Daily Archives: January 13, 2008

Update on Kozlovsky

Grani.ru reports (LR staff translation):

Oleg Kozlovsky, the leader of the Oborona (“Defense”) opposition movement who was forcibly inducted into the Russian Army at the end of last year, has been found medically unfit for military service during peacetime according to a report from Echo of Moscow radio based on statements by military medical officers who examined Kozlovsky.

Oborona member Pavel Shaykin told reporters that the organization received information from the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of Ryazan of a conclusion arrived at by the military hospital in Ryazan that Kozlovsky’s status is “limited fitness” for military service. Shaykin said that Oborona’s attorneys are currently filing suit against the Military Prosecutor’s Office for deprivation of education as well as pursuing enforcement of the military regulations regarding conscription which should result in Kozlovsky’s discharge.

Kozlowski was forcibly taken for military enlistment at the end of December. Now he is in the military section #12691 in the Ryazan region. He has written a protest letter alleging that his induction was carried out as a “special operation” by Russia’s secret police (the KGB, now known as the FSB). He wrote: “It is clear that this method of seeking to separate and isolate specific opposition activists is relied upon because legitimate grounds for harassing them do not exist since our organization relies strictly upon legal and non-violent means of protest. The authorities seek to cloak their repression in the guise of legal actions, knowing that they need to proffer excuses and justifications for their actions. “

On December 26th a group of politicians and community leaders demanded Kozlovsky’s immediate release from the army. Thier message was sent to the Attorney General of Russia, the Minister of Defense and Military Commissioner Russia in Moscow.

The Sunday Photos, Part I: YouTube Edition — Law and Order in the Paradise Known as Putin’s Russia

CNN: Whats Going On In Russia?Click here for more blooper videos

The Sunday Photos, Part I: YouTube Edition — Law and Order in the Paradise Known as Putin’s Russia

CNN: Whats Going On In Russia?Click here for more blooper videos

The Sunday Photos, Part I: YouTube Edition — Law and Order in the Paradise Known as Putin’s Russia

CNN: Whats Going On In Russia?Click here for more blooper videos

The Sunday Photos, Part I: YouTube Edition — Law and Order in the Paradise Known as Putin’s Russia

CNN: Whats Going On In Russia?Click here for more blooper videos

The Sunday Photos, Part I: YouTube Edition — Law and Order in the Paradise Known as Putin’s Russia

CNN: Whats Going On In Russia?Click here for more blooper videos

The Sunday Photos, Part II: One Photo is Worth a Thousand Screams

Moscow, 2008

Source: News.ru

Moscow, 2008

A scene from Moscow. On the boat is written: “Only Progress!”

The Sunday Literary Supplement: Stalin Back in Vogue in Putin’s Russia

Paul Goble reports:

Books about Joseph Stalin are becoming ever more numerous and their publication ever more profitable in the Russian Federation of Vladimir Putin, a development that is prompting his most devoted followers to revise, reprint and extend the Soviet dictator’s collected works. In an article posted online this week, S. Yu. Ruchenkov says that those devoted to Stalin’s memory are not doing so for the money but rather to ensure that everyone will be able to overcome the distortions of Stalin’s record that have been introduced by his detractors.

Stalin’s own works, which ran to only 13 volumes at the time of his death, included far from all of what he had written, Ruchenkov notes, because the Soviet leader believed that his works should serve the propagandistic goal of leading the of the USSR upward toward communism. But now, as more and more archival material has become available and as so much time has passed, Ruchenkov argues, history demands that those who appreciate Stalin republish the volumes issued in his lifetime, re-issue additional ones released in the late 1990s, and extend the series as more materials are located.

