Daily Archives: June 1, 2008

June 1, 2008 — Contents

SUNDAY JUNE 1 CONTENTS

(1) The Sunday Photos

(2) The Sunday Savior

(3) The Sunday Apocalypse

(4) The Sunday Cinema

(5) The Sunday Funnies

NOTE: We are pleased to point out that, as shown below, our Russian audience continues to grow and is now approaching one-half the size of our American audience. It’s proof positive that there are still people in Russia who are worth fighting for.

The Sunday Photos: Oborona Marches Against Censorship





The Sunday Savior: Kozlovsky Speaks

The following is our staff translation of Oleg Kozlovsky’s first major interview with the Western press following his release, with German Deutsche-Welle radio:

Oleg Kozlovsky, the coordinator of the youth movement “Defense,” arrested for intent to participate in a “March of Dissenters,” believes that Russian law enforcement was in fact not executing the criminal code but rather instructions from on high. Having just gained his freedom after serving a 13-day sentence, he tells Deutsche Welle his story.

Deutsche Welle: Oleg, using the phraseology Russia’s new president, is freedom is better than the lack of freedom?

Oleg Kozlovsky: Of course, based on recent my personal experience I can’t dispute this thesis.

DW: What is it about your work the authorities do not like? Why did you spent 13 days behind bars?

OK: I think that those in power have accumulated irritation against me for my protest activities, and they tried, one after another, different methods of combating their opponents. The first arrests were ineffectual because the charges were minor and resulted only brief periods of a few hours behind bars. But as time has passed the authorities have apparently begun to fear that a mass movement is developing, and they’ve begun to impose more draconian measures. So they’ve invented new charges to put against us.

DW: What was your attitude towards the police officers in the detention facilities?

OK: Ordinary policemen were usually reasonable. It’s a sad commentary that they’ve apparently become used to us, and openly refer to us as “political prisoners.” Of course, this is not the formal charge leveled at us, which might be disorderly person for instance. These officers do not question the basis of the charges, but simply see themselves as carrying out the instructions of the state. Many of them recognize us as possessing advanced degrees, and and such they tend to address and treat us rather respectfully.

DW: Were they able to explain why you had been arrested?

OK: I was not arrested by ordinary policemen but by plain-clothes officers from the terrorist enforcement section known as UBOB, an arm of the FSB (formerly the KGB). They’ve been on point in the FSB’s efforts to impede my organization at every possible turn. They told me nothing about the charges being made against me and refused to answer my questions. They simply tossed me on a bus and then gave instructions to the policemen later as to how to write up the arrest report.

DW: So the regular cops had no actual idea of the circumstances of the arrest?

OK: That’s right. But of course they are aware that the charges have been essentially fabricated and are based on political motivations. Unfortunately it’s quite normal for them to be expected to participate in fundamentally corrupt enterprises.

DW: What happened in court?

OK: More of the same. They judges, too, are fully aware that the charges have been rigged, and they overlook the predictably confused testimony of the police when they testify about the arrest (UBOP offices don’t appear in court). For instance, in my case a policeman testified that I had been arrested in a completely different place and at a completely different time of day that had actually occurred. The judge simply ignored the anomaly. Nobody wants to be the one to take the risks and try to break out of this vicious cycle, so it continues. I presented a great deal of direct evidence that the charges were without basis, but all of it was simply ignored.

DW: So the officers are not really aware of wrongdoing?

OK: Unfortunately, all police officers I have encountered in such situations feel that an order from their superiors is above the law. While they are perfectly aware that the order is illegal, they believe they can’t be blamed and the matter should be taken up with those in authority.

DW: If the guardians of the law behave in this manner, what are the prospects for reform? What does this say about the president’s remark?

OK: The fact is that our police are not safeguards the law, it is obvious. They are simply bureaucrats, carrying out instructions given to them by their superiors, who in turn are acting on instructions from their own superiors.

DW: So in Russia there is no law, only instructions?

OK: Yes, rather, orders and instructions. Often, in fact, only oral instructions, nothing in writing to document it. To tell a lie in a report, to carry out a firing squad, it’s not clear that there are any borders.

DW: Aren’t there any dissenters?

