin is remembered for the numbers of his victims, about 20 million, largely his own citizens, executed or allowed to die in famines or the gulag. They included a generation of peasant farmers in Ukraine, former Bolsheviks and other political figures who were purged in the show trials of the 1930s, Polish officers executed at Katyn Forest, and Russians who died in the slave labor economy. Stalin’s crimes have been tied to his personality, cruelty and paranoia as well as to the circumstances of Russian and Soviet history. While not denying that Stalin committed the crimes, a new study guide in Russia for high school teachers views his cruelty through a particular, if familiar, lens. It portrays Stalin not as an extraordinary monster who came to power because of the unique evil of Communism, but as a strong ruler in a long line of autocrats going back to the czars. Russian history, in this view, at times demands tyranny to build a great nation.

The text reinforces this idea by comparing Stalin to Bismarck, who united Germany, and comparing Russia in the 1930s under the threat of Nazism to the United States after 9/11 in attitudes toward liberties.

The history guide — titled “A Modern History of Russia: 1945-2006” — was presented at a conference for high school teachers where President Vladimir V. Putin spoke; the author, Aleksandr Filippov, is a deputy director of a Kremlin-connected think tank. Excerpts from the guide follow. The text was translated by Nikolai Khalip and Michael Schwirtz in Moscow.

JUST LIKE BISMARCK AND PETER

As a result of the “Big Purge” of late 1930s, practically all members and candidates to become Politburo members elected after the 17th Party Congress suffered from reprisals to a certain degree….Postwar reprisals were quite similarly addressed… The number of victims of the Leningrad case reached about two thousand people. Many of them faced firing squads. Studies by Soviet and foreign historians confirmed that the ruling class was the priority victim of the repressions in 1930-1950.

…Stalin followed Peter the Great’s logic: demand the impossible from the people in order to get the maximum possible. …The result of Stalin’s purges was a new class of managers capable of solving the task of modernization in conditions of shortages of resources, loyal to the supreme power and immaculate from the point of view of executive discipline….

Thus, just like Chancellor Bismarck who united German lands into a single state by “iron and blood,” Stalin was reinforcing his state by cruelty and mercilessness. Strengthening the state, including its industrial and defensive might, he considered one of the main principles of his policy.

Indirect evidence of this can be found in the memoirs of his daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva. Every time he looked at her dress he always asked the same question, making a wry mouth: “Is this foreign-made?” and always cracked a smile when I answered, ‘No, it was made here, locally.”

A STRONG IF CRUEL LEADER

A chapter ends with a brief broadening of the interpretation that hints at ways to discuss Stalin’s personal flaws, and the fate of the millions of Soviet citizens who suffered and perished under his rule. But little detail is supplied on that last point, nor does the guide suggest how teachers might conduct more research on it.

…It is common knowledge that power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is well known from Russian history how corrupting a long term in power is. Biographies of such outstanding rulers as Peter the First and Catherine the Second prove it …

The leader’s closest associate, V. M. Molotov, admitted that at the beginning Stalin struggled with his cult, but later on he developed a liking for it: “He was very reserved in the first years, and then he put on airs.”

As to what people think of Stalin, we can judge by an opinion poll conducted in February 2006 by Public Opinion Fund:

If we speak as a whole of the role of Stalin in Russian history, was he positive or negative? Positive: 47 percent; negative: 29 percent; did not answer: 24 percent.

Thus, there are grounds for controversial assessments of Stalin’s role. On the one hand, he is considered one of the most successful leaders of the U.S.S.R. During his leadership the territory of the country was expanded and reached the boundaries of the former Russian Empire (in some areas even surpassed it). A victory in one of the greatest wars was won; industrialization of the economy and cultural revolution were carried out successfully, resulting not only in the great number of educated people but also in creating the best educational system in the world. The U.S.S.R. joined the leading countries in the field of science; unemployment was practically defeated.

But there was a different side to Stalin’s rule. The successes — many Stalin opponents point it out — were achieved through cruel exploitation of the population. The country lived through several waves of major repressions during his rule. Stalin himself was the initiator and theoretician of such “aggravation of class struggle.” Entire social groups were eliminated: well-off peasantry, urban middle class, clergy and old intelligentsia. In addition, masses of people quite loyal to the authorities suffered from the severe laws.

ECHOES OF 9/11

The study guide pointedly refers to what it says are recent restrictions on American liberties undertaken to fight terrorism.