This effort was begun in 1997 by Moscow State University professor Richard Kosolapov, who oversaw the publication (with Ruchenkov’s assistance) of the three volumes – no. 14, 15, and 16 – that had already been assembled during Stalin’s lifetime but not published because of his death and of three additional volumes as well. The first three were selected according to the same principles and formatted in the same way as the 13 volumes published prior to 1953 and covered many of the most important events in Soviet history between 1934 and 1953. The last three covered a wider time frame and included many documents Stalin himself had chosen not to publish. Tragically in the view of Ruchenkov, “there was no place for the achievements of the leader of the country in the pre-war 1930s and for the Supreme Commander in the country of Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev.” But now under Putin, there is not only a place but an expanding market for his works. Because Russians now have direct access to Stalin’s works, he continues, they will recognize that he was “the bright representative of the new Bolshevik type of leaders who led the struggle of workers, peasants and soldiers with the landowners, capitalists and their protectors abroad” and not the monster he is often made out to be.

In volume 20, which is devoted to Stalin’s role in the first period of the Russian Civil War, Ruchenkov says, “more than half of the documents will be published for the first time.” And a planned volume 21 will be devoted to Stalin’s role in the defense of Petrograd (St. Petersburg). Future volumes will carry Stalin’s story further and undermine the lies of both Western- oriented liberals who see him only as a brutal dictator and contemporary Russian “patriots” who have overturned most of the Soviet leader’s legacy and “bow down” before priests at Christmas and Easter. But because many of the volumes published in the late 1990s are now out of print, Ruchenkov continues, he and his colleagues are issuing a second edition of numbers 14 through 16 as well as a series of “solid collections” of specialized materials by and about Stalin.

One of these volumes will focus on Stalin’s negotiation with the Germans that resulted in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, an accord whose associated texts – known to most as “the secret protocols” – have been, in the opinion of Ruchenkov falsified by liberal historians. “For the first time,” he writes, Russian readers will be able to familiarize themselves with “adequate Russian translation of this most important historical document” and they will learn what really happened during the war with Finland and during the first days of the German invasion of the USSR. Moreover, the second edition of volume 14 includes Stalin’s personal orders to Yezhov and Beria concerning “the theme of repressions.” Not surprisingly, Ruchenkov says, “the personal directives of the leader” to these heads of the security services were not published during his lifetime.

But despite all the materials that Ruchenkov reports that he and his colleagues have gathered, there are clearly many more he and they have not seen. A large number of documents remain in the FSB’s Central Archive, and the leaders of that security agency have “politely refused” his requests to examine and make use of it. Consequently, despite the volumes already published in the two series, “The Organs of State Security in the Great Fatherland War” and “Stalin and the Lubyanka” – which was overseen by Aleksandr Yakovlev, who Ruchenkov describes as that “vile rascal” – much of Stalin’s legacy is unlikely to get into print anytime soon. But as important as the revised volume 14 is, Ruchenkov continues, “the real pearl of the publication” series he is overseeing will be the revised and expanded volume 15 that is devoted to the war years, the time of his most titanic efforts on behalf of the Soviet people.

The second edition of volume 16 will also be significantly revised and enlarged, he says, including previously unpublished materials from the presidential and Politburo archives. It will thus provide the fullest picture yet of Stalin’s role at the start of the Cold War and in relations with other countries in the socialist camp. At the end of his article, Ruchenkov provides information on how those who want it can order volume 14 electronically for only 200 rubles (8 U.S. dollars) plus shipping – and how they can get it for even less if they order at one time six copies for their friends and associates. Clearly, Stalin’s cause lives on in the minds of some – but it has been infused with the most up-to-date principles of modern marketing, something the late Soviet dictator would likely have viewed as a contradiction in terms.

The Sunday Literary Supplement: Stalin Back in Vogue in Putin’s Russia

Paul Goble reports:

Books about Joseph Stalin are becoming ever more numerous and their publication ever more profitable in the Russian Federation of Vladimir Putin, a development that is prompting his most devoted followers to revise, reprint and extend the Soviet dictator’s collected works. In an article posted online this week, S. Yu. Ruchenkov says that those devoted to Stalin’s memory are not doing so for the money but rather to ensure that everyone will be able to overcome the distortions of Stalin’s record that have been introduced by his detractors.

Stalin’s own works, which ran to only 13 volumes at the time of his death, included far from all of what he had written, Ruchenkov notes, because the Soviet leader believed that his works should serve the propagandistic goal of leading the of the USSR upward toward communism. But now, as more and more archival material has become available and as so much time has passed, Ruchenkov argues, history demands that those who appreciate Stalin republish the volumes issued in his lifetime, re-issue additional ones released in the late 1990s, and extend the series as more materials are located.