OK: My impression is that those who would have scruples would not enter police service in the first place, and the same thing for judges, whose attitude is no different from that of the police by and large.

DW: How can this cycle be broken? How can Russia be made into what Medvedev calls a “nation of laws”?

OK: It is said that “a fish rots from the head.” So the political will do to so must come from the top. What happened, for instance, to Khodorkovsky was authorized from the very top. Until there is true respect for the law at the very top, nothing will change down below.

The Sunday Apocalypse: Latynina on the Russian Ruins

The always brilliant, ferociously courageous Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:

There were a number of noteworthy foreign policy events last week. Mayor Yury Luzhkov announced that Sevastopol is not Ukrainian but Russian territory, and the State Duma came to the defense of Arnold Meri, a former high-ranking official in Estonia’s Communist Party who has been charged in Tallinn with genocide for his role in deporting civilians to Siberia following World War II.

We are truly living in a society that suffers from the Russian post-imperial syndrome. But what is most important is what is left after the empire falls.

Consider the Roman and British empires. The subjugated people hated their colonialists and revolted. But when those empires collapsed, it turned out that the vast Roman and British cultural heritage continued to dominate even after the local populations gained independence. The Latin language survived longer, and over a broader territory, than did the Roman Empire itself.

The empires of Genghis Khan and the Ottoman Turks also collapsed, but none of the people they conquered has a kind word for them today. You won’t find a Bulgarian or a Serb eager to show you the ruins of Ottoman defensive fortifications on their territories.

True, the Mongols greatly influenced the the civilizations they defeated. For example, before falling to the Mongols, Afghanistan was a prosperous country with major cities and an extensive agricultural system. It was a highly prized territory, one that dozens of would-be conquerors had tried to seize, including Alexander the Great. But after the Mongols razed all the Afghan cities, decimated the population, and destroyed the country’s complex irrigation system, Afghanistan was reduced to a country of mountains and barren deserts.

What can the Mongols take pride in today? Where are the gems of science and art that adorn the peoples that fell under their rule? Did the Mongols give them laws? A written language? New rights?

During tsarist times, the Russian Empire followed the example of the Roman and British empires. With all of its cruelty, it conquered the eastern territories and the Caucasus with valor and bravery. Like the Roman Empire, they gave more to their subjects than they managed to seize from them.

The Soviet Union, however, was built more along the lines of the Mongol empire. It ruthlessly destroyed everyone and everything, and the first to fall victim were the Russian nobility, peasantry, merchants and intelligentsia. The Soviet Union left the same legacy in Russia as the Mongols did in Afghanistan — destruction. None of the former Soviet republics will ever put up monuments to Pavlik Morozov, the mythical 13-year-old Pioneer who was praised for turning in his own father to the authorities. The former Soviet colonies also do not sing the praises to the NKVD, nor have they adopted the Soviet legal code.

Yet the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union represented Russia’s last historic opportunity. It could have become an attractive metropolis for surrounding countries, a reliable trade partner or a place where other countries’ elite came to study — just as people from Britain’s former empire still come to Oxford and Cambridge. The Soviet Union of Josef Stalin and Lavrenty Beria suffered a crushing defeat, but the Russia of Pushkin and Dostoevsky still had a chance to fill the void. Gogol, though Ukrainian by birth, wrote his masterpieces in Russian. Chechen insurgents who die beneath Russian tanks write poems about the freedom of their people in the Russian language, much like Lermontov before them.

The former KGB thugs who now control the country are stomping Russia’s last historical chance into the dirt. They are doing everything to show the world that Russia is led not by civilized, respected leaders, but by a street gang from Lubyanskaya Ploshchad.

The Sunday Cinema: lndiana Jones Cracks his Whip over Russia

Reuters reports on still more humiliation for Russia, this time at the hands of Steven Spielberg:

Russian Communist Party members
condemned the new “Indiana Jones” film on Friday as crude, anti-Soviet propaganda that distorts history and called for it to be banned from Russian screens.

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” stars Harrison Ford as an archeologist in 1957 competing with an evil KGB agent, played by Cate Blanchett, to find a skull endowed with mystic powers.