Political and historical studies show that when they come under similarly serious threats, even “soft” and “flexible” political systems, as a rule, turn more rigid and limit individual rights, as happened in the United States after September 11, 2001

Meanwhile, the Putin regime continues to ignore reality even when it is thrust up in the Kremlin’s face by true Russian patriots. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

A giant cross now commands the field where the first shots of Joseph Stalin’s Great Terror sounded 70 years ago. It was erected on Wednesday with religious pomp, as relatives of the victims shed tears, laid flowers and recalled how their loved ones had perished. The 12-metre-high Siberian cedar cross was ferried about 1300 kilometres by boat from a former Soviet prison camp on the White Sea through the Belomor Canal to Moscow. The procession and the ceremony were a rare attempt to address Soviet brutality during Stalin’s reign, an issue human rights groups say, is often eclipsed by the mythologised interpretation of Soviet glory promoted by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

There was little recognition from the Russian Government, which is prone to whitewashing one of the country’s darkest eras.

Millions died from wars, famine, and government cruelty in the nearly 30 years of Stalin’s rule. The systematic killing of “enemies of the people” reached its apogee during the period from August 1937 to October 1938.

During that time the Soviet secret police, or NKVD, executed more than 700,000 people [LR: Vladimir Putin is a proud member of the NKVD’s successor organization, the KGB and FSB] About 20,000 of those who died were killed on the former Butovo shooting range in southern Russia, where the cross now stands, and buried in mass graves. Many of the dead were priests.

During the lengthy Russian Orthodox service on Wednesday, relatives wept and told of their search for information about parents and grandparents. “I came here today to pay my last respects to my grandfather,” said Nina, a middle-aged woman holding a photograph of her grandfather. “Andrei Sergeyevich was a good character, he wasn’t a bad man, but they detained him because he was the best in his village,” she said.

Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, aged 87 and blind, came to the ceremony to honour his father, who was murdered at Butovo. A historian and director of a gulag museum, he discovered details about the slaughter in secret police archives that were partially opened up after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The 12-metre-high cross began its journey with the blessing of the Russian Orthodox Church on July 25, from the Solovetsky monastery, once a brutal prison camp described by the Soviet writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as the first link in the gulag archipelago. The procession ended on Tuesday in Moscow, where the cross was driven around the capital’s outer ring road. The next morning, it was taken to the Butovo range for a small ceremony attended by a few thousand people, including journalists from state-run television. But the absence of political officials generated criticism.

The Government’s response to the anniversary “was absolutely inadequate in terms of scale and historical importance”, said Grigory Yavlinsky, the leader of the opposition Yabloko Party.

In rare comments on the Stalin era at a teachers’ conference in June, Mr Putin acknowledged the “awful pages” in Russia’s history: “Let us not forget the year 1937,” he said. “But,” he add “in other countries it was more awful.”

Rewriting Russia’s History . . . and its Present

According to a poll last month by the Moscow-based Levada Center, 54 percent of Russians between 16 and 19 believe Stalin was “a wise leader,” and a similar number thought the collapse of the Soviet Union was “a tragedy.” (Two thirds also thought that America was a “rival and enemy” and 62 percent believed that the government should “deport most immigrants.”) “Many of my classmates believe that some kind of Soviet golden era existed before the West came in and destroyed everything,” says Fillip Kuznetsov, an international-relations student at Moscow University. “They also believe the state is justified in doing anything it likes to its citizens in the name of some great cause.”

Newsweek

The New York Times reports some extracts from the new Kremlin-authored history textbook which is attempting to rewrite the country’s history to suit the dictatorship. Apparently, Putin’s genius historians see no connection between Stalin’s atrocities and the collapse of the USSR. Interestingly, Stalin too rejected such criticism, and Putin rejects it concerning himself. Thus, Russia follows in the footsteps of the USSR on the road to oblivion.

Yes, a Lot of People Died, but …

Stalin has undergone a number of transformations of his historical image in Russia, interpretations that say as much about the country’s current leaders as about the dictator himself. In the West, Stalin is remembered for the numbers of his victims, about 20 million, largely his own citizens, executed or allowed to die in famines or the gulag. They included a generation of peasant farmers in Ukraine, former Bolsheviks and other political figures who were purged in the show trials of the 1930s, Polish officers executed at Katyn Forest, and Russians who died in the slave labor economy. Stalin’s crimes have been tied to his personality, cruelty and paranoia as well as to the circumstances of Russian and Soviet history. While not denying that Stalin committed the crimes, a new study guide in Russia for high school teachers views his cruelty through a particular, if familiar, lens. It portrays Stalin not as an extraordinary monster who came to power because of the unique evil of Communism, but as a strong ruler in a long line of autocrats going back to the czars. Russian history, in this view, at times demands tyranny to build a great nation.

The text reinforces this idea by comparing Stalin to Bismarck, who united Germany, and comparing Russia in the 1930s under the threat of Nazism to the United States after 9/11 in attitudes toward liberties.

The history guide — titled “A Modern History of Russia: 1945-2006” — was presented at a conference for high school teachers where President Vladimir V. Putin spoke; the author, Aleksandr Filippov, is a deputy director of a Kremlin-connected think tank. Excerpts from the guide follow. The text was translated by Nikolai Khalip and Michael Schwirtz in Moscow.