This effort was begun in 1997 by Moscow State University professor Richard Kosolapov, who oversaw the publication (with Ruchenkov’s assistance) of the three volumes – no. 14, 15, and 16 – that had already been assembled during Stalin’s lifetime but not published because of his death and of three additional volumes as well. The first three were selected according to the same principles and formatted in the same way as the 13 volumes published prior to 1953 and covered many of the most important events in Soviet history between 1934 and 1953. The last three covered a wider time frame and included many documents Stalin himself had chosen not to publish. Tragically in the view of Ruchenkov, “there was no place for the achievements of the leader of the country in the pre-war 1930s and for the Supreme Commander in the country of Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev.” But now under Putin, there is not only a place but an expanding market for his works. Because Russians now have direct access to Stalin’s works, he continues, they will recognize that he was “the bright representative of the new Bolshevik type of leaders who led the struggle of workers, peasants and soldiers with the landowners, capitalists and their protectors abroad” and not the monster he is often made out to be.

In volume 20, which is devoted to Stalin’s role in the first period of the Russian Civil War, Ruchenkov says, “more than half of the documents will be published for the first time.” And a planned volume 21 will be devoted to Stalin’s role in the defense of Petrograd (St. Petersburg). Future volumes will carry Stalin’s story further and undermine the lies of both Western- oriented liberals who see him only as a brutal dictator and contemporary Russian “patriots” who have overturned most of the Soviet leader’s legacy and “bow down” before priests at Christmas and Easter. But because many of the volumes published in the late 1990s are now out of print, Ruchenkov continues, he and his colleagues are issuing a second edition of numbers 14 through 16 as well as a series of “solid collections” of specialized materials by and about Stalin.

One of these volumes will focus on Stalin’s negotiation with the Germans that resulted in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, an accord whose associated texts – known to most as “the secret protocols” – have been, in the opinion of Ruchenkov falsified by liberal historians. “For the first time,” he writes, Russian readers will be able to familiarize themselves with “adequate Russian translation of this most important historical document” and they will learn what really happened during the war with Finland and during the first days of the German invasion of the USSR. Moreover, the second edition of volume 14 includes Stalin’s personal orders to Yezhov and Beria concerning “the theme of repressions.” Not surprisingly, Ruchenkov says, “the personal directives of the leader” to these heads of the security services were not published during his lifetime.

But despite all the materials that Ruchenkov reports that he and his colleagues have gathered, there are clearly many more he and they have not seen. A large number of documents remain in the FSB’s Central Archive, and the leaders of that security agency have “politely refused” his requests to examine and make use of it. Consequently, despite the volumes already published in the two series, “The Organs of State Security in the Great Fatherland War” and “Stalin and the Lubyanka” – which was overseen by Aleksandr Yakovlev, who Ruchenkov describes as that “vile rascal” – much of Stalin’s legacy is unlikely to get into print anytime soon. But as important as the revised volume 14 is, Ruchenkov continues, “the real pearl of the publication” series he is overseeing will be the revised and expanded volume 15 that is devoted to the war years, the time of his most titanic efforts on behalf of the Soviet people.

The second edition of volume 16 will also be significantly revised and enlarged, he says, including previously unpublished materials from the presidential and Politburo archives. It will thus provide the fullest picture yet of Stalin’s role at the start of the Cold War and in relations with other countries in the socialist camp. At the end of his article, Ruchenkov provides information on how those who want it can order volume 14 electronically for only 200 rubles (8 U.S. dollars) plus shipping – and how they can get it for even less if they order at one time six copies for their friends and associates. Clearly, Stalin’s cause lives on in the minds of some – but it has been infused with the most up-to-date principles of modern marketing, something the late Soviet dictator would likely have viewed as a contradiction in terms.