“What galls is how together with America we defeated Hitler, and how we sympathized when Bin Laden hit them. But they go ahead and scare kids with Communists. These people have no shame,” said Viktor Perov, a Communist Party member in Russia’s second city of St. Petersburg.

The comments were made at a local Communist party meeting and posted on its Internet site http://www.kplo.ru.

The film, the fourth in the hugely successful Indiana Jones series, went on release in Russian cinemas on Thursday. Russian media said it was being shown on 808 screens, the widest ever release for a Hollywood movie.

In past episodes Indiana Jones has escaped from Nazi soldiers, an Egyptian snake pit, a Bedouin swordsman and a child-enslaving Indian demigod.

RUNNING DOGS

“Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchett (are) second-rate actors, serving as the running dogs of the CIA. We need to deprive these people of the right of entering the country,” said another party member, Andrei Gindos.

Though the ranks of the once all-powerful Communist Party have dwindled since Soviet times, its members see themselves as the defenders of the achievements of the old Soviet Union.

Other communists said the generation born after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union were being fed revisionist, Hollywood history. They advocated banning the Indiana Jones outright to prevent “ideological sabotage.”

“Our movie-goers are teenagers who are completely unaware of what happened in 1957,” St Peterburg Communist Party chief Sergei Malinkovich told Reuters.

“They will go to the cinema and will be sure that in 1957 we made trouble for the United States and almost started a nuclear war.”

“It’s rubbish … In 1957 the communists did not run with crystal skulls throughout the U.S. Why should we agree to that sort of lie and let the West trick our youth?”

Vladimir Mukhin, another member of the local Communist Party, said in comments posted on the Internet site that he would ask Russia’s Culture Ministry to ban the film for its “anti-Soviet propaganda.”

The “Indiana Jones” film is not the first Hollywood production to offend Russian sensibilities.

In 1998 the Russian parliament demanded the government explain why the Hollywood film “Armageddon” – which depicted a dilapidated Russian space station that blows apart because of a leaky pipe — was allowed onto Russian cinema screens.

A government official at the time said the film, starring Bruce Willis as the leader of a team of astronauts sent to deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth, “mocked the achievements of Soviet and Russian technology.”

Reuters

Paramount Pictures appears to have another hit on its hands, as the new “Indiana Jones” movie grossed $25 million from its first full day in North American theaters, independent box office analysts reported on Friday.

That tally ranks as the fourth highest-grossing Thursday debut on record and puts “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” on track to possibly match or overtake last year’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” film as the biggest opening on a U.S. Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The last big release from Viacom Inc’s Paramount, “Iron Man,” opened three weeks ago with $98.6 million in U.S.-Canadian receipts its first Friday-through-Sunday frame — a sum that the latest “Indiana Jones” film is expected to surpass.

Unlike the new “Indiana Jones” film, “Iron Man” was fully financed by Marvel Studios, which paid Paramount a flat fee to market and distribute its film. Thus, Paramount has much more at stake riding on the success of its latest release.

“Crystal Skull,” directed by Steven Spielberg, is the fourth movie in the beloved and lucrative movie franchise that began in 1981 with “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and is the first to hit the big screen in 19 years.

Harrison Ford reprises his title role as the bullwhip-cracking archeologist who hates snakes, and reunites with actress Karen Allen, his co-star from the first adventure. In the new film, set during the 1950s Cold War era, he competes with an evil KGB agent played by Cate Blanchett to find a skull endowed with mystic powers.

Box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers, said the film’s opening Thursday performance was strong enough to bode well for its commercial potential but not so strong as to diminish its weekend audience.

If its Friday-through-Monday box office tally crosses the $140 million mark, the film would exceed last year’s Walt Disney Co’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” as the biggest North American opening yet for the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend.

“They have a strong shot at meeting or exceeding that Pirates of the Caribbean number last year,” Dergarabedian told Reuters.

By comparison, the highest-grossing Thursday debut at the domestic box office was the $50 million raked in three years ago by “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith,” according to Box Office Mojo.

The Sunday Funnies

Source: Ellustrator.

A commenter writes: “Seeing RUSSIA in capital letters reminds one of the USSR.”