JUST LIKE BISMARCK AND PETER

As a result of the “Big Purge” of late 1930s, practically all members and candidates to become Politburo members elected after the 17th Party Congress suffered from reprisals to a certain degree….Postwar reprisals were quite similarly addressed… The number of victims of the Leningrad case reached about two thousand people. Many of them faced firing squads. Studies by Soviet and foreign historians confirmed that the ruling class was the priority victim of the repressions in 1930-1950.

…Stalin followed Peter the Great’s logic: demand the impossible from the people in order to get the maximum possible. …The result of Stalin’s purges was a new class of managers capable of solving the task of modernization in conditions of shortages of resources, loyal to the supreme power and immaculate from the point of view of executive discipline….

Thus, just like Chancellor Bismarck who united German lands into a single state by “iron and blood,” Stalin was reinforcing his state by cruelty and mercilessness. Strengthening the state, including its industrial and defensive might, he considered one of the main principles of his policy.

Indirect evidence of this can be found in the memoirs of his daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva. Every time he looked at her dress he always asked the same question, making a wry mouth: “Is this foreign-made?” and always cracked a smile when I answered, ‘No, it was made here, locally.”

A STRONG IF CRUEL LEADER

A chapter ends with a brief broadening of the interpretation that hints at ways to discuss Stalin’s personal flaws, and the fate of the millions of Soviet citizens who suffered and perished under his rule. But little detail is supplied on that last point, nor does the guide suggest how teachers might conduct more research on it.

…It is common knowledge that power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is well known from Russian history how corrupting a long term in power is. Biographies of such outstanding rulers as Peter the First and Catherine the Second prove it …

The leader’s closest associate, V. M. Molotov, admitted that at the beginning Stalin struggled with his cult, but later on he developed a liking for it: “He was very reserved in the first years, and then he put on airs.”

As to what people think of Stalin, we can judge by an opinion poll conducted in February 2006 by Public Opinion Fund:

If we speak as a whole of the role of Stalin in Russian history, was he positive or negative? Positive: 47 percent; negative: 29 percent; did not answer: 24 percent.

Thus, there are grounds for controversial assessments of Stalin’s role. On the one hand, he is considered one of the most successful leaders of the U.S.S.R. During his leadership the territory of the country was expanded and reached the boundaries of the former Russian Empire (in some areas even surpassed it). A victory in one of the greatest wars was won; industrialization of the economy and cultural revolution were carried out successfully, resulting not only in the great number of educated people but also in creating the best educational system in the world. The U.S.S.R. joined the leading countries in the field of science; unemployment was practically defeated.

But there was a different side to Stalin’s rule. The successes — many Stalin opponents point it out — were achieved through cruel exploitation of the population. The country lived through several waves of major repressions during his rule. Stalin himself was the initiator and theoretician of such “aggravation of class struggle.” Entire social groups were eliminated: well-off peasantry, urban middle class, clergy and old intelligentsia. In addition, masses of people quite loyal to the authorities suffered from the severe laws.

ECHOES OF 9/11

The study guide pointedly refers to what it says are recent restrictions on American liberties undertaken to fight terrorism.

Political and historical studies show that when they come under similarly serious threats, even “soft” and “flexible” political systems, as a rule, turn more rigid and limit individual rights, as happened in the United States after September 11, 2001

Meanwhile, the Putin regime continues to ignore reality even when it is thrust up in the Kremlin’s face by true Russian patriots. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

A giant cross now commands the field where the first shots of Joseph Stalin’s Great Terror sounded 70 years ago. It was erected on Wednesday with religious pomp, as relatives of the victims shed tears, laid flowers and recalled how their loved ones had perished. The 12-metre-high Siberian cedar cross was ferried about 1300 kilometres by boat from a former Soviet prison camp on the White Sea through the Belomor Canal to Moscow. The procession and the ceremony were a rare attempt to address Soviet brutality during Stalin’s reign, an issue human rights groups say, is often eclipsed by the mythologised interpretation of Soviet glory promoted by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

There was little recognition from the Russian Government, which is prone to whitewashing one of the country’s darkest eras.

Millions died from wars, famine, and government cruelty in the nearly 30 years of Stalin’s rule. The systematic killing of “enemies of the people” reached its apogee during the period from August 1937 to October 1938.

During that time the Soviet secret police, or NKVD, executed more than 700,000 people [LR: Vladimir Putin is a proud member of the NKVD’s successor organization, the KGB and FSB] About 20,000 of those who died were killed on the former Butovo shooting range in southern Russia, where the cross now stands, and buried in mass graves. Many of the dead were priests.

During the lengthy Russian Orthodox service on Wednesday, relatives wept and told of their search for information about parents and grandparents. “I came here today to pay my last respects to my grandfather,” said Nina, a middle-aged woman holding a photograph of her grandfather. “Andrei Sergeyevich was a good character, he wasn’t a bad man, but they detained him because he was the best in his village,” she said.

Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, aged 87 and blind, came to the ceremony to honour his father, who was murdered at Butovo. A historian and director of a gulag museum, he discovered details about the slaughter in secret police archives that were partially opened up after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The 12-metre-high cross began its journey with the blessing of the Russian Orthodox Church on July 25, from the Solovetsky monastery, once a brutal prison camp described by the Soviet writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as the first link in the gulag archipelago. The procession ended on Tuesday in Moscow, where the cross was driven around the capital’s outer ring road. The next morning, it was taken to the Butovo range for a small ceremony attended by a few thousand people, including journalists from state-run television. But the absence of political officials generated criticism.

The Government’s response to the anniversary “was absolutely inadequate in terms of scale and historical importance”, said Grigory Yavlinsky, the leader of the opposition Yabloko Party.

In rare comments on the Stalin era at a teachers’ conference in June, Mr Putin acknowledged the “awful pages” in Russia’s history: “Let us not forget the year 1937,” he said. “But,” he add “in other countries it was more awful.”

Rewriting Russia’s History . . . and its Present

According to a poll last month by the Moscow-based Levada Center, 54 percent of Russians between 16 and 19 believe Stalin was “a wise leader,” and a similar number thought the collapse of the Soviet Union was “a tragedy.” (Two thirds also thought that America was a “rival and enemy” and 62 percent believed that the government should “deport most immigrants.”) “Many of my classmates believe that some kind of Soviet golden era existed before the West came in and destroyed everything,” says Fillip Kuznetsov, an international-relations student at Moscow University. “They also believe the state is justified in doing anything it likes to its citizens in the name of some great cause.”

Newsweek

The New York Times reports some extracts from the new Kremlin-authored history textbook which is attempting to rewrite the country’s history to suit the dictatorship. Apparently, Putin’s genius historians see no connection between Stalin’s atrocities and the collapse of the USSR. Interestingly, Stalin too rejected such criticism, and Putin rejects it concerning himself. Thus, Russia follows in the footsteps of the USSR on the road to oblivion.

Yes, a Lot of People Died, but …

Stalin has undergone a number of transformations of his historical image in Russia, interpretations that say as much about the country’s current leaders as about the dictator himself. In the West, Stalin is remembered for the numbers of his victims, about 20 million, largely his own citizens, executed or allowed to die in famines or the gulag. They included a generation of peasant farmers in Ukraine, former Bolsheviks and other political figures who were purged in the show trials of the 1930s, Polish officers executed at Katyn Forest, and Russians who died in the slave labor economy. Stalin’s crimes have been tied to his personality, cruelty and paranoia as well as to the circumstances of Russian and Soviet history. While not denying that Stalin committed the crimes, a new study guide in Russia for high school teachers views his cruelty through a particular, if familiar, lens. It portrays Stalin not as an extraordinary monster who came to power because of the unique evil of Communism, but as a strong ruler in a long line of autocrats going back to the czars. Russian history, in this view, at times demands tyranny to build a great nation.

The text reinforces this idea by comparing Stalin to Bismarck, who united Germany, and comparing Russia in the 1930s under the threat of Nazism to the United States after 9/11 in attitudes toward liberties.

The history guide — titled “A Modern History of Russia: 1945-2006” — was presented at a conference for high school teachers where President Vladimir V. Putin spoke; the author, Aleksandr Filippov, is a deputy director of a Kremlin-connected think tank. Excerpts from the guide follow. The text was translated by Nikolai Khalip and Michael Schwirtz in Moscow.

JUST LIKE BISMARCK AND PETER

As a result of the “Big Purge” of late 1930s, practically all members and candidates to become Politburo members elected after the 17th Party Congress suffered from reprisals to a certain degree….Postwar reprisals were quite similarly addressed… The number of victims of the Leningrad case reached about two thousand people. Many of them faced firing squads. Studies by Soviet and foreign historians confirmed that the ruling class was the priority victim of the repressions in 1930-1950.

…Stalin followed Peter the Great’s logic: demand the impossible from the people in order to get the maximum possible. …The result of Stalin’s purges was a new class of managers capable of solving the task of modernization in conditions of shortages of resources, loyal to the supreme power and immaculate from the point of view of executive discipline….

Thus, just like Chancellor Bismarck who united German lands into a single state by “iron and blood,” Stalin was reinforcing his state by cruelty and mercilessness. Strengthening the state, including its industrial and defensive might, he considered one of the main principles of his policy.

Indirect evidence of this can be found in the memoirs of his daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva. Every time he looked at her dress he always asked the same question, making a wry mouth: “Is this foreign-made?” and always cracked a smile when I answered, ‘No, it was made here, locally.”

A STRONG IF CRUEL LEADER

A chapter ends with a brief broadening of the interpretation that hints at ways to discuss Stalin’s personal flaws, and the fate of the millions of Soviet citizens who suffered and perished under his rule. But little detail is supplied on that last point, nor does the guide suggest how teachers might conduct more research on it.