The Sunday Literary Supplement: Stalin Back in Vogue in Putin’s Russia

Paul Goble reports:

Books about Joseph Stalin are becoming ever more numerous and their publication ever more profitable in the Russian Federation of Vladimir Putin, a development that is prompting his most devoted followers to revise, reprint and extend the Soviet dictator’s collected works. In an article posted online this week, S. Yu. Ruchenkov says that those devoted to Stalin’s memory are not doing so for the money but rather to ensure that everyone will be able to overcome the distortions of Stalin’s record that have been introduced by his detractors.

Stalin’s own works, which ran to only 13 volumes at the time of his death, included far from all of what he had written, Ruchenkov notes, because the Soviet leader believed that his works should serve the propagandistic goal of leading the of the USSR upward toward communism. But now, as more and more archival material has become available and as so much time has passed, Ruchenkov argues, history demands that those who appreciate Stalin republish the volumes issued in his lifetime, re-issue additional ones released in the late 1990s, and extend the series as more materials are located.

This effort was begun in 1997 by Moscow State University professor Richard Kosolapov, who oversaw the publication (with Ruchenkov’s assistance) of the three volumes – no. 14, 15, and 16 – that had already been assembled during Stalin’s lifetime but not published because of his death and of three additional volumes as well. The first three were selected according to the same principles and formatted in the same way as the 13 volumes published prior to 1953 and covered many of the most important events in Soviet history between 1934 and 1953. The last three covered a wider time frame and included many documents Stalin himself had chosen not to publish. Tragically in the view of Ruchenkov, “there was no place for the achievements of the leader of the country in the pre-war 1930s and for the Supreme Commander in the country of Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev.” But now under Putin, there is not only a place but an expanding market for his works. Because Russians now have direct access to Stalin’s works, he continues, they will recognize that he was “the bright representative of the new Bolshevik type of leaders who led the struggle of workers, peasants and soldiers with the landowners, capitalists and their protectors abroad” and not the monster he is often made out to be.

In volume 20, which is devoted to Stalin’s role in the first period of the Russian Civil War, Ruchenkov says, “more than half of the documents will be published for the first time.” And a planned volume 21 will be devoted to Stalin’s role in the defense of Petrograd (St. Petersburg). Future volumes will carry Stalin’s story further and undermine the lies of both Western- oriented liberals who see him only as a brutal dictator and contemporary Russian “patriots” who have overturned most of the Soviet leader’s legacy and “bow down” before priests at Christmas and Easter. But because many of the volumes published in the late 1990s are now out of print, Ruchenkov continues, he and his colleagues are issuing a second edition of numbers 14 through 16 as well as a series of “solid collections” of specialized materials by and about Stalin.

One of these volumes will focus on Stalin’s negotiation with the Germans that resulted in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, an accord whose associated texts – known to most as “the secret protocols” – have been, in the opinion of Ruchenkov falsified by liberal historians. “For the first time,” he writes, Russian readers will be able to familiarize themselves with “adequate Russian translation of this most important historical document” and they will learn what really happened during the war with Finland and during the first days of the German invasion of the USSR. Moreover, the second edition of volume 14 includes Stalin’s personal orders to Yezhov and Beria concerning “the theme of repressions.” Not surprisingly, Ruchenkov says, “the personal directives of the leader” to these heads of the security services were not published during his lifetime.

But despite all the materials that Ruchenkov reports that he and his colleagues have gathered, there are clearly many more he and they have not seen. A large number of documents remain in the FSB’s Central Archive, and the leaders of that security agency have “politely refused” his requests to examine and make use of it. Consequently, despite the volumes already published in the two series, “The Organs of State Security in the Great Fatherland War” and “Stalin and the Lubyanka” – which was overseen by Aleksandr Yakovlev, who Ruchenkov describes as that “vile rascal” – much of Stalin’s legacy is unlikely to get into print anytime soon. But as important as the revised volume 14 is, Ruchenkov continues, “the real pearl of the publication” series he is overseeing will be the revised and expanded volume 15 that is devoted to the war years, the time of his most titanic efforts on behalf of the Soviet people.

