MONDAY APRIL 27 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Who’s Behind the Kremlin Curtain?
(2) EDITORIAL: Kremlin says 90% of Russians are Idiots
(3) EDITORIAL: Choking Bondarchuk
(4) Russian Court’s drive the Final Nail into Russia’s Internet
(5) Milov on Medvedev’s Sham Liberalism
NOTE: LR founder and publisher Kim Zigfeld has a new column out on the American Thinker blog, where she focuses on Putin’s stunning liquidation of the Russian Central Bank’s independence, declaring interests rates as if he were the nation’s central banker. Is he panicking over the tanking economy or signaling that he is the new Stalin? You decide.
NOTE: Kim also, for the first time, has a simultaneous column running on the Pajamas Media blog, where her latest installment exposes some egregiously flawed reporting by the New York Times regarding Moldova and criticizes the papers shockingly non-responsive attitude when we challenged its reporting about Lev Ponomarev. Little wonder that the paper is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy with this kind of insular arrogance seems to be its modus operandi.
NOTE: The BBC has a video report from the Russian breadlines.
Posted in contents, russia
Who’s Behind the Kremlin Curtain?
Recent public opinon poll data in Russia shows that 68% of all Russians believe that Vladimir Putin wields at least some presidential power. Just 15% say the actual president, Dimitri Medvedev, holds all of it. 57% of Russians believe that Medvedev’s successor will be Putin.
The data also indicates that 70% of Russians either have no idea whether the country is on the right track or not or think it’s on the wrong track. What disturbs them is apparently that Putin is no longer in power, since those who believeved he would return were the most likely to say the nation was on the right track.
Finally, and perhaps most disturbing, 66% of Russians said they thought Russia was perceived by other nations as a force for good. This flies in the face of opinion poll data from those other nations showing that their opinion of Russia has fallen dramatically during Putin’s time in office. Not one major world nation, you will remember, agreed to recognize Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent despite Russia’s pleas to do so.
And it explains why Putin continues to receive so much support. The Russian people are being lied to and, having allowed the Kremlin to cut them off from real information on TV and in newspapers, they aren’t able to realize it’s happening (we report below on Putin’s final assault on the independence of Russia’s Internet through the court system). But, at the same time, the Russians are lying to themselves. The most recent consumer confidence data shows that Russians don’t really believe Putin’s reassurances, since their confidence level is well below the world average and falling rapidly. In other words, as usual Russians choose to live in a world of self-delusion.
But the facts are gettting very hard to ignore.
Kremlin says 90% of Russians are Idiots
As you well know, dear reader, we are loathe to agree with a single word uttered by Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin. But when one of Russia’s leading “educators,” Leonid Poliakov, a dean of history at the Moscow State Pedagogical University, tell us that 90% of Russians are idiots, we have to grudgingly make room for the possiblity that he could be right.
Вопрос к Фёдору Бондарчуку: Что вы ассоциируете с этими башнями у нас в стране?
Фёдор Бондарчук: (после некоторого раздумывания отвечать или нет). Да мы катимся в «ж»…. Газет нет, радио нет. Есть только интернет. Вот когда был Ельцин, то люди бежали смотреть телевизор с реальными и откровенными передачами. А сейчас заголовки газет начали напоминать времена с пропагандой. Альтернатив не видно – это пугает. Я могу долго говорить, но потом у меня будут проблемы…
That is an exchange between Russian film director Fyodor Bondarchuk (“The Ninth Company”) and a Russian reporter during a press conference on April 15th in Moscow about the release of his latest film “The Inhabited Island.”
As The Other Russia reports: “The futuristic sci-fi flick, based on a 1971 novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, takes place on a planet ruled by a military dictatorship, where authorities use a network of towers as mind-control devices over the population.” The reporter asks the director whether the use of the towers was symbolic of life in Putin’s Russia, and the director, after pausing a while as if considering whether to answer the question, responded as follows:
We’re heading into the toilet… There are no newspapers, no radio. There’s only the internet. When we had Yeltsin, people ran to watch the television, which was full of substantial and candid programs. And now the newspaper headlines have started to resemble propaganda times. There are no alternatives visible, and this is frightening. I can speak on this for a long time, but then I’ll have problems…
The director was very much mistaken. Though he spoke only briefly, he still had “problems” aplenty.
Paul Goble reports truly shocking, repugnant news that the Kremlin is already in the process of the final clampdown on the Internet; last week we reported on the Kremlin’s efforts to control major portals like Yandex, and now Russian courts are legitimizing the shutdown of any site that carries objectionable comments from readers. It’s a stunning and fatal blow to Internet freedom unheard of in the civilized world. Welcome back to the USSR, Russians:
According to a Moscow court, Russian officials can close down an internet portal if visitors to the site leave comments that the authorities deem to be extremist, a ruling that could force Russian sites to moderate all comments before they are posted or to stop allowing such comments, thereby ending one of the most lively forums in the Russian media.
The Federal Arbitration Court of the Moscow District has rejected an appeal by the Urals information agency, URA.ru, which held that it should not be subject to warnings that could open the way for its closure for posts visitors to that site left and the site’s own editors took off within a day. That decision, Aksana Panova, the site’s chief editor, said that the decision not only creates “a dangerous precedent” that could be used throughout the Russian Internet but opens the way for abuse because officials could arrange to have someone post “extremist” materials and then pounce even before the site took them off.
Paul Goble reports that Vladimir Milov agrees with our conclusion, expressed last week regarding the release of Svetlana Bakhmina, that Dmitri Medvedev’s s0-called liberalization moves are fraudulent:
Despite a series of much-publicized events that some commentators in Moscow and the West suggest represent significant “breakthroughs” to “liberalization,” a Russian commentator argues that Dmitry Medvedev is in fact offering “the imitation of political reform” in order to defend Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian system. In an article on Gazeta.ru, Vladimir Milov, the head of the Moscow Institute of Energetic Politics, says that during April, President Medvedev has “thrown out to society a whole bouquet” of “signals” suggesting a dramatic change in the political climate in Russian toward a more liberal order. But a careful consideration of what the Russian president has said and even more of the sources of his comments and actions suggests that “there is no basis to expect serious changes in the policy of the ruling clan” and that any “hopes for the softening of the [current] political course are once again premature.” Indeed, Milov says, “there is no doubt that we are dealing with the latest playing with liberal society, the goal of which consists of the neutralization of any outburst of freedom-loving attitudes as a result of the sharpening of the crisis and the ineffectiveness of government anti-crisis measures.”