…It is common knowledge that power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is well known from Russian history how corrupting a long term in power is. Biographies of such outstanding rulers as Peter the First and Catherine the Second prove it …

The leader’s closest associate, V. M. Molotov, admitted that at the beginning Stalin struggled with his cult, but later on he developed a liking for it: “He was very reserved in the first years, and then he put on airs.”

As to what people think of Stalin, we can judge by an opinion poll conducted in February 2006 by Public Opinion Fund:

If we speak as a whole of the role of Stalin in Russian history, was he positive or negative? Positive: 47 percent; negative: 29 percent; did not answer: 24 percent.

Thus, there are grounds for controversial assessments of Stalin’s role. On the one hand, he is considered one of the most successful leaders of the U.S.S.R. During his leadership the territory of the country was expanded and reached the boundaries of the former Russian Empire (in some areas even surpassed it). A victory in one of the greatest wars was won; industrialization of the economy and cultural revolution were carried out successfully, resulting not only in the great number of educated people but also in creating the best educational system in the world. The U.S.S.R. joined the leading countries in the field of science; unemployment was practically defeated.

But there was a different side to Stalin’s rule. The successes — many Stalin opponents point it out — were achieved through cruel exploitation of the population. The country lived through several waves of major repressions during his rule. Stalin himself was the initiator and theoretician of such “aggravation of class struggle.” Entire social groups were eliminated: well-off peasantry, urban middle class, clergy and old intelligentsia. In addition, masses of people quite loyal to the authorities suffered from the severe laws.

ECHOES OF 9/11

The study guide pointedly refers to what it says are recent restrictions on American liberties undertaken to fight terrorism.

Political and historical studies show that when they come under similarly serious threats, even “soft” and “flexible” political systems, as a rule, turn more rigid and limit individual rights, as happened in the United States after September 11, 2001

Meanwhile, the Putin regime continues to ignore reality even when it is thrust up in the Kremlin’s face by true Russian patriots. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

A giant cross now commands the field where the first shots of Joseph Stalin’s Great Terror sounded 70 years ago. It was erected on Wednesday with religious pomp, as relatives of the victims shed tears, laid flowers and recalled how their loved ones had perished. The 12-metre-high Siberian cedar cross was ferried about 1300 kilometres by boat from a former Soviet prison camp on the White Sea through the Belomor Canal to Moscow. The procession and the ceremony were a rare attempt to address Soviet brutality during Stalin’s reign, an issue human rights groups say, is often eclipsed by the mythologised interpretation of Soviet glory promoted by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

There was little recognition from the Russian Government, which is prone to whitewashing one of the country’s darkest eras.

Millions died from wars, famine, and government cruelty in the nearly 30 years of Stalin’s rule. The systematic killing of “enemies of the people” reached its apogee during the period from August 1937 to October 1938.

During that time the Soviet secret police, or NKVD, executed more than 700,000 people [LR: Vladimir Putin is a proud member of the NKVD’s successor organization, the KGB and FSB] About 20,000 of those who died were killed on the former Butovo shooting range in southern Russia, where the cross now stands, and buried in mass graves. Many of the dead were priests.

During the lengthy Russian Orthodox service on Wednesday, relatives wept and told of their search for information about parents and grandparents. “I came here today to pay my last respects to my grandfather,” said Nina, a middle-aged woman holding a photograph of her grandfather. “Andrei Sergeyevich was a good character, he wasn’t a bad man, but they detained him because he was the best in his village,” she said.

Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, aged 87 and blind, came to the ceremony to honour his father, who was murdered at Butovo. A historian and director of a gulag museum, he discovered details about the slaughter in secret police archives that were partially opened up after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The 12-metre-high cross began its journey with the blessing of the Russian Orthodox Church on July 25, from the Solovetsky monastery, once a brutal prison camp described by the Soviet writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as the first link in the gulag archipelago. The procession ended on Tuesday in Moscow, where the cross was driven around the capital’s outer ring road. The next morning, it was taken to the Butovo range for a small ceremony attended by a few thousand people, including journalists from state-run television. But the absence of political officials generated criticism.

The Government’s response to the anniversary “was absolutely inadequate in terms of scale and historical importance”, said Grigory Yavlinsky, the leader of the opposition Yabloko Party.

In rare comments on the Stalin era at a teachers’ conference in June, Mr Putin acknowledged the “awful pages” in Russia’s history: “Let us not forget the year 1937,” he said. “But,” he add “in other countries it was more awful.”