The second edition of volume 16 will also be significantly revised and enlarged, he says, including previously unpublished materials from the presidential and Politburo archives. It will thus provide the fullest picture yet of Stalin’s role at the start of the Cold War and in relations with other countries in the socialist camp. At the end of his article, Ruchenkov provides information on how those who want it can order volume 14 electronically for only 200 rubles (8 U.S. dollars) plus shipping – and how they can get it for even less if they order at one time six copies for their friends and associates. Clearly, Stalin’s cause lives on in the minds of some – but it has been infused with the most up-to-date principles of modern marketing, something the late Soviet dictator would likely have viewed as a contradiction in terms.

The Sunday Literary Supplement: Stalin Back in Vogue in Putin’s Russia

Paul Goble reports:

Books about Joseph Stalin are becoming ever more numerous and their publication ever more profitable in the Russian Federation of Vladimir Putin, a development that is prompting his most devoted followers to revise, reprint and extend the Soviet dictator’s collected works. In an article posted online this week, S. Yu. Ruchenkov says that those devoted to Stalin’s memory are not doing so for the money but rather to ensure that everyone will be able to overcome the distortions of Stalin’s record that have been introduced by his detractors.

Stalin’s own works, which ran to only 13 volumes at the time of his death, included far from all of what he had written, Ruchenkov notes, because the Soviet leader believed that his works should serve the propagandistic goal of leading the of the USSR upward toward communism. But now, as more and more archival material has become available and as so much time has passed, Ruchenkov argues, history demands that those who appreciate Stalin republish the volumes issued in his lifetime, re-issue additional ones released in the late 1990s, and extend the series as more materials are located.

This effort was begun in 1997 by Moscow State University professor Richard Kosolapov, who oversaw the publication (with Ruchenkov’s assistance) of the three volumes – no. 14, 15, and 16 – that had already been assembled during Stalin’s lifetime but not published because of his death and of three additional volumes as well. The first three were selected according to the same principles and formatted in the same way as the 13 volumes published prior to 1953 and covered many of the most important events in Soviet history between 1934 and 1953. The last three covered a wider time frame and included many documents Stalin himself had chosen not to publish. Tragically in the view of Ruchenkov, “there was no place for the achievements of the leader of the country in the pre-war 1930s and for the Supreme Commander in the country of Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev.” But now under Putin, there is not only a place but an expanding market for his works. Because Russians now have direct access to Stalin’s works, he continues, they will recognize that he was “the bright representative of the new Bolshevik type of leaders who led the struggle of workers, peasants and soldiers with the landowners, capitalists and their protectors abroad” and not the monster he is often made out to be.

In volume 20, which is devoted to Stalin’s role in the first period of the Russian Civil War, Ruchenkov says, “more than half of the documents will be published for the first time.” And a planned volume 21 will be devoted to Stalin’s role in the defense of Petrograd (St. Petersburg). Future volumes will carry Stalin’s story further and undermine the lies of both Western- oriented liberals who see him only as a brutal dictator and contemporary Russian “patriots” who have overturned most of the Soviet leader’s legacy and “bow down” before priests at Christmas and Easter. But because many of the volumes published in the late 1990s are now out of print, Ruchenkov continues, he and his colleagues are issuing a second edition of numbers 14 through 16 as well as a series of “solid collections” of specialized materials by and about Stalin.

One of these volumes will focus on Stalin’s negotiation with the Germans that resulted in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, an accord whose associated texts – known to most as “the secret protocols” – have been, in the opinion of Ruchenkov falsified by liberal historians. “For the first time,” he writes, Russian readers will be able to familiarize themselves with “adequate Russian translation of this most important historical document” and they will learn what really happened during the war with Finland and during the first days of the German invasion of the USSR. Moreover, the second edition of volume 14 includes Stalin’s personal orders to Yezhov and Beria concerning “the theme of repressions.” Not surprisingly, Ruchenkov says, “the personal directives of the leader” to these heads of the security services were not published during his lifetime.

But despite all the materials that Ruchenkov reports that he and his colleagues have gathered, there are clearly many more he and they have not seen. A large number of documents remain in the FSB’s Central Archive, and the leaders of that security agency have “politely refused” his requests to examine and make use of it. Consequently, despite the volumes already published in the two series, “The Organs of State Security in the Great Fatherland War” and “Stalin and the Lubyanka” – which was overseen by Aleksandr Yakovlev, who Ruchenkov describes as that “vile rascal” – much of Stalin’s legacy is unlikely to get into print anytime soon. But as important as the revised volume 14 is, Ruchenkov continues, “the real pearl of the publication” series he is overseeing will be the revised and expanded volume 15 that is devoted to the war years, the time of his most titanic efforts on behalf of the Soviet people.

The second edition of volume 16 will also be significantly revised and enlarged, he says, including previously unpublished materials from the presidential and Politburo archives. It will thus provide the fullest picture yet of Stalin’s role at the start of the Cold War and in relations with other countries in the socialist camp. At the end of his article, Ruchenkov provides information on how those who want it can order volume 14 electronically for only 200 rubles (8 U.S. dollars) plus shipping – and how they can get it for even less if they order at one time six copies for their friends and associates. Clearly, Stalin’s cause lives on in the minds of some – but it has been infused with the most up-to-date principles of modern marketing, something the late Soviet dictator would likely have viewed as a contradiction in terms.

The Sunday Literary Supplement: Stalin Back in Vogue in Putin’s Russia

Paul Goble reports:

Books about Joseph Stalin are becoming ever more numerous and their publication ever more profitable in the Russian Federation of Vladimir Putin, a development that is prompting his most devoted followers to revise, reprint and extend the Soviet dictator’s collected works. In an article posted online this week, S. Yu. Ruchenkov says that those devoted to Stalin’s memory are not doing so for the money but rather to ensure that everyone will be able to overcome the distortions of Stalin’s record that have been introduced by his detractors.

Stalin’s own works, which ran to only 13 volumes at the time of his death, included far from all of what he had written, Ruchenkov notes, because the Soviet leader believed that his works should serve the propagandistic goal of leading the of the USSR upward toward communism. But now, as more and more archival material has become available and as so much time has passed, Ruchenkov argues, history demands that those who appreciate Stalin republish the volumes issued in his lifetime, re-issue additional ones released in the late 1990s, and extend the series as more materials are located.

This effort was begun in 1997 by Moscow State University professor Richard Kosolapov, who oversaw the publication (with Ruchenkov’s assistance) of the three volumes – no. 14, 15, and 16 – that had already been assembled during Stalin’s lifetime but not published because of his death and of three additional volumes as well. The first three were selected according to the same principles and formatted in the same way as the 13 volumes published prior to 1953 and covered many of the most important events in Soviet history between 1934 and 1953. The last three covered a wider time frame and included many documents Stalin himself had chosen not to publish. Tragically in the view of Ruchenkov, “there was no place for the achievements of the leader of the country in the pre-war 1930s and for the Supreme Commander in the country of Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev.” But now under Putin, there is not only a place but an expanding market for his works. Because Russians now have direct access to Stalin’s works, he continues, they will recognize that he was “the bright representative of the new Bolshevik type of leaders who led the struggle of workers, peasants and soldiers with the landowners, capitalists and their protectors abroad” and not the monster he is often made out to be.

In volume 20, which is devoted to Stalin’s role in the first period of the Russian Civil War, Ruchenkov says, “more than half of the documents will be published for the first time.” And a planned volume 21 will be devoted to Stalin’s role in the defense of Petrograd (St. Petersburg). Future volumes will carry Stalin’s story further and undermine the lies of both Western- oriented liberals who see him only as a brutal dictator and contemporary Russian “patriots” who have overturned most of the Soviet leader’s legacy and “bow down” before priests at Christmas and Easter. But because many of the volumes published in the late 1990s are now out of print, Ruchenkov continues, he and his colleagues are issuing a second edition of numbers 14 through 16 as well as a series of “solid collections” of specialized materials by and about Stalin.

One of these volumes will focus on Stalin’s negotiation with the Germans that resulted in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, an accord whose associated texts – known to most as “the secret protocols” – have been, in the opinion of Ruchenkov falsified by liberal historians. “For the first time,” he writes, Russian readers will be able to familiarize themselves with “adequate Russian translation of this most important historical document” and they will learn what really happened during the war with Finland and during the first days of the German invasion of the USSR. Moreover, the second edition of volume 14 includes Stalin’s personal orders to Yezhov and Beria concerning “the theme of repressions.” Not surprisingly, Ruchenkov says, “the personal directives of the leader” to these heads of the security services were not published during his lifetime.