Rewriting Russia’s History . . . and its Present

According to a poll last month by the Moscow-based Levada Center, 54 percent of Russians between 16 and 19 believe Stalin was “a wise leader,” and a similar number thought the collapse of the Soviet Union was “a tragedy.” (Two thirds also thought that America was a “rival and enemy” and 62 percent believed that the government should “deport most immigrants.”) “Many of my classmates believe that some kind of Soviet golden era existed before the West came in and destroyed everything,” says Fillip Kuznetsov, an international-relations student at Moscow University. “They also believe the state is justified in doing anything it likes to its citizens in the name of some great cause.”

Newsweek

The New York Times reports some extracts from the new Kremlin-authored history textbook which is attempting to rewrite the country’s history to suit the dictatorship. Apparently, Putin’s genius historians see no connection between Stalin’s atrocities and the collapse of the USSR. Interestingly, Stalin too rejected such criticism, and Putin rejects it concerning himself. Thus, Russia follows in the footsteps of the USSR on the road to oblivion.

Yes, a Lot of People Died, but …

Stalin has undergone a number of transformations of his historical image in Russia, interpretations that say as much about the country’s current leaders as about the dictator himself. In the West, Stalin is remembered for the numbers of his victims, about 20 million, largely his own citizens, executed or allowed to die in famines or the gulag. They included a generation of peasant farmers in Ukraine, former Bolsheviks and other political figures who were purged in the show trials of the 1930s, Polish officers executed at Katyn Forest, and Russians who died in the slave labor economy. Stalin’s crimes have been tied to his personality, cruelty and paranoia as well as to the circumstances of Russian and Soviet history. While not denying that Stalin committed the crimes, a new study guide in Russia for high school teachers views his cruelty through a particular, if familiar, lens. It portrays Stalin not as an extraordinary monster who came to power because of the unique evil of Communism, but as a strong ruler in a long line of autocrats going back to the czars. Russian history, in this view, at times demands tyranny to build a great nation.

The text reinforces this idea by comparing Stalin to Bismarck, who united Germany, and comparing Russia in the 1930s under the threat of Nazism to the United States after 9/11 in attitudes toward liberties.

The history guide — titled “A Modern History of Russia: 1945-2006” — was presented at a conference for high school teachers where President Vladimir V. Putin spoke; the author, Aleksandr Filippov, is a deputy director of a Kremlin-connected think tank. Excerpts from the guide follow. The text was translated by Nikolai Khalip and Michael Schwirtz in Moscow.

JUST LIKE BISMARCK AND PETER

As a result of the “Big Purge” of late 1930s, practically all members and candidates to become Politburo members elected after the 17th Party Congress suffered from reprisals to a certain degree….Postwar reprisals were quite similarly addressed… The number of victims of the Leningrad case reached about two thousand people. Many of them faced firing squads. Studies by Soviet and foreign historians confirmed that the ruling class was the priority victim of the repressions in 1930-1950.

…Stalin followed Peter the Great’s logic: demand the impossible from the people in order to get the maximum possible. …The result of Stalin’s purges was a new class of managers capable of solving the task of modernization in conditions of shortages of resources, loyal to the supreme power and immaculate from the point of view of executive discipline….

Thus, just like Chancellor Bismarck who united German lands into a single state by “iron and blood,” Stalin was reinforcing his state by cruelty and mercilessness. Strengthening the state, including its industrial and defensive might, he considered one of the main principles of his policy.

Indirect evidence of this can be found in the memoirs of his daughter Svetlana Alliluyeva. Every time he looked at her dress he always asked the same question, making a wry mouth: “Is this foreign-made?” and always cracked a smile when I answered, ‘No, it was made here, locally.”

A STRONG IF CRUEL LEADER

A chapter ends with a brief broadening of the interpretation that hints at ways to discuss Stalin’s personal flaws, and the fate of the millions of Soviet citizens who suffered and perished under his rule. But little detail is supplied on that last point, nor does the guide suggest how teachers might conduct more research on it.

…It is common knowledge that power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is well known from Russian history how corrupting a long term in power is. Biographies of such outstanding rulers as Peter the First and Catherine the Second prove it …

The leader’s closest associate, V. M. Molotov, admitted that at the beginning Stalin struggled with his cult, but later on he developed a liking for it: “He was very reserved in the first years, and then he put on airs.”

As to what people think of Stalin, we can judge by an opinion poll conducted in February 2006 by Public Opinion Fund:

If we speak as a whole of the role of Stalin in Russian history, was he positive or negative? Positive: 47 percent; negative: 29 percent; did not answer: 24 percent.

Thus, there are grounds for controversial assessments of Stalin’s role. On the one hand, he is considered one of the most successful leaders of the U.S.S.R. During his leadership the territory of the country was expanded and reached the boundaries of the former Russian Empire (in some areas even surpassed it). A victory in one of the greatest wars was won; industrialization of the economy and cultural revolution were carried out successfully, resulting not only in the great number of educated people but also in creating the best educational system in the world. The U.S.S.R. joined the leading countries in the field of science; unemployment was practically defeated.