But despite all the materials that Ruchenkov reports that he and his colleagues have gathered, there are clearly many more he and they have not seen. A large number of documents remain in the FSB’s Central Archive, and the leaders of that security agency have “politely refused” his requests to examine and make use of it. Consequently, despite the volumes already published in the two series, “The Organs of State Security in the Great Fatherland War” and “Stalin and the Lubyanka” – which was overseen by Aleksandr Yakovlev, who Ruchenkov describes as that “vile rascal” – much of Stalin’s legacy is unlikely to get into print anytime soon. But as important as the revised volume 14 is, Ruchenkov continues, “the real pearl of the publication” series he is overseeing will be the revised and expanded volume 15 that is devoted to the war years, the time of his most titanic efforts on behalf of the Soviet people.

The second edition of volume 16 will also be significantly revised and enlarged, he says, including previously unpublished materials from the presidential and Politburo archives. It will thus provide the fullest picture yet of Stalin’s role at the start of the Cold War and in relations with other countries in the socialist camp. At the end of his article, Ruchenkov provides information on how those who want it can order volume 14 electronically for only 200 rubles (8 U.S. dollars) plus shipping – and how they can get it for even less if they order at one time six copies for their friends and associates. Clearly, Stalin’s cause lives on in the minds of some – but it has been infused with the most up-to-date principles of modern marketing, something the late Soviet dictator would likely have viewed as a contradiction in terms.

The Sunday Racist Horror

The Moscow Times reported December 12th:

A group of young men wielding pipes and sticks attacked a group of North Korean laborers in the Moscow region, leaving four of the migrant workers hospitalized, authorities said Tuesday.
The attackers, all in their early 20s, ransacked the building where the North Koreans live at around 8:30 p.m. Sunday in the town of Volokolamsk, 130 kilometers northwest of Moscow, said Pyotr Ustimenko, deputy head of the Volokolamsk administration. There were around 20 attackers, and 17 of the 39 North Koreans in the camp at the time were treated for injuries, Ustimenko said. Four were hospitalized. Four suspects were detained in the attack, said Ustimenko, adding that the assault was not a hate crime. “This was a routine fight,” he said. “There was no extremism involved here.” Police have classified the incident as an act of mass hooliganism, he said. A Moscow region police spokeswoman referred all questions to police in Volokolamsk. Repeated calls to the police went unanswered Tuesday. Ustimenko said the North Koreans were doing construction for a residential building, and he stressed that they were working legally in the country. “They are all registered legally,” he said. Komsomolskaya Pravda identified the North Koreans’ employer as EnergoEngineering 2000, a Moscow construction company. A woman who answered the phone at the company Tuesday said no one was available to comment.

The number of North Korean migrant workers in Russia has risen steadily in recent years, with more than 21,700 legally working in 2006, RIA-Novosti reported earlier this year. Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Krivtsov said Russia and North Korea signed an agreement this fall aimed in part at ensuring the rights of labor migrants. But the use of North Korean labor in Russia has a history of disturbing parallels with slavery. State and regional officials told The Moscow Times in 2001 that some 10,000 North Koreans were working in Russia under the supervision of their country’s security forces and without legal protection. An Economic Development and Trade Ministry official interviewed at the time said Pyongyang was continuing a Soviet-era practice of servicing its debt to Russia by sending indentured servants to work for free in lumber camps across Siberia. The official, who asked not to be identified, said North Korea serviced some $50 million of its $3.8 billion debt this way in 2000. The situation appears to have improved somewhat for the workers since then. A senior immigration official in the Far East city of Tynda said in 2003 that while North Korea’s Labor Security Service still had a representative in every settlement, its agents no longer search for escapees, leaving that task to the Russians. North Koreans no longer burst into tears and beg not to be turned over to their employer when they are caught skipping work, the official said. Calls to the North Korean Embassy in Moscow went unanswered Tuesday.