But there was a different side to Stalin’s rule. The successes — many Stalin opponents point it out — were achieved through cruel exploitation of the population. The country lived through several waves of major repressions during his rule. Stalin himself was the initiator and theoretician of such “aggravation of class struggle.” Entire social groups were eliminated: well-off peasantry, urban middle class, clergy and old intelligentsia. In addition, masses of people quite loyal to the authorities suffered from the severe laws.

ECHOES OF 9/11

The study guide pointedly refers to what it says are recent restrictions on American liberties undertaken to fight terrorism.

Political and historical studies show that when they come under similarly serious threats, even “soft” and “flexible” political systems, as a rule, turn more rigid and limit individual rights, as happened in the United States after September 11, 2001

Meanwhile, the Putin regime continues to ignore reality even when it is thrust up in the Kremlin’s face by true Russian patriots. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

A giant cross now commands the field where the first shots of Joseph Stalin’s Great Terror sounded 70 years ago. It was erected on Wednesday with religious pomp, as relatives of the victims shed tears, laid flowers and recalled how their loved ones had perished. The 12-metre-high Siberian cedar cross was ferried about 1300 kilometres by boat from a former Soviet prison camp on the White Sea through the Belomor Canal to Moscow. The procession and the ceremony were a rare attempt to address Soviet brutality during Stalin’s reign, an issue human rights groups say, is often eclipsed by the mythologised interpretation of Soviet glory promoted by the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

There was little recognition from the Russian Government, which is prone to whitewashing one of the country’s darkest eras.

Millions died from wars, famine, and government cruelty in the nearly 30 years of Stalin’s rule. The systematic killing of “enemies of the people” reached its apogee during the period from August 1937 to October 1938.

During that time the Soviet secret police, or NKVD, executed more than 700,000 people [LR: Vladimir Putin is a proud member of the NKVD’s successor organization, the KGB and FSB] About 20,000 of those who died were killed on the former Butovo shooting range in southern Russia, where the cross now stands, and buried in mass graves. Many of the dead were priests.

During the lengthy Russian Orthodox service on Wednesday, relatives wept and told of their search for information about parents and grandparents. “I came here today to pay my last respects to my grandfather,” said Nina, a middle-aged woman holding a photograph of her grandfather. “Andrei Sergeyevich was a good character, he wasn’t a bad man, but they detained him because he was the best in his village,” she said.

Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko, aged 87 and blind, came to the ceremony to honour his father, who was murdered at Butovo. A historian and director of a gulag museum, he discovered details about the slaughter in secret police archives that were partially opened up after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The 12-metre-high cross began its journey with the blessing of the Russian Orthodox Church on July 25, from the Solovetsky monastery, once a brutal prison camp described by the Soviet writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as the first link in the gulag archipelago. The procession ended on Tuesday in Moscow, where the cross was driven around the capital’s outer ring road. The next morning, it was taken to the Butovo range for a small ceremony attended by a few thousand people, including journalists from state-run television. But the absence of political officials generated criticism.

The Government’s response to the anniversary “was absolutely inadequate in terms of scale and historical importance”, said Grigory Yavlinsky, the leader of the opposition Yabloko Party.

In rare comments on the Stalin era at a teachers’ conference in June, Mr Putin acknowledged the “awful pages” in Russia’s history: “Let us not forget the year 1937,” he said. “But,” he add “in other countries it was more awful.”

EDITORIAL: Dear Vladimir

EDITORIAL

Dear Vladimir


My Dearest Vladimir,

Just a little note to say . . . THANKS!!!!

Things were not going so good for ol’ Dubya there for a while. You know, there was all that stuff in Iraq, and then my party lost control of both houses of Congress in the last election, and people were even starting to talk about impeachment. Them Europeans was all over my ass, too, about every little thing you can imagine. It was a real bummer.

Then came YOU!!! :))) Boy, what a pal.

I don’t know if it was that lobster I fed you up at my dad’s place, but first you took it into your head to invade the Arctic, and then Georgia just for good measure. Suddenly, all my enemies realized: Oh yeah, America is the only thing standing between us and all those barbaric Russian hoards. USA isn’t really so bad, not when you gape in horror at those Russians.

So now everybody’s mad at you instead. Why, seems like you’ve got hardly a friend in the whole wide world. Everybody from Denmark to Canada is steaming mad at you, and making common cause with us yanks at every opportunity. You must be the most brilliant foreignpolicymakerthingamabob in the whole history of the universe. Dude, you rock!

In fact, heckfire! It seems like you are willing to let your whole country be destroyed just to get my job approval numbers out of the basement. And when you do take your country down, I’ll probably get the credit for that too. Why, I’ll be thought of as the second coming of Ronald Reagan, I bet. Good deal!

So don’t worry, Vlad. You’ll always have a friend in this here White House. Well, for another few months you will, anyway. Then I’m off to the ranch and you’re on your own, and probably the Democrats will take over, and they’ll start bending your ear about human rights and such. Or maybe a new Ronald Reagan will even appear. But I’m sure Russia will do just as well as it always has, at least as well as the glorious USSR.