The Sunday Cultural Supplement: Dark Humor Returns in Neo-Soviet Russia

Paul Goble reports:

A rising tide of black humor spreading from Russian websites to that country’s mass media, a wave that is frightening many parents and politicians there, underscores that all is not well with Russian society, according to a leading Moscow specialist on the media. In an article posted online last week, Marine Voskanyan, chief editor of the information technology site CRN/RE, argues that this growth of cynical and nihilistic humor suggests that for most Russians, “none of the ideological alternatives on offer in politics, culture, or social life [is] convincing or morally justified.” Instead, she continues, the rise of black humor in Russia today suggests just as its earlier rise in other countries at times past that for an increasing number of people there, “everything around them appears to be completely false” and unworthy of their support.

And while black humor has always existed in every society, its dramatic rise in the Russian Federation now and in some other countries as well represents an understandable if not entirely happy “reaction to the absurdity and cruelty of the contemporary world in which much that used to be unacceptable is now seen as normal.” By making fun of this, she continues, individuals and groups win “a kind of victory over the absurdity of existence, however illusory such a triumph may be.” But when such humor dominates the situation, it should set off alarm bells because “the destruction of any social system or ideology begins when people start to laugh at it.” The power of such laughter, of course, is well know to public relations specialists and political tacticians. If you can make people to laugh at your opponent, she notes, “you have seriously weakened his position.” But when people are engaging in black humor about the system as a whole, that can be more serious, she continues. In such cases, black humor become more often than not a means of compensating for the lack of freedom, the lack of choices, and the inability of having an impact on life that many people feel especially in times of stress. And the more people feel that way, she says, the more likely they are to tell this kind of joke. In order to bolster her argument, Voskanyan draws attention to what makes black humor to work as well as to new research carried out in Moscow concerning how Russians have employed such jokes in reaction to terrorist attacks and disasters both natural and man-made.

According to the Moscow media specialist, black humor generally works only if there is a certain temporal or territorial distance from the events that are its nominal subject. Thus, in the 1970s, jokes about fascist concentration camps were relatively common in the USSR, because for many, the war had become something distant. But now, no one she knows tells such jokes because, she says, unfortunately in the cities of today’s Russia, “the chance of falling victim to skinhead Nazis wearing SS regalia is not equal to zero.” Consequently, telling jokes there about Nazi concentration camps could in fact prove dangerous. If black humor requires a certain distance to work, it may also help people distance themselves from the tragic and dangerous such as plane crashes, terrorist acts or wars, Voskanyan says, or alternatively to help them cope with any situation over which they have no control. Thus, during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, many Russians told black jokes about the consequences of that conflict. One that Voskanyan cites, goes as follows: “Oh, Watson!” Sherlock Holmes says. “I see you’ve just come from Afghanistan.” “Yes,” Watson answers, “but how did you guess?” “Elementary, Watson! You’re in a casket.”
Voskanyan is not alone in focusing on this phenomenon.

A group of scholars at Moscow State University recently published research on the kind of jokes and anecdotes that have appeared on the .ru Net in the wake of terrorist attacks and natural disasters. In the week following the September 11th attacks on the United States, the investigators found, the number of ordinary anecdotes fell dramatically, but black humor jokes began to appear already that evening. Within 48 hours, their number peaked and then rapidly fell off, with traditional jokes returning. The Moscow State specialists concluded, in Voskanyan’s words, that “terrorist acts frighten people strongly but not for long, whereas for jokes about air catastrophes, potentially the audience is always ready, new tragedies only ‘enliven’ its fears and reaction to them.” Given that some people will always turn to black humor, protests against “the absurdist cruelty” of such jokes while perhaps understandable are in and of themselves “to a certain degree absurd,” Voskanyan suggests. But when such jokes overwhelm other kinds of humor, then there is real reason to worry. And she points to another problem as well. The rise of black humor in Russia threatens to push that country into precisely the same trap that Heinrich Boll has suggested his fellow Germans have long been in, one in which people tell jokes less to make fun of the great than “to deny greatness in anyone.”

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