Your Bestest Amigo,

George W. Bush

Annals of Russian Tennis

Here we go again. You’ve got hand it to the WTA — they’re stupid and dishonest, but at least they’re consistently stupid and dishonest.

The screenshot below, taken on the WTA tour website on Saturday August 11th reads: “Russians Rule in Los Angeles Third Round.” Seems like the WTA really knows its Russians — you’ve got to praise them early in the going, because by the time the tournament is over, there’ll be nothing left of them but wreckage. But even at the stage of the third round, WTA is trying to generate a story where in fact there is none except the same old song.


By its headline, WTA was referring to the fact that four Russians came out of the third round to fill the eight quarterfinals slots at the East-West Bank Classic, a Tier II event that was held in California last week. Once again, the WTA omitted a few minor details.

Maria Sharapova was one of Russia’s four quarter-finalists. Prior to her third-round match, she did not earn a single win in tournament. She had a bye in the first round, and in the second her opponent retired with an injury early in the second set after pushing Sharapova to a tiebreaker in the first. Sharapova then needed three hard-fought sets to defeat her third-round opponent, a player not ranked in the world’s top 30.

Elena Dementieva was the second of Russia’s four quarter-finalists. She had an even easier path than Sharapova, reaching the third round after facing wild card entry Maria Brengle in her second match. Brengle is not ranked in the top 250 in the world but managed to defeat world #86 Flavia Pennetta in easy straight sets, greasing the skids for Dementieva. In her third round match, Dementieva “defeated” the higher-ranked Daniela Hantuchova when Hantuchova retired from the match with an injury.

So, to sum things up, two of the four Russians to get as far as the quarter finals got there because of defaults. It’s not really all that hard to “rule” a player who stops playing or doesn’t even start, now is it?

The other two Russians who reached the quarterfinals looked great by comparison. Both Nadia Petrova and Maria Kirilienko were required to play full-length matches in order to progress and Kirilenko defeated the #8 seed (and Wimbledon finalist) to reach the third round. Yet, it’s Petrova and not Kirilenko whose face appeared on the WTA story (even though Kirilienko is far more photogenic, more proof that the WTA simply doesn’t have a clue).

What happened to these four in the quarter-finals matches? The WTA didn’t care to report on it. So we’ll tell you.

Nadia Petrova (pictured above pumping her fist in victory) advanced to reach the semi-finals and face Sharapova. Should you be impressed? Not really. Petrova won by defeating Virginie Razzano of France, a player not ranked in the top 50 in the world. Both of the two top-ten seeds in Petrova’s quarter of the draw were defeated before she had to face them, and Petrova needed three sets to squeak past Razzano. Sharapova’s path to the semis was perhaps even easier, since she got to play a fellow Russian, and promptly blew Elena Dementieva off the court. Dementieva, the serveless wonder, offered up yet another limp, non-competitive match that discredited both herself and her opponent’s “victory.” Finally, Kirilenko was destroyed by Serbian Ana Ivanovic in easy straight sets. So no Russian reached the semis by defeating a non-Russian opponent ranked in the world’s top 50. These are the annals of the Russian illusion of success.

The net result by the way (excuse the pun) was that the semi-finals saw half its open slots filled by Serbians, as Jelena Jancovic won her quarter of the draw to face Ivanovic. For some reason, no headline to this effect on the WTA site. Nor did the WTA see fit to notice that Ivanovic and Jancovic, by far the two most dangerous players in the draw, had been placed in the same half of the draw — meaning that neither Russia’s top contenders (Petrova and Sharapova, nor Dementieva for that matter) would have to face them before the finals and thus Russia was virtually guaranteed a finals birth.

Petrova then reached the finals to play Ivanovic. How did Petrova manage it? Well, Sharapova didn’t step on the court for their semifinals match, but instead forfeited claiming injury. So in order to reach the finals, the Russian crew needed not one, not two, but three walkovers to boost them into that lofty position (in a mere Tier II event yet).

And after all this did Petrova at least manage to win the title?

Of course not.

Did she manage to at least stretch Ivanovic to three sets?

Of course not.

So now Ivanovic is not only better looking than Shamapova, but she holds two titles this year to Shamapova’s one. So much for the “ruling” Russians. She knocked Russian Anna Chakvetadze (by far Russia’s best player this year) out of the #4 spot on the world rankings, and passed Shamapova on the calendar year rankings (now there are no Russians in any of the top 3 spots for 2007 performance).

Meanwhile, Petrova did manage to achieve one thing, continuing her disgusting habit of wearing the Russian flag emblazoned on her cap in non-national play, something we can’t remember any other tour player doing in the history of the game. Maybe she’s Nashi? Can you imagine what Russians would say about an American who did this?